UK: In our fourth session focus feature ahead of the inaugural STRz Summit in London on Wednesday 18 October, we evaluate what the future holds for sustainability in the short-term rental and travel / hospitality landscape, and the extent to which companies are committed to this goal.
This session will assess how the travel and hospitality industries can take meaningful action to become more sustainable, weighing up the benefits and costs to businesses to test their commitment to sustainability, in ‘Sustainable hospitality: Unlimited desire vs limited resources?’.
- Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, Energy & Environment Alliance
- Thomas Loughlin, sustainability manager – supply, Booking.com
Sustainability has become a topic that is impossible to ignore, none more so than in the travel and hospitality sectors which involve the movement of travellers from one destination to another.
The rise in extreme weather events and natural disasters, coupled with the launch of new industry solutions and the news coverage generated from events such as COP [Conference of the Parties], has thrust the issue into the spotlight and made industry figures evaluate their commitment to integrating sustainable practices.
Online travel agencies [OTAs] such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group are facing mounting scrutiny when it comes to sustainable measures, whether it is operating sustainably, building a suitable culture or strategy e.g. through a climate action plan, or encouraging their guests to book more sustainable trips. In recent years, eco-friendly booking platforms have come to prominence, such as Fairbnb.coop and GreenGo, that promote ‘community-powered tourism’ or help hosts reduce their carbon footprint, and that see themselves as more sustainable alternatives to traditional OTAs.
The traditional OTAs want to be seen to be encouraging sustainable tourism, whether it is Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky discussing a “redistribution” of travel, or Booking.com being a founding member of not-for-profit organisation Travalyst, uniting leading travel firms to be a catalyst for good in the world.
Property managers too are taking their eco responsibilities more seriously than ever, from their energy efficiency to water conservation, waste management and social responsibility.
For all this progress, industry commentators continue to push for quicker, meaningful action from governments, booking platforms and operators, paving the way for the next generation of travellers to make more conscious trip choices from now on. This scrutiny will remain and only heighten as natural disasters and extreme climate events occur, especially as climate tourism and immigration grow into ever-closer realities.