The importance of being responsible
The responsible business movement, accelerated by the pandemic, is challenging every company across every sector to be mindful of their impact on people and the planet. Consumers now expect their favourite brands to reshape the world in a sustainable way, trusting organisations that demonstrate social and environmental awareness, and avoiding those who do not.
The tourism industry, including hotels and resorts, faces many challenges in terms of mitigating destination impact. Great strides have been made in sourcing products locally, reducing waste and energy usage and supporting initiatives that give back to their locale, but there is much more work to be done.
As the tourism sector bounces back from the pandemic fallout, there is an opportunity to deliver meaningful change. By working together, tourism bodies, governments, hoteliers, local community, as well as travellers and other key stakeholders, can create better places for people to live in and to visit, and that should be our collective goal moving forward in an era where responsible business is no longer a choice, but a necessity.
When we re-launched GHA DISCOVERY in December 2021, the changes we made to our loyalty programme were based on extensive member feedback and evolved consumer behaviour.
Travellers were asking for more flexibility on how they earn and spend, including the chance to accrue and redeem rewards close to home, which in itself is a responsible practice, supporting local people and places. They asked for a more transparent lifestyle-driven rewards scheme, with ‘lifestyle’ not only encompassing how people like to spend their time – at restaurants, or spas, for example – but their values too, including their support of responsible businesses and practices.
We are proud that many of our hotel brands run highly successful sustainability campaigns, with a focus on local impact, appealing to members who want to travel responsibly. The list is extensive, but as an example, Minor Hotels and JA Hotels & Resorts are among the first hospitality groups to totally eliminate single-use plastic and have made great strides in reducing waste, particularly at UAE properties.
At Anantara Hotels & Resorts, part of Minor Hotels, where at least 10 per cent of KPIs are attributed to sustainability methods, the new Anantara World Islands in Dubai is making a conscious effort to measure and reduce how much waste goes to landfills, while JA has installed water treatment, cleaning and bottling systems at three Dubai properties, with more to come.
The Pan Pacific Hotel Group operates its own sustainable brand, the Park Royal Collection, with properties in Singapore and soon, Kuala Lumpur, featuring cutting-edge technology and design to significantly reduce energy usage, from solar panels and a complex heat-exchange system to special windows. Next year, the Pan Pacific Orchard in Singapore will become the group’s first zero-waste hotel.
Many of our hotel brands are fiercely committed to giving back to local communities, with Sukhothai Hotels & Resorts, for example, supporting the Gift of Happiness Foundation, dedicated to meeting the educational and healthcare needs of some of the most underprivileged families in Thailand. Environmental and cultural preservation are priorities too, with Outrigger Hospitality Group one of many trailblazers, creating signature experiences to honour local history and planting coral as part of wider generative tourism efforts.
These are just a few examples of how we at Global Hotel Alliance and our independent hotel brands are making a difference, contributing to a brighter future for all and where sustainable practices are the norm. They are integral to an all-encompassing commitment to responsible business practices, which we consider fundamental to long-term growth.
* Chris Hartley is CEO, Global Hotel Alliance