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.
Choosing a planet-friendly hotel or such type of accommodation is not about green certification, affiliation with a global think-tank of sustainability experts, or replacing plastic straws with more environmentally friendly alternatives. When talking about booking sustainable hotels, probably the first step is to identify what the definition of sustainable is….
Green “washing”, ESG, over-supplied markets, transporting recycled or natural products around the globe, what is it that we want to include in the notion for “Sustainable”? What is the consumer looking for? And even more to the point: Is it a “feel good” move or is it the drive to make a real change?
Raising awareness has caused the world to realize that something has to happen, then consciousness is created and the next step is to note what efforts are making a real change and what should the consumer/guest look for when they book. For example, with our brands, we try to hire locals, use the local supply chain, and supply a mixed-use offering to create ecosystems of businesses who collaborate and build the business together. In our view, creating sustainable hospitality projects means cultivating, supporting, and developing the location, wherever this may be.
I believe that sustainability is a state of mind and a way of life, where reaching perfection, at this point in time, is still very difficult, and businesses should be pushed, supported, and rewarded for making a tangible impact. So, going back to the question: 'How to make it easier to book sustainable hotels?' It all comes down to creating a flexible set of standards, or “proof” points, for any business to set out what they are doing, and their impact, regardless of different this may be, driven by the largest booking platforms, i.e. OTA's, Tripadvisor, and other active platforms that bring guests together, so guests drive further the selection criteria, like in the good old times.
We support the New Generation, as they are so much more driven to save the world, and ensure they have a good future. We believe that their views and ideas would bring an even much more pushed and rigorous approach, as for them eating meat is a question, followed by another question: where is the cow from and where does the food come that the cow is eating… Our industry is so far from ready for this as we are still talking about avocado, chia, and organic cheese, but truly, how as an industry we can reward those at the forefront of the changes, create a set of important criteria for guests, integrate this on the booking channels, and let the changes be driven by the those who are booking and not the theorists ….