There are numerous measures that we can take to improve the sustainability of the business. These measures, called sustainability practices, are quite common in the tourism sector, especially in hotels. Here are some examples:
- communication and engagement:
a) raising guest awareness through the website, reservation system, check-in, accommodation facilities, social areas, verbal information, displays, signs, brochures or guides;
b) conducting education activities with the local community through site visits, lectures, competitions, practices promotion in the local media (e.g. newspapers, radio);
c) training employees through, for example, meetings, workshops, courses, lectures, seminars, conferences, volunteer programmes;
- social and economic development of destinations
a) solidarity economy actions;
b) used products and equipment donations for the community;
c) giving preference to and developing local suppliers.
- solid waste reduction
a) preferential bulk purchasing, when compatible with the organization’s operations and environmental conditions, taking into account safety, quality and economic aspects;
d) separation, selective waste collection and proper disposal;
c) secondary waste separation, having temporary storage containers for waste;
d) reuse of organic waste, for example as an production input for local communities;
e) contractual agreements with suppliers to collect unused products and packaging (reverse logistics).
- energy efficiency
a) use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind;
b) optimizing the use of natural lighting;
c) use of heating or cooling equipment and devices with maximized energy efficiency;
- management of water usage
a) use of water-saving devices (e.g. taps and valves to reduce water consumption in bathrooms, toilets, showers and flushing systems);
b) periodic inspections to identify leaks;
c) towel- and linen-reuse programmes;
d) rainwater harvesting;
- interaction with the native population
a) informing guests about the peculiarities that relate to native populations;
b) returning or compensating native populations for the benefits earned from the use of resources, traditions and cultural knowledge;
c) supporting actions to improve the living conditions of native populations, according to their priorities;
d) promoting respect for the culture and privacy of native populations, avoiding the violation of privacy, destruction of archaeological or historical sites, disrespect for sacred rituals and places, or the imposition of festivals and rituals outside the traditional calendar;
- information to be provided to the guests
a) basic local historical, cultural and ecological information on environmental protection actions developed in the region;
b) information on the various protected natural areas and other natural attractions of interest in the region;
c) information about the consumption of local products, including emphasizing the cuisine of the area;
d) safety and security measures and procedures for guests;
e) information on how to behave in local communities and about the responsibilities to be followed in the places visited;
Looking at these examples of sustainability practices, you could ask: How many practices do I need to implement in my business? Which practices would be most suitable for my business? What kind of results that I will be obtained?
Also, as sustainability practices implies investments in the business, it is important to evaluate the expected results. Some sustainability practices that require little investment and others that require significant resources. Thus, it is always healthy to choose practices that are within the viability of the business and that will produce the desired results.
For that, it is important to establish objectives for each of the aspects of sustainability, such as: reducing water consumption in the Hotel by 5%. Thus, it will be easier to monitor the results and assess whether the practicability of the practices implemented.
Within this logic, you can measure the current situation (for example: current water consumption), select and implement practices to reduce water consumption and, finally, measure the new consumption situation, to then assess whether the objective was fulfilled. It is recommended to establish a process to evaluate the results obtained, using indicators (example: liters of water / guest / night).
Finally, adopting and implementing sustainability practices is always important, as well as managing a business seeking to be increasingly sustainable. But to assure that the business is being more sustainable, it will be necessary to assess whether there are concrete results in minimizing negative impacts or in increasing positive impacts of sustainability. See also:What is a sustainable hotel?