Making hotels more sustainable

The hotel industry produces a lot of waste and consumes a lot of energy. From single-use soaps to daily washed towels, there is room for a lot of improvement to make this industry more sustainable. Although the implementation of sustainable business models is often troublesome to manage for some companies, there is no doubt that this often convey a competitiveness advantage. Indeed, nowadays’ consumers are more and more concerned about the environment. As a hotel owner, you cannot ignore this trend and today you can take simple actions to change how your hotel is managed. Because such a shift requires a dedicated leadership. In this article we will describe how The Nordic Choice Hotels, a notorious Scandinavian hotel chain, succeed in making its hotels more sustainable.

The Nordic Choice Hotels

This Scandinavian hotel chain is applying a sustainability framework developed by Høgevold and Svensson in 2012. This hotel chain has well documented its sustainable business practices and how its hotels interact with its network of suppliers.

The Nordic Choice Hotels: a sustainable hotel chain!
The Nordic Choice Hotels.

The Nordic Choice Hotels is definitively not a small hotel chain. In 2019, they have 190 hotels spread all over the Scandinavian countries. And they make a turnover bigger than 700 millions of euros, every year. This is one of the largest hotel chain in the Scandinavian countries. They have a total of 25.000 rooms and about 10.000 employees. And the goal of this company is to be the most energy efficient hotel chain in the Scandinavian countries, and they succeed in it! The main elements of their mission is the reduction of non-renewable materials, the reduction of toxic chemicals in the rooms and of course the reduction of the use of water and energy.

But why should I have a sustainable hotel?

Let’s put aside the obvious reasons why people should develop sustainable business and let’s talk about money. Clearly, having a sustainable hotel is also a good idea to make money. Indeed, nowadays, customers are more keen on choosing an hotel based on its sustainability initiatives than in the past. For more and more people, and not just Scandinavian people, taking a room in an hotel is not a good thing for the environment. Besides, according to the The Nordic Choice Hotels’ CEO, the implementation of environmental initiatives often generates lower costs in the business operations. Yes, your read it well, this generates lower costs…

The Nordic Choice Hotels succeeded in implementing sustainable business practices thanks to the combination of three things: the owner is dedicated to share his vision, the top management is dedicated to implement these sustainable practices and the employees share initiatives to the top in a bottom-up way.

So what concrete actions did they take?

Let’s talk about concrete things! What actions they took?

  • Switched to renewable energy sources,
  • Used geothermal heating to reduce even more the greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Reduced the water consumption by using water saving showers and dual flush toilets. In the same time, they implemented new cleaning methods and improved water consumption procedures,
  • Reduced transport needs. The deliveries are coordinated to certain days to ensure fully loaded trucks. The different hotels also coordinate their orders along the same delivery route,
  • Developed guidelines for food purchasing to avoid the use of food not produced in an environmentally friendly way,
  • They offer organic food! This decision is based on the belief that conventional food may harm the environment in a way we are not yet aware,
  • On Mondays, and for some of the hotels of the chain, there is no meat is for the guests or the employees (to reduce the negative impact on climate),
  • Implemented the ISO 14001 standards for all hotels,
  • Use LED lights and give the possibility to adjust the heating in different heat areas of the room,
  • To help build new energy-efficient buildings for hotels (more expensive), they proposee to include the price difference in the rental contract. To see an article about zero-net buildings click here,
  • New procedures have been implemented to handle and sort waste. The amount of waste must be reported with the goal of reducing it (this reduces the need of energy and food production),
  • Od textiles are sent away in other industries for recycling or for another usage,
  • Employees of the hotel chain have a strong feeling and commitment for the environment. Employees of this chain are more loyal, and this attract other environment-aware employees,
  • Hotel managers are responsible for the sustainable business practices,

You can find the exhaustive study here.

Making hotels more sustainable

The Nordic Choice Hotels is the living proof that focusing on sustainable practices can be profitable. Indeed, by implementing sustainable practices the costs can be reduced (see action list above). One of the reason of this success comes from the fact that these sustainable business practices are shared among the top-level management and among employees. The vision of the owner and the scrutiny of the top-level management is essential to secure a long term commitment. Besides, focusing on environmental issues is definitively a differentiator in the market. This gives the customers an opportunity to contribute to more sustainable solutions of consumption in our societies.

Now you know you can succeed in making your hotels more sustainable!

I hope you enjoyed this article! As usual. I would be happy to read your suggestions in the comments to make this article more useful for you! And if you notice a dead link or an outdated information, please let me know!


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