Green hospitality is the only way to post-COVID profitability
The hospitality industry has been talking about hotels sustainability for years. Everyone developed a green agenda at some point.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a secret to no one that our industry is one of those that suffered the most with a global average of 50% drop in revenue throughout the period (Grundner and Neuhofer 2021): We had to develop almost overnight new sanitary processes, new service standards, reorganizing our F&B outlets (for the lucky ones authorized to run their restaurants in some way), and more.
Many were those who were even thinking to reduce interactions with guests as much as possible so to address clientele expectations during the pandemic: A 2020 US study from Amazon MTurk demonstrates that 83% of hotel guests preferred being served by machines rather than humans to avoid contagion.
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is (almost) over, people start traveling once more. They are less picky on social distancing, appreciate again to be attended to by humans, even if a robot-waiter isn’t out question anymore – the Matterhorn restaurant in Sydney, Australia, being a perfect example: Robots may also be an efficient way to address the worldwide dramatic hospitality staff shortage that followed COVID-19!
If people are less scared than they were only few months ago, they are still concerned: The Accenture 2022 ‘Life Reimagined’ study shows that 50% of consumer worldwide reassessed what is important to them as a result of the pandemic. Among their top-5 priorities, you find sustainability. These consumers clearly state that they will switch away from brands that don’t align with their values – 83% of the 25 to 34 years old are even ready to pay more (within reason) to address their new-found believes.
Since 1992, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has been working towards these goals, following a United Nations Conference on Environment and Development the same year.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance estimates that one of the first hospitality priorities is decarbonization – according to them, we need to reduce per-room carbon emissions by at least 66% by 2030, and 90% by 2050, based on 2010 levels.
As I mentioned earlier, most international hospitality groups are already sustainably conscious. For instance...
Marriott is reducing its plastic waste by replacing single-use toiletry bottles with pump-top bottles
MGM Resorts recycle their food-waste to transform them into animal food or bio-carburant
Accor’s Planet 21 scheme transformed some of its brands (i.e. Novotel) to be ‘ecodesigned’, meaning that its wooden bedframes are sourced from sustainability-managed forests, while bedspreads and pillowcases are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Of course, not all Novotel hotels worldwide will be turned instantly ‘ecodesigned’. It would be operationally impossible and costly. Nevertheless, as the Accenture study demonstrates, being labeled as a ‘green hotel’ became a must since the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the reason why TripAdvisor, for instance, developed a program called ‘Green Leader’ aiming at showcasing eco-friendly properties. Booking.com offers a similar scheme called ‘Travel Sustainable Property’.
It is therefore obvious that being an eco-friendly hotel will soon become as mandatory for a property as having ensuite bathrooms, from economy to upper-upscale!
A lot of certifications already exist to assist hoteliers in transforming their property from a ‘traditional’ hotel to a ‘green' one, as well as building a new eco-responsible hotel from the ground up: The LEED Certification and ECOTEL being the two world leading certifications that worth checking out.
It is not because a property is already operating for years that it cannot become eco-friendly.
The most important thing, as always, is to get the team onboard through some sort of ‘Green Committee’ in charge of defining strategies, best practices, etc.
Usually, Committees start by cutting plastic water-bottles for guests and staff so to reduce plastic waste – a waste being among the most environmentally damaging products on the Planet -, proposing instead reusable bottles and self-service water coolers.
Next, they often advocate to cut-down on fossil-fuels by organizing job interviews and meetings online – so to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint.
Decreasing fossil energy use by adopting solar panels and installing energy-consumption monitors are also effective sustainable solutions.
Implementing sustainable purchasing and internal waste management, recycling all that can be, giving away food waste to Food Banks, do not only benefit the Planet, but also the hotel community at large.
The above are only few examples, randomly jotted down, that demonstrate that transforming any ‘regular’ hotel into a sustainable conscious property remains within acceptable cost-control parameters, with a rapid positive return on investment.
What matters is for hoteliers, from management to rank & file, to become not only conscious of the importance of preserving the environment as it became a post-pandemic trend and a must for businesses to thrive, but to really understand that - well beyond a successful business-model - it is a matter of life or death for their and next generations.
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are what constitute Amsa Hospitality’s DNA: Denis Sorin, our President of Hospitality recently discussed it in a blog post. We truly believe that all new properties must be designed eco-friendly, while all existing hotels should transform themselves to positively address sustainability-related issues.
Because we care and we aim at making a difference, this is how all of us at Amsa Hospitality are working. Sustainability is even the master-word in the way we are running our day-to-day head-office and make decisions!
This is definitively a topic I will get back to next week, as there is a lot more to say.
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask now if Amsa Hospitality sustainability and CSR experience could be of any help to you: We will be happy to share.