Sustainability is increasingly important for consumers within the hospitality industry, meaning today that it is an essential part of any hotel’s growth strategy.
In 2015 a Deloitte study of the travel industry found that the number of travellers who are aware of sustainable travel issues and have a preference toward environmentally friendly travel has increased by a third since 2005.
In the same report, 95% of business travellers surveyed claim that the hotel industry should be committing itself to undertaking green initiatives.
Read on to find out what your hotel should be doing to go green…
What are the accreditations I should be working towards?
In response to increasing consumer demands for a sustainable hospitality industry there has been an influx of green accreditations and awards within the sector. For many consumers and corporate bookers however, this can often be a source of confusion.
Yet, with increasing numbers of hotels and restaurants shouting about their green credentials, a simple question arises for consumers, hoteliers and restauranteurs. What are the accreditations I should be working towards?
Here are some of our favourites.
Green tourism award:
Originally founded in partnership with VisitScotland 20 years ago, the green tourism award is one of the most sought after and widely recognised accreditations British businesses can obtain. It’s now endorsed by VisitEngland, VisitWales, Tourism Northern Ireland and Failte Ireland.
Green tourism provides accreditation services for 2500 members across the British Isles, Italy, Canada and Zimbabwe. The organisation has three substantive roles:
- To test business execution against over 150 sustainability factors
- To offer support and guidance on how businesses can go more green
- To award companies making the necessary steps to reduce their environmental impact
The award comes at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. It also champions businesses who invest and commit to improving their local community. Award holders not only work to minimise their environmental foot print, but also introduce guests to genuine local cultural and natural experiences.
Green Hotelier Award:
Organised by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), the award works with leading global hotel groups and small scale independent hoteliers alike to implement and drive responsible business agendas.
To date the organisation has assisted 24,000 hotel properties in over 100 nations. It draws on expert resources, experience, academics, suppliers and sustainable travel organisations. The non-competitive platform represents a leading source of information on sustainability trends, issues and regulations within the global hotel industry.
The criteria for the awards have been based on the UN’s 2030 Global Goals for a better world. Comprising of 17 targets the goals aim to end poverty, fight inequality and halt climate change.
The application process is free and specifically designed for ease and simplicity, with a clear and transparent scoring system on sections.
Hotels looking to win awards need to specify the category in which they feel they’re the strongest contender in. Entrants are still required however to provide details on their initiatives in each category in order to win:
- Energy / Carbon saving
- Water saving
- Waste reduction
- Community interaction and investment
- Staff and workplace responsibility
- ITP Goals
Open to resorts, hotels, B&Bs and eco-lodges, the award provides opportunity for businesses within the industry to prove their green credentials and work together for a greener industry future.
TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Programme.
With an average 455 million average monthly unique visitors and 630 million reviews, it’s impossible to overlook the behemoth that is TripAdvisor when we think about the hospitality industry.
Listing 7.5 million accommodations, airlines, experiences and restaurants, comes with its challenges however. With so much choice available to online users, it’s hardly surprising that the site now allows users to cut through the noise and directly locate its ‘GreenLeaders’.
The programme was developed alongside the expertise of the United Nations Environment Programme, International Tourism Partnership, Carbon Trust and the UK Green Building Council.
The accreditation itself aims to recognise businesses within hospitality for engagement in environmentally responsible practices and begins with a simple survey.
With bronze, silver, gold and platinum status, businesses are assessed and must reapply on an annual basis. To ensure compliance businesses are subject random onsite audits and close monitoring of customer reviews.
In order to be accredited the award, businesses need to show ethical consideration in energy usage, supply chain, education (for example of staff) and innovation for environmental benefit.
How can your business get ready to gain its green credentials?
Stand out from the crowd and work out how you’re going to go green.
Intention is the key to the process. Get together with members from all teams within your business in order to gain maximum insight. Comprise a list of your collective ideas and shared priorities and you’ve got an environmental policy.
An environmental policy will generally comprise of three main areas: energy, water and waste. Think about how you can be less wasteful in these areas. You may even benefit from an external audit to identify areas of unnecessary wastage.
For example; unidentified water leaks, inefficient insulation or a lack of recycling could be both environmentally damaging and costly to your margins.
Trace back through your supply chain. Create a sustainable procurement policy.
Work with your teams to list all the products going through your hotel. See if it is possible to procure sustainable alternatives.
Historically, environmentally friendly alternatives have been more expensive than their non-green counter parts. Yet with growing environmental consciousness and consumer demands for environmentally cohesive produce, this is not necessarily always the case today.
Where environmentally friendly products are more expensive, work to see if your business can be more economical with usage.
Train and motivate your staff to go green.
Your environmental policy means nothing if your staff are not committed to its implementation. This is why we are increasingly seeing a trend towards the creation of senior management positions and dedicated teams for sustainability policy in hospitality.
This isn’t essential however. Consider a reward system to incentivise the commitment of your employees to environmental policy, apply it across all areas of the business.
Speak to your waste supplier about recommended training courses for sustainability. Some providers are even accredited to offer training themselves.
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