Becoming certified

Written in collaboration with Dr. Anna Spenceley, Chair of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group, Board Member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

Updated 3 months ago
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If you’d like to take your sustainability commitment to the next level, becoming certified is an ideal way to do it. Certification is a reflection of your dedication – and a credible badge of excellence your guests can trust. 

The process involves working with a certification body, who will collaborate with you to make sure you meet their established standards for sustainable tourism. When you’ve officially met these standards, your property will receive a certificate along with a digital version for you to share online.

We’re currently working with the GSTC on how best to recognise and display certifications on Booking.com, so that certified partners can be easily spotted by guests looking for a sustainable stay.

Four benefits of certification

1. It reassures guests that your claims are credible –  73% of travellers surveyed by Booking.com would be more likely to choose an accommodation if it’s implemented sustainability practices. An official certification adds credibility to your sustainability initiatives. It reassures travellers that they’ll be staying somewhere that cares about environmental best practices and isn’t just ‘greenwashing’ (making false claims).  

2. It can help you identify gaps in your sustainability plans – The requirements of certification can help you prioritise key improvement areas or address things you hadn’t thought about yet. By achieving certified status, you can be sure that you’re on the right track.  

3. Certified properties achieve more positive results – A 2017 study from TUI, conducted in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, evaluated the environmental and social benefits of sustainability certifications across 330 hotels. They found that, compared to the non-certified properties, eco-certified properties achieved:

  • 10% lower CO2 emissions per guest night
  • 24% lower waste volume per guest night
  • 15% less total water use per guest night
  • Higher guest satisfaction scores overall  

4. It can make your team feel more engaged – When it comes to achieving and maintaining certification, everybody at your property will need to work together to implement the required standards. This gives your team a shared purpose and the chance to meaningfully contribute to the sustainability of the business.

How to become certified

There are lots of different bodies offering certifications around the world. These range from broader, more general certification programmes to more tailored ones that focus primarily on things like energy efficiency, building standards or waste management.

Each certification body sets their prices individually. Some offer certification for free, often when the certification is provided by a governmental department. Other certification bodies offer a discount for smaller properties, or for multiple properties in the same group. The process of becoming certified will vary depending on which body you want to work with.

Show travellers what you’re doing

To make it easier for travellers to identify properties that are going the extra mile for sustainability, we display accredited sustainability certifications on our platform from the following certification bodies:

We receive certification information directly from these organisations twice a year. If you’re certified by one of them, we’ll display that information in the sustainability section on your property page. If you can’t see your certification, please contact the certification body directly. We’re working to add information from more certification bodies to our platform. If you hold an accredited sustainability certification from another organisation and you’d like to display it on your property page, you can ask the certification body to send us a request using this form.

Displaying your chain’s sustainability programme

Our Chains team collects and displays hotel information from eligible chain sustainability programmes. For a chain’s programme to be eligible, it must be compulsory for all properties shown under the chain code in our systems. All of the properties also need to use the same brand name.

If there are levels to the chain programme (such as bronze, silver and gold), all properties within the chain must achieve at least the minimum level. Travalyst’s independent advisory group reviews all programmes to decide which ones are eligible.

If you’d like your chain’s sustainability programme to be displayed on our platform, you’ll need to reach out to your corporate social responsibility (CSR) team so that they can contact us directly.

Discover our other sustainability guides:

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Setting the environmental baseline

In the journey towards sustainability, your baseline is like your compass. It’s only once you’ve measured your performance – for example in carbon emissions or water consumption – that you can start to set goals and plan how to reach them.

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Reducing plastic consumption

It’s now easier now than ever to run your property without plastic – and it’s never more important. Plastic takes years to break down, harms wildlife and damages the environment. This guide will show you how to protect both by reducing your plastic consumption.

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Reducing water consumption

Fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce. That’s why we need to start cutting water consumption today – and it’s going to take more than just asking guests to reuse towels. But the environmental and financial upsides are worth the investment.

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