13 Jun Sustainability and the Hospitality Industry
By Karly Pulido, Consultant, Companies Vs Climate Change
Hospitality Amidst Covid-19
“Sustainable Hospitality” has certainly become a popular buzz phrase in the hospitality industry, but it is much more than a buzz phrase. Sustainable Hospitality means that hospitality businesses are operating in a manner that respects their people and planet while simultaneously increasing their profit. Right now, more than ever, the world needs businesses who can respond rapidly to the changing needs of the world.
Following the Covid-19 crisis, hospitality companies are struggling to find refuge and traveling has decreased. Covid-19 will not last forever but its impact on the behavior of travelers will leave a scar. Travelers want to put their time and money in a place where they feel safe.
Companies who are thought of as sustainable will survive this crisis because they are operating past the bottom line. They are respecting their environment while ensuring the livelihood of their people.
In a traditional sense, sustainable hospitality may often be thought of as eliminating the environmental footprint of a business. But it must not be forgotten that the three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet, and Profit seek to operate a business in a more environmentally friendly manner while also taking care of the community.
The Impact of Sustainable Hospitality
Sustainability has become prevalent around the world because it recognizes the lack of action in all human systems that result in global environmental and social crises. The Hospitality industry is on the forefront of this crisis as most hospitality activities often leave behind a large footprint.
While most guests staying in hotels are traveling on vacation, they often adopt a more relaxed attitude. While this attitude is welcomed in a vacation spot, it may also have some negative consequences on the Built environment.
For example, vacationers are more likely to leave their rooms without turning off the lights or television, which results in a larger energy expenditure. Vacationers are also more inclined to spend money and consume in excess while creating a larger waste footprint.
Hospitality companies are the stakeholders who are responsible for satisfying the guests’ demands while also ensuring their waste and energy budget is not at risk. Sustainable Hospitality companies have done an excellent job at ensuring guest satisfaction while allocating proper resources to ensure environmental efficiency is met throughout their business models.
In addition to the impact of guests’ new behaviors, there are several activities during a hotel’s daily operations that create a large environmental footprint. Daily laundry, HVAC operation, extensive cleaning supplies, single-use toiletries, disposal of furniture, are just a few of the daily operations that can leave a large environmental footprint.
The Benefits of Sustainable Hospitality
When hospitality companies take full responsibility to perform more sustainably there are numerous benefits that can become available.
One of the most impactful benefits is the ability to save more money. Upon implementing energy efficient technologies in hotels, the operating costs will decrease. By creating a reserve analysis, the owner can continue to implement efficiency standards that will exponentially reduce operating costs. Some of the most common and simple energy and water efficient solutions include installing LED lights, upgrading to programmable thermostats, and installing low flow fixtures such as shower-heads and faucets. While installing upgrades may seem difficult on budgets at first, it is important to notice that the long-term returns will be worth the investment. In addition, there are many financing and incentive options that are available for the private sector. Websites such as dsireusa.org offers grants, loans, and tax incentives for public and private entities wishing to pursue energy efficiency within their facilities.
More importantly, guests have become more conscious while traveling, and seek accommodations that will not sacrifice the environment or surrounding communities. Many travelers are often seeking a sense of place. This “sense of place” can make tourists feel like locals or even help them feel like they are in a home away from home. To offer a sense of place some hoteliers implement sustainable products into their supply chain. This conscious action helps them decrease their carbon footprint related to product travel and invest back into their communities. This not only helps the community and the planet, but it also helps them attract more guests.
For some tourists, sustainability has become a part of their daily lifestyle. When they travel, they want to know that they can continue to recycle just as they do at home and that they can continue to read in efficient lighting like the one at home. Offering services and products that help travelers feel at home while not jeopardizing their value system is key to ensuring customer satisfaction.
The first rule of hospitality is “If the guest is happy, we are happy”. To provide guest satisfaction we must first focus on employee satisfaction. Employees are more likely to work for a company that is in alignment with their values and personal mission. Sustainability programs often attract top talent employees who feel more connected to their work.
The future of the hospitality industry relies heavily on sustainable operations and a strong workforce that will continue to meet the demands of an ever-changing world. Companies who do not take responsibility for the impacts of their business decisions will miss opportunities of advancement in the global economy.