I don’t know if you’re like me, but pretty much the first thing I do after checking into a hotel is get out and check the local area: and it helps if there’s something more attractive to see than acres of asphalt, what might just as well be an airport car park, hemmed in by busy roads and smoke belching traffic. But given I’m not inclined to stay at that sort of concrete box anyway, and given dinosaur hotel chains are happily slipping into the past…I can usually find something to capture my interest. And I expect you feel pretty much the same way because today’s tourism and hospitality sector is all about sustainable engagement. Indeed, in a nutshell, that’s why the overwhelming majority of domestic and international travellers (80% to be exact) currently rank eco-friendly travel and hospitality at more or less top (mostly top) of their wish list ( https://sustainablehospitalityalliance.org,). Car parks just don’t cut it anymore…
We’ve all grown tired of being shut up inside concrete hotels: snapping through ubiquitous cards that tell us to toss a towel or two (or maybe not) into the bath and inviting us to use one less bar of miniature soap while all the time the lights are blazing twenty-four hours a day in soulless, mostly deserted corridors; and the air conditioning’s running at full blast in the middle of winter. We’ve all grown tired of buying into the same empty environmental gestures of major hotel chains, especially so as most of those dinosaur chains are contributing 21% to the world’s hospitality emissions.
You’ve got the message, this is no time to be playing fast and loose with our planet’s future (and our children’s future): so checking into an Eco-friendly hotel makes all the difference these days…but here’s the rub: it’s not all about exploring the local area, because guests have their collaborative part to play too.
Smart, state of the art hotels, like Eco Hotels (www.ecohotelsglobal.com ), are now facing up to the challenge of involving their guests in making sustainability work in practice: not just as vague aspirations, but as a practical ambition.
And here are three of the ways they’re doing it:
Understanding the Guest
Every guest is different: they all have their individual tastes and preferences (for me, as you’ll have gathered, it’s not about walking aimlessly around a car park). But there’s so much else to consider, too: guests want something different from their stay, they may want more community and social engagement, to feel they’re not living in isolation from the staff who are looking after them. So, ask yourself, are you providing enough recycling bins to protect the local community (however ambivalent the guests may feel as they head for the pool); is there sufficient technology to turn off the lights when they leave their room, and enough infrastructure to make them engage fully in the community they’re temporarily part of? Knowing that there is can make all the difference between a positive experience and just another room with a bed…
Getting the Message Through
Long term sustainability isn’t something you do to your guests…you achieve it with them: so, talk to those guests, listen to them, and hear what they have to say: it’s almost always something of value. Sustainability is a genuinely collaborative effort, and empowering guests is the best way to make all of that effort pay off. Let your guests know how much water they’re using and how much energy they consume, and the experience will be better all around. It’s not just a single channel approach…
A Sustainable Guest Experience
And then ask yourself, as a non-dinosaur operator, what exactly sustainability is intended to achieve: how will it make the hotel’s operations better and more rounded? Where exactly is it connecting diversely with members of the local community, and how are emerging technologies making the experience better: where can negative impacts be minimised? It means eco-friendly sustainability will become much more than a daily trade off or a punch line, but instead a routine part of what the customer, and our precious planet, demands.
Ever since Eco Hotels was founded more than a decade ago, sustainability and environmental consciousness have been built into its DNA: fostering energy efficiency, advanced technologies, and eco-friendly operations from the ground up, as well as sourcing supplies to support local communities: always managing its operations with a clarity of vision that brings a new dimension to hospitality.
Red Ribbon Asset Management is the founder of Eco Hotels, the world’s first carbon neutral mid-market hotel brand, offering “green hospitality” as part of a progressive roll out across India which intended to take full advantage of current market opportunities on the subcontinent.