How Accor balances guest experiences with environmental footprints
Despite the enduring pandemic, sustainable travel remains a hot topic and is something that both impacts and relies on corporate travellers as much as holidaymakers. But how does the biggest hotel operator in Australia balance a superior guest experience with a reducing environmental footprint?
With 67% of Accor’s hotel guests, including business travellers, saying they’d pay extra to stay at a hotel that’s taken steps to protect the environment, we asked Accor Pacific’s Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath, what they’re doing to make their hotels more sustainable. Read on for insights into three of Accor’s sustainability programs.
Smarter Hotel Design
According to Simon, Accor takes its responsibility of ensuring the long-term future of the land the hotels occupy very seriously. And hotel development has moved with the changing needs and wants to incorporate better design.
“Perhaps one of the most exciting developments and opportunities for progress in relation to the accommodation industry is the move toward smarter design. This involves the sustainable sourcing of local products and sustainable materials, as we seek to increase our buildings’ efficiencies and reduce our carbon footprint,” says Simon.
A perfect example of this is the ibis Styles Hobart, with a focus on smarter, sustainability-focused design. Launched by Accor Australia in conjunction with the Fragrance Group, the hotel was Australia’s first 5-star Green certified hotel, awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia. Accor also manages Australia’s only other Green certified hotel, the five-star Hotel Chadstone Melbourne MGallery. Opening its doors in November 2019, Hotel Chadstone represents sustainable luxury at its finest, boasting an equally attractive yet ecologically-minded design that significantly reduces its environmental footprint.
"This highlights our commitment and leadership in sustainability and innovation, and these kinds of projects represent the future direction we're moving in," says Simon.
Energy and Water Conservation
The simple act of reusing your hotel towel rather than using a fresh one each day is having a positive impact on Australia's environment. It might seem like a stretch, but the effects are quite tangible.
“Accor takes the energy and water savings from guest towel reuse and reinvests them into reforestation and environmental improvement projects. Our Plants for the Planet initiative is a global guest engagement program that has seen more than 5million trees planted to date, with a commitment to plant 10million more trees by 2021,” says Simon.
Accor Australia has a long-running relationship with Greening Australia, a non-profit organisation recognised nationally for their work to put an end to the disappearance of biodiversity by replanting native trees, shrubs and grasses.
So far 89,440 trees have been planted in four geographical areas: the Great Barrier Reef, Cumberland Plain in Western Sydney, Habitat 141° in South Australia and Peel Biolinks in the south-west region of Western Australia.
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Reducing Food Waste
When a hotel chain has almost 50,000 rooms across the country, food waste is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable; not to Accor anyway.
In 2018, Accor Australia served more than 14 million meals from more than 170 food outlets. 3,901kg of food waste that couldn’t be avoided or consumed internally was donated to the charity OzHarvest; that’s equal to 11,700 meals.
Accor also launched an updated Healthy and Sustainable Food Charter to all their Australian hotels, to help them more consciously deliver the experience that guests want.
"The goal of the Charter is to offer guests a true culinary experience through high-quality, healthy and sustainable food, all the while contributing to the transformation of the agricultural model and fighting against food waste," says Simon.
In line with the Charter, Accor has committed to cutting food waste by an average of 30%; favouring local food suppliers and seasonal produce; and increasing their selection of organic products and supporting agroecology. They also commit to preferred suppliers who are committed to animal welfare; banning endangered fish species and promoting responsible fishing; eliminating single-use plastics and removing controversial food additives, fat and sugar.
Walking the sustainable talk
Accor is proving that not only is it not enough to talk the talk when it comes to sustainability in travel, but that walking the walk is possible. Guests at the hotel chain are experiencing the service they’ve come to expect while reducing their environmental impact. And that's a balancing act we can get on board with.