The Future of Sustainability Certification: Micro-Certification?
— 14 experts shared their view
Over the past 20 years, the hospitality industry has experienced a continuous increase in various 'stamps of approval', especially at the sustainable front. A few large certification bodies with extensive criteria catalogues dominate the market but hoteliers and consumers alike are still struggling to differentiate the reputable and credible ones from the home-made seals of approval. A growing number of hotel chains and independent operators have opted for external, third-party certification in regards to their hygiene and sanitation standards in light of the current pandemic. Is there an increased interest in micro-certification? Why not look for a plastic-free certification? What about a carbon natural certification or a water-efficient certification? A plant-based restaurant certification? So micro certifications with low-barriers of entry for hoteliers who could build their sustainability endeavours along micro-certification, like pieces of a puzzle. Would micro-certification facilitate consumers' understanding of the meaning and intention of certification?
Co-Founder at TUTAKA
Comprehensive Micro-Certifications can combine both main advantages of certifications: building trust and sending a clear message to consumers. Existing sustainability certifications often struggle with the latter. What is a “sustainable hotel”, consumers might rightfully ask.
The question remains, whether it needs external approval on the micro-level in an age of transparent consumer reviews and the ever-present fear of reputational losses. I think external validations and quality systems are important from a management and not a marketing perspective. Communication, on the other hand, should then mirror the management efforts to steadily become more sustainable. Trust can be achieved through a credible, public, multi-level communication strategy, regular reporting, and an open handling of shortcomings. A plant-based menu does not need external validation. Neither does an “x% plastic-free” promise. Hotels might be open about their energy sources, but they will need to back the information up (publicly). Companies might disclose their suppliers and include them in their social media communications. These efforts might pay-off more than “putting a stamp on it”.