Comment: From bees to trees

FCM Travel Solutions MD Ciarán Kelly talks about the growing trend of sustainable practices in hotels and how this can draw in a new demographic of travellers

Ciarán Kelly
Ciarán Kelly

The numerous climate conferences over the last couple of years have brought a renewed focus on the business world’s commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. While the pacts have seen many companies recently review and increase their efforts, a large number of hotel brands have already been improving their contribution to environment and community over recent years.

With hotel industry research revealing approximately half of the world’s travellers will consider environmentally friendly properties when choosing where to stay, hotels have been stepping up their initiatives to reduce the social and environmental impacts of their operations. While travellers continue to prioritise comfort and convenience as key influencers of their bookings, they are also likely to factor sustainable travel into their decisions.

From rooftop beehives to lowflow toilets and aggressive recycling measures, more hotels have spent the past few years dedicating resources specifically to the development of sustainability and community programs. Their focus is on striking the balance between giving their guests the luxury and comfort they desire and fulfilling a corporate obligation to protect the environment and help improve standards of living in local communities. Asking guests to reuse their bath towels or reduce their water consumption, for example, is an effective way of reducing a hotel’s environmental footprint with little to no inconvenience for the majority of its guests. Hotels in Dubai for example are currently in progress of complying with numerous new sustainability requirements that were introduced in 2019 by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

As part of the Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) initiative, the requirements have been developed to map out regulations for hotel establishments across all classifications. They cover a variety of areas including sustainable management approaches, performance metrics, energy, food, waste and water management plans, green events, air quality, guest education and employee training initiatives amongst others. Dubai Tourism will also actually audit the performance of hotels after an implementation period which will allow properties to finalise their operations.

As hotels continue to do the right thing by their communities and the environment, corporate travellers can expect to see more opportunities for genuine and meaningful ways to connect with, and support the destinations where they stay. This is particularly good news for travellers who value authentic philanthropy and are looking to support hotels in giving back to the environment and communities in which they do business.

Hotels’ sustainability commitments range from creative to practical but the message is clear; they are committed.  Hilton has a new campaign whereby they will recycle discarded soap and amenity bottles and donate them to reduce hygiene-related illnesses for communities in need. Hyatt ensures every managed hotel diverts 40% of its waste from landfills. Marriott has installed 263 electric vehicle charging stations at Marriott hotels worldwide, and Accor has introduced eco-designed beds using wood sourced from sustainably managed forests. With growing global awareness of the need to nurture honeybees and sustain the pollination of plants. Some properties are actually using rooftop areas to house beehives. In turn, guests can enjoy the honey in drinks, food and in the spa treatments.

About the author - Ciarán Kelly is the managing director of FCM Travel Solutions (Middle East & Africa Regional Network), parent company of Flight Centre Travel Group in the UAE and brings more than 17 years of experience from the global travel industry, gained from working in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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