I’ve spoken previously about sustainability in hotels and how properties are making themselves greener – and using it as a marketing tool at the same time. In the travel industry, much is publicised about carbon footprints when you take a flight, and greener car hire options when you arrive at your destination, but hotels are often far down the sustainability viewpoint and not well publicised to the traveller. Sustainability covers do much, and we are not just talking about re-using your towels to save water and pollution from detergents. It covers much more – how a hotel treats its staff, development in line with the local environment and eco-structure, not damaging the local population with your business… there are so many sustainable avenues which must be considered.
Some tour operators now advertise how sustainable a property is – such as Tui Travel who use the FCO’s “Travelife” auditing system. It has to be said though, many hotels and chains fail to promote their efforts at all.
Hilton Hotels have just announced that they have successfully developed a measuring system called LightStay to help them calculate the environmental impact of their hotels. This looks at many aspects of how their property and business affects the world around them and looks at anything from housekeeping practise to food waste and transportation.
Hilton have said that their tool helped properties reduce energy consumption by 5% and waste by 10% compared to the previous year. 1,300 properties have already been subject to analysis by the tool and Hilton have claimed the energy saved as a result is enough to power 5,700 homes a year and the water savings could fill 650 olympic sizes swimming pools. Impressive figures, but I would be very interested to see who in-depth this tool looks at practises. I have found no information on anything other that raw material waste, such as energy, water and food. what about the people employed in their hotels? Are wages working conditions and hours fair? Are these people developed and looked after? Maybe I am asking the question about the wrong chain – Hilton have a good reputation when it comes to these issues, but I would still like to see this kind of social impact measured.
So hat;s the next step? Ok, it’s great that this kind of activity is being taken seriously by chains, especially one the size of Hilton – by I want more. I want to see properties graded by a universal standard. I want to display a hotel in an online booking tool, GDS or website and right by the category/star rating, I want to see a ‘sustainability award’ – upfront, good or bad. It’s only by enforcing such a grading that sustainability will be brought to the forefront of peoples minds. Imagine this is practise – the message the consumer and even corporations can send to hotels who perform poorly would be incredible and make things change.
If anyone reading this post knows of any other tools that have been developed to assess sustainability, please leave comments below – this really is an area that needs speaking about more often and raising with all hospitality parties.