Measuring What Matters: How Sustainability Metrics Can Drive Progress
By Brigitta Witt Global Head, Corporate Responsibility, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts | May 10, 2015
As of 2014, more than two-thirds of Fortune Global 500 companies have published corporate responsibility reports to help share their sustainability story. And while the sustainability narrative has rightfully become increasingly ubiquitous in corporate communications, within the global hospitality industry it's also a key to driving continued business growth. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association found that a majority of European-based companies incorporate sustainability initiatives into their official travel policies that inform vendor selection, and a rising number of U.S.-based companies are following suit.
The message from customers is clear: simply having a story to share isn't enough. Actionable targets and a focused approach to measurement are critical to demonstrating progress and informing substantive, positive changes to help create a better customer experience and a better business.
But setting goals and benchmarking progress can be challenging. Not long ago, Hyatt took a step back to review and fine tune its environmental stewardship platform to better align with our business impacts, refresh legacy goals and set new targets for the year 2020. The process underscored several best practices related to measuring what matters when it comes to sustainability.
Know Your Numbers
The hospitality industry faces unique challenges when it comes to measuring environmental impact. The frequent acquisitions and divestures that accompany growth make setting and maintaining a baseline of properties to measure against a challenge. And the notion of an "average" hotel simply doesn't exist, as the business and resource needs of a boutique hotel and a convention center facility are as different as those of a beach resort and a city hotel. In the face of many roadblocks, setting meaningful sustainability targets starts with knowing your numbers.
Nearly 10 years ago – long before we had stated sustainability goals and targets – Hyatt became one of the first companies in the hospitality industry to launch a global footprint measurement tool; first to quantify water and energy use at our hotels and later, expanded to track their carbon emissions and waste. By simply taking the pulse of where the properties in our portfolio stood, we were able to advise owners regarding more sustainable business decisions at the local hotel level to improve operational performance and manage costs. At the same time, the data collectively provided a broad picture of our performance around the globe, helping us to begin to identify and respond to the unique needs of individual communities where Hyatt hotels operate.