Responsible travel: How do we make booking sustainable hotels easier?
— 22 experts shared their view
Evidence shows that spending time in nature helps reducing anxiety, improving mental health and well-being, let alone boosting physical health. Nature is good for us; can we be good to nature too? It's no wonder that one recent large-scale survey conducted by Booking.com (2020) identified 'Impact Awakening: The Rise of Responsible Travel' as one of the nine predictions on the future of travel. Half of the global travelers surveyed expressed the desire to travel more sustainably in the future with over two-thirds of respondents expecting more sustainable travel options from suppliers. Demand is (and expectations are) building up and post-pandemic will see a surge in travel with purpose. But do travelers easily have access to all information needed to make wise decisions on sustainable travel and hotels? Where are the gaps in the search and booking stages? And which company manages to fill those gaps well? What are some best practices in showcasing hotel sustainability online?
Booking.com (20 Oct 2020). Smarter, Kinder, Safer: Booking.com Reveals Nine Predictions For The Future of Travel. https://www.booking.com/articles/category/future-of-travel.html.
Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
As the evidence shows, customers – corporate and holiday-makers – are increasingly wanting to make more sustainable travel choices. With 69% of global travelers expecting the travel industry to offer more sustainable travel options, there is an emphasis on hotel properties to demonstrate their positive impact.
There is therefore an increased focus on providing business-to-business customers as well as individual leisure travelers with information on sustainability to support their decision-making. This has led to an increase in the development of sustainability metrics or other rating systems. While this helps the communication of sustainability-related information, we do need to ensure that the information is both meaningful and comparable, so that it's providing an accurate picture and recognizing genuine efforts.
In an industry that has been very hard hit by the impact of the pandemic, sustainability and CSR teams are already stretched, and we want to maximize their time spent on advancing sustainability activities, rather than responding to an increasing number of information requests in varying formats. Likewise, measurement systems developed without genuine industry insights place pressure on stretched hotel operations teams who feel compelled to complete the data or may risk disadvantage of some form.
There already exist many recognized systems for measuring impacts such as certification (EDGE, BREEAM, LEED, etc.), or the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance's Hotel Carbon and Water Measurement Initiatives. These systems and tools are highly used by the industry and provide comparable information across a diverse industry. Therefore, we should consider how we can make these existing reporting methodologies more accessible to a general and corporate audience.
An interesting recent example is the announcement that 61 business leaders, including Unilever, Nestle, PayPal, and Sony, have committed to a core set of 'Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics' for their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting. This announcement not only demonstrates the intent of leading global companies to integrate sustainability into their core strategy but also signals the need for a joined-up approach to reporting that benefits businesses and customers alike. And ultimately leads towards a better world for all.