How European hoteliers can reduce the
environmental footprint of their business and stay
ahead of hotel sustainability trends
Hotel sustainability has become a priority for forward-thinking guests and hoteliers in recent years. With high waste generation and water consumption rates, many hotels have realized the negative impacts they’ve had on the environment. Hotels around the world are now working to improve their environmental footprint while simultaneously improving the guest experience.
To truly make a difference for the environment and gain a competitive edge, hoteliers need to do more than the bare minimum. Sustainability must be more than just box-ticking green issues—your values and policies must demonstrate your true commitment to the cause. While some hoteliers believe they can’t afford to be sustainable or that their guests aren’t interested in their efforts, the opposite is in fact true.
As a hotel manager, your customer is always your number one priority. And that’s exactly why hotel sustainability is so important. Today’s customers support companies that share their values. Travelers are increasingly seeking out ecofriendly travel options, and some are even willing to pay extra to support a hotel’s sustainability program. According to booking.com, 68% of global travelers intend to stay at an ecoaccommodation in 2018.
While many high-impact sustainability initiatives won’t be visible to your guests, it’s still a good idea to showcase your commitment to the environment and appeal to the growing eco-conscious crowd.
While it’s true that some sustainable technologies are more of an upfront investment, being eco-friendly will help you improve efficiency and lower costs in the long run. Many sustainable hotel practices will pay for themselves in no time through reduced energy and water bills.
By adopting green initiatives, you also gain a competitive advantage, boost your brand image, and improve customer loyalty—all of which translates into higher profits.
Use this guide to learn how hotels can go green and why it
matters. Scroll the page or use the following links to jump directly
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Want to make your hotel more sustainable, but feel held back by a limited budget? Managing high stakeholder expectations and sticking to your budget is no doubt challenging.
Many companies mistakenly associate sustainability with high expenses, but being sustainable can actually lower your operational costs and increase your profits. Since energy and water usage is especially high in the hotel industry, establishing an energy reduction plan is a relatively easy way to reduce costs and improve your impact on the environment.
“3 years ago we decided to make the switch from traditional light bulbs to to micro LED lights. Since then, our energy consumption has dropped by 30-35%, which has, of course, resulted in huge savings in our energy bill.”
DOMINGO RODRÍGUEZ-ORTIZ, HOTEL INGLATERRA
With so many available options to improve sustainability in the hotel industry, it can be difficult for hotel managers to pick the best initiatives for their unique business.
Sustainability experts recommend incorporating eco-friendly efforts into your strategic plan. That way, all your operations, policies, and procedures will foster an eco-friendly culture. Establishing clear sustainability goals will give your business direction, help you remain innovative and competitive, and attract the right client base.
As people are becoming more and more conscious of the food they eat, they often seek out organic and local options while traveling. Offering locally produced, in season foods on your menu is thus a simple, low-cost way to be more sustainable.
But local doesn’t always mean better. What if locally sourced options just won’t cut it for your luxury hotel guests?
Fortunately, there are other ways to build a sustainable menu. Since cattle makes up more than 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, offering less red meat is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while still pleasing your guests.
Growing your own produce is another way to reduce food waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming and transportation. AccorHotels, one of the world’s biggest hotel chains, aims to create 1,000 urban vegetable gardens by 2020.
You can also request reduced packaging from suppliers and eliminate bottled water from your menu.
Your guests play a key role in your sustainability strategy. Many travelers do care about being green, but it can still be a challenge to get them to commit to your eco-friendly initiatives.
While it’s a good idea to inform your guests about your commitment to the environment—both at your hotel and online—many long-term investments won’t be visible to them. Thus, hoteliers can also focus on behind-the-scenes programs, which will have a bigger impact in the long run.
“Many initiatives visible to the guests are only the tip of the iceberg. Long-term investments like renewable energy and wastewater treatment programs could have a much bigger impact than any towel and linen program.”
JUHA MÄHÖNEN, HOTEL HAIKKO MANOR & SPA / EHMA
Guest satisfaction is your biggest priority. But running a great hotel wouldn’t be possible without your employees. Improving sustainability in the hotel industry thus largely depends on your employees’ regular participation in environmental initiatives.
“You have to convince the whole staff that sustainability is important. Changing people’s attitudes is not always easy, but it can make a huge difference.”
FRANCISCO CORRÊA DE BARROS, PALÁCIO ESTORIL HOTEL GOLF & SPA
When training your staff on sustainable hotel practices, include all levels of seniority. Top-level support is crucial to get everyone committed to your sustainability program, and more junior workers will bring in different perspectives. Encourage all employees to suggest positive changes and reward their good work to keep them engaged.
As the first step of your sustainability plan, it’s important to measure your energy and water consumption. You can only make informed decisions once you know where you currently stand. Use a system that works around the clock and offers real-time reporting so you can continuously track your progress and measure your efforts.
The next step is to set goals with your team. You can use the SMART system to focus your efforts, meaning your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. Encourage your staff to put forward their own suggestions, and make it clear how they can contribute. Without setting clear goals, it’s nearly impossible to get everyone involved and to achieve your desired results.
Many hotel sustainability practices require little or no cost. Even the larger eco-friendly initiatives that may cost you more upfront will save you money in the long run. Thus, most organizations are prepared to invest in energy efficiency now to reduce operating costs well into the future. Sustainable practices also improve your hotel’s image, which result in better profits down the line.
With so many options out there, it can be difficult to choose the best sustainable tools and practices for your hotel. While it’s important to do your research, it’s also crucial to consider your unique business situation. Take into account your ideal guests, the location of your hotel, the building, and the local infrastructure when assessing sustainable initiatives.
Many hotels are now going green, but few are effectively communicating their efforts. Develop a communications plan to help strengthen your company culture, gain recognition, and improve your hotel image. Make your initiatives clear to all stakeholders—including your guests—to attract new clients and retain your existing ones. Don’t be mistaken—guests are interested in your green program! And their participation is important to see your desired results.
Smartvatten’s remote monitoring service helps you mitigate your
impact on the environment, cut costs, and earn customer loyalty. With
24/7 consumption monitoring, automated alerts, and cloud-based
software to analyze trends, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing you’ll
catch leaks fast and save money. Smartvatten is good for the
environment, your customers, and your wallet.
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