The pandemic led to a renewed appreciation for clean air — along with consideration for the planet that supplies it. Would-be travelers want to travel more consciously.

A recent summit hosted by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance signals that the focus on sustainable hospitality isn’t a passing trend. This shift in traveler priorities means the hospitality industry needs to pivot toward creating opportunities that incorporate sustainable practices.

This is no longer optional. The sustainable traveler segment will only expand as the realities of climate change and major global events combine to push these issues to center stage in the media and beyond.

What sustainable travelers are looking for

According to WTTC’s Environmental and Social Research (ESR), travel and tourism contributed to 8.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. But get this — travelers are willing to pay up to 38% more to travel more sustainably. A survey shows that more than half of all travelers are already paying more to lower their carbon footprints.

This gives hoteliers the opportunity to create incentives that will draw the growing sustainable traveler segment. As you consider options for incorporating sustainability practices, it’s best to start with the sustainable travelers themselves. Here’s what travelers are saying about their thoughts on sustainability, according to a recent study:

  • 69% want to lessen their environmental impacts
  • 66% want to support local economies
  • 65% want to support local cultures and communities

So, how can hoteliers respond? The suggestions below outline several actionable steps to move toward more sustainable practices.

3 ways to implement sustainable practices

1. Team up with local businesses to connect guests with the local economy and culture

Travelers want to have authentic experiences. A unique way to level up your value proposition is by partnering with local businesses to promote local activities and events. You can make a list of these events and make them available to your guests in a pre-arrival email. Follow up with a reminder when they check-in.

Another way to contribute to the local economy is by sourcing the food you provide on-site from nearby. This will lower operational costs while communicating your commitment to sustainability to your guests.

And structuring your menu to include more vegetarian and vegan options is another great option. Meat consumption is a major contributor to environmental degradation, a fact that is encouraging more people to adopt a plant-based diet.

2. Leverage technology to automate your sustainability

Sustainability practices in daily operations center on managing the big 3: waste, water, and electricity. Implementing new technology is one of the top hospitality industry trends. Using technology to automate how you manage these areas can lower operating costs, increase efficiency, and make your guests’ stays more convenient.

Here’s an example. Electronic check-in can reduce plastic and paper key cards and can act as an opportunity to communicate with your guests. An email or app can be used to provide a passcode or pin for check-in that your guests can use at any time.

There are also plenty of in-room options. Thermostats can be set to have a minimum and maximum temperature setting. And 1-switch lighting systems use sensors to adjust lighting automatically.

Lastly, you can tackle water conservation by asking guests to reuse towels, installing toilet tank diverters, and using shower regulators.

3. Reduce or eliminate the use of plastic

Plastics are taking over the world. Microplastics are now found even in our oceans. Switching to glass shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles as well as providing metal straws and biodegradable utensils are easy ways to reduce plastic use.

Additionally, providing easily accessible water stations and placing recycling bins throughout your property can help reduce waste and encourage recycling.

Communicating the impact to sustainable travelers

Learning about and implementing sustainability practices can be overwhelming. This feeling is shared with sustainable travelers themselves. According to the same study on sustainable travel, 7 out of 10 consumers are overwhelmed by the process of becoming sustainable travelers.

But this is an opportunity to partner with your guests as you move to become more environmentally conscious. Sustainable travelers want to learn how their decision to stay with you is making an impact on the environment.

Your website can include information on local businesses, eco-friendly activities, and nearby cultural events. Videos showing real guest experiences can be embedded in emails and directly on your site. And you can encourage customer reviews that highlight your sustainability efforts with your reputation management solution.

For example, you can leverage automated texts to remind guests to replace towels less often. You can also schedule thank-you messages — via text or email — to guests who partner with you in becoming more environmentally conscious.

Start your sustainability journey

As you can see, becoming more environmentally conscious is a process. The good news is you can start with small changes, and then build from there.

Hopefully, you now have some ideas on how to provide value to your guests as you work toward sustainability together. To stay up to date with more trends and topics affecting the hospitality space, read our blog.

About Revinate

Revinate empowers hoteliers to directly connect with their guests.

Our Guest Data Platform and communication solutions unlock revenue for hoteliers and put them in control of the full guest experience — initial research, booking, check-in, throughout the stay, and even after check out — all via the communication channels that guests prefer, whether it's voice, text, email, or web.

More than 12,000 hotels globally bank on Revinate to drive direct revenue and deliver delightful guest experiences.

Ask us how we do it. Visit our website to get a demo.

Sanjana Chappalli
VP of Brand Marketing and Communications
Revinate, Inc.