In April 2013, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts launched their Sustainability Partnership programme , aiming to take a more holistic approach to operational responsibility, and creating greater balance around the company’s economic, environmental and social priorities.
As the year draws to a close, Green Hotelier checked back with the luxury hotel chain for an update on its industry leading programme. A highlight of the programme, which builds on Fairmont’s 20+ years of operational sustainability and environmental protection , was the creation of four pillars to lend strength and focus to the brand’s renewed commitment to achieve positive long-term change on a global scale: Responsible Business, Ecosystem, Environment, and Engagement. Found within each pillar are priorities that Fairmont has established to help achieve its new sustainability goals.
- Responsible Business incorporates governance, accountability and disclosure. As a first step to delivering this pillar, the company introduced a centralised Data Management System that allows for real-time monitoring, measurement and reporting on sustainability at the property level. Each hotel has its own “Sustainability Team” - comprised of enthusiastic and passionate colleagues who drive innovation and achieve positive change at their individual properties.
- Ecosystem includes design and construction, procurement and biodiversity as key priorities, resulting in Fairmont continuing to integrate sustainable practices into renovations, new hotel openings and purchasing decisions to increase understanding and address their impacts on biodiversity.
- Environmental priorities continue to focus on reductions in energy and water consumption, waste generation and carbon emissions. Fairmont continues to work with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to achieve an established greenhouse gas emission reduction target, and looks to further support strategic initiatives including encouraging the use of electric vehicles.
- Engagement comprises guests, colleagues, communities and partners. In an effort to enhance positive impact at a local level, the brand introduced a grant programme which provides seed funding to hotel-identified organisations and causes that improve the overall well-being of the local community. It’s one way for properties to give back to the communities in which they operate. Support at a colleague level comes through the brand’s Hotel of the Year programme which recognises and rewards properties as they achieve strategic priorities and initiate innovative sustainability practices.
What’s key to all of this is the chain’s robust Data Management System (DMS).
The system has three main applications: The Portal Application, Metrics Application, and Grants Application.
The Portal is primarily an information sharing area. Its role is to facilitate the sharing of ideas and best practices to enable collaboration between all properties using a centralised system.
The DMS allows all users in the system - from any property - to share an initiatives that their hotel has undertaken. The criteria is it has to be a proven achievement having been implemented for at least three months, and have related benefits – with metrics – to demonstrate success.
The system allows users to add files of any type; including photos, videos or PowerPoint presentations. Once an initiative is in the DMS, all users have the ability to vote on it; giving it a star ranking out of five.
In the comments section of each initiative, properties are encouraged to share their unique twists of implementation on initiatives that have already been submitted. For example, several properties keep rooftop beehives. Once one property has submitted the initiative, within a few weeks updates are added showing how other properties are enhancing or adapting the initiative. Some properties invite local schools each week for a tour and teach them about the plight of the honey bee; another property uses the locally produced honey in a cocktail, educating guests through its sales and, donating proceeds to a “Bumblebee Conservation Trust ”.
Allison McCabe, Business Analyst, Sustainability Systems for Fairmont said, “Beyond the basic definition, a large part of sustainability is about sharing successes and facilitating collaboration to drive performance. This system has allowed our properties to increase performance through information sharing. Properties are now able to share what has worked well and communicate their successes with each other which in turn helps drive innovation. It’s great to have visibility into successful solutions in different regions of the world. Our colleagues have some amazing and unique ideas that can now be shared and leveraged by the entire portfolio.”
Another feature of the DMS is the Metrics module which is the main data collection area. It allows the company to maintain a central location into which all properties can log in and submit their quarterly and annual sustainability data.
Brand-wide consolidation of data is simplified, allowing reports to be generated quickly. This provides greater understanding to property, regional and corporate teams to more efficiently manage operations.
Finally, the brand’s Grant Programme concerns the third area of the system. The DMS has allowed the application process to move from a manual to automated submission. This has become essential, enabling approval of project grants with ease, and ensures project details are visible to all colleagues globally. An ‘updates’ section for each project allows properties to upload videos, pictures and success stories for all to see, showcasing continuous project innovation and improvements.
McCabe says, “The system is really an amazing way to facilitate information sharing and encourage employee engagement. Since 1990 when our Green Partnership Programme launched, to now with our evolved Sustainability Partnership, our programmes have always been colleague-driven, while also enjoying support at an executive level. This system has allowed us to provide a greater level of assistance to our colleagues, enabling them to more effectively manage their projects and initiatives.”
Speaking at the launch of the Programme in April, Jennifer Fox, president, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts said, “It’s about demonstrating accountability and integrity in the way we conduct business, improving the well-being of local communities and ecosystems, addressing the environmental impacts of our operations, and engaging our stakeholders in a meaningful and collaborative manner.”
Fairmont’s environmental affairs director, Sarah Dayboll echoed a similar sentiment, “We have enjoyed great success with our environmental initiatives over the years, and are very excited to be taking our sustainability efforts to the next level. The Fairmont Sustainability Partnership allows us to continue the journey and our newest Data Management System is lending invaluable support to realising positive change.”