“The water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time and the swans have returned!”
Such were the tweets and headlines, that popped up during the first lockdown experienced across Europe (NatGeo, 2020). And while these tweets and headlines have been debunked by authorities, it is no myth that the hospitality and tourism industry has been one of the major factors of global warming and the increased deterioration of the green planet.
With the stop in air travel and worldwide lockdowns, carbon emissions fell by 17%.
— BBC, 2020
According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the hotel industry needs to reduce carbon emission by 66% per room by 2030 and by 90% by 2050. This way, the growth of the industry forecasted does not directly increase carbon emissions (Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, 2021).
The growing society of eco-conscious travelers that constitute of mainly millennials and Gen Z, have been identified as the “next spending powerhouses” and this should be enough incentive for the hospitality industry to gear up on reshaping company operations and practices to be more sustainable (Skift, 2019).
This shift will directly impact profitability and increase brand loyalty.
It is therefore pivotal to understand what are the common, yet frequently missed out, areas of improvement in hotels and restaurants that can positively impact the environment (and your market share).
The concept of buffet style service is directly related to food wastage in the minds of conscious customers
Wasted food contributes to 19% of the US landfills which directly contributes to global warming, since the process to decompose food creates 25 times the global methane production (Forbes, 2017 ; DCCE, 2021).
Here in the UAE itself, an average person wastes around 196 kg of food per year. Doesn’t sound heavy? Well, that’s equivalent to two baby elephants.
And now multiply that by 9.8 million people and you have a staggering figure to come to grips with.
This food wastage is also considerably contributed by the food and beverage industry in the country.
Additionally, the bottom lines of hotels are also gravely impacted by food wastage as a recent study showcased that only a little more than half of the food is actually consumed by diners, meaning an excessive purchase of raw materials adding onto an already difficult margin to be achieved by operators.
While breakfast buffets cannot be entirely eradicated due to the deep-rooted loyalty and tradition it enjoys, the concept can most definitely be optimized to be less wasteful.
As a safety measure due to the recent pandemic, many hotels are switching to partially pre-packed meals served on buffet counters with the goal of reducing physical contact. Also, a lot of hotels are now incorporating a blend of a la carte and buffet style.
These techniques have led to better portion control directly reducing wastage, and hopefully they’re here to stay.
It is high time to ditch the disposables.
Disposable in-room amenities such as shower gels, shampoos and soaps are tossed out after every housekeeping service and are the standalone symbol of waste in the hotel industry. Due it’s single use nature, billions, YES billions, of tiny plastic bottles of shampoos and gels are thrown into landfills every single year (Forbes, 2019).
Hotel operator giants such as Marriott have already taken the pledge to transition from disposable amenities to wall-fitted full-bodied guest amenities across all their brands (WSJ, 2018).
While wall-fittings might not be every brand’s aesthetic, switching to bigger sized bottles that last longer is a smart, yet sustainable step towards the goal of decreasing disposable waste (NBC, 2018).
Eco-friendly shower caps that degrade within 300 days into soil, bamboo branded toothbrush kits and partnerships with locally-owned hospitality amenities suppliers, are just some of the many ways to creatively shift from traditional in-room amenities to more sustainable ones (HotelSuppliesLTD, 2019).
Reducing the paper trail
In the Middle East on average, each hotel guest generates 1 kg of waste per night with more than half of it constituting of paper waste (CleanMiddleEast, 2018).
In-room dining and hotel facilities menus, guest folios, and registration cards are some of the many articles that are still in many properties handed out as hard copies.
Moreover, the ever increasing back-of-house checklists such as VIP amenities, housekeeping checklists, group booking arrivals and more are all printed on devices that, not only take up space in the already cramped up back office, but also requires a huge amount of energy.
Switching to an all-inclusive digital property management system eliminates the unnecessary paper trail that occurs both front and back of house.
Synchronizing the smart TV’s in the guest rooms to enable real time view of guest folios and hotel facilities, or even incorporating iPads, are some of the many ways your property could be more digital, less wasteful and considered tech-savvy at the same time.
Additionally, Smart AI speakers such as WooHoo are specifically designed for hotels and enable your guest to acquire information not only about the hotel but also the local area eradicating the need for in-room menu cards (SmartBeings, 2021).
“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is the attitude of most operators when the digital conversation comes up, however, a new wave of conscious travelers, 88% to be exact, are looking for lodging options that are fully digital and sustainably conscious (Earth 911, 2020).
So, while the system ain’t broke, it is definitely time for a digital upgrade.
While achieving zero percent carbon emission or being completely sustainable is nearly impossible for the hospitality industry, given the nature of the business, operators can make singular changes within the property to contribute to the worldwide fight against global warming and climate change.
Raising awareness amongst your team and introducing measured accountability will ensure the team is fully motivated towards the cause of saving the environment.
Smart changes, such as leveraging technology and having portion-controlled buffets, will help attract the ever-increasing conscious customer who are actually making spending decisions based on sustainable practices.
By capturing the loyalty of this generation, not only will you win more market share and improve your brand reputation, but it will lead to increased profitability in the changing world.
Let’s get in touch!
We’d love to explore how we may be able to support you with your guest experience, so please reach out and someone from our team will be in touch shortly.
PO Box 393942, Dubai, UAE