With a whopping 585 million tourists visiting Europe in 2022 and more expected in 2023, it’s become vital for hotels and restaurants to think about the monetary and environmental costs of their operations. Energy saving is at the top of the list - tourism contributes to around 8% of global carbon emissions, and fossil fuels are becoming more expensive by the day. In this article, we explore the ways in which hotels can embrace sustainability and how they can train their staff in it.
What Is Sustainability in the Hospitality Context?
Sustainability refers to being conscious of the impact the hotel sector has on the environment and on the local population and resources. The goal of sustainable industry is to ensure that hotels and restaurants can preserve and improve the environment while providing a worthy guest experience. Many, indeed, are turning their eco-friendly practices into selling points to attract the new wave of conscious consumers who seek minimal-impact travel and leisure experiences.
Sustainable Practices in the Hotel Industry
The tourism industry has been experimenting with sustainability for a while now. Some trends include:
- Plant-based cuisine - The plant-based food movement is gaining traction everywhere as a more environment-friendly choice compared to dairy and meat. Many hotels are now designing new plant-based or plant-forward menus, or even replacing their old menus altogether.
- Locally sourced ingredients - Many hotels and restaurants feature menus with ingredients that they have sourced locally or grown onsite themselves. This reduces the environmental impact of food transportation, supports local businesses and is also healthier.
- Water consumption control - This includes the use of water-saving filters in faucets and shower heads, signs that encourage guests to reuse towels and linen, as well as water-saving laundry services.
- Essentialism - This is a relatively new and popular trend, in which items like bathrobes, dental kits, slippers or shaving razors are given only when customers request them rather than by default.
- Energy efficiency - Saving energy is an imperative for hotels in Europe, especially as they recover from the losses of the pandemic. LED lights, for instance, consume less electricity than standard ones. Most hotels and restaurants also feature signs encouraging guests to switch lights and heaters off when not in use.
- Recycling - Many hotels use recycled materials in their packaging, linen and tableware, while others have successfully eliminated the use of plastic bottles and straws.
Examples of Sustainable Practices in the Hotel Industry
The following hotels have successfully implemented strategies that save energy and reduce environmental impact:
- Europe Hotel & Resorts - This Ireland-based property operates on 100% Green Renewable and will soon switch from gas to 100% biogas. The team sources food from local farms, with whom the hotel chefs work closely to create high-quality menus that also benefit the local community. Other sustainable initiatives include LED lights in the bedrooms, recycled cups and containers and filtered water filling stations.
- Conscious Hotels - This Amsterdam-based cluster of hotels is all about consciously wiser choices, as the name suggests. All the properties offer mobile check-in and check-out, 100% organic food and beverages, water-saving faucets, linens and towels from recycled materials and more. They also plant trees for every direct booking they receive.
- Sturm Biohotel - Located in Germany’s Rhone Valley, this climate-neutral hotel specialises in bio experiences. Food is grown in an on-site garden and the property is built entirely out of sustainable materials. The focus is on slow living and wellness through experiences like guided farm tours and 100% organic spa experiences.
Essential Skills Your Staff Requires for Promoting Sustainability
Taking up a sustainable industry initiative for the first time can be challenging, which is why having your staff on your side is so important. There are certain core skills you can train them in so that they can help save energy for the hotel and for the planet, such as:
- Subject knowledge - Your staff needs to be aware of why saving energy is vital, what concepts like carbon emission and green energy mean and which actions contribute directly or indirectly to energy saving.
- Creative thinking - The more aware your staff members are about sustainable industry practices, the better equipped they are to make creative suggestions. They may notice for instance, from their customer interactions, that the free sewing kits in guest bathrooms are rarely used. They could then suggest removing the kits and supplying them only on request, thus saving the hotel some resources.
- Communication skills - Not all hotel guests will be equally aware of or interested in the need to save energy, which is where communication skills come into play. Your hotel employees should be able to convey your vision in an engaging manner and demonstrate to guests how their actions have direct impacts. Reminders about saving energy or water need to strike the balance between friendly and firm without being too authoritative, and any disputes need to be handled with grace.
How Staff Training Can Help Hotels Save Energy
Managing energy costs is vital, especially with temperature extremes slated to continue and the increasing tourism numbers post-pandemic. At Hosco, we’re proud to partner with Lobster Ink on their online course “Energy Saving Awareness”, designed for hotels to engage in sustainable industry from the ground up. We’re delighted to offer all our Hosco blog readers free access to the course until March 31, 2023. (Please note: this course is only available in English).
Targeted at frontline hotel employees, this short course educates housekeepers and front office staff to take daily actions and how to encourage guests to take actions as well. From reusing towels to turning the lights off when leaving a room, the course demonstrates how small choices, when compounded, go a long way in saving energy costs and reducing resource consumption for your hospitality business.
In conclusion, sustainability isn’t just a wiser choice for the planet - it’s also cost-efficient and a key draw for more environment-conscious guests. In addition to enterprise-level changes, energy savings through consistent daily actions can add up significantly, and are easy to implement right away. By investing in staff training, such as through Lobster Ink’s online courses for the tourism industry, hotels can get a headstart on their sustainability goals and boost their reputation as responsible businesses.
MORE RELATED CONTENT