Hotels Can Use Technology to Turn their Sustainability Claims into a Competitive Advantage
The consumer push for more sustainability in travel can mean big business for brands that put their practices — including respect for the environment, local culture, and social issues — front and center.
Today’s discerning traveler takes a lot more into consideration when booking a hotel than the quality of amenities or the property’s distance from attractions. With the tourism industry accounting for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the well-documented impacts that travel can have on local cultures and ecosystems, travelers are increasingly looking for ways to satisfy their wanderlust in the most responsible way possible. In Booking.com’s recent annual sustainable travel report 78% of global travelers said they intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once this year, and 57% would feel better about staying in a specific accommodation if it had a sustainable certification.
The consumer push for more sustainability in travel can mean big business for brands that put their practices — including respect for the environment, local culture, and social issues — front and center. According to hospitality inventory distributor HotelBeds, consumers are up to four times more likely to book eco-certified hotels; they’re also willing to pay a premium to stay on properties that align with their environmental values. While most large hotel chains have made their sustainability credentials a core component of their brand identities, many others, including independent properties, lack the ability to efficiently communicate this value proposition. This prevents them from tapping into demand for sustainable accommodations and costs them room revenue.
The data reliability gap
Sustainability metrics are quite complex, and as the type and quantity of certifications increase, effective data management is only getting harder. Many hotels and hospitality brands can’t communicate the true value of their sustainability credentials because they lack the ability to map the results of their initiatives to recognized certification standards. One reason why: data tends to be collected and handled manually via spreadsheets, e-mails, and unconnected niche systems, which means data is usually out of date and fragmented by the time it reaches the end user.
There are also few direct, automated ways for communicating sustainability data to distribution partners like OTAs. With more than half of online hotel leisure sales passing through these entities, it’s clear that prioritizing this data transfer is crucial to providing potential guests with real-time information around a hotel’s sustainability practices and influencing their booking decisions.
The three C’s: Collect, connect, and communicate.
Larger hotel chains aren’t immune to inefficient sustainability data management. BeCause estimates that this alone is costing the industry an estimated $21 billion per year. Hotels that can address this issue will have an immediate competitive advantage.
Sustainability data management doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be hard. But it does require a technological approach and specialized knowledge, which can be challenging for hotels to develop in-house. So, hospitality groups that want to capitalize on the demand for sustainable travel options to drive more bookings should identify partners and solutions that can:
- Streamline and automate sustainability data collection at the combined property- and group-level;
- Remove redundancies in the certification process by integrating standards from various certifying bodies and allowing data to be automatically shared with these bodies;
- Connect and automate the dissemination of sustainability data to distribution channels like OTAs;
- Communicate that data to potential guests and in a more user-friendly way.
Travelers rely on accurate, trusted information to make their choices during booking. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important factor in their decision-making, hotels can tap into this demand to both grow revenue and tangibly advance their sustainability aims. Those that succeed in collecting and sharing real-time, reliable data about their sustainability initiatives with potential guests will emerge as leaders in an industry that has been eager to signal its commitment to sustainability but has struggled to translate that commitment into bottom-line performance. With travelers ready to reward hotels that can prove the real-world impact of their sustainability claims, is your property in the right position to reap those rewards?
About the Author
Frederik Steensgaard is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of BeCause, an AI-powered sustainability technology company that makes sustainability management flow simpler, faster, and cheaper for travel and tourism companies.Frederik is an elected member of the Climate Committee at the Danish Industry Federation, where he contributes to discussions and initiatives aimed at promoting sustainability.