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?

Julia Massey
Julia Massey
Founder & Consultant, ESG Manager
Marloes Knippenberg
Marloes Knippenberg
CEO of Kerten Hospitality
Jonathon Day
Jonathon Day
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Trevor Girard
Trevor Girard
Director of Standards and Accreditation at Hotel Resilient
Kathy McGuire
Kathy McGuire
Principal Sustainable Development at 3 Pillar Solutions, LLC
Aurora  Dawn Benton
Aurora Dawn Benton
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
Maribel Esparcia Pérez
Maribel Esparcia Pérez
University Professor at the University of Lleida - Faculty of Law, Economics and Tourism and Founding Partner at the ESHC
Willy Legrand
Willy Legrand
Professor of Hospitality Management at the IU International University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Federico Vignati
Federico Vignati
Principal Executive at CAF - development bank of Latin America
Peter Varga
Peter Varga
Assistant Professor at EHL Hospitality Business School

I believe micro-certifications will increase guests' confusion concerning sustainability engagement of the hotels. The majority of the clients have already had difficulties to differentiate among the various labels they may see at the hotels. I trust if some credible national or international certifications are pre-selected and imposed by tourism/hospitality authorities, not only guests would trust more in these labels, but companies would also have an easier task which one to choose. To sum up, there are already far too many certifications in the market, so it is better to pick few that are credible and also recognizable by the clients.

Franziska Altenrath
Franziska Altenrath
Co-Founder at TUTAKA
Florian Kaefer
Florian Kaefer
PhD, Founder & Editor, Sustainability Leaders Project
Frauke  Fischer
Frauke Fischer
Founder, Agentur Auf!

Certification is complex, expensive and often criticized for not being good enough. This puts those, who want to prove that they are “doing good” in a dilemma. You might invest in something that makes your life more complicated without being honored by your customers. On the other hand, certificates are a straight-forward way to prove that you followed certain standards. In my opinion certificates are not enough for those who take sustainability seriously. However, going without organic-, fair-, climate-neutral-… certificates is no alternative. My advice: check which standards are convincing (=strict), widely accepted (=well-known), fit your business (= prove aspects that are important for you), and chose the few you cannot do without.

Related article by Frauke Fischer

Benjamin  Lephilibert
Benjamin Lephilibert
Founder & CEO, LightBlue Environmental Consulting