As a hotelier with over five decades of international experience, I remember when climate change seemed a distant possibility. Our sector prospered as billions travelled locally and abroad, and travel became the world’s largest and fastest growing industry, so you could argue we have contributed in both a positive and negative way to people and planet.
Hoteliers started to discuss the concept of sustainability in the late 80s and here we are thirty years later. Temperatures are rising. Species are vanishing. Climate change is overwhelming. By October 2018, scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that our planet will reach the dangerous 1.5C above pre-industrial level by 2030 (in less than 11 years) if we do not lessen our carbon emissions by more than 50%.
We are learning fast about the dangers from our altered atmosphere and we now know that unless we act quickly, the changes we’ve seen so far will be mild by comparison with what comes next. Yet, while more in the hotel industry have committed to sustainability, many hotel operators are still sitting on the fence, greenwashing or hesitant to talk about the issues; and many property owners, asset managers and GMs are still impelled by short term self-interests or outright denial.
What on earth is going on?
We can no longer afford not to make the environment and social responsibility our business priority. Consumers know that too many companies have prospered at the expense of society and nature. In particular, Generation Y & Z travellers and hotel staff are critically aware that there is a direct link between sustainable business, the environment and people’s lives; and there is no hiding in today’s interconnected and interdependent world. Travellers today expect safer, more honest, more responsible, truly sustainable destinations and accommodations. However, our industry is not really clear about what that truly means.
We launched the NOW Force for Good Alliance on Earth Day April 22nd last year to provide a solution, structure and technologies for hotels that would like to seriously commit to sustainability with accountability and transparency. Members will be provided with a differentiation as a Force for Good and access to sustainable travellers, an accredited EarthCheck Evaluate sustainability programme free-of-charge, the NOW Track & Book technology and traveller tool to make it easier to explain and track sustainability performance for all stakeholders, encourage direct bookings without commission, and calculate and offset carbon footprints.
Sustainability saves money and its good for people, planet and profit. I urge all hotel owners and operators to go beyond seeing environmental and social challenges as costs, to seeing the potential savings and enormous opportunities to make good things happen. It is the right thing to do and as an industry, we must do more.
it must be NOW!