World Panel
Viewpoint31 August 2020

The (Green) Recovery Imperative: Hospitality Re-Set Or Bouncing Forward?

Sustainability in Hospitality

— 15 experts shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Willy Legrand , Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University
Aurora Dawn Benton
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.  

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