2019 Sustainability Forecast: Six priorities for your company
What’s next for the hotel industry? Xenia zu Hohenlohe, our managing partner and founder, highlighted six sustainability trends that are likely to come to the forefront in the coming year in a recent article for www.hotelsmag.com.
Reporting and climate goal compliance: Science-based targets for big hotel groups
Pressure is growing for global companies to develop ambitious emission reduction targets in line with the 2°C goals set by the United Nation’s Paris Agreement on climate.
One way of responding to that is to set science-based carbon reduction targets (SBTs). SBTs provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Since Hilton Hotels has declared it will measure its performance according to SBTs, others in the industry, such as Meliá Hotels International and NH Hotel Group have followed suit in committing to this pathway, too. This is great news for the sector overall, as it will allow for industry baselines to be established and smaller groups to follow best-practice examples. This will include data not only on direct emissions at the hotel, but also on supply chains, waste produced and transport.
Reporting on CO2 emissions for mid-sized groups, and sustainable development goals
For hotel groups with fewer properties in their portfolio, no in-house CSR department or indeed less corporate structure to commit to the above-mentioned targets, there are still ways to participate in the race to reduce our global temperatures – by simply measuring their own CO2 emissions through a monitoring tool and adhering to energy efficiency certifications such as ISO50001, energy-proofing their buildings, through a LEED certification, or through something similar.
In addition to this, the UN’s World Tourism Organization as well as its UN Environment Programme are encouraging hotel and tourism businesses to integrate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and report progress on those, for further transparency purposes.
Since China has slammed the door on the world’s waste, the U.S. and the EU are now struggling to deal with a major waste crisis.
We have heard a lot in the past year on plastic waste in our oceans and waters, not only because of the wide reach of the BBC’s “Blue Planet” and David Attenborough’s urgent call to action. But it is also the sad pictures of our beaches, one of the tourism industry’s key selling points, that are now flooded with waste and putting our key offering at risk, which has put the topic at the forefront of our minds.
It is therefore going to be paramount for hotels to reduce waste, in particular those hotels with no access to recycling schemes, and to reduce single-use items coming into their properties. This covers not only moving away from plastic bottles in all sizes and packaging, but general wrapping, delivery crates and more. Again, the UN has set up a scheme to help hotels adopt more sustainable consumption and production practices.
There are also more and more tools available to hotels to help them measure and reduce waste including food waste and other streams. Plus, it is imperative to put pressure on the waste companies to allow a more comprehensive and detailed billing system in order to know exact pick-up loads. Many so far only work on weekly averages, which makes it hard to reduce.
Address water scarcity
The past summer has delivered to the northern hemisphere one of the hottest and driest summers ever recorded, which means that even in northern America and all over Europe, there has been an increase not just in wildfires but also water restrictions.
This gives hotels the opportunity to start monitoring their water usage, make sure there are no leaks or inefficiencies, and retrain staff on the use of water, as the price and availability of this commodity will no longer remain the same. So best to prepare yourself rather than be caught unawares!
Be attractive employers
All of the above are facts and messages the generation now hitting the job market have grown up with and are acutely aware of. They are choosing their careers and employers carefully, and much market research has shown that this generation wants to work for “meaningful” companies – i.e., for organizations that care about their social and environmental impact.
For any global hotel company, the employment of future talent is key to the success of their brands and offering. It is therefore also key for them to adopt responsible business practices in order to attract this new generation of workers, as they will rather continue looking for their ideal employer than take any job for the sake of it.
Engage in fun green story-telling
Guests and travelers are of course also increasingly aware of the change in our world’s climate and environment and are looking for “guilt-free” holidays, during which they will not worry too much about contributing negatively to the existing issues.
Therefore, it is always great to use positive story-telling to communicate all of your hotel’s engagement to the guest, be it through infographics, great images for your Instagram account, Facebook stories or in fun messages around the hotel.
Don’t be shy about telling your stories, showing your staff’s engagement and offering guests the option to participate in some initiatives, should they wish to do so.