Your Guide to More Sustainable Hospitality

At Booking.com, we’re committed to making more sustainable travel choices easier for everyone. And we can't do that without our partners. This sustainability guide is the first step on our collaborative journey to change the travel industry. 

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Embracing more sustainable travel together

Travel does great things. It helps us discover our world, gives us new experiences and connects us with other cultures. It makes memories. It reunites us with familiar faces, forges new friendships and teaches us about ourselves.

But it can have consequences, too. From pollution and the destruction of natural habitats to overcrowding and strain on local infrastructure. We know that hospitality professionals, travellers and locals alike are already feeling the impact.

At Booking.com, we’re committed to making it easier for travellers to book more sustainable trips. And we can’t do that without you, our partners. 

Demand for accommodations that are working on reducing their negative impact is growing year on year. Our Sustainable Travel Report found that in 2023:

  • 76% of global travellers expressed a desire to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months
  • 65% of global travellers would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainability certification or label 
  • 59% of global travellers want to filter their options for those with a sustainability certification next time they book

But more needs to be done to make more sustainable travel easier – and third-party certified accommodations easier to find. Despite good intentions, 44% of global travellers still don’t know where to find more sustainable options, and 51% believe there are not enough options available. 

Acting in a more sustainable way isn’t just a response to traveller preferences. There is a strong business case for it, which we’ll lay out in each section of this handbook. We want to work with you to help you grow, and create travel experiences that better safeguard your destination – and your business – for the future. 

How to use this handbook

Think of this handbook as your guide to implementing property practices that will help to reduce your negative impact on the environment and the society around you. It’s been written in collaboration with sustainability experts like the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to include the latest sustainability data and science, as well as practical steps that properties like yours can take to make more positive changes for their businesses, local environments and the industry as a whole.

Each section of the handbook focuses on a specific topic, with concrete actions you can implement at your property – no matter its size, type or location. We’ve also introduced corresponding extranet facilities that you can add to your property listing, to help you communicate your efforts to travellers on our platform.

Furthermore, the actions outlined in this handbook can guide you as you work towards achieving a third-party certification, which we believe represents the highest standard in terms of recognising an accommodation’s efforts towards operating more sustainably.

Update your extranet settings

You can communicate your efforts around sustainability to travellers through our platform. Update your practices to showcase the measures you’ve implemented at your property. 

Update your practices

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Understanding your environmental performance

In the journey towards becoming more sustainable, 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.

Show me how

Reducing plastic consumption

It’s now easier than ever to run your property without plastic – and it’s never been 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.

How can I start?

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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.

Tell me more 

Becoming certified

Certification shows the world your commitment to sustainability. It is a reflection of your dedication – and a credible badge of excellence your guests can trust.

Find out more

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Reducing food waste

About a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Given that food can represent a significant cost, reducing waste has huge savings potential – and a positive impact on your environmental footprint.

Learn how

Reducing energy consumption and using green energy

The accelerated warming of the planet – and the resulting impact on ecologies and economies – makes energy sources and efficiency the top sustainability priorities. But reducing energy consumption and switching your remaining power needs to renewable sources doesn’t just benefit the planet. It can also lower your operational costs.

Find out how to start

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Local community

Engaging your local community

The social and economic context of your business has a big impact on its success. That’s why engaging with stakeholders in your local community is an important part of any sustainability strategy, no matter what type of property you run.

How can I start?

Balancing sustainability and safety

Meeting the demand for greater safety and hygiene measures while also operating more sustainably requires creative thinking. Read the guide to learn how you can strike this balance.

Find out how to start

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Animal welfare

The places we live in and visit as tourists are kept vital by the other species that inhabit them. Working together to protect the wellbeing of animals isn’t just an ethical responsibility – it’s also how we’ll ensure the longevity of the environments we value.

Find out how to start

Property practices

Together with independent bodies, such as global not-for-profit organisation Travalyst, we’ve identified and validated accessible practices selected for their high impact potential. You’ll find them in the extranet.

Booking.com has adopted the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) criteria to inform these practices. Organised around four main themes – effective sustainability planning, maximising social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage and reducing negative impacts to the environment – the criteria, among other uses, serves as basic guidelines for businesses of all sizes to take action to reduce their negative impact. 

As our sustainability efforts evolve, we will continue to use the GSTC Criteria to inform developments. Although you’re not currently required to conform to each of the criteria, we endorse and encourage compliance by all properties to 100% of the GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels.

If you have already implemented all of the 53 practices displayed on our platform, you can use the GSTC Industry Criteria to further guide you on your sustainability journey.

Download the GSTC Industry Criteria  

Discover more educational resources

In addition to this handbook, we’re continuing to invest in education materials and tools, including online courses developed in partnership with UN Tourism. This series of free courses is designed to give accommodation providers in the hospitality industry guidance on key sustainability topics. 

Sign up to the courses  

Sustainability at Booking.com

At Booking.com, our mission is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. With that mission comes a responsibility to build and preserve a world worth experiencing. This journey will take time, collaboration and concerted effort.

The part we play is making more sustainable travel choices easier for everyone. This means working with our partners and peers to provide a wider offering of experiences that take environmental and social aspects into consideration. Together, we can make sustainability part of every trip.

But we know we can't ask our partners to do what we haven't done ourselves. That's why we're also looking at our own environmental footprint, and working to reduce it. We’re also continuing to find new ways to make our operations more efficient.

To make sure our own house is in order, we're committed to operating our business more sustainably and building a culture of sustainability, as set out in our Climate Action Plan:

  • Making improvements to how we handle waste – We’re working to improve our waste-streaming processes in offices around the world. We’ve implemented waste streaming in our Amsterdam campus and our Manchester campus. These facilities support over 7,500 and 1,400 employees, respectively, on a daily basis.
  • Working to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations – In 2022, Booking.com and Booking Holdings made the commitment towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2040. This commitment was set out in the company's Climate Action Plan, which includes ambitious targets set across multiple departments, including how it procures services and manages its data centres. All of which aims to help the company achieve a 95% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions by the end of 2030, as well as a 50% reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2030, and the ultimate goal of net-zero emissions by 2040.

You can learn more about our sustainability commitments and targets in our latest Sustainability Report.

Visit the Sustainability Hub