By Ryan Hamilton
Sustainability is becoming a higher priority, and more importantly, a decision factor for meetings, groups and event planners
In case you haven’t noticed, sustainability is currently the talk of the town – or should I say, the talk of the hospitality industry. Although green initiatives have been edging their way into hotel best practices for years, the post-pandemic landscape seems primed to embrace a more sustainable and eco-conscious approach. If you ask me, this shift is not only warranted but long overdue.
In a 2022 article published by Forbes, author John Mariani wrote, “We should be focusing on making travel count, flying less but staying longer, slowing down, and investing more time in destinations that we know are not suffering from over-tourism and spending more in destinations where our money can go further and will make more of a difference.” I echo these sentiments, as I have experienced first-hand the negative impacts of over-tourism, and believe it is the responsibility of hospitality brands to lead travelers down the path to more conscious and responsible travel choices. The hospitality sector is a monstrous industry with an undeniably impactful footprint, and travel is an experience that is almost universally enjoyed. To this effect, tourism represents about 10% of the world’s GDP, and the hospitality industry is responsible for around 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable practices are also good business, as consumer preferences shift to favor those brands with sustainable practices at the heart of their policies and marketing. Last year, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) found that 93% of global respondents said the pandemic had influenced their views on sustainability. Over the past year, environmental issues have become even more critical. A February 2022 survey of 16,000 global consumers found that more than half (51%) of respondents say ecological sustainability is more important to them today than it was 12 months ago, and consumers’ actions are starting to match their intent. This year, 49% of consumers surveyed by IBM say they’ve paid a premium— an average of 59% more —for products branded as sustainable or socially responsible. Moreover, a 2021 study found that 81% of travelers surveyed said they plan to choose a sustainable accommodation option in the coming year. Futtera research also indicates that 88% of consumers in the US and UK want brands to help them improve their environmental and social footprint. The takeaway? Sustainability isn’t just good for the world but also integral for a hotel’s reputation and bottom line.
So why do hotel group sales often get left out of the conversation? If the hospitality industry is expected to become more sustainable shouldn’t the push for these practices be reflected across every hospitality touch-point, including event and group bookings? And, if so, how can we communicate this to that audience?
Here are some easy tips and strategies to bring sustainable best practices to your group sales.
- Make it part of your “visual” sales efforts
There are thousands of group RFP’s and Proposals cycling though the hospitality industry on daily basis, representing millions of potential travelers. Imagine the positive impacts it would have if your sustainable practices were part of that process, reminding planners of their ability to opt-in to greener practices.
Imbedding your sustainability initiates into your event proposals represents an opportunity for hotels and venue spaces to make a lasting impression on a prospective group. With the help of cloud-based, end-to-end proposal technology, proposals can evolve from boring, uninspired touch points to visually appealing, immersive and engaging designs. Using visual elements, including images, videos, and logo emblems for sustainability, hotels and venues can seamlessly push sustainability messaging to their ever-growing audience of group customers.
- Close the loop on sustainability
Often, before behavior change comes curiosity, and hotels and venue spaces have a unique opportunity to satiate any curiosity potential group customers have regarding sustainable groups, events and meeting practices.
Beyond the visual reminders of sustainability certifications and initiatives, hotels can provide more information to said practices embedded directly into sales material, more specifically – proposals. Proposals represent your elevator pitch to a prospective buyer. Providing easy access to busy event and meeting planners may enhance their interest in prioritizing sustainability within their event or meeting. If hotels and venue spaces are already doing this across social media, why not leverage proposals for this purpose?
- Leverage digital tools for proposals and contracts
In case you missed it, paper documents are out, and digital documents are in. Reducing paper use is one of the most common (and most simple) practices businesses can champion to reduce their environmental impact. With the intuitive and affordable tools now available to customers, there is no excuse to ignore this trend – event proposals and contracts are no exception.
Across the board, hotel and venue spaces should leverage digital signature tools for all proposals and contracts. This simple action promises to reduce our industry’s historical reliance on paper copies of critical documents and, at the same time, better streamline processes that were once manual and cumbersome. Today, prospective group customers can enjoy a truly frictionless experience by viewing proposals online via a link with manageable file sizes, an open framework (no login or download needed), mobile-optimized viewing, and embedded links to important information. Hotels can instantly lock in that event when they decide to book by sending the contract via a digital signature tool.
The hospitality industry is making big strides on sustainability. Fortunately, there are industry specific tools readily available to help communicate these initiates. The implementation of a modern proposal software like ProposalPath is a great place to start. As an added bonus, it will help your property secure more group business by showcasing your sustainability efforts – along with saving the environment.