October 28, 2022

What is Sustainable Hospitality Management?

Every sector, business, manager, and individual today is faced with a growing list of threats, such as global warming and rising ocean levels. We can no longer sit pretty and fold our arms. Action needs to be taken. The United Nations has already released warning shots, indicating that the world is at the tipping point if global warming is not stopped. In the hotel and travel industry, the most notable effort to counter these challenges and make the planet a better home is sustainable hospitality management. This post is a comprehensive guide to sustainable hospitality management. Keep reading to learn what hospitality management is, the key pillars, and important areas of focus.

green hotel

What is Sustainable Hospitality Management?

This is the adoption of sustainable practices in the hospitality industry. The hotel, tour and travel sectors have direct interests in supporting sustainability because it helps to keep operating costs low, increase guest demand, grow profits, and facilitate business continuity. It is the main platform supporting their operations. Sustainable hospitality management is based on three key pillars: environment, society, and governance (ESG).

  • Environment

This pillar focuses on the natural environment and how it is impacted by the hospitality facility. A hotel's action, such as the use of energy, can release greenhouse gases (GHG) that accelerate global warming or wastes that pollute the natural ecosystem. Sustainable hospitality management should target reducing negative impacts on the environment and increasing the positive ones.

  • Social

When it was conceived, the concept of sustainability was thought to only include the natural environment, but it has since been extended to social and governance pillars. People play a crucial role in defining the society we live in and have to be at the centre of any sustainability plan. Note that the society includes all people, from employees in your hotel to communities in the neighbourhood. Therefore, your facility should target helping improve people's lives, protect their culture, and empower them.

  • Governance

When the UN held the first UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992, member states agreed that it is impossible to look at the environment and development as two different entities. Businesses, such as hotels and resorts, exploit natural resources to grow profits and their management is central in driving sustainability.

In sustainable hospitality management, governance is a critical part of defining the policies of an organisation. For your facility to be sustainable, the management should adhere to international best practices, including gender balance and installing channels for whistle-blowing to reduce the risk of graft. 

From this definition, you can see that sustainable hospitality management touches on all areas of a hotel. Also, it is not only for large companies in the hospitality industry. As we are going to see shortly, sustainable hospitality management comes with a long list of benefits for every facility, both small and established facilities.

Importance of Sustainable Hospitality Management

The most notable benefit of sustainable hospitality management is the support you get from stakeholders. For example, visitors are always looking for green hotels and resorts because they have the assurance of making a positive impact on the planet. This makes sustainability an excellent path for growing your facility’s market share and profits. Other benefits include:

  • Better compliance with environment, society, and governance (ESG) policies and regulations.
  • Stronger organisational culture in your hotel.
  • Lower energy consumption rates for your facility.
  • Helps to promote more attractive sceneries for your guests.
  • Cuts down operating costs for your facility.
  • Strengthening brand reputation both locally and abroad.
  • Winning repeat customers and more referrals. 
  • Provides the satisfaction that your facility is helping to address the global challenges facing the planet.

How to Create a Good Sustainable Hospitality Management Plan

For your facility in the hospitality industry to be considered sustainable, you need a clearly defined plan. Often, some managers simply pick some activities and commence the process without creating a clear plan, but this is likely to yield suboptimal results. Instead, they should start by drawing a clear plan for sustainable management.

To create a good sustainability plan, here are the main steps to follow:

  1. Carry Out a Comprehensive Review of Your Facility

To craft a good sustainability management plan, it is crucial to understand where your facility is at the moment. This means reviewing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts of your facility. This will help you to identify areas of focus to reduce negative impacts. Try to be as thorough as possible to be able to genuinely make a positive impact.

  1. Liaise with Stakeholders to Determine What Areas they Prefer to Focus On

One of the reasons why the hospitality industry, and indeed, every other sector, focuses on sustainability is to inform stakeholders about the adopted efforts. Therefore, it will be an excellent idea to bring them on board and ask what they would want your facility to focus on. The main stakeholders to focus on include investors, staff, the community, and local authorities.

  1. Do a Materiality Assessment and Create Goals for Sustainability

In sustainable hospitality management, getting the views of stakeholders only sets the ball rolling, but you need to refine the targets. At stage three, you should carry out a materiality assessment, which helps to identify the most important areas to focus on. The goal is to identify and work on the areas that will deliver greater positive impacts. For example, a resort located in the forest might prioritise support for forestry projects, while another in the city might target strengthening waste management in the neighbourhood.

  1. Designate an Implementation Team and Draw Key Performance Indicators

Sustainable hospitality management requires a clear plan that defines the targeted goals and methods of achieving them. If you have a goal to achieve zero-carbon emission status in ten years, the plan might be to cut the current levels by 10% each year. So, identify activities that would lead to the targeted goal and set key performance indicators.

When drawing out the goals, it is also important to think about the implementation. If your hotel does not have the expertise, it might be a good idea to contract a sustainability professional. You might also want to work with departmental heads to ensure every bit of the plan is done to perfection.

  1. Report Your Efforts to Stakeholders and Plan for the Next Reporting Phase

The final stage of any plan for sustainable hospitality management is creating a report for stakeholders. This report details the journey that the hotel has followed so that visitors and investors can appreciate and associate with you. Consider following top sustainability frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), for greater credibility of your report and efforts.

When preparing the report, make sure to adhere to the core principles of sustainability, including verifiability, accuracy, and continuity. Furthermore, you should set the report as the stepping ground for the next reporting phase. This means that if you have cut water use by 30%, the next reporting year/phase should build on it to make the planet a better place.

Crucial Components of Good Sustainable Hospitality Management

When drawing a sustainable hospitality management plan, what are the best actions? The target is to select actions that will not only portray your company's positive side but genuinely help to address the challenges facing the planet. Here are some of the most important areas and actions of interest:

  • Good Waste Management

Hotels release a lot of waste, which can be harmful to the environment if not managed well. Your sustainability plan can target reducing waste that is released into the environment by changing the products, adopting new technology, and doing away with plastics. Waste water should also be treated and solid waste recycled to increase utility of materials.

  • Reducing Carbon Footprint

To address the problem of global warming, you should join the rest of the world by using every opportunity to cut down greenhouse gases (GHG). So, consider areas such as shifting to energy-efficiency lamps, natural lighting, and renewable energy.

  • Staff Development and Training
  • Efficient Use of  Energy

In most hotels, the bulk of the energy is used to air condition and light the guest rooms. If you do not reduce this cost, there is a risk of only making limited profits. One of the methods of cutting down costs is enhancing the efficiency of the air conditioning system using advanced technology, such as CONTINEWM. This device works by eliminating positive electrostatic charges and cutting down resistance to airflow.

CONTINEWM stands out among other strategies because it is affordable, provides fast ROI and easy to install and maintain. It also works effectively in removing bad odours in the air pumped into the guest rooms. To install CONTINEWM, you only need to fix it on the front part of the heat exchanger. You can cut the energy cost of your facility by a huge margin after installing CONTINEWM. On average, it can reduce up to 25% of your AC bill.

In this post, we have demonstrated what sustainable hospitality management is, and the best actions that your company should focus on. Other actions include supporting local communities, partnering with international organisations like Climate Fresk, and regular reporting. Remember that, like other types of management, you should regularly review your sustainability plan and make adjustments to improve it.