For the second year in a row, sustainability will be a defining factor in hospitality in 2024. Hotels that prioritize sustainable initiatives will bring in more business, both from groups and leisure travelers. Even business travel managers are looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their corporate travel programs, and that can include choosing more eco-friendly accommodations.
Going green doesn’t have to include major renovations or changes to a hotel’s basic structure—small changes can collectively make a big impact. On top of that, sustainability can be achieved even when budgets are tight. The best place to start is with research and education. Cvent worked with our internal data, insights we’ve solicited directly from event planners, and interviews with hoteliers to compile the best practices for hospitality sustainability in 2023, 2024, and beyond.
It can help to focus on the local community when building an eco-friendly program. Event planners looking to make greener choices will often opt for a venue that will make an impact on the immediate economy and community. Donating toiletries, food, and materials and reusing décor and signage can go a long way when improving sustainability…and attracting more event planners.
Planners are often looking for ways to be more sustainable, but with events at many different venues, they often need their venue partners to help in the process. When hotels can come armed with sustainable programs of their own, it’s a great added value for planners. Simple initiatives like recycling and donating food can be enough to establish a baseline of green day-to-day programs. Energy efficiency is another low-barrier-to-entry eco-friendly program that can make a difference in hotel operations.
While simple and easy programs are a start, venues that can afford to make larger-scale changes should take advantage of that. At the next level of investment, both in terms of cost and work required, are things like making menu changes, focusing on carbon offsetting, investing in new tech, and upcycling. F&B is an area where environmentally friendly tweaks can make quite an impact. Invest in reusable dishware for events, making the need to dispose of single-use plates and cups obsolete. Have the restaurant chef design menus that use local ingredients and don’t require many props, like syringes or plastic garnishes.
Carbon offsetting programs look to measure the carbon output for any given event—think air and ground travel, food, and energy use—and find ways to reduce carbon emissions to offset the event’s output. Often this is done by planting new trees or plants (some companies can facilitate the planting) that will remove carbon dioxide from the air, but it can also be done through investments in wind energy or agricultural projects.
Technology is constantly developing, especially in the eco-friendly area. As the technology improves, it becomes more available and cheaper for hotels and venues looking to invest. Solar panels are one common sustainable tech option. Keep an eye out for new and emerging technology, including automation and AI. Cvent ebooks and webinars are a great place to learn about what’s new in hospitality tech, as well as hospitality industry publications.
Upcycling is the practice of turning old goods into something new. It’s similar to recycling, hence the name, but requires the piece to be transformed in some way. If the hotel is swapping in new curtains, upcycling might see the old curtains repurposed as throw pillows for the lobby seating.
No matter what other measures a hotel or venue is taking to become more eco-friendly, it’s important to keep in mind the golden rule of sustainability. Whether for hospitality, other industries, or on an individual basis, reducing consumption is the best and most effective option. For venues, this might look like offering room maintenance on a less frequent schedule (a practice that has grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic). For events, this could be reducing swag offerings—perhaps by providing guests an option of which, if any, swag they’d like to receive when they arrive.
For more information on these sustainable initiatives, case studies of successful green hotels and venues, interviews with sustainability experts, and more ways to run a venue with the environment in mind, look to Cvent’s recent ebook, The Guide to Sustainable Meetings for Hotels in 2023.
Sponsored by Cvent.