Measuring sustainability progress in hotels

Leveraging Technology for Sustainable Hotel Operations Measurements: Integration, Innovations, and Impact

The transformational role of technology has allowed hotel operations to pursue sustainability beyond conventional practices. Technology has emerged as a crucial enabler for implementing and measuring sustainable initiatives in the different hotel departments. Let’s dive into the six T’s we need to look for when reviewing measurements.

The six T’s for Sustainable Hotel Operations Measurements

  1. Targets

Hotels must establish metrics and key performance indicators to monitor sustainability and impact management. The metrics must be:

  • Articulated in terms of their relevance to outcomes for affected stakeholders and the environment.
  • Specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound
  • Set against a base year from which progress can be measured
  • Developed with input from internal or external subject-matter experts and affected stakeholders.
  • Science-based wherever feasible.
  • Key performance indicators that are used to monitor and assess progress against targets
  1. Technology

Technologies such as smart building systems – Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) – allow for real-time data monitoring and improve building consumption control. This helps to optimize heating, cooling, and lighting based on hotel occupancy and external conditions. Furthermore, technology can help to prevent waste. Research by Zorpas et al. (2019) showcases the role of smart recycling technologies in enhancing waste reduction efforts and protecting local biodiversity and endangered species.

Accommodations can improve their sustainability performance by leveraging data analytics. Collecting and analyzing data allows hotels to identify and assess sustainability initiatives and performance and make informed decisions. Research by Sanches-Pereira et al. (2017) shows the importance of data-driven insights in driving sustainable strategies. 

When hotels implement technology in their portfolios, reviewing the environmental models used before choosing the software or technology to assess assets’ risks and opportunities is essential. Data collection points are not as critical as choosing the right metrics and monitoring tools. Use technology and have a continuous improvement approach to SOP implementation. 

  1. Traceability

Traceability is key to sustainability implementation in hotels. Traceability promotes accountability and transparency in hotel practices in many departments. For instance, Hotels can engage with food and beverage suppliers to ensure traceability technologies or software of the food precedence, agricultural processes, and working conditions. Procurement managers can access information about suppliers’ sustainability practices and verify the authenticity of claims, promoting transparency in the supply chain.

Sustainability in hotels
  1. Trust

Engaging guests in sustainable practices and raising their awareness about the hotel practices and sustainability journey is essential to sustainable hotel operations. Research by Font et al. (2020) highlights the role of guest education in fostering pro-environmental behavior and enhancing sustainability outcomes. What’s more, when hotels engage with local communities, protect and respect cultural heritage, and support local businesses, it positively affects a hotel’s social license to operate. Academic literature, such as that by Sirakaya et al. (2018), emphasizes the importance of community involvement and its positive effects on a hotel’s social license to operate.

  1. Training

Education and Implementation. In this journey, all the employees (from the front-line employees, mid-management, leadership, and board members) have to work towards the same goal and purpose. Thus, having internal infrastructure and a learning and development strategy is key regardless of the brand and team size. Often issues are not considered material as long as they remain unconnected to the business strategy. Thus, a discussion must exist on proactively identifying and prioritizing material environmental and social topics and stakeholders’ issues and concerns.

  1. Transparency

Current indicators, methodologies, and reporting models still fail to provide an adequate basis for assessing sustainable development impacts related to socio-economic, governance, and environmental dimensions. Several blind spots that render sustainability reporting ineffective need to be addressed to create meaningful assessments.

Using technologies such as AI or Blockchain can support transparency and accuracy when managing data. VeChain (VET) is a blockchain platform that seeks to enhance supply chain management processes with specialized functions. It uses tamper-proof distributed ledger technology to determine the authenticity and quality of products purchased by platform users. Datamaran software analytics platform helps businesses to identify and monitor external risks. The importance and effect of stakeholder engagement affect the decisions about the materiality and the consequences that this principle has on the report itself.

Furthermore, communication around the current stage where the hotel or hotel company stands is key to ensuring that the business stakeholders understand the changes needed and engage in the right pathway to advance in their sustainability journey. Businesses can’t achieve sustainability goals without the right mindset, culture, and leadership education. Define a clear path for what needs to be measured, establish the strategy of how to feed from hotel data points, and choose technology carefully.

For hotel assets to be future-proof and resilient, leadership teams and operators should go beyond energy and waste efficiency tools, comprehend the link between biodiversity loss and climate-related risks, human rights, and social issues, and clarify the scope of their impact.

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

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