Sustainable hospitality is highly complex to deliver, so the prospects of using Responsible Artificial Intelligence are exciting and results are already strong.

Responsible artificial intelligence (RAI) is the creation of technology (that can use equipment and services) that empower humans to significantly reduce pollution and resource wastage, whilst improving biodiversity, health and wellbeing. The emphasis is on the word ‘responsible’, meaning that the intelligence seeks to consciously tread lighter or better.

It is valuable at this point to recognise that there are layers of intelligence. So rather than diving into thinking of robots, there are earlier phases that may optimise what may already exist through smarter applications/integrations. Technology intelligence starts with the straightforward ‘adapting’ (to modify behaviour to fit the environment) then progresses to ‘sensing’ and ‘inferring’; then jumping to the self-creating/self-organising and self-sustaining levels of intelligence that can positively contribute in the future to more sustainable consumption and production in hospitality (categories adapted from Derzko, W.). Key to success though is the combination of technology + humans, because humans are still the primary cause of pollution and waste in hospitality and so consequently the solution to more sustainable outcomes. Humans are also the centre of the hospitality commercial exchange yet we are quite often dealing with invisible resources and have the challenges of approaching staff and guests to save. RAI therefore gives us the rare opportunity of tackling the complexities in sustainability we have until now not been able to deliver.

In hotels our system, My Green Team, is able to sense housekeeping behaviours when cleaning rooms and report operational waste. This is particularly important for 3rd party contractors who must also comply with your water use policies. For example, sensing technologies enabled us to show in France that quite often housekeeping contractors would use a similar quantity of hot water per day per room than most guests. A new staff dashboard enables managers to monitor contractors and tie in sustainability performance checks which the system compares.

Our intelligent heating/cooling system, Comfort Controller, manages both air conditioning and central heating radiators. Environmental conditions require a careful balance between season, occupancy, humidity and visitor flows. Regional climates and outside conditions also impact the thermal performance of the hotel. These factors are taken into consideration and verified results show for example in a property in Darwin we were able to reduce energy consumption by over 60% whilst still maintaining a healthy environment. Such savings can also involve guests who have direct access to the RAI to guide them.

RAI can better guide people. In a leading UK timeshare property, our system sensed guest resource use in real time, compare against saving targets and guided guests with two way communications to save. These interventions achieved a 24% saving in electricity and 15% saving in gas.

RAI can also be applied to gamification. For example, in one European theme park guests at their accommodation can see their conserving performance on a leader board. Pilot tests had shown eco-feedback can save 24% saving in electricity and 14% saving in water. In another example from Australia, we were able to achieve a 33% saving in electricity, 21% waste and 20% saving in gas from a combination of performance tracking, and adaptive measures.

Extreme weather events are increasingly requiring staff to be better informed on property adaptive measures. Our system guides staff and guests with a range of personalised advice that directs them to preventatively adapt to changing temperatures, rainfall and winds. Examples include properties where their system draws from over 80 advisory messages reducing demand for energy and increasing guest (and staff) comfort and wellbeing in times of stress. RAI can also be applied to training by recording the performance of individual staff members and providing educational dashboards so they can see the difference they make (our solution has been acknowledged by the European Commission’s Pantour Study as a best practice example of upskilling).

Our My Green Butler service is even able to calculate savings and covert results to cash contributions to charitable caused updated round the clock and published on an in-room TV display. Such transparency breaks the perceived mould of Greenwashing or Greenhushing to promote positive actions by all parties.

With the increase in compliance legislation, RAI has a very important role to go beyond collating data for over worked sustainability teams. Our Climate Champion service tracks performance against Climate Action targets, calculate deficits and motivate teams to complete projects. The use of RAI in such situations can save 250 days per annum of staff time which permits managers to focus on strategy and supply chain negotiations; saving time to not replace staff but to speed up overall sustainability progress.

RAI should be a holistic all-encompassing approach from training staff, providing feedback on service delivery, to enhancing service exchange and improving competitive advantage. From delivering market leading sustainability outcomes that save resources, costs, carbon and introduce climate action adaptive actions with health and wellbeing benefits. The great thing with RAI is that results are clearly measurable. As the amount of historical data grows so too does the opportunity to apply higher levels of intelligence.

The challenge is to deepen managers knowledge so that they can see and harness the benefits of this technology. Particularly by looking beyond the obvious outputs that the technology might offer and seeing how the integration of systems can maximise sustainability benefits throughout the business to achieve a competitive advantage and a much lighter footprint. Like anything in life, it is how you use it rather than leaving a technology on autopilot. We are the primary cause of waste and pollution, but RAI can genuinely help us fix it. You should encourage your team to apply their own intelligence to see how RAI can take you beyond the obvious and work with strategic partners to personalise solutions that meet your exact needs and the uniqueness of your properties to maximise competitive advantages.