• Anemona Knut

Sustainability - how to communicate the issue beyond the cliches and greenwashing

One of the biggest issues restaurants and hotels face when it comes to introducing and advocating sustainable practices are the stereotypes existing in our guests' perceptions.

Although many of the young now understand the threats global warming and climate change pose to our lifestyle and are willing to change the habits in the way that would benefit the planet, we are still facing a big number of our guests who either reject the severity of the problem, or accept it but are not willing to change. The latter, very often, unfortunately associate being 'green' with the extreme environmentalism. Especially when it comes to hospitality, they would still associate green practices with very basic ecological retreats built to resemble the community village from The Beach with Leonardo di Caprio. Therefore, even if the companies are introducing sustainable practices, they very often struggle to find the right way of communication of their values with the guests, even harder to educate the guests and encourage them to considering sustainability above other factors when choosing their places to stay, ways to travel or food to eat.

Let's see what hospitality professionals have to say in this matter:

Consumers are understandably skeptical when companies claim to be green. To break through the clutter of cliches and empty communique, companies should adopt three messaging strategies:

  1. Talk hard numbers: Hotels that regularly benchmark their energy use can share their energy, emissions, and improvement metrics with their customers. A statement like, “With your help, we've reduced this hotel's annual energy use by 7% since 2017,” is hard to ignore. 

  2. Involve them in your efforts: Not only should you include specific information about what you're doing (e.g. “We added occupancy sensors to all guest rooms, which should help cut our emissions by 15 metric tons.”), you should also give them specific tasks (e.g. “But we need your help to make sure that the table lamps are turned off before you leave.”)

  3. Lay on the peer pressure: Scientists call it “social norming,” and it works. For example, alerting guests that “9 out of 10 business travelers who stay at this hotel signed a pledge to turn off the table lamps when they leave their room,” will make them take your efforts more seriously. "

Says Jean Lupinacci - Chief ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

"ACTION should always come first, and communication be a way to articulate what has been done, not a wishful thinking process." Says Benjamin Lephilibert, Founder & CEO, LightBlue Environmental Consulting

For more opinions go to the original article published at Hospitality.org



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