With links to so many globally impactful human activities, such as transportation, lodging, foodservice and agriculture, the tourism industry is uniquely positioned to effect a paradigm shift toward this thing called sustainability. Buzzword though it is, sustainability has perhaps too many potential concrete applications to be easily defined in abstract terms. With a certain root sense of lasting or enduring, and more current denotations that are important in a global way, sustainability can be manifested in many real ways through business.
Finding myself motivated by applications of this concept in hospitality businesses, I set upon a mini-quest during the summer, making a series of five visits to hotels that do it well.
In the What’s Different Series, I will recount site visits and room-nights in hotels that have incorporated a commitment to sustainability into their communications and business identities, with the goal of identifying just what’s different? In hotels where I stayed a night, I’ll evaluate what sets the guest experience apart, if anything, from the experience at an “ordinary” hotel. Are there sacrifices? Perks? For the hotels that granted me a conversation and site visit, I’ll cover more about what they actually do differently in operations. What are the policies? How are the employees involved?
With its so many facets, hospitality has the opportunity to set a wide variety of examples of sustainable business. Looking forward and working forward, the questions I’m asked (mostly by myself in rumination), boil down to: what consists of sustainability in hospitality, and how do we get more companies to do it?
As an exercise in best practices review, this series will serve to highlight good approaches and poignant commitments that hotels everywhere may be able to learn from.
My research thus far has revealed to me that demand for green lodging is latent, and conscientious travelers are not as much of a force driving change as are regulatory bodies and, in many good cases, the communities in which these businesses operate. As a careful traveler I trust that some day soon the demand for responsible tourism will be manifest in the international landscape. In the meantime, I’ll work toward that end. So join me over the next week or so, as I explore what’s different about hotels whose communications incorporate a sustainability strategy.