Hospitality companies, individual hotels and companies outside the hospitality industry have raised their environmental and sustainability priorities, but now some of that responsibility is shifting to individual employees.
Paul Proctor, Vice President, Commercial, Europe for IHG Hotels & Resorts, said individuals are increasingly paying attention to sustainability as governments and countries prioritize initiatives to reduce emissions or engage more resources in renewable energies. This, in turn, has caused a shift in the way buyers and businesses think about travel and hotel selection.
Proctor said companies that have taken the lead in this area have adopted programs that go much further in terms of personal responsibility for carbon footprints.
“A business buyer I spoke to recently implemented a stricter approach to his business – hotels, flights and cars [rental] are displayed by their carbon usage,” Proctor said. “The traveler then receives a carbon budget for the year, and once it is consumed, no further travel is permitted.
“In a post-pandemic environment where we are already paying more attention to the purpose and ROI of travel, this adds another layer to the decision-making process for the traveler,” he said.
Proctor said that when looking at carbon footprints in travel budgets, one of the first questions companies and their employees will ask is: is this trip really worth it?
Paloma Zapata, CEO of Barcelona-based Sustainable Travel International, said she sees the policies as a “forward-thinking and climate-smart approach”.
“In a climate emergency and post-pandemic world, companies that take this approach are actively educating and inspiring employees to make smarter decisions and take ownership of their footprint. It’s great,” she said. declared.
Inge Huijbrechts, global senior vice president of sustainability, security and corporate communications at Radisson Hotel Group, said it was common for guest sustainability strategies to measure the carbon footprints of travel and overnight stays on the basis of figures provided by travel and room suppliers.
Customers push “hard to have information on the carbon footprint per hotel night spent, or per hotel, visible on the [global distribution system]. They look at what the hotel business partner is trying to achieve in terms of net zero emissions and also set goals on how to reduce their carbon footprint from business travel,” she said. . “We have frequent conversations about how we can align initiatives to support this.”
Corporate clients are constantly adjusting their travel policies around sustainability, Huijbrechts said. They often ask for more data on adoption rates and impact so they can show the level of partnership with Radisson. Customers have also requested a hospitality industry-aligned reporting format “to allow them to compare apples to apples.”
Huijbrechts said Radisson always steers corporate customers toward programs such as the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative and the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, which it considers industry standards. ‘industry.
The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, another major sustainability initiative chaired by former Radisson President and CEO Wolfgang Neumann, has 16 hospitality companies as partners, among participants from other industries. Arabella Hospitality, which has 15 hotels in Germany, Spain and Switzerland with around 3,000 rooms in total, recently joined the alliance in late February.
Greater transparency about sustainability at the booking stage is a win-win situation for corporate clients and hotels, Proctor said.
“At the very least, procurement functions expect to have information on sustainability efforts in hotels, including carbon footprint reporting, and this is then increasingly used as a decision making alongside price, guest satisfaction, safety and location of hotels selected for inclusion. to corporate hosting programs,” Proctor said.
It won’t be long before this kind of transparency is everywhere in the hospitality industry, Huijbrechts said.
“The majority of [hoteliers] are working on displaying green information on their own internal portals, as well as with their online booking tools, [such as] electric car charging facilities and eco-friendly hotels,” she said.
She added that the hospitality industry can help business travel managers with what she defines as the baseline level of hotel sustainability protocols, as well as providing a “net positive pathway”, standardized procedures and standards on issues such as transparency and ease of adoption.
Huijbrechts said she has clients with ambitions to move more employees from air travel to rail travel and carpooling to reduce costs and emissions. She said much of this was in anticipation of less frequent business travel than in 2019, although she acknowledged trips will be longer on average than they were before the pandemic.
Although companies are concerned with the broader picture of sustainability, Huijbrechts said there is currently a lot more focus on reducing the company’s internal carbon emissions.
Zapata said each hotel has a different carbon footprint per guest because they each have different energy consumption levels and percentages of renewable energy sources.
Huijbrechts said business travelers might take longer to adopt personal budgets for carbon footprints or limit the types of activities they do while on a business trip.
“The actual booking behaviors or actions of their travelers during their stay with us may take time to change,” she said. “They also want to see what they bring themselves and therefore are asking for more visibility in hotels in terms of what we do, such as locally produced food and smaller plates to reduce food waste.”
Radisson’s initiatives include 100% carbon-neutral meetings, the hotel company offsetting the entire carbon footprint at no cost to guests and attendees, and the ability for individual travelers to offset overnight stays through loyalty points . Huijbrechts said Radisson works with two carbon offset organizations, First Climate and Carbon Footprint.
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