Throughout the past two years, the pandemic has changed people, their priorities, their preferences and their passions. As the focus for many shifts away from the four walls of their homes to the four corners of the world, people desire reconnection and travel, and doing so in a more sustainable way.
Sustainability has been a focal point of hospitality industry companies well before events of the past two years influenced consumers mindsets. Everything from sustainable menu offerings and building design, to driving broader accessibility of eco-friendly products and devices, like digital keys and EV charging stations.
“As one of the world’s largest hotel companies, Hilton recognizes that we have a critical, holistic responsibility to protect local communities and the planet so that the destinations in which we operate can remain vibrant and resilient for generations to come,” says Erica Gordon, senior vice president and global head, Public Affairs and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Hilton. “In 2018, as part of our Travel with Purpose program, we began a journey to redefine sustainable travel by setting goals to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint in half by 2030.”
ON-PROPERTY HOTEL DETAILS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As the hotel industry reduces single-use plastics, travelers are embracing changes that provide access to innovative, sustainably minded solutions, such as reusable water bottles, digital keys and bulk bathroom amenities
Hilton’s Digital Key enables guests to use their smartphones as room keys at more than 81 percent of the company’s 6,800-plus hotels worldwide. The company delivers more than one million Digital Keys to guests each month and, since its launch in 2015, people have used the technology to open more than 152 million hotel room doors.
These shifts have also taken place on the roads. According to a survey by KPMG, 50 percent of new car sales by 2030 are expected to be electric vehicles, with 71% of Americans admitting they would like to own an EV. With EV chargers available at more than 1,400 Hilton locations worldwide and growing, eco-conscious travelers can plan low-emissions road trips with more ease and convenience by utilizing a new filter to search and book hotels with EV chargers directly on Hilton.com.
DESIGNING FOR TOMORROW
Environmentally friendly design has been a focus of architects and designers for decades, but people’s growing desire to leave a destination better than they found it is driving loyalty to hotel brands that are positively impacting the environment.
Hotel and restaurants are often inspired by their surrounding communities and natural landscape, but the incorporation of locally sourced décor and construction into their interior design is becoming more commonplace. This could mean integrating trees or other foliage instead of removing them and using materials that provide efficient insulation so heating and cooling systems don’t need to work as hard. Some hotels are even reusing rainwater for irrigation systems and creating green space for guests to enjoy, not only promoting sustainability, but also positively impacting mental health and wellness.
When sustainability combines with creativity, it can produce a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Hilton London Bankside is home to London’s first vegan hotel suite, offering the latest vegan-friendly innovations, including a headboard hewn from pineapple leaves and a bamboo floor.
ELEVATING SUSTAINABLE DINING
The farm-to-table movement is here to stay. Travelers are gravitating toward establishments that source local ingredients, have partnerships with sustainable farms and highlight indigenous cuisine and regional flavors. Some hotels are even maintaining their own on-site produce and herb gardens to redefine what “local” means for their culinary and cocktail programs while also addressing food waste.
Conrad Koh Samui‘s Iris Farm imparts eco-friendly farming techniques that generates up to 2,100 pounds of produce. The hotel also composts more than 4,400 pounds of food waste each month to offset its carbon footprint.
Sustainable cooking methods are another way that restaurants are embracing eco-friendly dining. At SUMMIT the Rooftop at Conrad Washington D.C., Chef Josh Murray uses a solar oven to cook the restaurant’s House Pork BBQ, one of his popular eco-conscious culinary expressions. In the future, Murray wants to experiment with other innovative solutions, such as a solar dehydrator, and continue working toward a zero-waste kitchen – yet another step closer to the eco-friendly experience that travelers are seeking.
It’s clear that, going into 2022, people want to travel with the intention to leave a smaller footprint and make a bigger impact on the world around them. For more insight on how the hospitality industry is innovating for the eco-friendly traveler, check out The 2022 Traveler: Emerging Trends and the Redefined Traveler.