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, travelers, 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 travelers 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 by year:
- 82% of global travelers identified sustainable travel as important to them
- 70% say they’re more likely to book accommodations 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 travelers fulfill these aspirations. Half of those surveyed believe there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available to them, and 38% don’t know how or where to find such options.
There’s a lot 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 destination—and your business—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 changes in the industry.
Each section focuses on a different sustainable initiative you can introduce at your property, regardless of its size, type, or location. For each of these initiatives, we’ve also introduced a new Extranet setting to enable you to 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
On the journey towards sustainability, your baseline is 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.
Reducing plastic consumption
It’s now easier 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.
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. While the badges lend credit to your efforts and help attract more eco-conscious guests, the process itself is even more valuable – helping you prioritize 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.
The places we live in and visit as tourists are vital because of the other species that inhabit them. Working together to protect the wellbeing of animals isn’t just an ethical responsibility – it’s also how we’ll ensure the longevity of the environments we value.
As a leader in travel, we believe it’s our responsibility—and that of our industry—to make sure this planet, its people, wildlife, and habitats are able to thrive today and long into the future. This journey towards sustainability will take time, collaboration, and concerted effort. And there will be much to learn along the way.
The part we play is making sustainable travel easier for everyone. This means offering customers more sustainable travel choices by working with our partners and peers to provide a wider range of sustainable experiences. Together we can make sustainability part of every trip.
But we know we can't ask our partners to do what we haven't done ourselves. That's why we're also looking at our own environmental footprint, and working to reduce it. We’re also continuing to find new ways to make our operations more efficient and more sustainable.
To make sure our own house is in order, in 2020 we committed to:
Making improvements to how we handle waste – We’re working to improve our waste-streaming processes in offices around the world.
To prepare for the roll-out of recycling and waste streaming across global offices, Booking.com mapped out which offices are located in municipalities with no formal waste management system and which ones are in buildings where the waste won’t be separated despite their efforts. Booking.com then began measuring its food waste in their Amsterdam office restaurants to get insights on how food was being disposed. These restaurants feed nearly 4,000 employees daily in normal operations and therefore have a huge potential impact on food-waste reduction. Through these efforts in 2020, Booking.com was able to finish implementing waste streaming in 70% of its Amsterdam offices, with the remaining 30% ready to go when offices reopen.
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 working with landlords and building owners to see where using renewable energy is possible, and to further understand the complexities of operating in a sustainable way.
You can learn more about our sustainability commitment and efforts on our Sustainability hub.