4 Sustainability Trends Transforming the Hospitality Industry
Greener pastures are coming.
More hospitality companies are adopting eco-friendly practices, as efforts to do so not only help the planet, but create an eco-friendly image for themselves, in turn appealing to environmentally-minded job seekers and guests.
More hoteliers are realizing that sustainability is a key component to a successful hotel branding strategy in 2018, as increasingly more accredidations have sprouted up to recognize travel brands that prove their environmental merits. For example, the Automobile Association (AA) Hospitality Awards and the Green Hospitality Awards both include categories acknowledging environmental efforts in the hospitality industry.
Besides positive word of mouth, going green can lead to a leaner bottom line, as savings on electricity, water expenses, and cleaning materials can add up. Finally, there are other benefits of being environmentally aware, such as government subsidies, and tax and loan benefits.
Here's a roundup of the ways today’s forward-thinking hotels are making environmental sustainability a priority:
Just this month, Marriott International announced its plan to remove disposable straws and plastic stirrers from its more than 6500 properties across 30 brands globally. Once fully implemented, “The company could eliminate the use of more than 1 billion plastic straws per year and about a quarter billion stirrers,” according to a corporate news release. “A single plastic straw, which might be used for about 15 minutes, will never fully decompose.”
Earlier this year, the company launched another significant sustainability initiative, unveiling that it would be replacing small plastic soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles with in-shower dispensers. The switch would be a requirement for Managed by Marriott (MxM) hotels, but optional for franchisees. The plastic-saving directive is expected to save an average of 250 lbs of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel – approximately 23,000 plastic bottles, according to Brendan F. McManus, senior manager, global media relations for the company.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is also proactively working on ways to replace single-use plastic straws with compostable or metal straws and/or serve drinks without straws all together, says Faith Yi, senior manager, external communications for the company. “It’s an active educational process for our guests and operations teams and a priority for us. Several Kimpton hotels, restaurants and bars are already 100% plastic straw-free,” she says. “In some restaurants, we only provide straws upon request, which has dropped usage by up to 40%.”
On the toiletries front, all Kimpton hotels now carry and exclusive line of Atelier Bloem bath amenities, including shampoos, conditioners, body wash and lotion, which are found in 16oz. full-size bottles in the showers; these are either mounted or free-standing depending on the bathroom configuration. “The larger bottle formats help reduce waste by avoiding half-used containers. Only the lotion is provided in a 15 ml travel size along with the bar soap which is recycled to benefit Clean the World,” according to Yi.
For Vail Resorts, water use at their lodges, restaurants and properties is a huge focus. Through water-less urinals and low-flow fixtures installed in a majority of bathrooms at Vail Mountain in Colorado, the effort, “Saves up to 200,000 gallons from being flushed down the drain each year and the sink fixtures have led to a 27% reduction in annual water usage since installation in 2008,” according to the company’s website. In addition, over 80% of water used in snowmaking returns to the watershed yearly and the company is still seeking to improve such efficiency and optimize its environmental footprint.
As part of its commitment to water stewardship, IHG also completed a comprehensive water risk assessment across its global estate of open and pipeline hotels, according to Soojin Yoon, manager of corporate communications. “We identified risks related to both water quantity and quality, and put in place tailored water stewardship action plans to apply best practice techniques for each of our hotels, particularly those in water-stressed areas,” he says.
Sustainability Efforts and Suppliers
IHG hotels uses a Green Engage system, an online sustainability tool, which helps hotels to track, measure and report on their water use, carbon footprint, and utility consumption. Hotel operators can access over 200 recommended Green Solutions that can be implemented on property to build and operate sustainable hotels. Such cost savings from energy can average 16% if they achieve Level 3 certification using this tool – or the equivalent of $95,000 on average.
The Canopy by Hilton brand finds ways to incorporate sustainability through filtered water stations and delivering “Break Fast” options in recycled brown bags. Additionally, hotels make an effort to find like-minded sustainable partners that align with the brand’s fresh approach to a lifestyle hotel offerings that makes a clear difference.
At The Ranch, Malibu, an exclusively plant-based menu has a profound impact on the environment, requiring less land, water and energy to produce. Furthermore, The Ranch has an onsite, certified organic garden that provides the majority of the food used at The Ranch and a system of bee colonies on property that produce around 500 pounds of honey each year.
Hilton Los Cabos is one of the few hotels in Los Cabos with a desalination plant to provide its own supply of drinking water which ultimately has less of an impact on the local community’s shortage of water.
Canopy by Hilton introduced its Clean the World soap recycling initiative that has already collected more than one million pounds of partially-used soap, which have been recycled into more than four million new bars of soap are major aspects to their environmentally responsible practices as well.
Norwegian Cruise Line partnered with Waste Management to develop the Live Load offload operation. In 2017, company vessels recycled over 6,000 tons of recycled aluminum, cardboard/paper, scrap metals, plastics, wood pallets, and glass. This resulted in diverting enough timber resources to produce 260,514,100 sheets of printing and copy paper, preserving enough landfill space to fulfill the annual municipal waste disposal needs for almost 30,000 people, and saving enough power to fulfill the annual electricity needs of 1,188 homes.