Sustainable Hospitality Supply Chain Management Solutions 2022

What are the main challenges faced by hotels when it comes to sustainability? What can hoteliers and other accommodation professionals do to make sustainability a reality?

Following the discussion at the GSTC Sustainable Hotel Course, here are some key considerations regarding stakeholder buy-ins and supply chain management.

Making a business case for sustainability and securing stakeholder buy-in

We need to have clear understanding and appreciation of the importance and relevance of sustainability by business leaders, managers and hotel owners, employees, business partners, suppliers, and staff to justify investing in sustainability.

Your guests want tangible sustainability actions and meaningful impacts. 61% of global travelers believe the pandemic has motivated them to travel more sustainably. Yes, travelers are interested in sustainability. While not all hotel guests will be booking based on sustainability factors in their decisions, most do want to support businesses who are doing their part to reduce negative impacts and increase benefits for local communities.

Current and future employees want a fulfilling experience at work that is in line with their core values. The culture and value of the organizations they work for are just as important, if not more important, than the pay. Leadership in sustainability issues is an excellent way to stay competitive in the hospitality talent market. Studies also show that customer satisfaction is directly related to employee satisfaction.

More industry players are demanding sustainability in all aspects of their business.

Sustainability in Supply Chain for Hotels

We must make changes to improve hotel operations and ensure that they have sustainable service and product options. To make meaningful impacts, the entire value chain must be more sustainable.

Many in the industry have learned that sustainability management, especially in sustainable supply chain management, is more than reducing environmental footprints or (hopefully) saving money. It is also about effectively managing risks and becoming more resilient.

Although hotels are largely in control of their supply chains, they are increasingly looking to third-party certifications for standardization and global prestige. These voluntary certifications can be applied to specific hospitality companies or cover multiple industries and may have different degrees of strictness. These certifications are mainly focused on operational areas such as reducing water consumption and energy consumption but also address larger goals such as sustainable sourcing and the impact on the local communities. 

(Fortune. “ How ecotravelers are fueling the hotel industry’s sustainability drive )

Hotels looking for information about sustainable supply chain management should look at the Responsible procurement Factsheet by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. It highlights how responsible buying can positively impact hotel operations and gives tips on how you can improve your procurement practices.

Increasing Awareness, Engaging Stakeholders, and Improving Practice

It is important for hotels to have practical tools that allow them to improve their sustainability practices and communicate effectively with others (staff members, suppliers, customers, shareholders) to take concrete actions to sustain their business.

For hotels and other businesses, one such tool is “credible independent sustainability certifications”. This will ensure that sustainability claims are based upon verified facts and not just lofty stories.

These are some ideas, tips and inspirations that will help hotels of any size and at every stage in their sustainability journey.

Engage your guests: According to the old saying, “Tell me, and I forget”, “Teach me, and I may recall”, “Involve me, and I learn”. If you can effectively engage your guests to learn, then your hotel’s sustainability stories will be even more impactful. Jeff Smith, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas Vice President Sustainability shared an example. The Group’s ” earth Lab” was part of the GSTC course hotel in May 2021. It was designed to evoke “feelings scientific discovery in our hosts, guests, and community members through educational programs.”

Share stories Sustainability doesn’t have to be the focus of all communication. Your customers want to relax, refresh, and enjoy their stay. You don’t have to preach to your guests about sustainability. Instead, share compelling stories about your journey to sustainability – the reasons why you care, who made it possible and what you want to do to help others. See how members show their commitment to sustainability.

Let’s be honest. No business can be perfect and no one expects your hotel to be perfect. Instead of focusing on exaggerated sustainability messages and avoiding transparency, try to be more transparent and less verbal. Set bold goals and make sure you are clear about your commitment for steps that will assist your hotel in achieving these goals.

Be human. Instead of just listing facts and pushing information, focus on building an emotional connection with your audience through human-centered approaches in guest experience and customer relationships. Listening is as important as sharing. By listening to customers, staff, and members of the community more deeply, you can tell sustainability stories more effectively.

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