Corporate customers are increasingly asking about a hotel's social and environmental performance as part of the RFP process.
One of the most frequently asked questions is regarding the carbon footprint of a guest stay or meeting. They ask this for a number of reasons - in order to be able to report on the carbon emissions of their business travel, in order to offset those emissions, or as part of a supplier selection process.
With more and more companies scrutinising their suppliers, hoteliers need to be mindful that they need to be able to respond to their customers. Your customers might not be asking these questions right now, but can you be sure they won't be asking next year? You don't want to be the hotel that can't respond confidently to these queries....
Replying to corporate customers or to mandatory or voluntary reporting mechanisms are not the only reasons to calculate your carbon footprint though. Surely it is just good business sense to want to understand, and ultimately reduce, your energy use (and costs) and environmental impact. It is good environmental sense to not just look at the utility bills, but to translate that into your businesses impact on the environment.
A problem until quite recently was that every hotel seemed to have devised its own way of measuring and reporting its carbon footprint. This is at best rather unhelpful and at worst downright confusing for anyone asking the question.
For this reason the International Tourism Partnership and World Travel & Tourism Council, along with 23 of their hotel member companies and with technical input from KPMG, sat down and worked out a consistent way of measuring and reporting on the carbon footprint of a guest stay, meeting or event. It is called, quite simply, the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, or HCMI for short. The methodology and Excel calculation tool were launched in June 2012 and to date over 17,000 hotels worldwide - from budget brands to luxury full service properties - are using this methodology, and the number continues to rise!
HCMI was developed to be used by any hotel anywhere in the world, from a small B&B to a 5-star resort. Through its consistent reporting, HCMI is helping to increase transparency in the industry and we are hoping that more hotels see the advantages of using a common language for environmental reporting. A fragmented approach serves nobody well.
For more information, please contact Fran Hughes, Head of Programmes at the International Tourism Partnership firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
Fran Hughes is Head of Programmes at the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) which brings together the world's leading international hotel companies to provide a voice for environmental and social responsibility in the industry. ITP works to demonstrate in a very practical way that environmental and social responsibility makes good business sense by highlighting best practice, offering a range of practical products and programmes and tackling emerging sustainability issues through its collaborative working groups. Current areas of focus include carbon measurement, human trafficking, water and supply chain.
Fran has over 20 years experience in the tourism industry, having started her career leading adventure tours in countries as diverse as Ethiopia and Oman, before moving into roles in sales and marketing, tour operation, business development and sustainable tourism. Whilst at the tour operator, Explore, she developed the company’s responsible tourism policy, strategy and activities; leading the company to win several national awards for responsible tourism and sustainable business practice. She was also an active member of a variety of tourism industry committees which brought together different stakeholders to address sustainability challenges. She subsequently worked for the sustainable tourism charity, The Travel Foundation, where she managed the organization’s Egypt and Gambia programmes and developed environmental auditing systems for hotels and Nile cruise boats. She has also undertaken a variety of consultancy work, holds a Master’s in Environmental Strategy and is an Associate of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.