Who makes hospitality sustainability happen: Governments, Industry, Consumers?
— 17 experts shared their view
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What (or who) helps hospitality companies improve faster? Consumer-led campaigns on plastic straws have pushed many hospitality companies to consider alternatives or simply ban single-use plastics. So far, however, the vast majority of guests still choose their hotels mainly by location and price. Using levers such as taxation or legislation, governments are also increasing the pressure. Recent examples include the European Union's ban on a series of single-use plastics such as cutlery, straws, and stirrers by 2021. Many states across the US are implementing similar bans. Beyond plastics, carbon pricing initiatives are in place or planned in more than 45 countries. The EU's Energy Performance of Buildings Directive requires all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy (NZEB) by the end of 2020 and existing buildings to transition towards NZEB by 2050. Finally, the hospitality industry's self-regulation and voluntary codes of conduct are considered popular approaches in dealing with sustainability challenges, but at times with limited success. Facing mounting environmental issues, are all three parties (government, consumer, industry) playing an equally important role? Do consumers have the foresight to act as a useful lever of change? Taxes and legislation are in the pipeline across the globe, so what needs to be done today to minimize the risk of getting hit? And how about driving consumer behavior change through inspiring guest experiences?
Professor of Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism at Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Findings from research that we conducted in the Netherlands suggest that guests are increasing willing to support or even push for sustainability. However, they also argue that hosts should take responsibility first. On the other side, hosts repeatedly stated that guests are generally not interested in sustainability. Interestingly, though, the hosts we spoke with do not regularly meet with or listen to guests. Hosts seem to base their views on guests' complains and general data from guests' satisfaction surveys.
Considering guests' willingness to engage, we conclude that there is room for an open and informed discussion between hosts and guests on ways to transform their relationship to one that actually supports sustainable development of the hotel sector and wider society.
In short, the answer to the proposed question would be that governmental legislation is surely welcome as a push factor towards sustainability, but that the best way to move swiftly forward is an open and informed dialogue between hosts and guests.
The research article on which this view is based can be reached via this link: https://doi.org/10.1386/hosp.8.1.23_1