Getting certified

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

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Updated 3 months ago
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If you’d like to build on your sustainability commitment, becoming certified is an ideal way to do it. Certification is a reflection of your dedication and a credible badge of excellence that guests can trust. 

The process involves working with a certification organization that will collaborate with you to make sure you meet their standards for sustainable tourism. Once you officially meet these standards, your property will receive a certificate along with a digital version for you to share online.

We also introduced our very own Travel Sustainable badge, available for eligible partners on our platform. The badge is free and developed in collaboration with industry experts. It recognizes properties as being at one of three levels or, for those with eligible third-party certification, a dedicated level. It’s designed to help you demonstrate that you're taking steps toward sustainability on your property page.

We’re currently working with our third-party certification partners on how to best recognize and display certifications on Booking.com so that certified partners can be easily spotted by guests looking for a more sustainable stay.

Four benefits of certification

1. It reassures guests that your claims are credible

57% of travelers surveyed by Booking.com would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification. An official certification adds credibility to your sustainability initiatives. It reassures travelers that they’ll be staying somewhere that cares about environmental best practices and isn’t just “greenwashing” (making false claims).

2. It can help you identify gaps in your sustainability plans

The requirements of certification can help you prioritize key improvement areas or address things you hadn’t thought about yet. By getting certified, you can be sure that you’re on the right track.

3. Certified properties have a positive impact

A 2017 study from TUI, conducted in collaboration with the UN Environment Program, evaluated the environmental and social benefits of sustainability certifications across 330 hotels. They found that, compared to non-certified properties, eco-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 your team feel more engaged

When it comes to achieving and maintaining an eco-certification, everybody at your property will need to work together to implement the required standards. This gives your team a shared purpose and the chance to meaningfully contribute to the sustainability of the business.

How to get certified

There are lots of different bodies offering certifications around the world. These range from broader, more general certification programs to more tailored ones that focus primarily on things like energy efficiency, building standards, or waste management.

Each certification body sets their own prices. 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 certification process will vary depending on which body you want to work with.

Sustainable management
Socio-economic impact
Cultural impact
Environmental impact (including consumption of resources, reducing pollution, and conserving biodiversity and landscapes)
Show travelers what you’re doing

To make it easier for travelers to identify properties going the extra mile for sustainability, we display sustainability certifications on our platform from the following certification bodies:

We receive certification info directly from these organizations twice a year. If you’re certified by one of them, we’ll display that info in your property page’s sustainability section. If you can’t see your certification, contact the certification body directly.

We’re working to add info from more certification bodies to our platform. If you hold a sustainability certification from another organization and would like to display it on your property page, you can ask the certification body to send us a request using this form.  Note that not all certifications are accepted.

The Travel Sustainable badge

Our Travel Sustainable badge is designed to help you demonstrate your efforts to potential guests looking to travel more sustainably. It’s available for all properties, no matter their type, size, or location. 

With the badge on your property page and in search filters, you’ll stand out even more to travelers searching for sustainable stays. This is especially important considering that 78% of travelers intend to stay in a sustainable property at least once in the coming year. 

Eligibility for the badge focuses on a range of sustainable practices that you can adopt at your property and confirm on the Extranet. The qualifying criteria are developed in collaboration with independent industry bodies, such as international sustainable travel organization Travalyst. It takes regional thresholds and local market conditions into account when calculating your overall impact. The overall impact is the main criteria for receiving a badge – along with any other certifications you may have.

Badge benefits

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

Want to learn more about how your property could receive the Travel Sustainable badge? We’ve put together a selection of case studies to show how different types of properties around the world became eligible for the badge.

Read the case studies

The Travel Sustainable Levels

We recently introduced Travel Sustainable Levels in an evolution of the program, designed to better recognize and support your efforts and investments on your property’s sustainability journey – whatever stage you may be at.

While all eligible partners currently receive the same badge, we recognize each eligible partner’s sustainability efforts at one of three different levels, or, for those with eligible third-party certification, at a dedicated level . These levels are:

  • Level 1 – the property has implemented some impactful sustainability practices
  • Level 2 – the property has made considerable investments and efforts to implement impactful sustainability practices
  • Level 3 – the property has made large investments and efforts to implement impactful sustainability practices
  • Certified – the property has made a strong commitment to sustainability by subscribing to one or more third-party certifications and making a significant difference in the reduction of their environmental impact 

If you’ve previously earned the Travel Sustainable badge, we’ll automatically allocate you a level. You’ll find your property’s level, based on its impact, on the Extranet, which gives you greater clarity on where you’re at on your sustainability journey. 

Level benefits

  • Gain a better understanding of your progress
    Your Travel Sustainable Level helps you see where you are on your property’s sustainability journey
  • Be recognized for your efforts, whatever stage you’re at
    Even Level 1 partners are now recognized as a Travel Sustainable property – travelers will see the badge on your property page, and starting in 2023, they’ll see your level too

Want to learn more about the Travel Sustainable Levels? We've answered the most frequently asked questions.

Read the FAQs

Displaying your chain’s sustainability program

Our Chains team collects and displays hotel info from eligible chain sustainability programs. For a chain’s program to be eligible, it must be mandatory for all properties shown under the chain code in our systems. All the properties also need to use the same brand name.

Travalyst’s independent advisory group reviews all programs to decide which ones are eligible. If a chain sustainability program is eligible, it will be displayed on our platform.

 

Discover our other sustainability guides:

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Setting the environmental baseline

On the journey toward sustainability, your baseline is like your compass. It’s only once you measure your performance—for example, by carbon emissions or water consumption—that you can 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 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

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