Partnering with Your City to Promote Sustainability in Tourism

By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | May 07, 2017

As tourism expands world-wide, the need and desirability for more sustainable tourism grows as well. All the articles in this issue are premised on this theme; this article provides a practical approach to promoting sustainable tourism through partnerships with your local jurisdiction and related entities.

Consider that the focus of most tourists will not be on your property itself, but more likely on its context – the city outside it or the natural areas that are their destination. That doesn’t mean they won’t care about your sustainability practices, but rather that they should be open to considering them in a broader context. Knowing that your property is part of a larger sustainability effort in your city or other jurisdiction can only enhance the overall attractiveness of your positioning.

The good news is that the hospitality industry already partners in many cases with the municipality in the formation and operation of convention and visitors’ bureaus ( CVBs ). Although these may be independent, self-governing agencies, they usually have strong ties to the jurisdiction they serve. The partnerships discussed and recommended here include the CVB model but go beyond it in two respects: directly including the city or jurisdiction in the partnership in an active role; and focusing on sustainability in the partnership, among other potential themes.

Benefits of Partnering with Your City

Having your city as a partner in promoting sustainability is a smart move for several reasons. Sustainability is new and cutting-edge, and having the city behind this essential initiative makes your destination more attractive as part of a larger effort, a community and region that is looking to the future. A number of the cities we work with tell us that their goal is to become the “greenest city” in America. This has become intensely competitive in order to attract tourists, businesses, and younger demographics. The greening efforts of just a few properties, even with the support of their CVB and hotel association, do not have the same impact if the elected city government is not on board.

Another benefit of a city partnership for sustainable tourism is that it can bring additional credibility to the effort. Greenwashing still abounds in the marketplace, nowadays often in more subtle forms. Governments must be especially careful about their claims and promotions, and so their programs tend to be more realistic from a marketing perspective. In some cases, they choose to partner with third-party assessment or certification bodies that can attest to the sustainability activities of the government or its businesses.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.