Hannah Frances, September 2018. Images via Upsplash.
Climate change is one of the most critical issues we face today. Sustainability is vital for the future of every industry, and the hospitality sector is no different. The environmental impact of the hotel industry is huge – from the consumption of energy, water and one-use plastics, to waste creation. Eco hotels shouldn’t be a fad or marketing trope – a new standard needs to be set for sustainable, zero-carbon hotels.
We work closely with clients to embed sustainability within the company culture and MO, and then to make greener choices. Its more than sticking a solar panel on the roof – we look consumption of resources and product sourcing across every department, from the use of rain water in toilets and investing in organic bed linen, to restaurants making more effort to source local produce and reduce food waste.
Sustainability has come to the fore as travel habits have evolved. Over the past decade, we’ve seen gap year students insist they are travellers and not tourists, a sharp increase in Workaway-type programmes and community-centric companies such as Airbnb that continue to influence the increasing demand for ‘local experiences’. The shift has made travellers more aware of the destinations they visit, and how tourism impacts local communities culturally, socially and economically – many are even playing a direct role in rectifying this, which is great. The industry now needs to focus on exposing the hidden environmental and social cost of hotels. Those that do, and those that incorporate sustainable business practices, have a compelling purpose which is increasingly important to guests. This reflects positively on a hotel’s brand image, which is crucial to attract and retain guests in today’s market.
Aside from the greater environmental benefits, a sustainable hotel is a profitable one. Energy saving initiatives will help hoteliers reduce overheads, and ultimately become more profitable. Governments also have economic incentives in place to encourage businesses owners to become more sustainable.
In terms of marketing, green practices will also give a hotel an extra USP, and help shape the brand purpose, image and identity, which is key to making any brand stand out in a crowded market.
For new build projects, sustainability is a key part of architects’ thinking, and cutting down unnecessary detail is part of the design process. Intelligent hotel design will incorporate sustainably sourced building materials, water-efficient systems and energy-saving layouts to minimise the need for air conditioning. When you think about it, this is what humans have done for thousands of years – how can we use the things around us to create the most efficient structure possible?
The key to excellent guest experience is for a hotel to appear generous in everything it does. There’s a preconception that eco means compromising standards, thrift and taking away luxuries – and as such, that sustainability has no place in a premium hotel. One of the problems is that hoteliers rarely investigate the true meaning of sustainability, because it is so difficult to quantify the total energy consumption of a hotel. Details such as product sourcing are often forgotten (who manufactured the soap, are they an ethical employer, and what is their carbon output?), along with the impact that staff and guests have on their way to and from the hotel in terms of carbon footprint and local community.
You see the most intelligent and creative solutions to this in small, independent hotels. They can be more reactive to policy, and implement changes more easily. We love to work with forward-thinking hoteliers on sustainability strategies that will future proof their hotels and bolster their brands. Get in touch to find out more.