By now, the hospitality industry is no stranger to shifting priorities. Even before the pandemic, however, many were on track to a different type of priority adjustment. As the threat of the environmental crisis grew, a good deal of hotels and hotel chains stepped up to acknowledge tourism’s role in the issue, taking steps to align themselves with plans for a more sustainable future. At this stage in time, tourism was contributing to 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that was rising rapidly.
The environmentally aware traveller
As you’d expect, suppliers in the hospitality industry were not the only ones becoming educated on the situation. Before the pandemic, travellers were also becoming more aware of the impact of their trips, with Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report indicating that in 2019, 72% of travellers believed that people needed to act immediately to ‘make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations.’ In addition to this, 73% of respondents ‘intended to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation when looking at the year ahead’.
Despite the break in travel-related emissions that occurred during the pandemic, our planet is still very much at risk – and the world at large is becoming more and more concerned. In fact, with the slower pace that came hand in hand with lockdown, it’s likely that many consumers have had the time to pay more attention to environmental issues than before.
Recent research in Phocuswire showed that consumers in 2021 have increasing interest in sustainable travel, with 68% of travellers stating that they are 'trying to be more aware of sustainability-friendly travel brands to support' .
While environmental activism becomes more widespread, other consumers are also wary of becoming part of the problem, leaving less and less opportunity for businesses who do not display a sense of responsibility around the issue.
Business advantages to going green
There is no shame in hotels starting small. Trying an eco-initiative, like carbon offsetting, waste reduction or even plastic-free toiletries, can have a myriad of benefits, such as:
- Including your hotel in a rapidly popularising sector of environmentally aware hotels
- Appealing to modern, educated travellers through your sales and marketing channels
- Saving you on operational costs (for instance, when they ‘opt out’ of housekeeping or other services)
With consumers willing to spend on their holidays than ever before, we’d say some environmental initiatives have the financial potential to be more than worth your while.
The motivations behind travellers choosing eco-friendly travel options has also been shown to vary. Sometimes all travellers are after is a bit of peace of mind. Another Booking.com study revealed that out of all travellers who chose an eco-friendly hotel, the reasons for choosing them included:
- to help reduce environmental impact (40%)
- wanting to feel good about an accommodation choice (33%)
The 2019 report also revealed that, whether searching for a sustainable stay or not, 70% would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly.
Whether your hotel is a full-fledged eco-hotel or not, these insights show that offering green options will rarely go amiss. Put simply, no matter what type of hotel you run, incorporating eco-friendly initiatives at your hotel will benefit your business as well as your footprint.
Revenge travel, responsibly
If the projected phenomenon of ‘revenge travel’ is to take place, you can think about how you can welcome a new wave of guests in a way that does not ignore the health of our environment. Try to take this opportunity to build on the progress and awareness that occurred in last year’s slow period. Who knows, you may unearth a modus operandi that is less damaging to your surroundings, more efficient and more attractive to your guests!
At Oaky, we are far from perfect but striving to be more conscious about the small ways we can make a difference and empower others to do the same. In our opinion, starting small is just as good a way to get started as any. Have a look at some ideas for eco-friendly ancillary services that we compiled for our customers’ Deal Library below. You might just find some initiatives that you can easily implement in time for your first wave of returning customers. Good luck and thank you for reading!