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Why sustainability matters to hotel guests, staff and the environment

Sustainability is a driving force in the hospitality industry, influencing the decisions of both guests and hoteliers. From energy-saving initiatives to digital communication strategies and paperless processes, hotels are implementing various eco-friendly practices to enhance their sustainability profile.  

Let’s take a look at the intersection of technology and sustainability in the hotel industry, examining how these practices not only benefit the environment but also contribute to a positive Return on Experience (ROE) for both guests and staff.  

Tech’s sustainability revolution

Originally, hotel technology primarily focused on monitoring water and energy consumption. However, in the present landscape, hotels, regardless of their size, leverage technology in multifaceted ways to enhance sustainability reporting, streamline operations, achieve cost savings, improve communication with travellers, elevate guest experiences, and even bolster marketing campaigns.  

For hotels committed to maximizing sustainability, technology has proven to be a game-changer. It not only aids in efficient operations but also allows staff to divert their attention towards providing memorable guest experiences. The integration of technology has become indispensable for hotels on the journey towards achieving optimal sustainability.  

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Smart luxury, sustainable choices

In the past, the concept of a luxury hotel was synonymous with high-end amenities, lavish linens, and an opulent atmosphere. However, a significant shift is occurring in consumer preferences, with an increasing number of travellers prioritising sustainability over traditional notions of luxury.  

According to a recent TrustYou study, sustainable tourism is on the rise in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with 52% of travellers actively seeking eco-friendly accommodations. This shift is evident in guest reviews, highlighting the efforts of countries like Sri Lanka, China, the Philippines, India, New Zealand, Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, and Thailand in promoting sustainable practices. Travelers now appreciate features such as environmentally conscious design, waste reduction initiatives, and eco-friendly cleaning options, demonstrating the impact of sustainability considerations on the overall guest experience.  

Moreover, there is a growing awareness that sustainability goes beyond aesthetics and comfort. Guests are increasingly valuing the luxury of saving energy and money, acknowledging the benefits of technology-driven solutions such as HVAC smart sensors. These sensors, based on the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), provide data and insights to help hotels achieve significant energy cost savings.  

Digitalising hospitality – The paperless shift

The global shift towards digitalization is transforming how hotels operate, reducing their reliance on paper. Hospitality-specific technology is being employed to streamline various processes, from check-in to amenity bookings. Integration with property management systems (PMS) enables hotels to communicate with guests digitally, reducing the need for printed materials.  

For instance, a property management system that integrates seamlessly with amenity-booking solutions, spa-management, and golf-management technology can eliminate the need for paper in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives such as text or email notifications. This not only reduces paper waste but also allows hotels to track guest preferences more efficiently, leading to cost savings and helping achieve sustainability goals.  

A GreenView survey highlights widespread sustainability practices in APAC hotels, such as energy tracking, preventative maintenance, water conservation, towel reuse, and ‘non-smoking’ rooms. Australia’s NABERS offers tools for measuring sustainability, while major hotel groups like Capella, Minor International, CapitaLand, and City Developments commit to climate targets and net-zero goals. The Asia-Pacific region sees a rising focus on ESG practices, with online travel agencies actively promoting environmentally certified businesses in the hospitality sector.  

Water wisdom – Conserving a precious resource

Water, an essential resource for hospitality facilities, poses both economic and environmental challenges. Despite the pandemic and associated low occupancy rates in 2020, the hospitality industry continued to consume substantial amounts of water to sustain water systems.  

According to the Horwath HTL APAC Sustainability Trends 2020 report, nearly all surveyed hotels reported a water tracking uptake rate exceeding 90%. Additionally, 74% of the hotels in the survey implemented low-flow or dual flush systems in over 75% of guestroom toilets to promote water conservation.  

Hotels that strategically implement small practices to reduce waste find significant saving opportunities. For instance, placing signs in rooms encouraging guests to reuse towels and sheets helps reduce laundry loads. Moreover, many hotels are leveraging digital chat technology, enabling guests to communicate their preferences regarding the reuse or refreshing of these items. Significant changes in kitchens, bathrooms, and swimming pool maintenance further contribute to water conservation efforts.  

In the quest for sustainability, the integration of technology has emerged as a pivotal force in reshaping the hospitality landscape. From energy- saving measures to streamlined operations, the marriage of tech solutions and sustainability not only benefits the environment but also enhances the overall guest experience. As hotels commit to maximising sustainability, the role of technology becomes increasingly indispensable, paving the way for operational efficiency and memorable guest interactions.  

 

Tags: Digitalising hospitality, sustainable practices, tourism sustainability

Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Agilysys Hospitality Solutions

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