The annual Green Lodging Trends Report  is out now and reveals that guests are a major driver for many hotels' sustainability programmes.
The report is based on data from 2,093 hotels in 46 countries and provides industry trends on a range of topics.
Conducted by Greenview, the report highlights and summarises responses to 110 survey questions in the categories: Air Quality, Back of House, Climate Action and Certification, Communications, Community Involvement, Energy Management, Health and Wellness, Staff Involvement, Waste Management, and Water Conservation. It also looks at the most common green practices among respondents, what sustainability initiatives are trending, and what practices are most innovative.
Although consumer surveys often claim that guests are seeking more sustainable hotel stays, it's hard to know whether what's reported translates into active behaviour, so it's interesting to note from hoteliers themselves that for 44% of respondents, guest comments had led to a change on-site related to sustainability. This figure represents a big jump from last year. In addition, overnight guests asking about carbon offsetting nearly doubled from last year's uptake to almost 50 percent this year.
The report notes that for hotels with green teams, guest comments can be a great discussion topic during green team meetings to discuss how to improve their sustainable operations based on guest feedback.
In addition, as more guests expect hotels to have integrated some elements of sustainability into their hotel operations, building and design, it follows that communicating these efforts will increase guest experience as well as gain valuable feedback to continually improve. However, whilst 73% of hotels globally are communicating in guestrooms, still only 51% of hotels share their green practices on their websites.
The report which is free to view and download here  hopes to establish a benchmark against which a hotelier can compare their property from year to year - against their own progress or that of other similar properties.
The report identifies a growing trend towards offsetting carbon to achieve emission reductions with hotel guests as well as with businesses. Overnight guests asking about carbon offsetting increased drastically from last year's uptake of 28% to nearly 50% this year. This shows that guests are taking a bigger interest in making a difference at their stays.
It recommends the hotels consider additional ways for guests to make an impact, and most importantly getting the message right for how both hotels and guests are helping.
Other key takeaways from the report include:
- Limited service hotels are continually improving in the areas of sustainability, going toe to toe with full service properties and in some cases even beating them in adoption rate.
- The practice of having a local procurement policy has jumped from 74% last year to 83%.
- 42% of respondents said at least 90% of guestrooms have occupancy sensors for reducing heating/cooling when guestrooms are unoccupied.
- 27% said they have installed electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and 1 % plan to do so.
- 34% said they provide preferred parking locations for guests and staff driving fuel efficient vehicles (hybrids, electric vehicles).
- 52% said they practice recycling in all common areas of the property. In the Americas that number was 96%. Only 48% responding from the Asia-Pacific region indicated they practice recycling in all common areas.
- 73% said they offer parental leave and care taking benefits. Parental leave has been a hot topic in the past year.
- For the first time, the report asked about human trafficking and 50% said they have a formal action plan in place for their property.
Hotels are identifying climate change as a business risk and acting accordingly. When asked 'to what degree does climate change drive you to make operational improvements and investments?' the percentage of hotels that said 'yes, it does have impact' were almost identical to last year's 84%. What's notable is that more of them shifted to 'having significant impact' over 'having some impact this year. Almost 40% of hotels globally responded that it has significant impact. This was an increase from last year's 28%.
It's encouraging to note that awareness of human trafficking risk is growing amongst hoteliers who are now taking modern slavery in supply chains as seriously as child sexual exploitation in their properties.
Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor of Green Lodging News said, "This year's report saw increased participation, thousands of best practices and innovations, and insight into common operational steps hoteliers are taking to reduce their environmental impact while reducing costs and improving the guest and staff experience at the same time. We owe a huge thank you to the survey's sponsors and supporters for their assistance with this project."
Grace Kang, Managing Partner at Greenview said, "Hotels need multiple resources to improve in their journey toward sustainability. With more data and empirical trends on best practices and visibly by hotel type and geographic region, the Green Lodging Trends Report is the first place a hotel can see what it should be doing to keep pace, and learn what the leaders are doing this year."
The Green Lodging Survey is an annual exercise for industry trends and benchmarking. The 2018 survey will open in the second quarter of 2018, with the results published in the fourth quarter. The survey will be enhanced next year to add new, innovative best practices to the questions. It will be further improved based on participant feedback, particularly in segmenting or adjusting the questions by property type, so that properties can be benchmarked according to property type.
Although the survey tends to draw hoteliers already invested in sustainable practices, the results demonstrated a wide range of implementation of green practices - from just beginning to tackle 'low hanging fruit', to extensive renewable energy projects. It's encouraging that in this, the 25th anniversary of the International Tourism Partnership , a membership organisation which works with global hotel groups on issues including climate change, water scarcity, youth unemployment and human trafficking, that more and more hoteliers are recognising their role as responsible businesses.