Building a sustainable travel framework for accommodations
Though current events are challenging the travel industry as we know it, it’s key that we keep an eye on the long-term outlook. Travel is fundamental to who we are and while it may take some time to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, the crisis will eventually end and people will travel once again – perhaps in a more meaningful way than ever before.
Travel has a profound ability to broaden our horizons, cultivate increased understanding and open up opportunities to connect, yet it also has an impact on the destinations we travel to. We believe that we have a responsibility to our planet and to make sure that impact helps protect those destinations and keep them thriving for generations to come. Put simply, we want to make sustainable travel a choice everyone can make.
Committing to sustainable travel
Our approach to sustainability is holistic, in that we recognise the importance of addressing environmental, social and economic factors across the travel experience. Through responsible travel, we can conserve and celebrate the natural environment and biodiversity; strengthen local communities – ensuring the benefits of tourism are fairly spread across the communities of our destinations; and preserve cultural heritage, celebrating our intercultural differences. These pillars are broad reaching, but can be applied at local level to address the niches and nuances that may be impacting the balance of a destination.
Sustainable travel has been high on our agenda for many years now, brought to life through initiatives like the Booking Booster programme. In the past three years, we have supported over 450 organisations that are focused on sustainability with funding, mentoring, through the Booking Cares volunteer programme and with our startup and non-profit accelerators. Our animal welfare framework and collaborations with local governments have helped trigger positive action.
But in that time, we have also learnt that ‘sustainable travel’ means different things to different people, and the abundance of definitions and standards can be overwhelming for the industry and consumers alike. So, that is where we are trying to help in 2021.
One way we are spearheading this work is through embarking on new industry partnerships and initiatives like Travalyst, which we co-founded alongside the Duke of Sussex and Trip.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa. Collectively, our goal is to mobilise the travel industry as a catalyst for good, aiming to transform the future of travel for everyone.
Sustainability in accommodations
Data tells us our customers want more information and optionality around sustainable accommodations. In fact, 70% of global travellers would choose a specific accommodation if they knew it was implementing sustainable practices. So, in 2020 we made a commitment to supporting you, our partners, to increase the positive impact of your operations – and by doing so making it easier for our customers to make sustainable choices. In addition to providing tools to help you advance in your sustainability journey, we want to make it easier for you to share the measures you’re taking with customers.
After many months of research and experimentation, we recently rolled out 32 new sustainability practices you can add to your property page. These practices are divided into five categories – waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature – establishing a solid foundation from which you can start engaging with sustainable practices while highlighting your current measures to guests. You can indicate which practices you do and do not carry out in the Facilities & Services section on the extranet. The absence of any practices won’t be displayed to guests, and you won’t be negatively impacted for not having all practices in place – but knowing this information will help us better understand where all of our partners are on their sustainability journey.
For eco-certified partners who have already made great strides, we now display sustainability certification information for properties accredited or recognised by Green Tourism, EU Ecolabel and GSTC. Similarly, it’s also possible for eligible chains to highlight their sustainability programmes.
Alongside these developments, we’ve recently launched the Sustainability - A Hospitality Handbook guide, our comprehensive resource that has been designed to guide you through initiatives such as reducing your water or energy consumption. The guide will evolve as we further our path towards a sustainable travel experience. Throughout, we will continue to collaborate with industry experts, sustainability specialists and you, our partners, to help deliver the right information and opportunities for learning.
Whether your accommodation has put sustainability best practices at its core since day one, or you are making your first steps towards introducing new initiatives, there is a cornucopia of ideas and initiatives that will help make our vision for sustainable travel a reality. Even the smallest steps can make a difference to the environmental and social impact of travel. This is a real moment for the industry to work together towards the systemic change that will help make sustainable travel available to everyone.
- Our research shows that 70% of global travellers would choose a specific accommodation if they knew it was implementing sustainable practices
- We’re continuing to support sustainable travel by embarking on new industry partnerships and initiatives like Travalyst
- We recently rolled out 32 new sustainability practices partners can add to their property page
- We’ve also created the Sustainability – A Hospitality Handbook, our comprehensive resource that has been designed to guide partners through sustainability initiatives