Go green: 5 reasons to run a sustainable hotel business

Environmental awareness is growing and this can give PR a boost and have bottom line benefits.

Travel by its nature, and particularly air travel, raises some conflicting questions around environmental sustainability. In fact many consumers who choose to fly today may want to assuage their conscience by staying in an environmentally friendly hotel.  Aside from being good for the environment, sustainable businesses can lead to good PR but can also have bottom line benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the ways sustainability can work for your business:

1. A sustainable business creates its own PR

In recent years, a raft of awards (such as the AA Hospitality Awards, the European Sustainability Achievement Awards and the Green Hospitality Awards) and accreditations (like ISO 14001) have sprung up that can help travel brands to prove their environmental credentials. In fact, every major hospitality award ceremony has a category dedicated to commending environmental awareness in the hotel business. “It’s just another area in which to shine when looking for positive press, persuasive logos for your promotional literature and a few impressive trophies for your hotel lobby,” says Karelle Lamouche, VP multi-brand Marketing Services, Accor UK & Ireland. On that note, Accor recently won the AA Eco Hotel Group Award and two hotels in Ireland’s County Clare received the highest accreditation available under the GHA programme. However, a word of warning – be careful to do more than pay lip service to being green or it will backfire.

2. Sustainability can achieve bundles of savings on electricity, water bills and cleaning materials

As part of a recent modernisation, which included receiving an ISO 14001 certification, Lato Boutique Hotel in Crete achieved energy savings of 38% and water savings of 15%. At they same time they reduced carbon emissions by 46,000 kg per year. Lato also managed to cut waste and reduce the amount spent on cleaning materials, says and Lato’s owner and CEO Lefteris Karatarakis. Meanwhile, estimates from the Accor group, which has had a long-standing commitment to sustainability, say that to date the group has funded the planting of 3 million trees thanks to the laundry savings generated by their Plant 21 programme. But it has also benefited from savings from reduced water and energy use. And at the Clare hotels, both operated under hotelier John Burke, the properties’ combined efforts reduced water consumption by 38% per guest, cut the amount of waste going to landfill by 62%, and reduced electricity per guest by 28%. According to Burke their green programme has led to a consequential reduction in operating costs at both hotels and in doing so has enabled them to offer the best possible value to locals and tourists. “This is critical in order to compete in the current marketplace,” he says.

 3. Being environmentally aware forges a link between you and your clients

So says the Accor Group. According to Lamouche, VP multi-brand Marketing Services, Accor UK & Ireland, the group’s year old PLANET 21 programme comprises 21 commitments, backed by measurable objectives for 2015. “At Accor, we see sustainable development as an integral part of our growth as we recognise that guests and partners are increasingly concerned about social and environmental issues.” One of Accor’s PR goals was to include guests in their eco journey, encouraging them to contribute to the reinvention of Accor as a sustainable business. Information, the company says, is immediately available to customers at the booking stage, with a small logo appearing in the information section on each hotel page; see the Novotel Hotels in Paris and under practical information you’ll see the ‘21’ button.

4. Sustainability issues can help businesses connect with staff

Three of Accor’s 21 goals revolve around supporting and improving staff opportunities, but argues that each of their commitments and objectives including green objectives in recruitment literature can improve candidate engagement. Lato’s chief executive also strongly believes that being sustainable is also good for the people who work in the organisation.

5. By staying on top of new environmental policy you could be ahead of the game, or even benefit from tax and loan incentives or even government subsidies

According to Accor, the time and money they have invested in creating a sustainable business model means they will always be “at the vanguard of sustainable business development”. That means that in the future, when all businesses will be expected to run on an environmentally sustainable model, Accor will be ahead of the curve; any expense with switching to a more eco-friendly system will have been absorbed already and local supply connections established.

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