Globally, hotels account for approximately 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions – or the equivalent to powering 45.7 million homes for a year! Meanwhile, FCM’s recent white paper The heat is on for corporate travel to be more sustainable shows that hotel accommodation can account for as much as 17.5% of the carbon emissions of a single business trip.
Statistics like this are putting the hospitality industry under greater scrutiny, especially since MICE event planners and corporate travellers are seeking ways to reduce their carbon impact. Consequently, more climate-friendly establishments and offerings are being developed – from Dubai’s Carbon Calculator tool for hotels, to the development of America’s first “carbon-positive” hotel, Populus, in Denver (set to open its doors in 2024), and South Africa’s soon-to-be-constructed 12-story Hemp Hotel, made with carbon negative hempcrete blocks (meaning the production of the blocks absorbs more greenhouse gases than it creates).
Supply responds to demand
These are some great sustainability wins, but Bonnie Smith, GM of FCM Travel, believes that while the broader tourism industry needs to focus on changing traveller behaviour and offering more sustainable travel options, businesses have an important role to play too. Arguably, the same applies to event planners who are seeking accommodation partners for events.
She gives the following tips for selecting more sustainable hotel options:
Assess for eco-friendliness
As a business or planner, examine your supply chain and ensure your preferred suppliers align with your short-term and long-term sustainability goals. Smith says, “Go for hospitality providers that care about saving energy, using eco-friendly products, and reducing plastic.”
Choose sustainable hotels
The biggest carbon culprits at hotels tend to be electricity consumption, diet, guest transportation methods, and hotel room equipment. Therefore, it makes sense for hotels to tackle these areas first – and for travellers and planners to ask what they are doing to save energy, if they serve locally sourced and organic foods, and what measures they have introduced to limit the need for guests to hire cars, for instance.
Seeking out establishments that follow local or national sustainability guidelines is another of Bonnie’s recommendations, as this indicates a comprehensive approach to tackling the many aspects of sustainability. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance also shares recommendations for evaluating hotel sustainability. “This will empower you to choose hotels or partner with suppliers who offer tools to track your carbon emissions,” adds Bonnie.
Strike the right balance
Finally, Smith advises, “Find hotels and chains committed to sustainability without compromising your travel experience.” Sustainability is important but shouldn’t detract from service quality or traveller satisfaction.
Other tips to reduce the impacts of corporate travel include implementing a no-print travel policy, setting up alerts on booking platforms for the most sustainable travel routes, and purchasing carbon offsets.
“Investing in better hotel selection is crucial, for it shapes our environment, communities, and the future of travel. Let’s recognise that where we choose to stay is a powerful investment in creating a more sustainable and responsible travel industry for generations to come,” concludes Smith.