Becoming certified

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

Meeting

Third-party certifications represent the highest standard in terms of recognising an accommodation’s efforts towards operating more sustainably. Certification is a reflection of your dedication – and a credible badge of excellence your guests can trust. 

The process of becoming certified involves working with a certification body, who will collaborate with you to make sure you meet their established sustainability standards. When you’ve officially met these standards, your property will receive a certificate. 

On our platform, we showcase properties that have achieved independent third-party certification by adding a clear label and the ability to filter by certified properties, so they can be easily spotted by guests looking to reduce their negative impact when travelling.

Four benefits of certification

1. It reassures guests that your claims are credible

65% of travellers surveyed by Booking.com would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainability certification. A recognised third-party certification adds credibility to your sustainability initiatives. It reassures travellers that they’ll be staying somewhere that recognises environmental and social best practices as part of their business. 

2. It can help you identify gaps in your 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 are more likely to have a more positive impact on the environment

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, sustainability 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 help 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 teams a shared purpose and a goal to collaboratively work towards.

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

We partner with Travalyst, which has agreed a set of criteria that certification bodies must meet in order to be displayed on Travalyst’s partner platforms, including Booking.com. Travalyst is currently reviewing certification bodies against the criteria, however we continue to work with the certifications listed above who have declared that they meet those criteria.

We also work with data management company BeCause, which specialises in collecting, coordinating and communicating sustainability data. This allows us to automate the process and display your third-party certification on our platform faster than ever before. 

If you’re certified by one of the certification bodies listed above but your property page isn’t displaying a badge, please follow these steps: 

  1. Sign up to app.because.eco/signup using your work email 
  2. After verifying your email, you’ll be able to fill in basic user profile information
  3. You can then ‘Claim your companies’ by searching and checking the box next to all of your properties with a certification. Click ‘Claim’
  4. Click on the ‘Collect’ button in the sidebar. Go to the ‘General Info’ section and scroll down to the ‘Sales Channels’ subsection, where you’ll be able to add your Booking.com property ID
  5. The process will then be complete and guests should be able to see your certification listed on Booking.com within seven days

You can refer to this article for additional support with this process. 

If you can’t find your property’s name while creating a profile on www.because.eco, you’ll need to contact the organisation you’re certified with to ask them to ensure your certification information has been passed on to BeCause.

We’re working to add information from more certification bodies to our platform. If you hold a sustainability certification from another organisation and would like to display it on your property page, you can ask the certification body to contact BeCause with the request. Please note that not all certifications are accepted.

Recognising your third-party certification

Properties that have achieved independent third-party certification will receive a clear label on our platform. In addition, travellers will have the ability to filter by certified properties, helping you to stand out on our platform even more. This is especially important when you consider that 59% of global travellers want to filter their stay options for those with a sustainability certification next time they book. 

Badge benefits

  • Stand out to travellers looking for more sustainable stays
    Your property’s practices are visible on your property page
  • Receive recognition for your sustainability efforts
    Eligibility for the badge won’t cost you extra – it’s simply a recognition of your ongoing efforts

Discover more educational resources

At Booking.com, we are committed to supporting you as you progress towards third-party certification. 

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

Discover our other sustainability guides:

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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

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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.

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

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