Who makes hospitality sustainability happen: Governments, Industry, Consumers?
— 17 experts shared their view
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?
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
First off, we have to stop doing research that pits sustainability against price, location, safety, and cleanliness. Just because it's lower on the list does not mean it is not wanted or preferred. Second, we cannot pit sustainability against features that are far easier to filter and judge on the majority of platforms out there (not counting 'self-assessment' based "green" box on some platforms or the complete dedication to "green" of other platforms). The focus on these features or criteria is what gives hotel owners the justification they are looking for that 'consumers don't care.'
Third, if we focus on end consumers as the lever, we miss the opportunity to move the market towards sustainability through business travel and events (where changing a few minds can have a massive impact). I've trained hundreds of professionals in this space and here's the reality: buyers want it and always say "we don't ask for it because we don't know what to ask for" and suppliers say "we have sustainability but only bring it up when they ask" (both of these observations are anecdotal from my experience but EIC has research that shows the "no one is bringing it up" phenomenon). Should we not focus on the few key players (e.g. Concur, Cvent, etc.) and decision-makers (e.g. large consulting firms' hotel RFPs) that mediate this space and see what they can do to drive change in the B2B space?