Originally appeared in Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum newsletter in October 2019
Xenia zu Hohenlohe is the Managing Partner and Founder of The Considerate Group. The business was created, with her business partner Benedetta Cassinelli, in order to offer a platform of services for responsible business solutions to the hospitality sector.
Xenia is dedicated and passionate about minimising negative environmental impacts and focuses on delivering green growth opportunities to all the hospitality businesses they work with. Xenia’s motto is “Making Sustainability Sexy- 50 Shades of Green” for which she was recently featured in the FT special report section.
With Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, climate change and future-proofing our planet front and centre of all our minds, we caught up with Xenia in advance of The Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H) which takes place in Athens, Greece this month.
As sustainability gains significant attention in our domestic lives, we are seeing this transfer to commercial activities as well. This must be a welcome trend for The Considerate Group?
It is indeed! Having founded our company in 2012 we were lucky to have established working relationships with various visionaries in the sector who saw the necessity of embracing sustainability. Therefore, we were able to prove that our services can help establish hospitality businesses to operate successfully, with an increased bottom line as well. Now that finally the world is waking up to the fact that each and everyone of us has to do something to mitigate climate change, we have a proven track record and have managed to grow our own company’s revenue by 117% since last year! That is a success story, which we are immensely proud of.
Increasingly operators are recognising that sustainable practices have positive impacts on the bottom line. How much progress do you feel has been made here and is there more yet to go?
According to the latest research released by the United National Global Compact Reporting scheme (a framework we align a lot of our work with), companies engaging in sustainable practices and integrating those fully into their operations, have 88% better operational performance, 80% better stock price performance and 90% lower cost of capital. One of the companies we have been doing the CSR strategy and reporting for (Oetker Collection) saw an 11% increase of revenue in 2018.
That proves there is a definite business case to be made for sustainable business operations.
Sadly, the hotel sector is a very conservative one and often not the trend-setters when it comes to innovation, and I very much see sustainability being an innovative approach, so we are laggards in our industry. Additionally there is a lack of diversity in many hotel’s management teams, in particular when it comes to gender equality, so I think there is still a long way to go for hospitality businesses until they become fully aware of all aspects of sustainability.
There is an impressive list of members of The Considerate Group spanning independent hotels to international brands. In your view, is it easier for independents or brands to adopt commitment to responsible business practices?
Definitely! Smaller companies are more agile and can adopt change much faster. Trying to integrate innovative technologies or operational changes into big hotel companies is a bit like trying to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg, you need all hands on deck and that takes a lot of team effort.
But given that we are also a SME, we find working with SME’s within the hospitality sector a perfect fit for us. However this hasn’t stopped us from working with individual properties managed by big companies such as Deutsche Hospitality, IHG or ACCOR. In particular when it comes to helping them implement CSR targets set by their head offices and raising staff awareness within their individual hotels.
How important is accurate data management when striving to incorporate more sustainable solutions and responsible business practices into hotel operations?
Data is key when it comes to making progress in adopting sustainability into an operation. As it allows you to show improvements and prove progress is being made. Plus it enables companies to be transparent with their efforts, and gets people from the Finance departments on board too, which is again key for any success story – all stakeholders need to be involved.
The only tricky bit is translating the data into language that non-data people understand too, but we try and work with a lot with infographics and creative design to effectively ‘translate’ sustainability into pictures.
Finally, in our hyper digital and globally connected world, why do events, such as MR&H, still hold value?
Because in particular our sector, the hospitality business, it is all about people. Welcoming people and offering them a good service, unforgettable moments, a home away from home. That can and should be enhanced through all the new and innovative digital offerings, but at the end of the day, I am a firm believer that most hotel experiences, in particular those for leisure, are linked to hoteliers and their teams offering guests an unforgettable time, which is all about personal touches and no technology can make up for that!
So all the professional networks behind that experience is what events such as MR&H enable and enforce, and any future development of new hotels is also about relationships and people working together to make that happen.
And last but not least, sustainability is all about partnerships too, as we will only be able to make changes when we all work together, therefore I am a firm believer that events such as yours, with many interesting discussions, speakers and exchanges are key for the process. I very much look forward to being part of this year’s event.
Xenia will be taking part in the MR&H Programme and speaking on “What’s Government Got to Do with it? Travel Policies, Destinations and Resort Development” on Thursday 31 st October at 9:30am. Government bodies across the Mediterranean and Southern Europe have the challenging task of promoting tourism development and generating inward investment whilst managing environmental and sustainability goals. So how do they balance these often conflicting responsibilities? Hear it from the policy makers themselves during this highly topical session at MR&H.