Excellence in hotel service and sustainability

The intersection of guest experience and sustainability in thriving hotel companies.

It can be challenging to provide excellent hotel service and deliver sustainable development performance as different activities and situations happen during daily hotel operations in multiple departments.

How do we ensure smooth hotel operations while delivering an unforgettable guest experience?

This seven-categories framework will help ensure the hotel strategy contributes to thriving communities, destinations, and business stakeholders.

sustainability and guest experience
1. Purpose

Clarifying the path that guests take and ensuring that all employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders understand it, without focusing only on technical languages such as ESG, Sustainability, CSR, regeneration, or anything similar, and concentrating on actual positive results that matter. 

This involves using relevant measurements that are connected to the local setting rather than setting unattainable objectives. Additionally, educating teams on how the business is adapting and requesting feedback from them while also taking into account their suggestions and insights for improvement.

2. Research & Consistency

In order to develop plans that prevent and adapt to environmental and social challenges, teams require up-to-date and real-time data on such issues. For instance, leadership teams in hotels must be aware of their exposure to climate-related risks, devise contingency plans, and establish conservation systems by identifying endangered species in the area where the hotel is located.

The “action gap” refers to the disparity between customers’ views on sustainability and the lack of proactive action. Certifications are not effective in promoting this kind of engagement; instead, employees can be trained on these concerns and interact with guests to encourage sustainability development practices.

Research indicates that when hotels integrate sustainability practices into their strategy, it leads to greater guest satisfaction and is viewed as a source of excitement, ultimately contributing to guests’ delight (Preziosi et al., 2022).

3. Emotion and Experience

To ensure a sustainable guest journey, hotels must go beyond simply calculating emissions and offering rewards. Instead, the hotel team must focus on creating an atmosphere that makes guests feel safe, cared for, heard, and free. This involves creating experiences that connect with local cultures, concerns, and art.

In guest areas, it is essential to prioritize well-being and health while eliminating pollution in daily operations. In public areas, accessibility, educational points, and technology implementation should be prioritized to improve efficiency and comfort. In the surrounding location, hotels should support the well-being and wealth creation of locals by providing emotional and physical experiences with local living systems.

In order to provide guests with meaningful experiences, hotels must offer a service that is significant and purposeful.

sustainability and guest experience
4. Flexibility & Technology

How can hotels integrate technology implementation and flexibility in the guest experience and journey?

● Automate the process

● Use technology to interact frictionlessly with guests

● Ask for feedback proactively

● Share information about facilities digitally with the personal touch

● Define guest data collection points, pre- and post-stay, about preferences, likes, dislikes, and feedback.

sustainability and guest experience
5. Teams Communication and cooperation

If sustainability practices are not communicated effectively to teams, it is unlikely that they will be fully implemented or explained to travelers. It is important to make teams aware of sustainability initiatives and provide them with information on how to communicate these efforts to guests throughout their stay.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to travelers, and they are seeking out accommodations that align with their values. In fact, a study conducted by Booking.com found that 73% of travelers would be willing to stay in eco-friendly accommodations. However, simply having sustainable practices in place is not enough; hotels must also communicate these efforts effectively to employees and guests.

One way to achieve this is by providing teams with training on sustainability practices and how to communicate them to guests. Teams should also be given access to information on the company’s sustainability initiatives and progress, so they can explain these efforts to guests throughout their stay.

In addition to training and information, hotels can also incorporate sustainability feedback channels so feedback and cooperation is improved more effectively between departments.

Overall, effective communication is essential for ensuring that sustainability practices are implemented and communicated to guests. 

6. Conservation and Co-creation

Offering guests the option to shape their own experience can enhance their satisfaction and make their stay more memorable. One way to achieve this is by allowing guests to participate in local co-creation projects or initiatives in the hotel’s communities.

This approach not only engages guests in the local culture but also promotes sustainable tourism by supporting local businesses and communities. By participating in co-creation projects, guests can contribute to the local community while also gaining a deeper understanding of the area they are visiting.

Hotels can offer a range of co-creation initiatives, such as local food experiences, cultural tours, volunteering opportunities, or sustainable development projects. By providing guests with these options, hotels can create a more personalized and meaningful experience.

In addition to enhancing the guest experience, co-creation initiatives can also have positive impacts on the environment and local communities. For example, sustainable development projects can help to conserve natural resources while supporting local businesses and communities can help to create economic opportunities and reduce poverty.

Overall, offering guests the option to participate in local co-creation projects or initiatives can create a more engaging and sustainable guest experience. By working together with local communities, hotels can create unique and meaningful experiences that benefit both guests and the environment.

Embrace beyond activities and recommendations associated with towel usage, welcoming guests to contribute to conservation practices or to provide them the chance to experience and enjoy an organic garden at the hotel.

7. Ethics & Empathy

Ensure that all stakeholders are guided by a business manifesto and use empathy to accelerate your hotel’s positive impact.

Growth has limits. It is not viable to have unlimited openings, constructions, and infinite use of resources and waste generation every year. If we want to operate within the planet’s limits*, and we truly care about people first, hotel growth and guest experience must be redefined.

*Planetary boundaries (PB): are the nine thresholds within which humans can survive, develop and thrive.


Aznar, J.P., Sayeras, J.M., Galiana, J. and Rocafort, A., 2016. Sustainability commitment, new competitors’ presence, and hotel performance: The hotel industry in Barcelona. Sustainability, 8(8), p.755.

Cvelbar, L.K., Grün, B. and Dolnicar, S., 2017. Which hotel guest segments reuse towels? Selling sustainable tourism services through target marketing. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(7), pp.921-934.

Duric, Z. and Potočnik Topler, J., 2021. The role of performance and environmental sustainability indicators in hotel competitiveness. Sustainability, 13(12), p.6574.

Preziosi, M., Acampora, A., Lucchetti, M.C. and Merli, R., 2022. Delighting hotel guests with sustainability: Revamping importance-performance analysis in the light of the three-factor theory of customer satisfaction. Sustainability, 14(6), p.3575.

Tsou, H.T., Hou, C.C., Chen, J.S. and Ngo, M.C., 2022. Rethinking Sustainability Hotel Branding: The Pathways from Hotel Services to Brand Engagement. Sustainability, 14(16), p.10138

Maribel Esparcia Pérez
ESG Sustainability Expert
ABC Sustainable Luxury Hospitality
Proudly Ambassador Global Wellness Institute
Happiest Places to Work – Awards

Sustainability & ESG Advisor and Professor | Key Traits: Curiosity, Trust, Dedication

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