How the hospitality industry can prioritise sustainability from the ground up

Lee Pickersgill
19 June, 23

The ongoing energy crisis has meant that hospitality businesses have had it tough, with the latest figures estimating more than 12 venues have shut each day in Britain over the last year, amongst the pressure of soaring energy bills. This has resulted in organisations having to push hard to bring down their energy consumption without compromising on customer comfort.

However, by dedicating time to building a culture of sustainability from the ground up, hospitality businesses can reduce their consumption. Making changes doesn’t have to be daunting, there are plenty of small changes. Here are a few ways to prioritise sustainability for the good of people and the planet.

Reducing consumption

The first place that hospitality businesses should look to save energy is at the back of house. In front of house areas, it may seem difficult to save energy due to central heating and lighting, but small changes are where businesses can make savings. Set timers to turn lights off after a period of inactivity, keep the central heating low where possible, and avoid switching on any unnecessary electrics. With smart meters now in place, you can monitor your data on a half hourly basis to see if the changes are working.

It’s easier to reduce consumption in newer buildings as you can install energy-saving technology like gas-free central heating or solar panels at the point of construction. For older hotels or restaurants, it can be a costly investment and a long process to reduce consumption, but it can be done.

It isn’t only buildings and staff that make a difference to energy efficiency. An effective way to reduce consumption is to empower your customers to think in a sustainable way, reminding them of the positive impact they can have on the environment by making these choices. For hotels, you can ask customers to take ownership of when they’d like their bedding or towels changed, for example. Or you can set temperatures automatically and encourage the customers to call to reception if they need to change it. Initiatives like this may even help impress customers who are keen to reduce their own environmental impact, especially those who are travelling for business, working for a company that is on a similar path to being more environmentally conscious.

Building a culture of sustainability

When integrating a sustainability strategy into a hospitality business, it is important to look at it from the ground up. Educate and raise awareness with employees and reinforce the difference they can make. Encourage a team ethos, where they treat saving energy like they would do at home, bringing that mentality into the workplace. Part of this is down to explaining the ‘why’- for example, kitchens use a lot of energy, and a single gas hob can cost thousands of pounds per year, so by switching things off when there are no orders coming in, this could really help bring bills down. People care about the environment, so by showing them the ‘why’, you can empower them to make a difference.

When this mindset is switched on, employees will feel empowered to treat their workplace like their home, switching off lights when they clean, or turning off appliances in the kitchen when they aren’t needed.

It’s also important to make sustainability fun and bring in initiatives to encourage positive action. Get the team competing against each other, bring in a rewards incentive and publicise good work. At Valor Hospitality, we use Workvivo, a central app that allows our team to shout about what each hotel is doing and bond everyone over the shared goal of reducing energy consumption.

Part of building this sustainable culture is giving your employees the safety to speak up and share ideas. There should be no archaic rank structure, everyone should have a voice and feel able to contribute to the discussion. Some of the best ideas will come from your own staff. This could be a monthly sustainability forum, where you run through your energy reports and talk informally about ways to improve your consumption, or one to one conversations with managers.

Prioritising sustainability comes from the ground up. Businesses need to empower their staff to take control, change their behaviour and make a positive impact on the business, and the planet. However, those at the top need to be mindful, creating an open, collaborative forum for staff to contribute. Companies in hospitality who can do this will reap the rewards – not only in their reduced consumption and cost savings, but in the happiness and retention of their team and increased customer satisfaction.

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