The Sustainability Conundrum – Accreditation, Measuring and Reporting
At this month’s Annual Hotel Conference, hoteliers, owners and investors heard from 90 industry-leading speakers, tackling some of the most pertinent topics affecting the hospitality landscape. Among them, our very own Managing Director, Susan Bland. Joining a panel discussion on the sustainability conundrum, Susan spoke alongside Malcolm Kerr, Horwath HTL, Rekha Toora, JLL and Kelli Turner, Village Hotels, chaired by Ufi Ibrahim, Energy & Environment Alliance.
The overarching message during the session was that while standards are currently being set by government in relation to international environmental standards for developments, there is still much that can be achieved in current operations. Looking at KPIs, benchmarking, reporting and accreditation schemes, the panel discussed quantifying sustainability progress in a business.
It is not just consumers that are taking a keen interest in the matter, but investor interest in ESG has also been heightened in the past few years. Investors are rightfully asking a lot more questions to ensure future proofing for years to come.
Susan explained that a successful ESG strategy is difficult, because there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We know that business ethics, behaviour and guidance have been on the agenda for a while, because that’s easier to quantify and see the impact of change. A lot of people are a little more thrown off by the environmental part, and by seemingly complex concepts like becoming carbon neutral.
Susan told the audience to remember:
“E is only one part of the ESG and carbon is only one part of the E – it gets talked about a lot, but there are a lot of parts in the S and the G to focus on. The environmental focus is newer to the conversation, but within it there are a lot of parts that are easy to understand and already measurable.”
ESG can be an overwhelming topic that lacks framework. Many businesses are getting stuck with setting targets that are difficult to see beyond. Susan advised that hotels must look at their own assets and data, rather than going off what others around them seem to be doing. That being said, the formula for sustainability success lies in collaboration. The buy-in of key stakeholders is fundamental for measurable success, and a good employer understands that you can still achieve the S and the G, while E remains a work in progress within your business strategy.
Authentic collaboration, the panel shared, all comes down to education. Educating consumers that a reduction in towel washing and turndown services isn’t a reflection of a brand’s quality. Educating staff to buy in to the vision and to effectively answers guests’ questions. Educating partners about the importance of responsible sourcing throughout the supply chain.
Overall, the message was clear that businesses must do more, even if they can’t do it all.
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