According to Sustainable Travel Report 2022, 71% of travelers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, up 10% from last year.
Running an eco-friendly hotel is key to easing the negative impact of the industry but it’s also an important strategy for attracting new clients. When it comes to sustainable travel, modern guests expect you to go beyond recycling or managing waste. Sustainable hospitality goes as far as actively supporting the local population, protecting the environment, and fostering biodiversity.
So, how can you truly embrace sustainability throughout your property and keep your brand aligned with the values of modern guests?
Read on to discover:
Whether your hotel is built with sustainability at its core, or is on the way to becoming more environmentally conscious and increasingly involves eco-friendly practices, here are some actions you can take:
Embedding circularity within the supply chain is one way to combat the single-use nature of materials and amenities.
“Materials to create products are extracted from all over the world, transported, processed, transported again, and finally manufactured into a product before being transported yet again to a hotel.“ [Source:]
It’s really about finding ways to re-use and re-purpose goods as well as involving responsibly-made products and materials. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental went 100% free of single-use plastics from December 2020.
“All our vacuum pouches and cling film are plant-based. The straws are natural, no plastic or paper coasters, everything is home recyclable, which means if it ends up in the landfill, it will break down in a matter of months. [Source:]
Going circular also involves preventing and managing waste. Hotel & lodging industry has been battling a bad reputation for poor waste management. To reverse the negative impact, properties began to explore better ways to handle resources and prevent waste. In order to minimize waste, lodging businesses keep track of materials or products that come in but on top of that, they frequently monitor waste output at the hotel. Waste tracking seems a bit labor-intensive at first, but it’s an effort that brings clarity to waste management and leads to tangible results in the long run.
Another common practice among eco-friendly hotels is upcycling and partnering with local companies that upcycle materials used in the lodging industry such as linen or wood. The iconic restaurant at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Amber, collaborates with a company that recycles and supplies the waste frying oil to Hong Kong harbor, where it is used to fuel some of the boats.
Taking a closer look at which processes and operations you can make digital is one step towards going paperless. Hoteliers use digital solutions like Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA) to revamp old-fashioned processes across departments including in-house marketing or housekeeping. Another option is to remove printed tickets used in the restaurant. Implementing a digital ticket system with a touch screen is also more efficient in the long run as it saves on time.
Team effort is essential for eco-friendly practices to have an impact. It’s likely that some of the staff members are already versed in eco-friendly practices so it’s a great opportunity for them to drive positive change. The staff can work together on a joint policy to implement eco-friendly practices at your hotel and communicate it to your guests. A collective effort between many departments brings results much faster than the sole initiative of two or three people.
Sustainability certainly sells, especially to younger demographics like Millenials and Gen Z. Modern guests want to make more responsible choices across their entire travel experience, from transportation to accommodation, while likely to share their experiences on social media. How can you get the guests involved?
The new trend among eco-friendly hotels is opt-in housekeeping. Contrary to the old model of DND, daily housekeeping is no longer included by default. Some hotels reward their guests for choosing this option with a discounted room price or a free meal. Digital devices like Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA) help hotels advertise CSR actions. It’s a way to engage and motivate the guests to make an impact, or promote eco-friendly services at the property.
One practical example of involving guests is using saving regimes. Aiello is preparing a new feature ‘Go green’. Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA) connects to the room control unit, which allows hotels to control in-room amenities including light and air conditioning. When the guest says “Go green” turns on the power saving mode. This way they can take an active role and get involved in the process and be encouraged to make planet-conscious choices within the hotel and the local environment.
Eco-friendly hotels often include locally grown produce in hotel menus and reduce waste by using recycled paper or avoiding single-use materials. They go as far as promoting eco transport options such as featuring electric vehicles and installing EV charging stations, or offering bicycle rental at the property.
‘InterContinental Kaohsiung has also won recognition for its sustainability work. With hybrid hotel cars, composters, adjusted energy consumption, and recyclable amenities, the hotel makes decisions that benefit local communities and enhance the domestic experience.’ [Source:]
More than ever, guests are looking for authentic travel experiences, with 45% believing that protecting and learning about local cultures is part of sustainable travel. Eco-friendly hotels are at the forefront of sustainable travel by supporting good causes such as promoting activities or tours that are giving back to the local community and helping to preserve, protect and educate about local cultures.
Long-haul travel has high environmental costs including pollution and carbon emissions. A hotel located in Asia targeting travelers from Europe doesn’t really communicate eco-friendly practices. Sustainable hospitality should also involve promoting a responsible way of traveling. Eco-friendly hotels can use their position to attract more locals and work towards promoting domestic travel.
Collaboration of hotels with local businesses forms a symbiotic relationship that helps both parties succeed and benefits the local economy. Sustainable travel evolves around local experience, promoting local production, and creating partnerships with local artists, vendors, or craftsmen to showcase their work at hotels and offer guests a sample of the local community.
InterContinental Kaohsiung combines its global presence, etiquette, and standards with local knowledge and products such as Taiwanese tea and food products from local farms.
“Sustainability used to be a question of price, but now it’s a matter of cultivating the right mindset and carefully selecting products,” says Robbert Manussen, IHG Area General Manager for Taiwan. “We put a lot of effort into running a hotel with purpose” [Source:]
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, hotels are accountable for one percent of global emissions. Understanding and embracing sustainability practices in hotels help contribute to reducing carbon emissions from the hospitality sector. Not only that. These initiatives will help hotels save money by being more energy-efficient, generate less waste, and stand out from the competition.
As we move towards more conscious consumers, hotels need to adapt to this type of guest. Hotel businesses should work on encouraging the guests to take an active role in making eco-conscious choices within the hotel as well as the local environment. Running an eco-friendly hotel comes with a long-term investment in better managing resources, bringing higher quality experience and offerings to your guests, and ultimately growing your brand value.
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