Six Guidelines To A Sustainable Recovery For Hotels Post-COVID-19

June 9, 2020

It can be difficult to properly tackle the issue of sustainability in hotels, and COVID-19 has further complicated this topic. These guidelines can help you build the proper framework to achieve a sustainable recovery.

Sustainability is regarded as the key to a successful business in the 21st century. It is fast becoming a top concern for public and private sectors alike. The hospitality industry is no exception. 2020 was set to be a year of collective action on climate change until COVID-19 brought many unknowns, including how future travel behavior will develop and whether sustainable initiatives will be forgotten or gain priority. While travel will remain limited in the short-term and the industry will continue to suffer from excess capacity, the ability to offer the right experience to these fewer travelers will be crucial in attracting them. The question thus becomes whether, in the post-COVID-19 world, ethical and sustainable experiences matter more or less to customers than before.

But what does the term “sustainability” really mean?

Put simply, sustainability means natural ecosystems can continue to support life and provide the resources that meet the needs of the present and future generations. Clearly, the tourism and hospitality sector puts increased pressure on these resources. However, sustainability is more than environmental management; it is also about economic progress and social development.

Is this the right time to implement a sustainable strategy for your hotel?

Experts have different opinions on this question, but what they do agree on is that the COVID-19 crisis is emphasizing two takeaways. First, we are all interconnected, and we can all work together to protect our future. Second is the importance of future-proofing businesses for growth and resilience.

We compiled six guidelines for owners, asset managers and operators worldwide to develop sustainable strategies that are not just a “green marketing” effort, but a long-term competitive advantage and cost-saving opportunity.

Guideline 1: Lay the foundation
Before implementing any specific operational practices or certifications, you need to ask yourself how they can be integrated into a strategic framework. To be able to develop such a framework, you need to gather your stakeholders, from senior management to employees, to reflect on your mission and vision. Now, define why you care and how you can work towards your goal.

Where to begin?
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developed by the UN, are a good way to start this discussion. However, your top management needs to determine which SDGs to focus on to fulfill all their sustainability objectives and align with their business. This includes three steps:

  1. Segment the SDGs into a “story”. Organize those most relevant to you into three main focus areas: people, planet, and policy principles. To do so, define the end stated goal and structure it into intermediate goals.
  2. Identify where the operation fits. Where do these goals already intersect with some parts of the company or your value chain?
  3. Make the business case. Identify the business case factors that can establish a commercial argument for where to play and why.