As hoteliers, we maintain quite a number of responsibilities: to our owners and shareholders, guests, employees, and vendors, but also to the communities in which we do business, and the global environment as a whole.
The matter of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly becoming a top-line agenda item in hotel management boardrooms as our customers seek to do business with companies who care and
aspire to make a difference. Consumers want to be sure that they spend their hard-earned money with organisations committed to the environment, local community, and society in general. And this is true not just for leisure travel, but for business travel as well. Global corporations who are signing corporate travel rate deals or booking meetings want some type of assurance that the property they are doing business with has an active sustainability mission.
I joined Kempinski Hotels in 2020 to set up and implement a sustainability programme across all Kempinski Hotels. With nearly 80 properties in over 30 countries, this is quite a mission, as you can imagine, with an impact at so many levels. I’d love to share some of my observations, plans, and insights as we at Kempinski Hotels address the sustainability conversation. I hope it proves useful to other member brands of Global Hotel Alliance and other hotels that are just beginning to navigate this journey.
TAKE A BROAD VIEW OF YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
At Kempinski Hotels, we see our corporate clients paying attention to the vendors in their supply chain and assessing how they comply with CSR and sustainability measures. We have begun to do the same. We have, in fact, included sustainability assessment criteria for the bidding process for our vendors at the corporate level and encourage the same down at the hotel level to learn more about the sustainability values of those companies we invite to do business with us. From an operational level, corporate clients are increasingly interested in “green” events, showing that their gatherings have a minimal negative impact on the environment in a variety of areas including food and other waste generation, linen, energy and water usage, carbon emissions, and more.
CONSIDER PURSUING EARTHCHECK CERTIFICATION
EarthCheck is the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for travel and tourism. With 55 Kempinski Hotels already participating in the programme, our long-term goal is to have all hotels joining the programme and preferably achieving certification. Learn more about EarthCheck here.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
As an employer, in any given destination your organisation contributes to the development of the local community through jobs and providing area residents with prospects to learn, grow, and become more educated through working at your hotel. In specific countries, the ability for locals to work at your hotel provides resources for better healthcare, immunisation and more. For additional details on specific initiatives like this and others on our sustainability journey, click here.
PROPERTY LEVEL INITIATIVES IN THE AREA OF SUSTAINABILITY
There are so many incredible ways hotels can make a difference through CSR efforts. Just some of the many initiatives our hotels are implementing at the regional or property level include:
MIDDLE EAST: Utilisation of software which measures the consumption of water and energy, and of the generated waste.
DUBAI: Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates uses an AI tool called WINNOW to measure the overproduced food in daily buffet menus. The changes in the food management system, which outlets in the hotel introduced, enabled a reduction in food waste by 60% within two years, leading to significant cost savings.
ASIA: Kempinski Siam Bangkok reduced food waste by donating eight tons of food to a local NGO called SOS Thailand. In 2019, the hotel provided 36,000 meals.
CUBA: To reduce food waste, Kempinski sends leftover food product to local animal shelters.
EUROPE: Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin and Palais Hansen Kempinski in Vienna started working with the TooGoodToGo app to sell food that is still in a perfect condition but could not be sold, in an effort to reduce food waste.
While with any activity undertaken, the specific savings and impact are difficult to measure and accurately quantify, it is important to know that activities do meet the needs and interest of all stakeholders.
SET CORPORATE GOALS
We all need to start somewhere. Identify a few areas that are of major importance for your stakeholders, and where your hotel can make the biggest positive impact, in both the environmental and in the social sphere. And then establish meaningful targets to act toward and the system to monitor the compliance with the established targets.
Apart from several sustainability efforts on a company level, such as a single-use plastic ban for amenities at our hotels by 2021, or implementing global programs of BeHealth and CleanTheWorld, we are working on establishing comprehensive sustainability programs.
Companies which are interested in learning more about Kempinski Hotels’ sustainability approach can watch a short video here or the video that highlights our specific contribution to the Sustainable Development Goal 8 Decent Work and Sustainable Economic Growth, produced for the GreenTech Festival here.
It is vitally essential for all of us in the hospitality industry to show our guests, members of the DISCOVERY loyalty programme, and clients that we are cognisant of their sustainability expectations in general, and CSR expectations in particular. As a business, this motivates us to become responsible, global, corporate citizens in alignment with our partners and vendors, providing valuable, healthy and supportive places to work for our team members.