June 13, 2022
Do Hotel Guests Care about Sustainability?
Mention the word sustainability, and many corporations will tell you one thing: it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Starting from the Paris UN Climate Change Conference of 2015, which called on governments and corporations to take every effort to lower global temperatures below the pre-industrial level by 2 degrees Celsius, everything is geared towards the same objective. Now, local governments, licensing authorities, and standards organizations have set sustainability as the bottom line.
The hospitality industry has not been left out in the new drive to achieve global sustainability. However, most guests are interested in comfort and want to have the best time, resulting in the big question, “do guests care about sustainability?” Let’s dig deeper into the concept of sustainability to understand more.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is a relatively new concept that means responsibly using resources so that the needs of the current generation are met but without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs too. The term was first brought to the fore during the first UN Conference in Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992.
During the conference, UN member states agreed that the idea of looking at the environment separately from development was misleading. In the latter conferences, such as Wild Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the idea of sustainability was built on; culminating in the current trend of sustainability reporting that is defining corporate operations in almost all sectors.
For example, suppose you have a hotel that is listed in capital markets, such as Hong Kong Stock Market (HKEX) or New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In that case, you are required to prepare comprehensive sustainability reports for stakeholders every year. In Singapore, all issuers are required to provide sustainability reports.
Indeed, many companies have already taken this noble course. Already, over 90% of the S&P 500 companies prepare annual ESG (environmental, social, and governance) sustainability reports for their stakeholders. So, if you are yet to adopt sustainability measures, this is the perfect time to join. As we are going to see shortly, even your hotel guests will appreciate that.
Do Hotel Guests Care About Sustainability?
A closer look at the numbers and statistics on sustainability suggests that guests deeply care about sustainability.
Why Would Guests Care?
For a guest, who is out to enjoy a holiday of a lifetime, why is caring about water use, power conservation, or animals important? The answer is that sustainability is now understood more effectively than at any other time in the past. If guests’ actions directly or indirectly release greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) they will also feel the effects of global warming. There is no escaping the consequences!
For a guest who encourages hotel practices that result in the loss of critical species, the consequences are dire. Here, guests ask one question, "If you fancy watching the tiger, would you want to make them extinct?" The answer is in the negative and, therefore, will be out to note every sustainable practice to conserve the species. This means that even the guest’s progeny will be able to enjoy the species.
What Do the Numbers Say?
Looking at numbers on sustainability in the hotel industry shows a clearer picture of the great support from clients. According to an International Skift Research of 2019, 53% of travelers and guests are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. This was an increase of 13% compared to the previous year. With more guests opting to travel sustainably, hotels that focus on green practices are reporting elevated demand.
Guests also consider green practices important because they help to protect the planet. For example, eco-friendly house design, reflective roofing, and guest training attract positive compliments from clients. 73% of global travelers indicate they would want to stay at least once in green accommodation in the year ahead.
However, some guests raise concerns about greenwashing for hotels that simply want to appear green but are not committed to it. So, it is true that guests care so much about sustainability, but they are interested in genuine actions. They want to visit hotels that are making a positive change to society and are even ready to take additional steps to make the planet a better place.
Sustainable Actions that Guests Cherish
Most guests coming to hotels want to get the best experience, and you should be ready to offer it in a sustainable way. Here are some of the sustainable practices that guests love to see:
Water Use with Flushing Innovations
When low-flush toilets were unveiled, they attracted a lot of admiration as water-saving devices. Now, guests are not just looking for low-flush toilets. In addition, they want to see motion-sensing towels, faucets, and soap dispensers in every restroom.
Another water-saving feature is an automatic sink that only runs when a guest is washing hands. This means that even if a guest forgets to turn off the faucet, it will automatically go off to avoid loss of water. Guests will also love water-conserving showerheads to ensure they only use enough water.
Sometimes back, buying water in a plastic bottle was the ultimate thing for many guests, but the trend is now changing. Instead of buying bottled water and disposing of the plastic can when empty, guests prefer refilling their own containers. Therefore, they opt for hotel facilities with more filling stations so that they can refill water as they wish.
When it comes to cutting down on plastics, it is not just about portable water containers. Guests want to see more efforts in your focus on cutting plastics because they are very harmful to the environment. For example, plastics can cause clogging of the waterways, provide breeding points for mosquitos, and are not biodegradable. Therefore, consider adopting initiatives such as eco-friendly packaging and paper-wrapped soaps.
Use Energy Saving Lighting Fixtures
The traditional incandescent lamps consume a lot of energy, making them unsustainable. What is interesting is that even their light quality is pretty poor. Your guests want to see if you have alternative lighting that is more sustainable. Although fluorescent lamps can be a good improvement, they are still not the best. The perfect option would be LED lamps because they provide higher quality light and are more aesthetically appealing.
Another sustainable practice that is loved so much by guests is the use of natural light. If you are designing a hotel facility, consider interactive facades that give the perfect view of the city, country, woods, or manicured lawns. In addition to the picturesque scenery, the design allows you to use natural light instead of turning on lamps.
Not only are such practices welcomed by guests, but they also help to reduce running expenses of hotels thus increasing profitability, giving a strong message to all stakeholders.
Other Sustainable Practices You can Adopt for Your Facility
Every sustainable practice that we have listed above will never go unnoticed by guests. However, there is a lot more than you can do. It is also vital to document and disclose the sustainability efforts to let more visitors know about it. For example, when you explain the effort that went into greening the hotel, more clients will be interested.
So, here are additional sustainability activities that you should consider for your hotel:
Change Your HVAC to a More Energy Efficient Model
When you review the operations of your HVAC system, one of the questions might be, “what is the energy consumption?” If the air conditioner is ineffective, perhaps because of regular damage or age, this might be the perfect moment to install a new model. So, make sure the new efficiency levels are clearly explained on your website. You should also disclose the information in your regular sustainability report for all stakeholders to read and appreciate.
One efficient solution to reducing your energy consumption is through the implementation of Continewm. It is a safe and sustainable ceramic net that can be easily installed in your AC unit, and is the ultimate building efficiency product that will help conserve energy.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint and Work on Reducing It
As we indicated in the definition of sustainability, it must be holistic. This means that you also have to focus on areas outside the hotel. One sustainable practice that you should include is cutting down the carbon footprint of the entire facility. So, check for Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions and craft a good way of cutting them down. For example, you can shift to more sustainable energy sources, such as solar, and use electric vehicles for moving guests.
If the materials that you source from very far are available locally, consider changing suppliers. This means that the emissions that could have been released when moving the products will be eliminated. These are the efforts that are likely to greatly impress your guests.
Rethink the Supply Chain to Only Source Sustainable Products
One thing that you must appreciate is that when you are alone, there is only so much you can achieve. However, the effect will be monumental when you combine effort with others. As a hotel, you should target partners, neighbors, and suppliers in the supply chain.
You can insist on redoing contracts to give focus to sustainable actions. The new contract should emphasize that only products made with sustainable practices will be accepted. This will force suppliers to go green, which will work excellently for our planet.
Sustainability is the new norm that is defining the future of the corporate world. As a hotel owner or manager, you cannot afford to lag when it comes to matters of sustainability. The lovely thing is that every sustainable practice you adopt comes with so many benefits for your company, planet, and guests will like it.