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Industry Perspectives

INK Hotel’s sustainability journey: inclusion and diversity are key

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Jolanda Sadni Ziane is the General Manager of INK Hotel Amsterdam – MGallery, located in the heart of Amsterdam. For INK, the key to making a positive change is making everyone – team and guests – feel included

At INK Hotel Amsterdam – MGallery, we welcome more than 50,000 guests a year and that generates a significant impact on the planet and our local community. We’ve always felt it’s our responsibility to create a healthy balance between our actions, the people we work with and our ecosystem. Besides that, our guests also consider sustainability and social responsibility an important issue. 

As part of Accor, we participate in the Planet 21 programme – our goal is to create a world of positive hospitality for our team, guests, partners and the community around us. It can be challenging, but we break targets down into manageable time frames and embrace them as a team.  

Our collective efforts have been worthwhile in the short term, by saving costs on water, energy and food. In the long term, they contribute to a better world. Our daily motto is that we can’t change the world, but we can start with ourselves. That’s exactly what we do with every single action we take, big or small. 

Getting everyone involved

When we started our journey, we realised that acting sustainability is more than simply checking boxes – there has to be a way to include every staff member. We’ve trained our teams on sustainable behaviour at work, such as turning out the lights when leaving the room, the use of sustainable cleaning products and our food waste reduction programme. 

We also encourage our guests to take part. They’ve told us they’re grateful they can do their bit, for example, by reusing their towels, which saves on water, energy and laundry service. We then reinvest 50% of the savings generated into agroforestry projects.

Folding towels

 

On top of this, we receive frequent positive feedback from the actions that are visible, such as the removal of many single-use plastic items, our sustainable amenities and our signature dish – which is vegetarian as we’re aware of the impact meat and fish production has on our planet. That said, there are also a lot of measures that are not visible for our guests, such as our energy-efficient light bulbs and water saving devices that are installed on all showers and taps throughout the hotel.

One of our measures that guests appreciate most is our urban herb garden and the honey made in beehives installed on our roof. Our bees produce 100 litres of honey a year and it’s used in our breakfast buffet, cocktails and gifted to guests as a small jar. It’s something guests can relate to – and even taste – so it’s been a really effective way to communicate about sustainability. 

Contributing to the community

Being sustainable is also about nurturing those around us – our team represents 24 different nationalities and speaks 17 languages. Recognising and encouraging others, respecting and being enriched by our differences – these are our founding principles and the keys to our collective success.

Our ambitions are based on four priorities – diversity and gender equality; a wealth of ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds; multiple generations working together and the integration of people with disabilities. We fulfil this ambition by supporting several local initiatives, such as the IMC weekend school, welcoming children from socially and economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods to inspire them to consider a career in hospitality.

Honey

 

Events to boost the community also happen within the hotel. Every year during Pride, we transform into ‘PINK Hotel’ to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ rights. We’ve hosted this event for six years in a row, welcoming hundreds of guests to celebrate with us. We even open our lobby for exhibitions – artists can show and sell their work free of charge here. The art exhibition always has a link to our hotel, local Amsterdam life or a relevant social topic.   

We act to empower those who are disadvantaged, support local initiatives and grow community roots that enhance both guest experiences and partnerships.

Making sustainability a priority

It can sometimes be challenging to prioritise projects related to implementing new sustainability measures. In every hotel, the demands of daily operation mean that sustainability projects end up lower on the to-do list. For example, we are in the process of eliminating single-use shampoo and soap packaging and replacing them with reusable dispensers, but projects like this don’t always receive the highest priority, especially in the challenging times we’ve experienced in the last year. The key to overcoming such challenges and implementing successful sustainability measures is by setting ambitious goals and clear action plans, and then introducing them gradually.

Most importantly, we aim to communicate our efforts to our potential guests online and in the hotel. More travellers than ever are looking for communication about sustainability measures taken in the hotel. While it’s impossible for us to tell guests about every single measure, Booking.com’s new Travel Sustainable badge is a transparent way of reassuring guests that they’re making a sustainable travel choice.

The most rewarding journeys are those of growth, trial and error. You make mistakes and learn how to fix them. Most importantly, never forget why you’re on the journey – it’ll keep you going.

 

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Takeaway
  • Every member of the team has their part to play in making sustainable choices, so train and educate them accordingly
  • Make changes that are relatable, such as the beehives on the roof of INK hotel that produce honey for their guests
  • Caring for the community, such as supporting local artists, is an important part of acting sustainably