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 of unsustainable travel.
This is especially troubling for those of us in the travel industry, since it’s the very things travellers love most about destinations that are at the highest risk. That makes sustainability not just an ethical priority, but a business one.
At Booking.com, we’re committed to making sustainable travel the way to experience the world. And we can’t do that without our partners.
Our 2020 survey found that demand for sustainable accommodation is growing year on year:
- 82% of global travellers identified sustainable travel as important to them
- 70% say they’re more likely to book accommodation if they know it’s eco-friendly – even if they weren’t looking for an eco-friendly property in the first place
But more needs to be done to help travellers fulfil these aspirations. Half of those surveyed believe there are not enough sustainable travel options available to them, and 38% don’t know how or where to find such options.
There is much we can do to change this perception, while also driving positive change in the process. We want to work with you to help you grow sustainably and create travel experiences that safeguard your destinations – and your businesses – for the future. This sustainability guide is the first step on our shared journey to change the travel industry together.
Think of this guide as your sustainable hospitality handbook. We’re working with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and other sustainability experts to share what properties like yours can do to make positive change in the industry.
Each section focuses on a different sustainable initiative you can introduce at your property – no matter its size, type or location. For each of these initiatives, we’ve also introduced a new extranet setting, to help you communicate your sustainability efforts on your property page.
We’ll keep adding to the list of initiatives over time, so check back regularly for new ideas.
86% of guests who want to travel sustainably told us that it’s difficult for them to find eco-friendly accommodation. To help catch their eye, all you need to do is visit the extranet and update the settings under the ‘Sustainability practices’ section.
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.
Reducing plastic consumption
It’s now easier 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.
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.
Certification shows the world your commitment to sustainability. But while the badges lend credit to your efforts and help attract more eco-conscious guests, the process itself is even more valuable – helping you set priorities and fill gaps in your sustainability plans.
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.
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.
While travel has the power to transform lives for the better, every trip has an impact on the environment and local communities. In order to reduce this impact for the benefit of our users, partners and the planet, we’re committed to making sustainable travel the way to experience the world.
For us, sustainable travel takes into account the whole picture – addressing the environmental, social and economic aspects. Through travel, we can conserve and celebrate the natural environment, preserve cultural heritage and spread the benefits of tourism fairly throughout society.
Since 2014, Booking.com employees have been giving back to destinations through our Booking Cares volunteering programme. In recent years, we’ve also begun supporting non-profits and destinations, and this year we’ll continue to help sustainable travel start-ups grow through the Booking Booster programme.
In 2019, we co-founded Travalyst alongside Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Trip.com and Visa. Travalyst is a global initiative led by the Duke of Sussex, that is changing the impact of travel, for good.
To make sure our own house is in order, in 2020 we have committed to:
- Eliminating single-use plastics from our offices - We’re removing single-use plastic items from our offices and exploring alternatives that offer a more sustainable solution, moving towards a culture of multi-use
- Working to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations - We’ve done extensive work on understanding our baseline carbon footprint and have now set targets for reducing this. At the same time, we’re sustainably refurbishing a number of our offices – working with landlords and building owners to understand the complexities of operating in a sustainable way