AccorHotels, the world’s largest hotel operator with close to 4,000 hotels, 190,000 staff spread in 90 countries, has found that the youth and women guests are more environment friendly than the oldies. It was surprised to note that budget hotel guests are as likely as upscale and luxury guests to accept higher prices for a more
These are the top two findings of its December 2015 survey announced in April 2016. This survey, involving 7,000 guests in seven countries, was aimed at measuring changes in guests’ behavior and current awareness of sustainable development. It said its almost 50-year commitment to being a socially responsible company is beginning to pay its dividends. It has set an ambitious Planet 21 program leading up to 2020.
• Guests are aware of the need for sustainable action on a daily basis
• 80% of guests say that they avoid wasting food at home and that they sort their waste
• Women and the young feel more involved in sustainable development than men, and young guests feel more involved than their elders
• Guests are ready to continue the eco-responsible actions that are part of their daily lives when they are at the hotel
• Today, ‘eco-responsible hotel’ tag is a distinctive, but not yet a decisive factor – 36% of Indonesian guests say that they always take sustainable development into account when choosing a hotel room, compared to an average of 13% across the world
• Location and comfort are still the primary selection choice. Less than 10% of guests are entirely ready to accept an inferior location or reduced comfort to stay in a hotel that has implemented eco-responsible measures.
• Two of three guests said they are ready to pay slightly higher rates if the hotel undertakes eco-responsible actions, such as offering organic or green products, or if the hotel has received low waste or low carbon emissions labels.
• More than half of guests are in favor of reusing their towels, especially if some of the money saved in doing so is reinvested in planting trees for the benefit of the local community.
• Only 6% of guests are not interested in healthy food. Guests are especially interested in locally sourced, organic, and seasonal produce.
• More than one in three guests is interested in fair trade produce and produce harvested from the hotel garden.
• Younger guests are more likely than older guests to choose a restaurant based solely on the fact that it grows its own vegetables: 20% of guests under 29, compared to only 10% of guests over 60.
• This barometer study has shown that local responsibility is central to guests’ perception of hotels’ commitment to sustainable development.
The group’s plans by 2020 include:
• 30% less food waste
• 100% low-carbon new buildings and renovations for its owned and leased properties
• 1,000 urban vegetable gardens in its hotels
See full survey – http://www.accorhotels-group.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Contenus_Accor/Developpement_Durable/pdf/EN/guest_study_en_2016.pdf
Reuse Towel, Help Plant a Tree
The “Plant for the Planet” program, launched in 2009, aims to incentivize guests who stay more than one night in a hotel, to reuse their towels. In return, AccorHotels makes a commitment to plant a tree for them. It has so far planted 4.5 million trees in 25 countries.
Its other novel scheme is ‘Soap for Hope’, where used soap from hotels is recycled and distributed to low income communities.
Accor’s Efficiency Good in India
The AccorHotel chain runs 30 hotels across India. Its star property is Ibis in Mumbai which has earned a gold rating for its eco-friendly operations. In a chat with SustainabilityNext from Singapore, Arnaud Herrmann, vice president of sustainable development, AccorHotels, says India has issues with water and energy efficiency. Yet AccorHotels have been able to become water efficient by 22% and energy efficient by 12% – which are equivalent to its global performance. Unlike other business sectors which have clear rating which help clients’ choice, Herrmann says the hotel sector too needs clear ‘label’ mechanism. Until then it is difficult for hotels to command a premium for their eco-friendly measures.
One of the major challenges for AccorHotels is its large size and hence its ability to implement its sustainability goals becomes that much harder. Herrman says, although it has been tough but they do have a strong mechanism to engage, and enforce if needed, the common goals among its diverse franchises. One third of 4000 properties are franchises and many are on management contracts.
About the overall hospitality sector, he says that this sector is still a laggard but in the next five years or so it will catch up with the best in the industry in social responsibility.
Since AccorHotels started the process of turning its hotels green much earlier and are local community friendly, they have a head start. “We started 20 years ago, and for ten years we were the leaders, while everyone else is catching up now,” Arnaud Herrmann says proudly.
Herrmann moved to AccorHotels from Ernst & Young in 2013 to take on the role of the sustainability champion.