By Jennifer Nicholas, Senior Consultant, Hotel Spend Management
If there’s one thing that’s becoming clear as the business travel industry recovers, it is that sustainability matters.
And it’s not just because travelers are more concerned about the issue; it matters on a global scale. The recent IPCC report shows we have limited time to take action on climate change. Traditionally, business travel is a major contributor to global carbon emissions. And it’s not just about air travel; it’s about accommodation, too. Building sustainability into your hotel program is crucial to overall success.
At Advito, we’ve been talking about sustainable travel for a while now. We’ve also refined our tools and practices to help our clients get it right. Our sustainability consulting practice now has an ISO-certified methodology, GATE4, that is driving transparency and providing accurate emissions data across all areas of travel.
Creating a data-driven hotel sustainability strategy is the foundation of our approach, and it’s something our clients need in order to take actions that matter. In a recent survey, we asked if clients were using sustainability metrics as part of their hotel selection criteria. Around 80% were not, while 20% were. But when we asked if clients were interested in using those metrics, the numbers switched, with more than 80% stating this was something they wanted.
There’s a big push towards measuring hotel sustainability within the industry, too. Lanyon, the top tool for hotel RFPs, has begun asking hotels for sustainability information so their customers may use the responses as part of their selection criteria. Our methodology allows our clients to do the same, with the added confidence that the data collection and analysis process is ISO-certified.
Creating a Model for Measuring Hotel Sustainability
The biggest challenge to measuring sustainability in the past was a lack of standard sustainability measurements and a methodology to bring them together. Anyone trying to measure sustainability across hundreds or thousands of hotels during an RFP would have a big challenge to face – a lot of hap-hazard information and no clear and efficient way to make sense of it. That’s one of the reasons we created our sustainability methodology, which is a five-step process:
- Define the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) intensity per country – this means determining how much CO2 is needed to produce one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy.
- Create a database – this includes information about amenities and CO2 per room night from the corporate social responsibility answers submitted in RFPs.
- Build an emissions model taking into account average kWh and CO2 emissions in each market.
- Apply the methodology to our clients’ properties.
- Decrease energy consumption value for certified hotels with certain eco-labels.
The result of this process is that each property gets a ranking we can share with clients. We can then use that ranking to make impactful recommendations that produce potential carbon emissions savings by suggesting a shift of business from one hotel to another.
Measuring Hotel Sustainability: A Case Study
Here’s an example of our hotel sustainability assessment in action. A global technology firm asked Advito to analyze their top hotels in a major US city. The analysis included the market tier of the hotels (upper upscale, upscale, or luxury), and the amenities included, such as a restaurant, pool, or spa, as these increase carbon emissions. The analysis also took account of kWh per night, carbon intensity, and eco-labels, and gave a final ranking of CO2 emissions per room night for each property being considered.
As a result, Advito was able to identify two properties with high emissions rates, and several properties with comparatively low emissions rates. We estimated that by shifting half of their accommodation volume from the two most emissions-heavy hotels to two of the more sustainable hotels, the company could save up to 15,500 kg of CO2 a year and achieve financial savings of around $79,000.
Three Ways to Improve Hotel Sustainability and Save
If you would like to improve your carbon footprint by integrating sustainability into your hotel program Advito recommends you begin with the following:
- Check for reliable eco-certifications for hotel accommodation. Advito has a database that includes more than 6,000 hotels worldwide.
- Consider the market tier. An upper upscale property will have a CO2 footprint 15-20% smaller than a luxury property.
- Choose a lower category of hotel. Choosing a 4 star over a 5 star will allow you to save on CO2 while delivering a good experience for travelers. Hotels with fewer amenities also tend to have lower carbon footprints.
Of course, hotels are only one piece of the business travel sustainability puzzle. We recommend that you also pay attention to total trip emissions in making decisions about accommodation. After all, that luxury hotel that’s close to the airport might be a more eco-friendly solution than the upscale hotel that’s a 40-minute Uber away.
Incorporating a hotel sustainability assessment into your program will help you guide travelers to better decisions about accommodation while achieving your organizational goals.