Gabriele Burgio

Position - Chairman and CEO, NH Hoteles

Background

Gabriele Burgio was born in Florence in 1954. He graduated in international law from the University of Florence and holds an MBA from INSEAD. In 1997, he became CEO and chairman of NH Hoteles.

Since taking the helm at NH Hoteles, the company has become one of the fastest-growing hotel chains in Europe, increasing its sales to €1,532m in 2008, as well as developing innovative food and beverage concepts such as “nhube” and “Fast Good”. In 2007, NH Hoteles was awarded the Príncipe Felipe prize for “Excellence in Tourism”.

Gabriele Burgio is also an independent member of the board of Ferrovial SA, Banque Syz & Co SA and the St Louis University (Madrid). After the merger between NH Italia and Jolly Hotels in 2006, he was appointed CEO of Jolly Hotels SpA.

In 2003, global management consultants AT Kearney and weekly magazine Actualidad Económica awarded him the title “Manager of the Year”, while daily newspaper Expansion recognised him as the CEO who most contributed to human resources in Spain in 2007.

Gabriele discusses NH Hotels

We joined the International Tourism Partnership—the first Spanish hotel chain to do so—because we wanted to meet like-minded people with similar environmental aims and objectives. Although there is increasing awareness of environmental issues in southern Europe, we are at an early stage compared to many parts of the developed world. The partnership provides the perfect opportunity to collaborate with other leaders in the industry to develop new, practical solutions and to share best practice as well as to help influence the next stage of the International Tourism Partnership’s development.

We began to study opportunities to sustainably develop NH Hoteles' business four years ago. Our decision was riven by a deep respect for the environment; we truly believe that it is time for us to give back what we have taken away from the environment.

There are also potential economic benefits. With 16-17m annual guests staying at our 347 hotels around the world, it offered a chance to educate our customers and the wider world about our responsibility as citizens to reduce our carbon footprint.

Educating our 20,000 staff has been a key factor in our sustainable approach. We have shown them how to intelligently use resources such as electricity and water; we also encourage them to think about their usage at home.

We have replaced installations and electrical equipment—windows, air-conditioning and heating units, mini-bars, showers—with energy-efficient alternatives. This year alone, we have installed 650,000 low-voltage bulbs, co-financed by local authorities and other special grants.

Our corporate clients are increasingly judging us on our green credentials. But by publicising our green initiatives, we hope all of our customers will take an interest. In fact, a survey carried out last year by The Boston Consulting Group revealed that 5% of our guests would be prepared to pay a bit more to stay at our hotels if we could show them we were reducing our environmental impact.

To prove our commitment to sustainable development, we have set ourselves a very ambitious goal—to achieve the European Union’s 20-20-20 objective eight years ahead of its 2020 target. That means that by 2012 we will have increased our share of renewable energy by 20%, reduced our CO2 emissions by 20% and increased our energy efficiency by 20%. To help ensure we meet the target, we publish half-yearly results for water and energy consumption and CO2 emissions, one of the few companies in Europe to do so. For the first half of 2009, for example, water usage fell by 14.7% per guest per night compared to the same period last year.

All our staff are behind us and, with a big effort from everyone, I’m confident we can accomplish our objective. Now it’s up to customers to show their support by choosing to stay in hotels that care about a more environmentally responsible hotel industry.

Leave a Reply