Sustainable Hotels: Steps To A More Sustainable Business
Truth be told, we are in the midst of an unprecedented climate and environmental crisis. According to research done by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance1, the hotel industry needs to cut carbon emissions by 66 per cent per room by 2030 and 90 per cent per room by 2050 to ensure that the industry’s projected development does not result in a comparable rise in carbon emissions. However, with it comes the challenge of slow recuperation from the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic at a critical juncture in history.
One would think that climate change would be the last thing on travellers’ minds after a long enforced break due to the pandemic, yet the contrary appears to be true. According to a Booking.com study2, 83 per cent of respondents desire to travel more responsibly today, and more than 50 per cent stated that the COVID-19 outbreak has made them more conscious of their influence on the local communities and overall environment. To further back this up, the latest study3 by Amex revealed that 68 per cent of travellers now support travel brands with sustainable practices. If anything, this seems to be good news for the hotel industry, as seeing how sustainable practices involve improving efficiency and streamlining operations.
In this article, we define what it means to be a sustainable hotel and offer a few eco-friendly hotel measures to help you reduce your carbon footprint. These recommendations should help you maintain excellent guest experiences while keeping costs low by staying on top of trends with the utilisation of technology.
Sustainability in the hotel industry
In the hotel sector, sustainability entails limiting the impact of tourism on local people and the environment. Sustainable hotels conduct their operations in such a manner that they meet the demands of the local community and the environment while earning a profit at the same time.
An eco-friendly hotel is one that strives to decrease its environmental impact via the use of sustainable best practices in supply chains, services, and maintenance. Some measures would be employing hotel automation software to simplify operations, using environmentally-friendly products, lowering water and energy use, and the like.
Eco-friendly hotel ideas
Some of these eco-friendly hotel concepts may be implemented straight away at little to no cost, while others might need a significant long-term commitment:
1. Supporting the local community
While it is not necessarily a cost-cutting measure, there is nothing more unsustainable than all-inclusive resorts that drain local resources while providing precarious low-wage work. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, ailing local economies are particularly high on tourists’ radars: 68 per cent of those polled by Booking.com2 indicated that they would like their money ploughed back into the local community.
Hotels can support the local community by:
●Organising tour packages to local workshops, trips to cultural heritage sites, and more through a digital platform. Hotels can consider doing so through Vouch’s digital concierge.
●Recommending authentic local eateries and bars so that travellers can support local establishments.
2. Reducing water consumption
Water shortage is perhaps one of the most concerning environmental challenges, particularly in places where locals lack access to safe drinking water while tourists enjoy swimming pools and clean laundry.
Hotels can do their part in reducing water usage by:
●Installing water-efficient appliances such as low-flow showerheads.
●Encouraging guests to play their part. Allow guests to conveniently communicate their preferences to reuse their towels or utilise Vouch to indicate if they require daily housekeeping.
3. Reduce plastic and paper waste
For some time now, media headlines are plastered with news on overwhelming plastic consumption in the hospitality industry and this is directly impacting decisions made by today’s travellers. In fact, over half of Booking.com4 respondents said they wish to limit their use of plastic when they start travelling again.
Additionally, deforestation is becoming a significant worldwide problem, and the hotel sector should take it more seriously by reducing its reliance on paper. Per the World Resources Institute5, if tropical deforestation were a country, its carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions would rank third after China and the United States – a definite sign for hotels to consider minimising the use of paper altogether.
Hotels can help reduce plastic and paper waste by:
●When in-room dining: Some hotels use printed paper for guests to indicate their meal selection and place it outside their door for manual collection. With a guest experience platform, guests can experience contactless dining, where transactions are digital, and the use of paper can be eliminated.
●Providing a reusable branded bottle for guests instead of single-use plastic water bottles. Following that, hotels can also provide water dispensers in convenient common areas for guests to refill their bottles.
● Placing recycling bins in hotel rooms for guests to separate waste.
●Using Vouch’s guest experience platform to save on the cost of printing Food & Beverages (F&B) menus, in-room compendium, guest letters, and promotional sales collateral. In addition, hotel staff will no longer need to write orders and requests with paper and pen when these transactions are coming through digitally from Vouch.
●Using Vouch Mobile Check-in. This way, hotels will not need to deal with printed registration templates for manual filling during check-in and information is all synced into the hotel’s PMS electronically.
To evolve, the hospitality industry must first adopt best green practices that aim to cause less environmental impact. 81 per cent of travellers6 say they prefer to stay in environmentally-friendly accommodations; this shows that becoming sustainable is inevitable and the natural next phase for hotels. As hotels strive to incorporate sustainability into their operations, it is noted that an increasing number of guests in today’s world anticipate eco-friendly technologies as standard offerings regardless.
With sustainability in mind, Vouch’s Guest Experience Platform can aid hotels in many ways as they have done with different hotel partners. Seeking to provide solutions for hotels that not only improve and streamline their work processes, Vouch also seeks to do our part in fighting climate change – all while ensuring guests continue to receive high levels of service and hospitality. With eco-friendly amenities, hotels can benefit from decreased costs and enhanced guest satisfaction: a win-win for everyone.
 Climate action – reducing emissions across the hospitality industry. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. (2022, April 6). Retrieved from https://sustainablehospitalityalliance.org/our-work/climate-action/#:~:text=Background%20to%20our%20work%20on%20climate%20action&text=Our%20research%20found%20that%20the,corresponding%20increase%20in%20carbon%20emissions
 The Pandemic Effect: An Increased Desire to Travel More Sustainably. Booking.com. (2021, April 22). Retrieved from https://globalnews.booking.com/the-pandemic-effect-an-increased-desire-to-travel-more-sustainably/
 Person. (n.d.). 2022 Global Travel Trends Report: American Express Travel. American Express. Retrieved from https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/get-inspired/global-travel-trends
 Impact awakening: The rise of responsible travel. Booking.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.booking.com/articles/impact-awakening-the-rise-of-responsible-travel.html
 Gibbs, D., Harris, N., & Seymour, F. (2018, October 4). By the numbers: The value of tropical forests in the climate change equation. World Resources Institute. Retrieved from https://www.wri.org/insights/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation
 Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report Affirms Potential Watershed Moment for Industry and Consumers. Booking.com. (2021, June 3). Retrieved from https://globalnews.booking.com/bookingcoms-2021-sustainable-travel-report-affirms-potential-watershed-moment-for-industry-and-consumers/