Leading the Path to a Sustainable Future

Source: Hospitality Tech

Leaders in hospitality can come together to reduce their carbon footprint and build a sustainable industry for the future.

The alarming threat of passing the 1.5-degree Celsius global temperature threshold poses an imminent danger to our way of life. Passing the threshold will devastate the ecosystem but also have a significantly negative impact on travel for the millions who visit the planet’s most stunning offerings around the world. The hospitality industry should be at the forefront, leading the sustainable movement because of the tremendous cost it would have on the business overall. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the hospitality industry as it stands now needs to reduce its emissions by 66% by 2030 and by 90% by 2050 to prevent an increase in the global temperature. It’s essential for the industry to implement sustainable practices and innovate in all aspects of the business to retain its customer base, safeguard the planet, and protect the most beautiful natural destinations from long-term devastation.

The global pandemic in 2020 was a major turning point in the way travelers thought about travel and their own personal impact. As they became even more mindful of the health precautions and protocols that hotels implemented to keep travelers safe, they have also scrutinized their own carbon footprint and impact while traveling more than ever before. In fact, according to Statista, the global ecotourism industry worldwide is forecasted to reach 374.2 billion dollars by 2028, and that number will only grow. Ecotourism is not a new concept or idea, but more travelers, especially young travelers are more mindful and doing more research before booking their accommodations and will look for more sustainable options. It’s necessary for the hospitality industry to pay attention to their practices and adapt to the changing consumer behavior quickly.

Sustainability does not need to mean sacrificing luxury and high quality products. Innovation within the supply chain is at the center of maintaining that quality for vendors while providing them sustainably. And an integral part of restructuring the supply chain starts with divesting from single-use plastic. Some states like California already have laws banning single plastic use in the hospitality industry, which also opens up the opportunity to implement these practices across all properties. Partnering with suppliers that align with sustainable practices and goals is one of the best ways to implement these practices from the source and is necessary to stay ahead in the business. Some of the major hotels are already leading the movement towards a plastic-free supply chain. Hilton works closely with innovative suppliers that contribute to their goal to reduce their waste by 50% by 2030, which includes food and plastic waste.

Other hotel brands like Marriott and IHG announced they were ending their use of single-plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotel rooms in 2021. The move removed 200 million plastic bottles from their waste and saved the brand millions. Other practices like encouraging reusing towels have not only reduced the energy and water use, but also saved millions for the companies as well.

One of the myths about sustainability is that there is a significant cost and investment needed to make the transition. With the right partners, the ROI for brands will be significant and will also build customer trust in the long run.

The United States Green Building Council estimates that building a LEED-certified hotel only costs 1-2% more than a hotel without green options. Another Statista study also reported that 81% of travelers surveyed said they plan to choose a sustainable accommodation option in the coming year. Understanding the shift in consumer behavior is essential for staying ahead of the curve and retaining a customer base in the long run. A hotel’s lack of care for the environment can be the difference between maintaining business or being overlooked for the more sustainable options available. Brands that not only listen but adapt their practices to their customer base are the way to build trust and retain those customers in the long run. The road to a more sustainable future is a collective effort, not individual. It does not only rely on just the hotels, travelers, or supply chain partners alone to achieve these goals in the long run. Partnerships and collaboration among all levels are key to protecting the planet’s future.


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