July 18, 2024

Hotel sustainability: transformative profitability through innovative practices

At the recent edition of FITUR in Madrid, a round table was held at the joint stand of BEONx and Hotelverse that addressed a crucial topic: “Sustainability as a lever for profitability”

Moderated by journalist Borja Cameselle from LADEVI, the discussion included the participation of experts from the hotel sector, such as Finn Ackermann from Iberostar, Patrick Apostolo from Radisson Hotels, and Helen Montijano from Bahía Príncipe.

In a world where environmental awareness becomes a driving force, sustainability stands as a crucial element not only for social responsibility, but also for the economic profitability of hotels. The first reflection raised by Cameselle focused attention on the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), pointing out that sustainable investments can generate significant returns in just two or three years. The premise is clear: sustainability is not only a moral duty, but also a tangible driver of hotel profitability.

Cameselle’s statement opened the door to an insightful conversation about the profitability of sustainable practices. Helen Montijano, from Bahía Príncipe, shared her perspective on addressing sustainability from a transversal perspective. Beyond tangible investments, Montijano emphasized the importance of local culture, staff maintenance and education as crucial elements for the sustainable development of a hotel.

Radisson’s Apostolo described how, over the years, the hotel industry has evolved from basic initiatives to collaborative projects between several companies. “The hospitality industry must be approached considering local market variables and consumer preferences. Initiatives such as Soap for Hope are just the beginning. Sustainability now also involves the structure of buildings and their impact on asset value. The industry hotel industry must evolve to collaboratively address challenges and compete in a changing market.”

Apostolo added that acceptance of sustainability has grown, even in regions such as the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, where it was previously a difficult concept to sell.

From the perspective of Iberostar’s Finn Ackermann, profitability and sustainability are intrinsically linked. Ackermann highlighted that sustainability, by itself, is already profitable. “Over the years, Iberostar has launched various initiatives, from eliminating single-use plastics to moving towards complete electrification in many of our hotels. We believe at Iberostar that sustainability in itself is already profitable, regardless of a business plan with a return in X years.” Iberostar’s experience highlights how sustainable actions not only generate environmental benefits, but, over time, also translate into economic benefits.

The conversation turned to the importance of profitability not only economically, but also reputationally. Helen Montijano mentioned: “Reputation is essential for us as hoteliers. In mature markets, sustainability can be a determining factor for the customer. The key is to see sustainability as part of the brand’s DNA, not just as a marketing strategy “It is a real commitment to sustainability, creating continuous improvement and positioning the hotel as a conscious company.”

Finn Ackermann expanded on the idea, highlighting that sustainability, properly interpreted, not only does not negatively affect the customer experience, but actually improves it. From small details, such as the use of glass bottles, to the implementation of artificial intelligence to reduce waste in the kitchen, sustainability becomes an element that adds value to the customer experience.

Regarding the measurement of sustainability, Patrick Apostolo pointed out the importance of KPIs and technologies such as artificial intelligence to obtain valuable information. This analytical approach not only contributes to operational efficiency, but also reduces environmental impact.

The COVID-19 pandemic, while devastating for the hospitality industry, also presented opportunities to evaluate expenses and sustainability. Attendees discussed how the temporary closure of hotels allowed for a better understanding of variable and fixed expenses, highlighting the need for structural interventions in hotel assets to achieve significant changes.

Participants agreed on the importance of cooperation between hotels is essential, especially to address challenges at the industry level, “although we compete, we must also cooperate to achieve common objectives. “Competition is a word that we must start using much more,” said Apostolo.

Finn Ackermann concluded by emphasizing that in a world where sustainability becomes common, transparent storytelling becomes a key differentiator. “Let’s tell what we do and let the customer see it. Sustainability should not just be a marketing effort, but a reality that positively influences profitability.”

Source: Belvera Partners.

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