A recently published large-scale survey points out that the vast majority of travelers are keen on staying at hotel properties that engage in sustainability (1). Willingness-to-stay (WTS) is important to the extent in which hotels can capitalize on their sustainability endeavors through transparent communication. However, the same travelers seem to have difficulty in finding hotels committed to sustainability or simply are not aware that those hotels even exist (2); a topic discussed by the World Panel on Sustainability in Hospitality earlier this year (3). Beyond WTS, hoteliers are particularly interested in the willingness-to-pay (WTP). Findings from academic research are mixed, but recent studies point out that the willingness to pay a price premium to stay in hotels that have implemented sustainability practices is linked to the level of environmental concerns showed by individuals (4). Because ultimately, the price guests pay to stay at the property remains a major driver or barrier for travel decisions.

How should the industry communicate the added value of sustainability (rather than added cost) that resonates with guests that espouse similar values? How should the industry communicate to other segments which do not share the same values? How do we transform the perception that sustainability measures are simply a cost-reduction strategy rather than valuable and essential practices in this day and age?

Marloes Knippenberg
Marloes Knippenberg
CEO of Kerten Hospitality
Nelly Gedeon
Nelly Gedeon
Founder and CEO of Wayaj, Inc.
Kathryn Murphy
Kathryn Murphy
Owner, The Murphy Gallery & Hotel Dublin
Megan Epler Wood
Megan Epler Wood
Principal, EplerWood International
Kyriaki Glyptou
Kyriaki Glyptou
Senior Lecturer in the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management at Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom
Maurice Bergin
Maurice Bergin
Managing Director at GreenHospitality.ie
Lucienne Mosquera
Lucienne Mosquera
Co-founder of SustainUK and currently developing services to accelerate and simplify decarbonization and optimization of building and retrofit projects.
Bill Bensley
Bill Bensley
Founder of BENSLEY
Sarah Habsburg-Lothringen
Sarah Habsburg-Lothringen
BA Hons, PGCE & MSc, Tourism Training Specialist & Business Mentor for Small, Independent Hotels
Henri  Kuokkanen
Henri Kuokkanen
Associate Professor at Institut Paul Bocuse
Florian Kaefer
Florian Kaefer
PhD, Founder & Editor, Sustainability Leaders Project

Rather than focus on sustainability, communication should center on more fulfilling experiences that guests will enjoy and the higher quality which such measures often mean. This combined with sharing stories of people and communities who are part of it or benefit.

Stefan Gössling
Stefan Gössling
Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University

Many businesses continue to consider sustainability as something that is costly and necessary, rather than to get certified, to engage in additional measures on a voluntary basis and to then communicate all of these efforts pro-actively. Environmental sustainability in particular is expected by many guests (who still wants cage-eggs for breakfast?) and a signifier of a high quality standard. Communicate it as such wherever possible. And ask the platforms to include sustainability as a criterion to be judged by guests, and it will bring the entire sector forward: We all want quality, and we should embrace definitions of quality that include environmental sustainability.

Frauke  Fischer
Frauke Fischer
Founder, Agentur Auf!
Johanna Wagner
Johanna Wagner
Co-Founder of La Belle EDuC, Founder of Upside Up Hotel Asset and Guest Lecture at ESSEC MSc in Hospitality Management (IMHI)
Kathy McGuire
Kathy McGuire
Principal Sustainable Development at 3 Pillar Solutions, LLC
Willy Legrand
Willy Legrand
Professor of Hospitality Management at the IU International University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Trevor Girard
Trevor Girard
Director of Standards and Accreditation at Hotel Resilient
Celine Vadam
Celine Vadam
Founder & CEO of WE(i) Think