New Zealand

Pathway to net zero: Guide for accommodation providers

Streamline your initiatives and make them easy for guests to adopt

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s 2008 Responding to Global Challenges report, the hotel sector is responsible for around one percent of the carbon emissions in the environment. Locally, recent research has shown that an overnight stay in an Australian hotel produces an alarming 35kg of CO2 on average.

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s Global Hotel Decarbonisation Report states that the sector needs to reduce carbon emissions by at least 66 percent by 2030 and up to 90 percent per room by year-end 2050.

Read this and more in the new summer print edition of AccomNews. Read it HERE

Hotels for Trees Australia manager Hugo van Roermund says globally, there is an increasing guest demand for more sustainable ways to travel and places to stay.

“On the one hand this is triggered by an increased awareness among travellers of the global environmental challenges and issues,” he said.

“On the other hand, this is the result of business travellers wanting to book, meet and stay in more sustainable hotels as the result of their company strategy or increasing push on ESG.”

Image courtesy of Vendella Australia

Plastic Free Southeast Asia and Australia founder Sarah Rhodes believes that embracing sustainability is increasingly becoming key to long-term success.

“Two of the biggest reasons I see for hotels to move toward sustainable practices are that investors and the workforce are demanding this now more than ever,” she explained.

“The finance sector is making significant shifts and investors want to know that they’re putting their money into sustainable and ethical businesses. This is probably the most impactful shift I see for the sector right now.

“Equally, people want to work for places that align with their values.

“The tourism sector took a huge hit during the pandemic and many hotels are still struggling to build their workforce back up. I predict that sustainable hotels will retain those staff a lot longer.”

When considering the environmental impact of your hospitality business, it can be daunting to know where to begin. However, Ms Rhodes believes that engaging with your team and creating a culture of collaboration is the best place to start.

“I believe that the most important area of focus should be team engagement and awareness raising. By finding the opportunities to reduce waste as a team, the implementation will have a lot more impact,” she explained.

“Food waste and single-use plastics are highly visible and impactful areas to start, with energy and water consumption being two of the highest contributors to a hotel’s footprint.”

JVD-Recycling-Bin, Image coutesy of Swisstrade

Mr Van Roermund adds that finding initiatives that can get guests involved adds another layer to your pathway to net zero.

“By informing and inspiring and providing them easy options to contribute, guests will be able to go along on the sustainability journey with you,” he explained.

“Embrace initiatives that are simple and effective and allow guests to make a small adjustment (such as skipping a day of cleaning and planting a tree instead) that has a measurable effect.”

When it comes to enduring success with sustainability, both Ms Rhodes and Mr Van Roermund agree that it has to start at the top and involve the whole team.

“The key to success is the hotel leadership being intrinsically motivated to do the right thing,” Mr Van Roermund said.

“Changes will be limited unless the whole team is on board,” Ms Rhodes added.

AdobeStock By ImageFlow

“I constantly see one person at a hotel, usually the general manager, taking it upon themselves to find all the solutions and put it all into practice. Not only will this lead to burnout, but it also takes away the opportunity for the team to be involved in identifying solutions and feeling the satisfaction when changes and impact are achieved.”

To get a clearer picture of how operators can implement more sustainable practices into their business, AccomNews asked two industry leaders to share their thoughts.

Considering traveller trends and choices – what sustainable options should accommodation providers prioritise?

Peter Weingartner, Principal, Swisstrade: “Small changes can have a big impact. Sustainability does not happen at once, it is a goal to work towards and it is ok to take the step-by-step approach.

“Something as simple as a recycling bin in the room, a plastic-reducing amenity dispenser in the shower, or appliances that are designed specifically for hotel use and therefore save energy, will all make a difference.

“We recommend choosing items or initiatives that are cost-effective and highly visible to the guest; especially as the standards of sustainable business practices are increasing and are expected by the new generation of travellers.”

PressWash Dispenser Aqua Senses, Image courtesy of Swisstrade

What simple ways can accommodation providers take steps towards net zero in their guestrooms?

Peter Weingartner:When trying to achieve net-zero we need to look beyond the product and consider the chain of supply. Are the products being stored at and delivered from a green warehouse or being distributed sustainably? Are the products made by B-Corp Certified or environmentally driven organisations or are they even sourced locally?

“In addition, we recommend selecting products that are biodegradable and plastic-free where you can, such as bathroom accessories and bio-slippers and make the switch to recyclable toiletries dispensers.”

What about waste reduction, reuse, and recycling?

Peter Weingartner: “Hotels can minimise waste by opting for 100 percent recyclable and sealed dispensers, selecting compostable or recyclable products and encouraging guests to recycle and reuse.

“Additionally, choose products from suppliers that offer spare parts and products that can be repaired long after the warranty period has expired. Waste prevention is the new objective and as an added benefit it’s more cost-effective.”

How can accommodation providers inspire guests to participate in net-zero initiatives?

Peter Weingartner: “Sharing what hotels do to help save the Earth is a great way to inspire and motivate guests. Promote sustainable or eco-conscious brands that you use in all communications and create engaging in-room materials to encourage guests to reuse and recycle.”

Vendella Australia General Manager Luke Brodie emphasised the importance of working with businesses that share your values.

Why should accommodation providers take steps towards net zero?

Luke Brodie:  “It’s a trend that’s definitely here to stay and those who do not act, risk falling behind in an industry where sustainability is becoming a non-negotiable expectation.”

What sustainable options should accommodation providers prioritise?

Luke Brodie:  “First, understand what you can leverage from existing suppliers and networks within your reach – operators don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Many suppliers will already have initiatives that can be capitalised on.

“Secondly, prioritise initiatives that add value and are attractive for the guests, aligning sustainability efforts with customer preferences.”

Image courtesy of Vendella Australia

How can operators be more sustainable when it comes to bedding and linen in their guestrooms?

Luke Brodie:  “For linen, ensure your laundry partner is a company who is environmentally conscious, using modern machinery and practises.

“For bedding, operators now have access to suppliers with sustainable product ranges and globally recognised credentials. Do your research as times are changing and change is easy.

Can sustainable bedding and linen also exceed guest expectations for comfort and luxury?

Luke Brodie: “Yes. Technology has advanced significantly, and now bedding products using recycled and/or sustainable materials are widely used. We have multiple examples where renowned brands have switched from Feather and Down bedding to sustainable ranges as the luxury and comfort is on par but without the high costs, allergy challenges, and ethical issues.

What about waste reduction, reuse, and recycling?

Luke Brodie: “This is a fast-growing topic, albeit in its early stages. In some cities, the infrastructure is not sufficient to support recycling large quantities of tired bedding and linen. However, I’d encourage operators to keep asking their suppliers about options as this topic is growing quickly.”

How can accommodation providers inspire guests to participate in net zero initiatives?

Luke Brodie: “Make it easy!

“Net zero initiatives must be streamlined and easy for guests to adopt without disrupting their stay. By removing complexity and making participation effortless, accommodation providers can ensure that sustainability initiatives resonate with guests and inspire meaningful engagement.”

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