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INK Hotel’s sustainability journey: inclusion and diversity are key

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Jolanda Sadni Ziane is the General Manager of INK Hotel Amsterdam – MGallery, located in the heart of Amsterdam. For INK, the key to making a positive change is to make everyone—team and guests alike—feel included

At INK Hotel Amsterdam – MGallery, we welcome more than 50,000 guests a year, and that generates a significant impact on the planet and our local community. We’ve always felt it’s our responsibility to create a healthy balance between our actions, the people we work with, and our ecosystem. Besides that, our guests also consider sustainability and social responsibility important issues. 

As part of Accor, we participate in the Planet 21 program. Our goal is to create a world of positive hospitality for our team, guests, partners, and local community. It can be challenging, but we break targets down into manageable time frames and embrace them as a team.  

Our collective efforts have been worthwhile in the short term, by saving costs on water, energy, and food. In the long term, they contribute to a better world. Our motto is that we can’t change the world, but we can start with ourselves. That’s exactly what we do with every single action we take – big or small. 

Getting everyone involved

When we started our journey, we realized that acting sustainably is more than just checking boxes. There has to be a way to include every staff member. We’ve trained our teams on sustainable behavior at work, such as turning out the lights when leaving a room, using sustainable cleaning products, and our food waste reduction program. 

We also encourage our guests to participate. They’ve told us they’re grateful they can do their part – for example, by reusing their towels, which saves on water, energy, and laundry service. We then reinvest 50% of the savings generated into agroforestry projects.

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Folding towels

 

On top of this, we receive frequent positive feedback from the actions that are visible, such as the removal of many single-use plastics, our sustainable amenities, and our signature dish, which is vegetarian, because we’re aware of the impact meat and fish production has on our planet. That said, there are also a lot of measures that aren’t visible to our guests, such as our energy-efficient light bulbs and water saving devices installed on all showers and faucets throughout the hotel.

One of the measures that guests appreciate most is our urban herb garden and the honey made in beehives installed on our roof. Our bees produce 100 liters of honey a year, which we use in our breakfast buffet, cocktails, and gift to guests in a small jar. It’s something guests can relate to—and even taste—so it’s been a really effective way to communicate about sustainability. 

Contributing to the community

Being sustainable is also about nurturing those around us. Our team represents 24 different nationalities and speaks 17 languages. Recognizing and encouraging others, as well as respecting and being enriched by our differences are our founding principles and the keys to our collective success.

Our ambitions are based on four priorities: diversity and gender equality; a wealth of ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds; multiple generations working together; and the integration of people with disabilities. We fulfill this ambition by supporting several local initiatives, such as the IMC weekend school, which welcomes children from socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods and inspires them to consider a career in hospitality.

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Honey

 

Events to boost the community also happen within the hotel. Every year during Pride, we transform into “PINK Hotel” to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ rights. We’ve hosted this event for six years in a row, welcoming hundreds of guests to celebrate with us. We even open our lobby for exhibitions. Artists can show and sell their work free of charge here. The art exhibit always has a link to our hotel, local Amsterdam life, or a relevant social topic.   

We act to empower those who are disadvantaged, support local initiatives, and grow community roots that enhance both guest experiences and partnerships.

Making sustainability a priority

It can sometimes be challenging to prioritize projects related to implementing new sustainability measures. In every hotel, the demands of daily operations mean that sustainability projects end up lower on the to-do list. For example, we’re in the process of eliminating single-use shampoo and soap packaging and replacing them with reusable dispensers, but projects like this don’t always receive the highest priority, especially in the challenging times we’ve experienced in the last year. The key to overcoming such challenges and implementing successful sustainability measures is to set ambitious goals and clear action plans, then introduce them gradually.

Most importantly, we aim to communicate our efforts to our potential guests online and in the hotel. More travelers than ever are looking for communication about sustainability measures taken in the hotel. While it’s impossible for us to tell guests about every single one, Booking.com’s new Travel Sustainable badge is a transparent way of reassuring guests that they’re making a sustainable travel choice.

The most rewarding journeys are those of growth, trial, and error. You make mistakes and learn how to fix them. Most importantly, never forget why you’re on the journey – it’ll keep you going.

 

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Takeaway
  • Every team member has their part to play in making sustainable choices, so train and educate them accordingly
  • Make changes that are relatable, such as the beehives on the roof of INK Hotel that produce honey for their guests
  • Caring for the community—for example, supporting local artists—is an important part of acting sustainably