Maureen Hergenroether is the Director of Social Responsibility and Impact at Evolve, a company redefining the vacation rental experience across North America. Here she reveals what Evolve is doing to become more sustainable – and how that benefits homeowners.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Evolve?
Evolve is North America’s fastest growing vacation rental network for guests, owners, and service partners. We have nearly 30,000 properties in 750 destinations. We put emphasis on creating a better experience for everyone involved in the vacation rental process.
We look at social responsibility from a very holistic level. In my role, I oversee not only sustainability but also philanthropy, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What’s Evolve’s approach to sustainability?
We empower Evolve’s guests, owners, and teammates to embrace sustainability and be responsible consumers. We promote more sustainable initiatives that make a difference in our business and beyond.
How does Evolve embed sustainability into its business?
To embed sustainability into our business model, we’ve thought about our broader social responsibility statement and mission. For us, it's all about building trust. So, our vision statement at Evolve is to be the most trusted. We really look at it as “trust work.”
We ask, “How can we build a more welcoming environment for future generations?” We work with our homeowners to provide information and build the business case for sustainability. We practice responsible consumption for sustainability, looking at the choices we make every day internally to become a more responsible consumer. It's not just a one-off action that we're taking. We’re constantly looking at the things we’re doing and asking ourselves, “How does this fit into our social responsibility model?”
We’ve also aligned our social responsibility with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. By meeting these goals, we ensure we’re not just self-serving, but also practice what we preach and be part of a higher purpose.
How does Evolve encourage its homeowners to adopt more sustainable practices?
It’s definitely a challenge. Internally, we focus on education. We make sure our employees are able to speak to it and understand the importance. With homeowners, it’s really about continuing to build that business case. That means leveraging Booking.com’s research and looking into incentives. Becoming more sustainable can actually save owners money and put even more in their pocket with tax credits – a lot of people still don’t know this. We also try to highlight the market demand and let homeowners know they’ll really be doing themselves a favor if they become more sustainable.
From a practical point of view, we’ve been looking at different partnerships that make sustainable practices more accessible. We think about what products and services we can partner with, then put them in the hands of the homeowners. We want to help them see that small changes really can make a big difference.
We also need to put more educational material out there about how to be a more sustainable traveler and guest. If an owner installs low-flow showerheads in their bathrooms, but the guest leaves the shower on while they brush their teeth, it’s not really working.
What would you like to see more of in the coming year?
I think brands need to align, put aside the competition for a little bit, and agree to help each other when it comes to sustainability. We need to share information and insights. Harmony is a key word here. I’d love to see more conversations taking place over the next year and increasing visibility on the topic.
There are still a lot of people out there who are skeptical about sustainability. The more we align as brands and keep up the conversation, the more we’ll be able to deliver the best and most sustainable guest experience.
- Evolve focuses on creating a better vacation rental experience while trying to ingrain sustainability into this process
- Aligning with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Evolve’s own social responsibility spans sustainability, philanthropy, diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Evolve is actively working to educate its homeowners on the benefits of becoming more sustainable, which includes saving money in the long term