Industry News

Travelers demand sustainability; hotels offer it

Recent surveys from Ipsos and Booking.com have found that a majority of travelers take their carbon footprint into consideration when planning trips, highlighting the importance of creating a strategy that includes sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumers’ thoughts about travel, igniting a desire among 61% to travel sustainably going forward.

Toward that end, several hospitality giants have been taking big steps that are likely to appeal to environmentally conscious travelers.

In September, Marriott International announced its commitment to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions. The company joined Race to Zero, a worldwide campaign to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We are driven to make a positive and sustainable impact wherever we do business, and this rigorous climate commitment to reach net-zero emissions is a needed step for us to do our part to help the communities and environments where we live, work and visit remain resilient and vibrant,” said Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano.

Increased renewable energy usage, changes to hotel designs to improve energy efficiency, and smart thermostats are among the possible initiatives Marriott is considering. “The good news is, we are not starting from a dead stop,” Capuano said. “We’ve been on this sustainable journey for years.” 

Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment, named by Newsweek as “one of America’s most responsible companies,” is making efforts on multiple fronts toward environmental responsibility. Caesars employees sort through trash to find recyclable items, diverting 45% of all waste from landfills. The company also partners with Clean the World to supply millions of bars of soap to disadvantaged places globally.

Caesars has found that its efforts toward sustainability appeals to employees as well. “As an employer, we think about our brand and what we stand for,” said Wendy Bagnasco, Caesars’ senior manager of environmental and social governance and responsible business. “People want to work for a company that espouses their same values in these areas. We can say that we’re a green company and that helps to attract and retain talent.”

Wynn Resorts and Caesars have committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Worldwide are also working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Google is helping travelers find hospitality businesses that match their interest in sustainability. Hotel properties will feature an eco-certified badge next to their names in search results if they have received certification from organizations such as Earth Check or Green Key. An “About” tab will allow searchers to see what efforts hotels are making toward environmental responsibility.

Google has partnered with Travalyst, founded by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, to create a standardized model for calculating carbon emissions from air travel and calculations for emissions from hotels will eventually be added.

Basic sustainable practices hotel properties should have in place include local sourcing, offering opportunities to recycle and ending the use of disposable products, GuestCentric’s Ines Barreiros writes. “If you’re not even covering the basics, be aware that 53% of travelers, according to the Booking 2021 study, admit they get annoyed if their accommodation prevents them from being sustainable,” Barreiros notes.

Hotels making an extra effort include Costa Rica’s Hotel Punta Islita, which focuses on reforestation, local employment and wildlife conservation, and France’s Hi Hotel, which makes use of eco-friendly cleaning products, organic food and package-free shower gels.

Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives desalinates seawater to make drinking water. The property saves about 50,000 plastic bottles annually by bottling its water in recycled glass.

Barreiros emphasizes the importance of highlighting sustainable practices in marketing to potential guests. Hotel websites, email marketing and social media accounts are the perfect platforms to make travelers aware that hotels share their values.

Taking a comprehensive approach to green practices “will not only help your hotel save money by being more energy-efficient, help preserve the destination and local community and bring people closer together but also differentiate your hotel from the competition and attract more guests,” Barreiros notes.

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