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Successful businesses need to be efficient, well-managed, customer-focused, offer quality products and services and provide value for money. Within this framework they also have to fulfil the expectations of their stakeholders, which includes demonstrating their commitment to the environment. A company can have the most ambitious environmental policy, but unless staff understand the philosophy behind it, the goals they are aiming for and how to achieve them, it will not be successful. Good intentions are undermined through poor training.
For example, if hotel guests have dutifully followed a request in the bathroom to hang their towels up for reuse to conserve water and energy and to reduce detergent use for the benefit of the environment, they will not be pleased if they find that the towels have been changed. This can cause greater customer disappointment than by not having a towel and linens programme in the first place!
This information in this guide applies equally to large hotels that are part of international chains or small and medium sized establishments. However it does assume that you already have an environmental policy in place.
If this is not the case, you should first identify the issues that are applicable to your business, draw up a policy and decide how you are going to monitor and measure your progress.
Companies use different means to promote environmental awareness and conduct training. Some contract in external specialist consultants, some train managers to run sessions internally (train-the trainers), others set up modules to be completed at certain times via the staff intranet or use video conferencing, lectures, discussion groups or role play. You may wish to use some or all of these techniques.
Staff responsible for environmental management should be properly qualified and have the awareness, knowledge and skills to implement environmental best practices in accordance with regional and international standards. Various training programmes may be appropriate for them to undergo before they embark upon staff training, such as ISO 14001 and EMAS foundation courses, the CIEH Environmental Management Certificate or other environmental manager qualifications. Contact your local trade or small business association or relevant government department to find out what is available in your area.
Environmental training should be regular and ongoing and not a one-off event. It should be a part of the mainstream daily management of your business and should include staff at all levels, including senior management. Although it is a serious subject, there is no need for it to be boring – if your training sessions are enjoyable, staff will learn more and be motivated to get involved.
It can be carried out:
Training sessions should be reinforced with written information that can be referred back to – for example training manuals, on CD or the hotel intranet and supplemented with information such as checklists and case studies on notice boards.
In some companies, environmental training is part of a wider corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy and programme. Although CSR has a broader, socio-economic and community focus, much of the information here is also relevant for CSR training.
Case Study: Responsible Business at Rezidor SAS Hospitality
Rezidor SAS Hospitality introduced its Responsible Business (RB) programme into its hotels in 2001. This takes a systematic approach to addressing environmental, social, and health & safety issues supported by an ambitious policy with objectives and indicators linked to seven key stakeholders.
Because the company operates in nearly 50 countries with different levels of awareness, infrastructure and needs, the RB programme is designed to be flexible; the hotels adopt common performance objectives based on continuous improvement, but can choose activities suited to their local conditions. Indicators have been developed for each objective in order to measure performance in all hotels. Hotels are also required to report on their performance annually (and in some areas monthly) to the corporate office.
Each hotel has a Responsible Business Coordinator working part-time within the scope of the programme, under the supervision and guidance of the Corporate Vice President, Responsible
Business. RB co-ordinators assist the general managers in implementing local RB action plans and support the Regional Director on RB matters to provide a link between the corporate office and the hotels.
Environmental and social responsibility training is a key part of the programme and focuses on global environmental and social concerns, linking them specifically to hotel operations. Through the training, employees learn how they can make a positive contribution.
By the end of 2005, more than 10,000 Radisson SAS employees had received the training. Pia Heidenmark-Cook, Vice President, Responsible Business, explains how it works: “We have set up the RB training as a minimum two-hour hour module. Some hotels take the staff out of work for the whole day to carry out our customer service-based ‘Yes I Can’ training which includes the two hour RB module at the end. Others keep the training sessions separate from each other. Because staff change relatively often in the hotel industry, RB training is also very much a part of induction training, so that new employees are aware of the programme. Our target from the corporate office is to have all staff in all our brands trained in RB – i.e. Radisson SAS, Country Inn, Missoni, Park Inn and Regent hotels. So far, around 75 per cent of the employees in our managed and leased hotels have received training. The figure is less for the Park Inn hotels as they are relatively new to the system”.
Rezidor’s training sessions consist of:
- an introduction (why are we working with RB?)
- the environment (what are the issues, how do hotel operations impact on it, and what can I do?)
- social issues (what do we mean by this, how does it link to hotel operations, and what can I do?)
Hotels are encouraged to use their individual RB Action Plan as part of the training, so that their employees see clearly that there is a direct link to their hotel's operation.
Case Study: Hilton’s ‘we care!’ programme
Based on Hilton International’s global environmental programme, Hilton Europe & Africa’s ‘we care!’ campaign aims to raise awareness, train, inform and inspire team members, guests, customers and partners. Hilton aims ‘to become the industry leader in environmental management and contribute to a sustainable society’. To this end it has set a target to reduce utility consumption across the Europe and Africa region by five per cent in 2006.
Over the first seven months of 2006:
- over 6,000 team members have been through workshops and submitted their own hotel action plans for follow-up by the executive management
- more than 4000 team members have completed Hilton’s ‘ecoLearning’ internet tool (now in six languages including Arabic)
- All 79 Hilton’s in Europe and Africa have active environmental committees
- An energy saving competition between the hotels is ongoing.
Between January and May 2006, Hilton’s five hotels in Paris reduced their overall energy use by 20 per cent compared with the same period in 2005. Simple changes in practice such as switching off lights and computers combined with the chief engineers’ commitment to making hotel equipment as energy-efficient as possible has cut the hotels’ combined carbon dioxide emissions by 1167 tonnes – the equivalent of taking 430 cars off the road.
Environmental task forces were established in December 2005 at the Hilton Charles de Gaulle Airport, Hilton Paris and Hilton La Défense, adding to those at Hilton Orly Airport and Hilton Arc de Triomphe. These ‘Green Teams’ include members from all departments who together agreed objectives and the short and long-term actions to achieve them. Since the programme’s official launch at the end of 2005, around 1,000 team members have been trained and more than 80 suggestions made on how to take the programme forward.
Together with trainers from Espace Info Energie, an association linked to ADEME, the National Agency of Environment and Energy Control, team members used existing resources such as the ecoLearning tool and led environmental workshops for their colleagues. These focused on energy-efficiency, waste reduction, water efficiency and minimising pollution, and included the setting of targets, how to measure performance and sharing best practices. The input from these brainstorming sessions was used to produce a range of communications to raise awareness and promote learning.
- internal posters on departmental best environmental practices and Green Team audits
- 15 environmental and energy saving actions for each of the hotels
- a pocket guide on the environment which has since been made available world-wide on Hilton’s intranet
- use of the company’s internet-based Hilton Environmental Reporting (HER) system (now used by 400 hotels) to obtain a key performance indicator (KPI) energy report to record and communicate results, using energy and water use per guest night benchmarks
- energy audits of all the Paris properties
- questionnaires to track changing attitudes to the environment
- a special training session for the outsourced housekeeping team
- a partnership with ADEME called ‘Planete Gagnante’ (Winning Planet) which encourages partners to educate the public under the slogan ‘Economies d'énergie. Faisons vite, ça chauffe’ (‘Quick! Save energy, it’s getting hot!’). Hilton is the first hotel group to sign up. There are nearly 40 other partners including WWF, SNCF, Electricité de France, and La Poste.
- Events and activities to support France’s National Environmental Sustainability Awareness Week (29 May – 4 June). These included running an information stand and competition in the hotel lobbies with representatives from a number of environmental organisations and companies selling products such as energy-efficient light bulbs and bicycles.
Environmental Sustainability Awareness Week was the first time Hilton communicated externally about its ‘we care!’ campaign. Having successfully implemented the programme internally, the hotels were ready to start talking to their suppliers, business partners and guests. They explained how they worked first to avoid wasting energy through no-cost and low-cost measures before implementing efficiency measures involving a modest or more significant outlay – nearly all of which will eventually pay for themselves in lower energy bills. The final step is to look at where the energy is coming from and the options for using renewable technologies.
Also during the week, nearly 50 team members from three of the hotels collected rubbish and promoted ‘we care!’ in their local community. Organic produce was introduced into the hotel restaurants and Hilton also won two prizes in a cycling rally in the city centre as part of the National Bicycle Festival.
A Buyer’s Guide to Reducing Energy Costs in the Hospitality Sector
Catering for a Better Future: Waste Management Fact Files for Hospitality Businesses
CIEH Environmental Awareness and Environmental Management Certificates
WRAP: Top Water Minimisation Tips for Hotels
EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
Green Lodging News
Waste Counts: A Handbook for Accommodation Operators
Published by CESHI, July 2002
Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST)
Centre for Environmental Studies in the Hospitality Industry (CESHI)
Chartered Institute of Environmealth (CIEH)
Considerate Hoteliers Association
Green Hotels Association
We would like to thank the following for their help with this guide:
Jane Carlton Smith, CESHI, Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management, Oxford Brookes
John Firrell, Considerate Hoteliers
Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article. However, the Tourism Partnership cannot accept any responsibility for actions based on this information.