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?
Senior Research Fellow in Sustainability at Hotelschool The Hague
I will only address part of the question, in my view, it is also important to see which actor does what, at what point in time. We can easily recognize certain stages of innovation in the process towards a more sustainable industry. Sometimes strong actions: new legislation or potential consumer boycotts are crucial, but at other stages of the innovation it is more effective to stimulation and facilitating change by supporting pilots and experiments.
An example from Amsterdam. The city council is putting very strict requirements on (new build) hotels, at the same time they bring together hotels to explore how they can contribute to the circular economy: resulting in individual and joined circular practice. Hotels in the city are also taking the lead in 'changing the status quo' by put pressure but are also jointly work together with wholesalers to make get more sustainable products and to make the whole logistical operation more sustainable (e.g. no single-use plastics).