Lindsey Ueberroth is CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest independent hotel brand that celebrates the sustainable practices of hotels worldwide through its GIFTTS (Good Initiatives for Today’s (Tomorrow’s) Society) programme. Born into the travel industry, she has immersed herself in global cultures by visiting more than 100 countries, and makes a personal investment in doing her part to support communities in need through regular philanthropic work. Find out more at www.PreferredHotels.com.
One word that describes you?
What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability?
Our company partnership and my personal relationship with Wine to Water, a non-profit that is committed to providing clean water and sanitation to people in need around the world. In 2017, I dedicated two weeks of personal vacation time to travel to the Amazon on a mission trip to dig water wells with Wine to Water to benefit the local population, and I currently serve on the organization’s board. As a company, we have implemented Wine to Water Filter Build programmes at various corporate events, which provide clean water for 10 years to hundreds of families.
Which is your favourite part of your job?
The international nature of it! It is intellectually and emotionally stimulating to work with such a global, diverse group of colleagues based across 85 countries and have the opportunity to learn about different cultures, business practices, and local customs from them on a daily basis.
Which is the part that you enjoy the least?
The airport process when I travel, which is approximately 170 days a year. Once I am on the flight, I enjoy the journey and look forward to the experience that awaits me upon arrival.
Who is your greatest influence?
My parents, who gave me the gift and passion for travel at a young age and have always been my mentors.
Best advice you’ve been given?
You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen more than you speak and never be afraid to ask questions.
What was your Plan B?
I love my job and do not plan on ever needing a plan B, but my other dream career would be to work as a location scout for the movie industry.
What is your personal indulgence?
The latest IPCC Report noted that our planet will reach 1.5C by 2030 (not 2050 as was originally suggested). How would you suggest we get people to ‘do more’ in 2019 to help this situation?
Some people need a little nudge to realize that small steps can drive sustainable efforts for miles. We need to do a better job of showcasing those who are doing the right things in sustainability to get everyone to act more – whether solo or as a company. Everyone enjoys recognition, a little competition, and being part of a community, so creating more positive reinforcement around those taking the most effective, impactful steps will magnify what we need and want to accomplish, inspire everyone to do more, and foster greater momentum.
How is Preferred encouraging their member hotels to provide a truly sustainable travel experience for guests?
Through our GIFTTS programme and our partnership with organizations like NOW and Clean the World we encourage hotels to be active in their communities to make a difference. Most travellers today across every demographic are choosing to be more loyal to companies that emphasize sustainability programmes, and it is our job to make our hotels’ best practices for sustainability more widely known so they can grab travellers’ attention.
What are you, your family and/or your company doing to reduce and offset your carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same?
You have to walk the walk not just talk the talk when it comes to making change. For our 2019 Preferred Global Conference in Monaco, we did offset the carbon footprint for all of our 54 attending associates’ flights and hotel stays by donating to ClimateCare, a Profit with Purpose business that works with forward-thinking organisations to help turn their climate responsibilities into positive outcome (www.climatecare.org). We are currently evaluating if we will be able to do this for all internal meetings with a long-haul flight component moving forward. At our offices around the globe, we have self-nominated ambassadors for our GIFTTS programme. All of our offices have worked to eliminate waste and the use of plastic. They recycle, and practice anything that creates more efficiencies. Making a conscious effort to be sustainable creates a more healthy environment, as well as comraderie.
What is your personal favourite place to stay and/or travel company that’s trying hard when it comes to sustainability?
Cavallo Point in San Francisco, which offers an exceptional luxury stay while focusing on sustainability. It has LEED Gold Certification, and does everything it can to be as green as possible, including using radiant heat floors to ensure energy efficiency, refillable dispensers for soap and other guest amenities, and food from local growers, whenever possible.
What other steps do you take to make your daily life more committed to sustainability?
The quest for sustainability in an ongoing process. At home, my focus is on energy efficient practices – appliances, lighting, recycling, and utilities – which are easier to manage now and are good for not only the environment but also my budget.
What do you think must happen now to help make our planet, people and profit more committed to sustainability?
It must be now that we all take the time to witness firsthand the devastation that has already and is currently taking place in destinations and communities that don’t affect us personally. While that is often a difficult, sad experience, we learn the most from personal interactions and need to be storytellers on these communities’ behalf to ensure they cannot be ignored or forgotten.
If you could have one hour with a world leader, who would it be and what would you say?
So many – too many! I would be more interested in spending an hour with a younger person who is deeply motivated to change the world and understanding what motivates them, who they see as leaders, what they see as obstacles and opportunities, and how they think our industry could help them and further their cause. I find more inspiration in the people I meet on a daily basis who want to make a difference than the tradition world leaders we all know and admire. Their stories have already been told. It’s time to start telling others and making more of these in the here and the now.
Any regrets so far?
Note from NOW
NOW is proud to be an Alliance Partner of Preferred Hotels & Resorts since October 2018. We invite their 650 independent properties across 85 countries to join the NOW Force for Good Alliance to provide them with a differentiation, sustainability solutions and structures for action that raises the bar on accountability and transparency with no greenwash allowed.
These five extraordinary places to stay are taking the lead in providing their guests with sustainable travel experiences and they take responsibility for their total impact on communities and the environment wherever they are. Find them in NOW Sustainability Tool:
INDIA: The Leela Palace New Delhi
MEXICO: Banyan Tree Mayakoba
NETHERLANDS: Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin
SWITZERLAND: The Alpina Gstaad, Hotel Storchen Zurich
UK: Merchants Manor
USA: Beechwood Hotel Massachusetts