Lotus & Jasmine

Sustainable Hospitality & Responsible Tourism. A Vacation with a Meaning.

Sustainable Hospitality

In general we can see guests now expect hotels to operate some kind of sustainability program, but the industry still remain motivated more by price and convenience than concern for the environment, according to recent studies. The connection between a sustainable hospitality approach and customer satisfaction is still weak compared to guests satisfaction drivers like quality rooms and food and beverage choices. Very often what happens is that guests want green hotels, but they're not going to support initiatives with paying any extra. In addition, if those initiatives cause inconvenience, they will get angry and ultimately consider other choices. So, how to embrace sustainable operations while saving money and keeping guests happy at same time? This is a question that poses a great threat to operations.

Below some of the best practices coming directly from leaders in the industry:

Green hotels shall measure everything

Guests nowadays understand that serious sustainability requires a great level of knowledge and planning in hospitality operations and they ask specific questions about hotel practices. That's why hotels need to provide real figures in numbers, by conducting a proper assessment of waste, energy and water usage, which means all green efforts in place should be measured. In this way it is possible for guests to have a comparison when data are public between hotels practices related to energy and water usage, responsible consumption and wastage reduction practices. By reducing electricity consumption by 10 percent, a full-service hotel has same financial benefit as increasing the room rate by $1.35 according to recent studies.

Green hotels should also think small

The public perception of a sustainable hotel involves very large improvements that are visible to guests, such as native plantings or rooftop solar panels, but the most popular sustainability programs involve small, low-cost changes, such as low-flow shower heads installation, LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances low-flow toilets. Costs and benefits of certifications Hotels can earn various certification by adopting green practices, usually during preopening and for new constructions. A recent study by Cornell University's Center for Hospitality Research suggests that certified hotels perform better than non-certified competitors, for at least the first two years after certification. “This is a good indicator that shows how guests now choose their hotels based also on the sustainable practices in place there.

Green hotels should reward guests

"Green" guests choose to participate in sustainability efforts when they receive something in return, such as loyalty program points. It doesn't have to be always and only a monetary reward. Significant are the results obtained by a business eco-hotel in Mumbai, where when a guest presses a button, the air-conditioning temperature rises by two degrees, and a certificate of appreciation is granted to the guest. This is a very simple, effective strategy that saves the hotel money in the long run and at same time make the guest feel part of an important strategy.

Restaurant Sustainability Practices

Many restaurants are looking for new opportunities and innovation. While some operators may be launching a new menu or investing in a new marketing strategy, others are looking to incorporate sustainability into their businesses. Now more than ever, consumers want their food  sustainably and ethically sourced. They’re making their preferences known in social media and word of mouth, using their purchasing power to support businesses aligned with their values. Here are some of the trends in restaurant sustainability:

Food Waste Awareness

Food waste is one of the fastest-growing problems in the industry. Businesses and farms spend $218 billion a year in US only for processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten. Consumers are not confident where their next meal will come from. We can expect to see more awareness of this global issue, as the industry attempts to solve it through prevention, recovery, and recycling efforts.

Shelf-life Extending Products

Restaurants have an opportunity to create less food waste by investing in products like shelf-life extenders. New technologies are emerging and shelf life extenders are more and more often used in the supply chain during packing and shipping. We should expect to see more of this type of innovative, waste reduction technology in restaurants and grocery stores.

Elimination of Single-use Plastics

As restaurant operators can expect to see  more regulations on plastics materials, it is wise to invest in reusable alternatives sooner rather than later.

The Ugly Produce

Fruits and vegetables often go unpicked in fields or get thrown away because they don’t meet certain standards. Many companies are now offering consumers the convenience and savings of produce that would have been discarded, and give these items a second life. Restaurants suppliers will find ways to utilize produce that may not be the most good-looking one and use these items in sauces, soups, or other menu items where the flavor of the ingredients is more important than the appearance.

Food Donation

By donating to communities in need, restaurants can help reduce food waste and hunger. Many local food banks pick up food donations free of charge. Not only this practice would improve restaurant sustainability, but patrons would be more willing to choose a restaurant knowing that a portion of their spending will go to help people in need.

Sustainable Seafood

The future of our oceans and entire species depend on humans eating fish caught sustainably. Diners who enjoy seafood are paying more attention now than before to which fish they are choosing. 

More Vegetables (Less Meat)

Having more vegetarian options on the menus doesn’t mean that diners want to go vegetarian or vegan; probably they just want to change up the proportions on their plate. Dishes with a variety of nutritious vegetables and smaller portions of animal proteins are healthier for the consumer and better for the planet. Some of the most popular food trends are now vegetable-based, making it easy to incorporate more veggies into the menu. 

How to promote sustainable travel

 • Tip #1: Share

The first step of promoting sustainability is by spreading as more knowledge as possible to friends, so they can easily realize how they can positively impact the area they are visiting.

Tip #2: Book Sustainably-Focused Lodging

Since you are in charge of booking lodging, you have a direct impact on this decision. Give your clients a list to choose from including hotels, rentals, and other lodging options that promote higher levels of sustainability.

Tip #3: Consider How You Travel

Sure, most travelers have to fly in an airplane to get to their vacation destination. But once you hit the ground, it is important to understand the ways you affect the environment by your mode of transportation. Suggest carpooling, hybrid car rentals, or biking.

Tip #4: Support Local Businesses

Motivate your travelers to support local businesses. Give them plenty of activity options that help the local community. You should also suggest restaurants that promote local shops and let travelers try authentic cuisine.

Tip #5: Participate in Humanitarian Work

Your travelers don’t need a big humanitarian trip to get in making their vacation sustainable. By participating in humanitarian-focused activities is an excellent way for travelers to blend sustainability into their holiday.

Tip #6: Talk to the Locals

Encourage your clients to get to know the locals. This is a great way to spread ideas to less-evolved countries and get involved in the community. Talking with locals will improve the experience for both parties involved.

Sustainable tourism in post Covid - 19

When we travel, we sometimes get a feeling that the place we have chosen is too crowded with tourist. Also we would love to wish to have space of our own or to take a photo without too many people in front of a landmark. At same time we crave local food and not same food we have available at home. We would love to want to get an authentic experience. Sustainable tourism aims to support local communities without impacting in a negative way the nature and the social environment of the destination we visit. Besides, the uniqueness of the place needs to remain authentic also for the future generations. It is becoming more and more important, as many people want to avoid the tourist spots. Places that stay intact and unique are only few now. Problems surface because of over tourism and huge amount of trash left behind. For a better future of our planet, sustainable tourism should be promoted extensively in order to have more and more people to try it; as many information as possible should be provided so the culture of travel sustainably could become part of our experience when on holidays.

Positive effects of the pandemic on sustainable tourism:

The pandemic was quite effective against mass tourism and mass gatherings. Some destinations became also more accessible to local communities as costs of services decreased a lot. The positive effect was also felt on the environment as pollution and natural resource consumption dropped down to a very significant level. Animals have returned to urban settlements and in Venice we saw again clear water in the “Laguna” while in Thailand’s beaches sea turtles were spotted again to lay eggs. The other side of the coin is the absence of airplanes and tourist ships, and the loss of jobs for millions of people in tourism industry; these factors caused a lack of financial support for sustainable tourism, the ultimate resource for the welfare and support to local communities especially in countries with low GDP.

The future of sustainable tourism:

The World Tourism Organization published new guidelines for tourism recovery stating that sustainable tourism should stop being just a niche for extra income and should become a norm for everyone. Actions were recommended in order to recover quickly and facilitate responsible approach for better future.

Here below are highlighted 7 tips to be a responsible traveler:

Choose responsible accommodation by choosing boutique hotels or international luxury brands offering greener accommodation options. Find businesses that actively partner with the local community and have sustainable practices that support the environment; organizations that donate part of their profits to charities and pay their local staff wages above average

Opt for green, cruelty-free & ethical tour operators: These places are often signed up to various country or international schemes aimed at reducing the environmental impact of their operations and concerned with being a sustainable business. Related information can be found online before booking.

Buy Local: This really supports the local economy: handicrafts locally made instead of mass-produced magnets, keychains, mugs, or shirts should be given more attention to. A meal at a local restaurant instead of going to chain restaurants or fast food joints, or buy groceries in a local farmer’s market, contributes to support local and family run businesses. This will also help in providing a more authentic travel experience.

Be Generous: If you find yourself in a conversation with someone in need of little money, consider how that small amount of cash can help that person. On the other hand, although it may be tempting to give money to beggars or children, it’s not always the best idea. Intact it encourages them to constantly ask travelers for cash. Often, the money received is not even for them. A better alternative is to offer some food or water to drink.

Respect Local Culture: One of travel’s greatest accomplishments and rewards is learning about different cultures, beliefs, and religions. It is very important to show respect for locals while visiting their own places. Don’t expect them to understand English or your native language. Besides, just a simple “hello” or “thank you” in their native language can make miracles; understanding their traditions helps to not accidentally offend someone with wrong actions.

Leave No Trace: It is important to adopt the “leave no trace” mindset. Don’t litter, don’t carve out anything, and don’t leave a physical trace. Just enjoy the moment.

Spread Awareness: A true responsible traveler helps in spreading awareness and educating others. Lots of people are curious about responsible traveling habits and just look for information to be shared.

Sustainable Tourism

What is sustainable tourism?

Tourism helps in generating revenues and improving local economies. However, factors like loss of heritage as well as ecological degradation can have a negative impact on the ecosystem and socio environment of the destination. Sustainable tourism ultimately is an industry aiming to generate employment opportunities and ensuring at the same time that negative impacts on environment and local communities are to be minimized. In simple words, sustainable tourism takes into account probable or possible negative consequences of tourism on the social, environmental and economic structure of the destination while taking measures to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of that particular place. It aims to pursue sustainable development goals that have a positive impact on locals, tourists and tourism industry. Here certain goals that can be achieved: 

▪︎ Preserve and conserve: This involves appreciating the purity of the environment and reducing any kind of pollution including air, water, and sound.

▪︎ Preserve the biodiversity: Placing efforts to reduce the impact on the ecological balance of the place minimizing the negative impact on wildlife or natural surroundings. 

▪︎ Utilizing the available resources: Using renewable and non-renewable resources in an efficient and effective way; encouraging locals and tourists in regards of responsible consumption and waste prevention. 

▪︎ Increase employment: Generating opportunities for people to get employed. 

▪︎ Creating awareness: Increasing awareness about the positive impacts on cultural and natural heritage by personally committing with various sustainable tourism practices.

Tourism can get economy improving and at same time, if not properly managed, can damage social systems and natural resources; for this reason, sustainable tourism education and awareness contribute in maintaining a proper balance between the above factors.

Responsible Consumption

Today’s consumers wish to know if the food they choose in a restaurant is responsibly sourced and if that particular eatery is placing efforts in reducing the damage the operations do to the environment. Recent surveys have shown that 60 percent of consumers want to seek out sustainable restaurants, and over two-thirds of them are willing to pay more to dine at sustainable eateries. Going green attract new loyal fans and offer chances to increase prices if offsetting the costs of doing so is needed after implementing the new strategies. As a big part of the job is providing guests with what they want, restaurants today are looking for efficient ways to be more sustainable and possibly in the most cost-effective ways possible:

👍Sourcing seasonal products is a good strategy to make a restaurant more sustainable, by rotating menu items based on seasons, when they are actually very fresh.

👍Using seasonal produce, cheese, meats and more can actually be a cost-saving effective strategy as these items are in abundance during the harvesting season, which drives costs down.

👍Greening your supply chain. Many restaurants choose vendors very far from their location. This of course drives up product prices and produces unnecessary carbon emissions, hard on the environment.

👍Choosing vendors who can provide you with products that don’t have to travel long distances would be nice but of course…... it is not always possible.

👍Knowing where the seafood comes from helps to fight overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices that represent a danger to the health of the oceans. Sustainable seafood is more expensive, but shopping what’s in season or what’s available locally can help keep costs down.

👍Vegetarian and vegan options reduce the negative impact on the planet. By replacing one meat option or two with more vegetarian and vegan dishes is a good way to be more sustainable without affecting too much sales. Meat and dairy aren’t only not sustainable, they’re also expensive. Vegetarian and vegan items can have higher profit margins and can actually contribute to saving.

👍Reclaiming the restaurant’s décor. This is a great strategy to be sustainable and trendy at same time. Not everything needs to be brand new. Used linens, dishware, wall decorations from closing businesses is also a great money-saving strategy.

👍Buying top-quality appliances. This is good for theenvironment as newer ppliances are more energy efficient and easier to repair if they break down, meaning they won’t need to be replaced any time soon. Consuming less water and electricity. It is possible to save on water and energy installing timers on lights and low-flow toilets and sinks in your restrooms. Although there is an upfront cost, savings on future energy and water bills offsets those costs.

👍Cutting down on waste. Throwing away expired food can be avoided with better inventories procedures, portion sizes can be reduced, leftover van be used for stocks and sauces. Joining a recycling program. Many options exist to support these initiatives. Some recycling programs are free, but some do cost small fees to join.

👍Ditching one-use plastics (as much as possible). First step is offering drinks in glasses only, and If they really need a straw then second step is providing recyclable and reusable straw alternatives like biodegradable paper, bamboo, pasta, or even metal.

What is Ecotourism?

As stated by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism means “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people”. What are some places that can be considered ecotourism destinations?

▪ National Parks: By including these natural areas in our travelling, we support conservation of wild spaces and species.

▪ Marine Protected Areas: to protect biodiversity whenever possible visiting these areas as sometimes access is restricted

▪ Sanctuaries: These sites exist to protect biodiversity and species. Through donations or volunteering and sharing we can help to attract more visitors

▪ Cultural local events: When we offer incentives or donations, we help to keep traditions alive and support local communities.

Steps to become a more environmentally friendly restaurant

As issues like climate change and plastic pollution are in the spotlight, diners are paying lots of attention to environmentally-friendly practices, food waste reduction, sustainability. Quality of food and atmosphere, service, value for the money are still important parameters when choosing a restaurant, but now people are also considering Corporate Social Responsibility as a factor which helps in taking the right decision.

Implementing environmentally friendly practices into a restaurant business or starting a transformation will generate a positive effect, as customers will notice these initiatives, and they’re likely to become more loyal as a result.

There are many changes to consider, with some ideas difficult to execute because requiring some time and others easy to integrate in daily operations in order to reduce the environmental footprint and support sustainability practices:

Reduce Water Consumption: Low-flow faucets or taps operating from a motion sensor can save thousands of liters of water;  water-efficient toilets and kitchen equipped with energy star-certified dishwashing machines, ice makers and steamers will help as well for sure

No Paper: Big blackboards, digital menus, more moments of interactions with guests are already replacing in part old style printed menus. Once a menu is in the restaurant's website, diners can be encouraged with proper signs to read it on their smartphones. A digital loyalty program with rewards points can easily replace plastic or paper cards in a program that in addition shows a digital receipt, easy to be accessed in the loyalty app

Support Local Farmers & Families: Businesses If a restaurant purchases locally, it gives a valuable contribution to reduce transportation impact and lower carbon emissions, compared to shipping or flying imported products. Another benefit comes from supporting small businesses that offer most probably fresh and organic produce, free of preservatives and other chemicals

No Waste: Food waste coming from the kitchen and from customers can be donated to local farmers for compost. Food left at the end of the day and not suitable for serving next day can be donated to charity organizations. Coffee grounds make great fertilizer, so eventually it can also be donated to guests to fertilize their gardens or to local farmers to fertilize their crops. Separate bins for food waste, glass, plastic, cardboard, and general rubbish should be in place Use Less Energy One of the easiest steps to take is replacing non-energy saving lightbulbs and monitoring on unnecessary overuse of air conditioning. Depending on the climate, a “1-hour on, 1-hour off” policy would literally cut in half the energy usage. Energy Star-rated microwaves, ovens, exhaust fans and all the appliances should be given priority when purchasing equipment

No Chemical-based Cleaning Products: When considering ways for eco-friendly solutions, we sometimes overlook an important area, which is cleaning. It is important to switch to environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning products free of chemicals. Eco-friendly hand soap for the restrooms can be purchased in bulk and should fill existing dispensers Recycle Old Furniture and Décor If considering to open a new restaurant, we should choose sustainable products as more as possible, including loose furniture. Reclaimed wood provides a trendy vibe as well as bamboo-based furniture. Table cloths and even cloth napkins can be washed and reused, just like real mugs, glasses and dishes to replace paper tissues and paper cups

Reduce as more as possible a negative impact on the environment:

a) Strict “no car” delivery policy; only pedestrian or bicycle deliveries for nearby delivery

b) Encourage staff to come to work riding a bicycle and offer incentives to follow this program

c) offer a bonus to employees who share a car to work

d) No plastic straws!. Bamboo, metal or paper straws are recommended

Get Your Staff On Board!: To create the right culture at work, during operations someone needs to be in charge of sustainable practices; a proper Tailor Made Training should be created; these initiatives needs to be put in place only if and when the whole team share all values and everyone is on is on the same page, sharing also the common goal

Get Your Customers On Board! Proper signs should make clear that the restaurant is embracing sustainable practices and customers should get involved as well through activities like donating 10% of sales to a good cause, or hosting events that ultimately increase awareness locking them into a commitment. Social media accounts to promote dedication to being an eco-friendly business should involve customers for ideas or feedback.

 

Circular economy and hospitality

We have seen many trends within the hospitality industry in past few years, but one in particular most probably will stay as it will generate a long term impact on the sector as well on the transformation in terms of a greater sustainability the industry needs to face.

How to explain in few words “circular economy”

A circular economy model implements strategies and processes that generate a significant reduction in the need for new materials and in the need for disposal; existing products are altered to facilitate reuse, minimizing the need for the harvesting of natural resources and reducing waste to protect environment while drawing awareness to ‘green’ and eco-friendly processes. Circular economy is not the end of production, but goods and services have now to be designed to minimize resources needed, to last and more importantly to be reusable or recyclable. On one hand, in the new economy approach, production may decrease given that goods are reused, but on the other hand the goods produced may incorporate more value added to satisfy new consumption patterns.

Circular hospitality

Recycling and sustainability is now a focus within the hospitality sector; new directions to follow are in place. Replacing plastic straws with recyclable paper or reusable stainless steel options or moving away from paper towels to washable fabrics, show that by taking small steps such as these, waste could be reduced up to 16 percent. At same time solar panels are becoming more popular as well as recycling food waste to provide nutrients to the hotel’s greenhouse plants. As more and more organizations in the hospitality sector embrace the concept of reusability, the indication now is that circular economy could be implemented in the whole tourism industry.

Circular economy in the tourism sector

There are good reasons to believe that firms within the tourism sector have a strong interest to adapt their production process. In the food & beverage industry, it is said that 60% of food that is thrown away can be easily avoided. A hotel or restaurant, when aiming at producing zero waste, increases its chances to prosper in the coming years and if steps towards circular economy are taken properly, costs do not increase. Even if costs slightly increase, they will be offset by the higher turnover the firm will be able to make. As competitors will adapt as well to comply with circular tourism and prices will probably decrease a little, not adapting to the new models of consumption will lead to a business collapse. Very soon consumers will reject the idea of consuming goods & services unhealthy for our environment. Changes do not have to be radical; the goal is showing the consumers that what they want and need is seriously considered and great efforts are in place in daily activities to achieve this result.

 

The 4 pillars of eco-tourism

Ecotourism is a form of responsible travel to natural areas that help in conserving the environment, sustaining the well-being of the local people, and involving interpretation and educational activities. It builds cultural and environmental awareness and encourages positive experience for visitors as well as hosts. At same time it minimizes the impact of tourism on the environment.

The 4 Pillars of eco-tourism:

Environmental Stewardship: protecting the environment by implementing conservation and sustainable practices; committing to the protection and responsible use of the surroundings for future enjoyment.

Ecological Connection: full engagement with land, flora or fauna in the environment.

Community Empowerment: having a direct socioeconomic impact by diversifying, donating or employing locals.

Cross-Cultural Engagement: interacting with the culture of the surrounding by learning new skills, history or sharing as more a spossible with local families. Cross-cultural engagement with another culture has a long lasting impact.

Sustainable restaurants

Restaurants are sustainable when they reduce their waste streams and are also practicing sustainable principles, minimizing their impact on the environment. While we are seeing a decline of our planet’s natural resources as well as an increase in demand for transparency and in consumer expectations, restaurants businesses are facing numerous challenges, such as growing costs, slow growth, employees retention or high turnover and ultimately a need to attract a younger demographic target. As consumers, according to recent statistics, are willing to pay more for sustainable services and products, restaurants should consider more commitment to sustainability, as this would be an important marketing strategy to address all issues above. Here some important steps for restaurants businesses willing to start their “sustainable” journey:

Engaging stakeholders: to start the process in the more efficient way it is important to receive support, suggestions and input from as many stakeholders affected by the business as possible; employees, suppliers, corporate, local communities, private and public organizations should be involved from the very beginning.

Operations assessment: it is recommended to study in depth all major issues such as employee’s retention and turnover rate, relationship with suppliers and local communities, where most of the money is spent, how the company is known in the market and what can be done to improve.

Sustainability Metrics Tracking System: once a sustainability tracking system is developed and updated regularly, metrics like water consumption, energy use, waste and others can be kept under tight control and analyzed in depth in order to identify trends and opportunities from improvement. This analysis will create a system in which monitoring on performance and benchmarks will help in consolidating best practices. Targets and goals should be realistic and not impossible to achieve; at same time they should create the right level of excitement to keep all stakeholders engaged during the journey.

New technologies, programs and policies: understanding what is available in the market for improvement of business and operations is extremely important as there are always new trends emerging and new practices to embrace. Consultants can help and support in this stage.

Implementation: After identifying new technologies, policies and practices, it is time to implement. Employees and stakeholders need to be informed during the journey as these initiatives can motivate them and keep them engaged.

A never ending journey: The goal is to continually improve practices, continue to reduce costs day by day, continue to build bridges with stakeholders and continue to contribute to a better world for everyone.