We have made the case before that fighting climate change is no longer optional for hotel operators; it’s table stakes for the survival of any business in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries.
This is arguably more true now than ever, in light of recent consumer research. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Travel Industry Outlook, demand for more sustainable travel options is growing as public awareness of humans’ contribution to climate change increases.
In that report, Deloitte cites its own Global State of the Consumer Survey , which found that 68% of consumers consider climate change an emergency.
According to a recent Booking.com survey of global travelers, more than half (53%) report that they are more determined to travel sustainably than they were a year ago. As the authors of the aforementioned Deloitte report note, however, “the extent to which these intentions translate into travel decisions is unclear, as is the appetite to pay more for greener options, especially when prices are already high.”
While this may be true, growing numbers of travelers do report that they are willing to accept higher costs for the opportunity to support more eco-friendly hotels and other environmentally friendly businesses. According to Expedia + Skift: “Half of the consumers would be willing to pay more for transportation, activities, and lodging if the option was more sustainable.… On average, consumers are willing to pay 38% more to make their travels more sustainable.”
Paying more for an upgraded hotel experience
We also can’t ignore that many travelers have pent-up wanderlust after living through pandemic travel restrictions. Forbes recently cited a survey by Booking.com that found nearly half (49%) of respondents reporting that they are “likely to spend more on their next trip to make up for lost time”.
And as PressReader noted in a recent post about millennial and Generation Z travel trends, that same Forbes article also cited an Expedia survey in which 80% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 said they would be willing to pay to upgrade their experience.
What does it all add up to? Travelers who are okay with spending more to support an eco-friendly business, so long as that business also delivers a top-notch guest experience.
If all of these survey results hold true and travelers put their money where their mouths are, this could be good news for sustainability-minded hospitality companies.
Adopting sustainable practices in luxury hotels
The bottom line is that sustainability is no longer an option, but a necessary focus for any high-end hotel or resort property. Sustainable actions not only help to protect the environment — which is a noble goal unto itself — but they also enhance the reputation of the hotel, attracting a new generation of eco-conscious guests.
Moreover, sustainable practices can help to reduce operational costs and increase efficiency, providing long-term financial benefits for the hotel.
The implementation of sustainable practices in hotels can range from simple measures such as recycling and reducing waste to more complex initiatives such as the use of renewable energy sources.
For example, many sustainable hotels have adopted solar and wind power, reducing their carbon footprint and decreasing their dependence on non-renewable energy.
Additionally, hotels are implementing water-conservation practices, such as rainwater harvesting and the use of low-flow showerheads, to reduce their water usage.
Cutting energy costs sustainably
Last December, Hotels magazine reported that energy prices had fallen marginally from their peak in the third quarter of 2022, but noted that they were still more than 20% higher than they had been at the same point in the previous year.
Because the market is volatile and unpredictable, with inflation still very much a factor, no one can really predict where prices will be even a few months down the road.
More and more operators in the hotel industry are looking for new systems and upgraded green technologies to reduce their energy expenditure. (We previously identified smart energy consumption as one of the trends likely to shape the tourism industry this year.)
These energy efficiency measures have the added benefit of making a hotel’s operations more sustainable:
Automation: smart devices can help minimize the unnecessary use of electricity, heating and cooling. This technology is part of an emerging trend called Energy as a Service, or EaaS.
Renewable energy generators: operators of larger luxury properties might consider employing solar, wind, or micro-hydro plants to ensure a long-term supply of relatively cheap energy. These can be expensive to install and maintain, but hotels in many places may be eligible for government subsidies or low-cost green loans to invest in renewable-energy technology.
Air-source heat pumps: UNESCO recommends using pumps to transfer heat between the interior and exterior of the hotel as needed. This type of system can make a hotel room warmer or cooler depending on guests’ needs while cutting down on HVAC energy consumption and costs.
PressReader can help hotels eliminate paper waste by allowing them to shift from hard copies of newspapers and magazines to digital content. In cities all over the world, paper accounts for a large percentage of the municipal waste that ends up in landfills, releasing carbon dioxide and methane, and polluting soil, groundwater, and air.
By offering their guests the opportunity to access thousands of the world’s top publications through PressReader, sustainable hotel operators can greatly reduce emissions from distribution and recycling.
They can further cut down on paper by delivering in-house publications — such as restaurant and spa menus — through PressReader’s Self-Pub feature. (More about that later.)
Sustainability as a marketing tool for luxury hotels
Sustainability can be a powerful marketing tool, a way that hotels can differentiate themselves from their competitors by positioning themselves as eco-friendly and socially responsible, which is especially attractive to a new generation of travelers who prioritize environmental sustainability.
This can result in increased brand loyalty, as well as higher levels of customer satisfaction, leading to positive word-of-mouth and increased referrals.
That said, a truly progressive hotel business will ensure it makes a real commitment to its sustainability strategy, rather than just using it as a marketing scheme. Sustainability in hospitality is good business, but so is building more personal relationships with your customers throughout their entire journey with your brand. Listen, learn, and act on what matters to them.
As Ravneet Wadhwa, the Senior Area Manager for the APAC region within the hospitality vertical at PressReader, advises, “Prove that you care about their planet as much as they do by performing a sustainability assessment on your properties, sharing the results publicly, and the putting money where your lip service used to be. Document your sustainability plan and report on your efforts and results on an annual basis.”
Engaging with hotel guests
Indeed, your sustainability initiatives are only useful as a marketing tool if you let guests (both current and prospective future ones) know about them. Hospitality Net reported that “3 out of 4 accommodation providers say they have implemented at least some kind of sustainability practices at their property, but only one-third actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests.”
Hoteliers should consider adding a sustainability or corporate social responsibility page to their website in addition to engaging with customers through social media and email marketing.
As we noted in a past blog post, getting eco-certified can give your environmentally friendly hotel an edge when it comes to search engine optimization. Google has introduced a feature that helps travelers find hotels and resorts that are eco-friendly. Now, when people look for green accommodations on their desktop computers or mobile devices, the search engine can show them whether or not a given property is eco-certified.
Getting the word out with Self-Pub
As promised, here’s a bit more about how our Self-Pub feature can help brands market their sustainability efforts. Using Self-Pub, sustainable hotels that offer PressReader can let their current guests know about their corporate social responsibility initiatives, including their commitment to environmental protection.
With PressReader’s Self-Pub technology, hotels can also share their own content in an eco-friendly, paperless fashion, including hotel directories, restaurant, and room-service menus — and, of course, details of the property’s sustainability efforts.
The future of sustainability in luxury hotels
As the trend towards sustainable tourism continues to grow, it is clear that sustainability will be a key focus of the luxury hotel industry around the world. Sustainable hotels will not only attract eco-conscious guests but also stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing market.
That makes sustainability a marketing necessity for luxury hotels, offering numerous benefits for both the environment and the hotel's bottom line. By implementing sustainable initiatives, hotels can differentiate themselves from their competitors and promote themselves as leaders in the sustainable tourism movement.
From a user-experience standpoint, environmentally conscious choices don’t need to detract from a top-tier guest journey. In fact, they often enhance it.
Companies that invest in eco-friendly technologies, services and products will be well-positioned to offer guests and visitors the sustainable experiences they demand — and are willing to pay a little extra for.