How to get your hotel eco-certified (and showing up in Google search)

2022-11-16

Today, when a traveler goes to choose a hotel for the next leg of their journey, they often look for properties that operate sustainably and are environmentally friendly. 

The fact is sustainable tourism has become a top priority for a large number of travelers. According to the latest Sustainability Travel Report from Booking.com, 73% of travelers would be more likely to choose an accommodation that has implemented sustainable practices — and 81% intend to stay in a sustainable location at least once in the next year. 

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Eco-certification is a two-part process

What’s also true is that not everyone knows how to find these eco-friendly hotels. The same report indicates that 41% of individuals are unsure of how to find sustainable options.

This leaves hotels and other travel and tourism businesses with a two-part project on their hands: they need to get eco-certified, and then make sure that environmentally conscious travelers can find them easily. 

In this piece, we share insights on how to do just that. 

 1: Get your property eco-certified 

As Millennials and Gen Zs grow up and build purchasing power, they’re prompting a shift in the hospitality sector. These two generations have become increasingly focused on using their wallets to choose companies and brands that reflect values of sustainability, equality, and more. They want to find hotels that adhere to responsible sustainability criteria.

For hotels, this means there’s not just an environmental incentive to be eco-friendly — there’s a financial and reputational one too. 

Getting certified as eco-friendly is a great way to showcase that you take sustainability seriously and are abiding by best practices.

Certification services for green hotels

There is a large range of certification options available that range from no-cost, survey-based certifications, to high-spend certifications based on a robust on-site audit from a third-party certification agency.

How much you’re willing to spend will depend on your budget, but it’s important to note that as travelers become more informed, they’re likely to make decisions based on the highest standards.

Depending on who they typically serve, hotels can also choose between regional and global certifications.

For example, a property that only really sees national clientele might consider looking for eco-certifications within their borders, whereas a global network of hotels would be better served by a global standard. 

Globally recognized standards

Some of the global certifications include: 

  • LEED: a program that recognizes properties built with sustainable practices. This is particularly relevant for new builds or large renovations. There are four levels of LEED certification, ranging from Certified to Platinum. 

  • Green Globe: measures the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the business and its supply chain partners. It’s considered one of the most thorough certification programs, with over 380 compliance indicators assessed by independent third-party auditors.

  • TripAdvisor Green Leaders: a program designed to recognize hospitality properties with green practices. Its survey-based certification process depends on hotels answering questions about their sustainability efforts. The hotel then gets a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum badge on their TripAdvisor profile. 

Before you choose a certification program and get ready to participate in the review process, you and your team will have had to deploy sustainable practices throughout your operations.

For examples of what this can look like, learn how Katikies Santorini built a long-term eco-friendly plan and explore our advice on how hotels can help meet global environmental targets.

 2: Make it easy for eco-conscious travelers to find you

Once your hotel is certified, there’s still work to be done. You need to make sure that people can easily identify your property as eco-friendly when they’re looking for a place to stay. Fortunately, Google is making this easier. 

As part of the ongoing development of Google Search, the company built a feature that helps travelers differentiate hotels and resorts that are eco-friendly. Now, when people look for hotels, the search engine can show them whether or not they are eco-certified. 

Plus, each hotel that appears in the search results will also have a sustainability section that describes the property’s eco certifications and environmental practices under four categories: 

  • Energy efficiency — indicates whether or not they have an energy conservation program

  • Water conservation — points to water management practices such as towel and linen reuse programs

  • Waste reduction — identifies programs such as food waste reduction, soap donation, elimination of single-use plastics

  • Sustainable sourcing — highlights locally sourced food and other materials 

Under the Eco Certifications header, hotels can also list all of their environmental certifications. If you haven’t yet, go to your Google Business Profile and make sure it is up to date with this information. That way, sustainably minded guests will be more likely to choose your hotel. 

Highlight your hotel's sustainability practices

To make your hotel stand out, use language that’s familiar with travelers and doesn’t alienate them. Make sure you’re aware of the environmental standards that individuals are prioritizing and highlight sustainable practices on your profile. Plus, consider adding elements that go beyond the norm.

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For instance, hotels that partner with PressReader are able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and print waste. This makes it worth mentioning. 

Another key element in communicating your sustainability efforts is transparency. It’s more than okay for your hotel team to still have work to do — and it’s better to show that progress rather than preemptively claim success in an area that still needs work.

The last thing you want is for a hotel guest to comment on your profile and say that you’re not being entirely truthful. 

The future is green

As traveler expectations continue to evolve — and global leaders continue to commit to stringent efforts for reducing environmental impact and moving toward a more sustainable world — those in the hotel industry have a responsibility to improve the environmental performance of their operations.

And as they partake in these efforts, it’s more important than ever that they get the recognition they deserve and communicate with their guests.

That’s how you bridge the divide between expectations and reality. 

PressReader has spent the last decade working with hotels to help them reduce waste and become more sustainable. Learn more about how PressReader can help you go green

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