By Alan Young
Industries across the globe are witnessing the consumer transition into what we like to call the experience economy. Perhaps influenced by the impressive buying power and sheer numbers of the millennial generation, modern consumers are showing a definitive preference for experiential purchasing over material goods. As the Harvard Business Review describes it “within an experience economy, a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.”
This puts the travel and hospitality industry, specifically, in an exciting position to maximize influence and guest connections. It’s not necessarily about B2B or B2C anymore, or even the best ‘deal’ on paper — it’s about the creation of value, and a company’s ability to demonstrate that they share values and beliefs with their target consumer. This becomes especially evident as we embrace the consumer-generated push for sustainable commerce and, even more-so, sustainable travel and eco-friendly hospitality. This past year, it found that 84% of Canadian travelers have a desire to go green on future vacations and then two-thirds (64%) said they intend to stay in an eco-accommodation in 2018, which is an increase from both 2017 and 2016. Even further, 58% of Canadians said they would pay at least five per cent more on their travel to ensure it had a lighter environmental footprint. This allows them to feel good about the accommodation they’ve selected, while also engaging in locally relevant experiences. Millennials are also noted as being twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues and expect brands to not only manage their impact but communicate it. Still not convinced? Studies show that 43 million U.S. travelers are “ecologically concerned” and 70% of travelers prefer hotels with sustainability credentials.
With this in mind, popular destinations around the globe are looking for ways to limit the environmental footprint/impact that tourists may have on the surrounding environment, heritage sites and local populations. Further, hotel properties within those destinations are striving to reach a new standard of sustainability across each touchpoint of the guest experience. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites:
1. QO Amsterdam
QO is a one-of-a-kind, living hotel property positioned alongside the Amstel River in Amsterdam. QO believes that travel should be a pleasure, but one which is still committed to the world around us. With this core value intact, QO has found a way to weave luxury with sustainability throughout their lifestyle destination seamlessly.
Each aspect of the QO has been designed to significantly reduce environmental impact, including intelligent windows, a rooftop greenhouse and so much more. From an aesthetic perspective, every element of the property has been deliberately chosen to celebrate and respect the planet’s resources and every space has been designed to bring the outside in.
2. 1 Hotels
1 Hotels has been making a name for itself as a sustainable luxury hotel destination. 1 Hotels aims to create a one-of-a-kind experience, naturally, every stay. Each hotel property (located in NYC, Brooklyn, and Miami) is thoughtfully designed with reclaimed wood, natural light, hemp mattresses and live green moments. They believe that the future of the world and the future of hospitality are one in the same and can be a catalyst for change. With this in mind, 1 Hotels aspires to be a platform to spark conversations, between innovators and guests, that transform the industry and our lives.
Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina takes sustainability seriously, with more than 70 sustainable practices in place throughout its 146-room property. Their LEED platinum-rated location has 100 solar panels on the roof, an elevator that re-generates power and geothermal energy for the refrigerators — just to name a few eco-friendly features. Rooms and suites are described as loft-style with floor-to-ceiling windows, soaking tubs, in-room dining, filtered air systems and artwork from a local artist. They even include free bike rentals to inspire eco-friendly transport during guests’ stay.
Las Vegas might not be the first destination to come to mind when considering sustainable hospitality, but ARIA Resort and Casino has deemed it possible to maintain the Las Vegas experience in a more eco-friendly manner. The 4,004-room Aria Resort and Casino is the largest building in the world to have a LEED gold status, while also offering the first fleet of natural-gas-powered stretch limos.
5. Accor Hotel
The Accor Hotel family recently launched its Accor’s Planet 21 program, which demonstrates the group's ambitious goals for 2020, based around four strategic priorities: work with its employees, involve its customers, innovate with its partners and work with local communities. Each Accor property prides itself in the implementation of eco-certified products and design, sustainably sourced food and programs in place to combat food waste.
In the past, it was assumed that if it’s sustainable, it can’t be luxurious — but these noteworthy, eco-savvy hotels (to name a few) are turning that misconception on its head by marrying eco-friendly sustainability practices with modern luxury. So what do you say, are you ready to join the luxury sustainability trend?