The (Green) Recovery Imperative: Hospitality Re-Set Or Bouncing Forward?
— 15 experts shared their view
COVID-19 has exposed many of the weaknesses in our industry in terms of risk and hazard management, contingency, and resiliency plans but also in the way we blindly deal with our environment. Crises, as damaging as they may be, trigger opportunities in product, service, and systems innovations. Investing now in climate resilience is an enormous economic opportunity as governments and the industry are looking into economic recovery. From clean energy to carbon-neutral buildings and from farm to fork strategy, the hospitality industry has the unique opportunity to be at the core of this transition, helping to shape the transformation and leading to a new, sustainable post-COVID-19 normal. So is the industry ready and willing to bounce forward into a green recovery or rather bounce back to the pre-COVID-19 norm? What components and resources are necessary and how do we go about activating a 'green recovery' in hospitality?
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
We continue to have a culture and structure problem that blocks a "green recovery". I frequently hear students who work for chains say they read about sustainability initiatives on the corporate website (not a job requirement; it's a class assignment), but then do not see evidence of those commitments at their property. In general, the level of cynicism I face from students, about their GM/owner's openness to sustainability, is disheartening.
We need to identify the gap between brand level statements and actual implementation and accountability at the property level (enough with the halo effect). And then "activate" sustainability and recovery by empowering and enabling people on the ground (all levels, all departments), who can move sustainability forward but need a little guidance and encouragement. It's awareness campaigns, training, green teams, stakeholder engagement, and all the stuff we already know make good sustainability but we have to move past the excuses - turnover, language barriers, unions, costs... and now COVID.
One student, who works for a brand that regularly touts its environmental performance, waited more than 3 months to get permission from HR to start a green team. He was told it was a corporate policy (not COVID related because it had something to do with sending emails to coworkers). There are far-reaching consequences to a policy that discourages a potential leader, with passion and willingness to volunteer his time and effort. That is not a recovery or resilience mindset and it permeates the industry. This is not a one-off example I'm sharing - in 2 years and over 100 green team startups, this is a common experience. More than a "green" recovery, we need a "human" recovery.Related article by Aurora