In the 21st century, sustainability is considered an important component of a successful business. The concept of social responsibility is becoming a crucial concern for both public and private sectors including the hotel industry.
But what is sustainability? Simply put, sustainability implies that natural ecosystems can continue supporting life and providing resources to meet the demands of the present and future generations. With this in mind, the hotel sector is one of the industries that put increased pressure on the environment and natural resources.
Interestingly, the hotel industry also relies on the same natural resources for business. Tourists, who are the main hotel clients, are fans of beautiful landscapes, turquoise waters, sandy beaches, waterfalls, coral reefs, glaciers, and fresh air. Putting pressure on these resources could harm the very foundation on which hospitality is built.
Sustainability in the Hotel Industry
The hotel industry requires sustainability for many reasons. To begin with, sustainability saves money by reducing expenses and waste. It helps the environment and delivers a public relations advantage over competitors that don’t care about the “green” movement.
Additionally, a common theme runs throughout all components of the hospitality and hotel industry. From food and beverage, travel, and tourism to accommodation, it’s more apparent that Millennials are gaining spending power, and they drive the current trends.
For instance, Millennials demand sustainability on their vacations. They drive the ever-growing ecotourism boom. Importantly, this demographic segment wants hotels to adopt green and sustainable practices. They expect brands to not only manage the environmental and social impact but also communicate it.
According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, most consumers care about sustainability. The survey revealed that more than 60% of travelers opted for environmentally friendly hotels, transportation, and food. At the same time, the respondents agreed they would go for more environmentally responsible travel choices in the future.
These observations show that sustainability can help hoteliers save costs and improve on positive PR. The concept is equally good for the environment and attracts a growing demographic.
Benefits of Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry
Sustainability in the hospitality industry delivers several benefits. In addition to bringing in more customers, sustainable initiatives bring more incentives to hotel businesses.
For instance, the federal government, some states, and local governments have implemented several programs that promote “green” business. Waste reduction, using renewable energy, and enacting measures that facilitate reuse and recycling can deliver many gains to the environment.
In some cases, incentive programs have been instituted to reward sustainable efforts. Such programs aim at rewarding businesses with tax write-offs, financial grants, reduced insurance premiums, and faster regulatory permitting. Besides, environmentally friendly technology can bring long-term cost savings.
While sustainable practices demand significant initial capital outlay, the combined effects of waste reduction and energy efficiency can reduce expenses in the end. Many hotels already have implemented sustainable practices across all their business operations. Sustainability can help advance brand visibility and image.
How to Initiate Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry
To ensure that the hotel industry adopts sustainability, management and leaders in this sector can play a key role. Here are important strategies to consider:
Establish energy management programs
First, hospitality service providers can implement energy management programs. These programs include setting up a team to implement energy conservation plans with specific objectives. For instance, the team can choose to work towards reducing the company’s energy consumption by 10% within a year. To realize the goals, leaders can come up with rewarding schemes to motivate departments and individuals that accomplish their milestone goals.
Evaluate energy use
Hoteliers can take another important step to determine how their businesses utilize energy. With a clear understanding of energy consumption, leaders can identify potential areas for improvement. For example, they can identify what areas of the hotel consume the most energy and instill environmentally friendly technologies that reduce energy consumption.
This can happen without affecting guest experience. Besides, leaders can regularly assess their energy consumption and look for energy-saving solutions to improve efficiency and ultimately reduce costs. One of the ways to do this is by using products and technologies that directly impact the overall sustainability efforts of the facility.
Embrace renewable energy
In addition to reducing the rate of energy consumption and evaluating its use, hoteliers can minimize their businesses’ carbon footprint by implementing renewable sources of energy. Such efforts improve brand image and pay off by cutting operational costs. For example, using solar technology for heating and other operations can reduce energy costs by a significant margin.
Sustainability in business is a collective initiative. Leaders in the hotel industry can educate their employees and raise awareness about sustainable practices. Every component of the business can embrace practices that care about sustainability. From waste and water management to using organic products free of harmful chemicals, reuse and recycling, sustainability should be a part of a hotel’s culture.
Implementing policies aimed at sustainability requires a relevant skill-set. Leaders need to inspire their staff to adopt sustainable practices even as they strive to meet various expectations. Therefore, they need skills in open communication, goal setting, teamwork, and more.
Challenges and Trends in Sustainability
Even though sustainability in the hotel sector is loaded with advantages, industry leaders must work to overcome the challenges that come with implementing sustainable strategies. For instance, there is a misconception that sustainability is costly and that consumers don’t care about it.
Such reasoning should be demystified because, in the real sense, sustainable strategies save costs and improve brand image. Additionally, technological advances in the renewable energy sector have made solar or geothermal energy options affordable.
When it comes to guest experience, hotels that focus on sustainability are more likely to improve their guests’ experience through customization. Sustainability practices such as smart thermostat technology can lower energy use. Free access to bicycles can help guests explore the facility without increasing carbon footprints. Similarly, recycle and reuse technologies can help guests maintain green habits during their stay.
Sustainability is careful use of a resource to prevent depletion or damage. This concept plays a crucial role in the hospitality industry. The success of hospitality organizations is pegged on their ability to preserve the natural and cultural attractions that invite tourists to their destinations.
Lack of sustainability has its share of consequences. Once the resources are exhausted or damaged, the hospitality industry will have no choice but to close its doors. Today’s hotels require leaders who can help initiate sustainable practices and instill a culture of environmental, social, and economic responsibility.
Alex Mirza, The Founder & CEO of Mogul – Humanizing Travel. Its platform Staymogul.com provides booking, service, and Mogulrecruiter.com provides talent solutions for the hospitality industry.