Measuring Your Carbon Footprint Across a Global Portfolio

Finding the Right “Toolbox” for the Right Job

By Faith Taylor Senior Vice President Global Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Wyndham Worldwide | May 26, 2013

With rising energy costs, government regulations, consumer expectations, and requests for proposals asking for environmental metrics, sustainability efforts are an increasingly top priority for hospitality companies around the globe. With countless strategies and tactics aimed at reducing environmental impact, effective measurement can make the difference between assuming you are making progress, and knowing you are making progress. Such distinctions are especially critical at a time when resources are tight, and every dollar counts.

Ranked number one among hotels and restaurants by Newsweek magazine in its annual Greenest Companies in America survey two years in a row, Wyndham Worldwide has included supporting sustainable practices among its top five strategic goals over the past six years, and views sustainability as a fundamental part of how it responsibly does business in communities around the world.

One of the world's largest hospitality companies, Wyndham Worldwide includes Wyndham Hotel Group, the world's largest hotel company based on number of properties; Wyndham Exchange & Rentals, the world's largest member-based vacation exchange network and marketer of serviced vacation rentals; and Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the world's largest vacation ownership business with over 190 resorts throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

Since its launch in 2006, Wyndham Worldwide has invested in exploring and adopting innovative sustainable practices through its Wyndham Green program, which focuses on sustainability across the Company. Focused on education and innovation, the program, is a way of living and working based on the Company's vision and core values, enhancing customers' lives by improving the environment, supporting global and local communities, and developing sustainable programs that deliver economic benefits. While the program has implemented numerous initiatives, Wyndham Worldwide recognized that in order to lead the sustainability charge, it had to figure out how to effectively measure the results of these efforts across its diverse global portfolio.

Motivated by a long-term goal to reduce company-wide emissions based on a per square-foot basis by 20 percent by 2020, and a more immediate short-term goal of 12 percent by 2016, establishing a uniform methodology to measure and report carbon emissions at a wide range of hospitality and office locations was no easy task.

Enter the Wyndham Green Toolbox, a proprietary designed, state-of-the-art eco-software program that allows both owned and managed properties, as well as independently owned and operated, franchised properties within the Wyndham Worldwide portfolio, to track and measure environmental impact, and enable the Company to set performance targets. The Toolbox provides users with resources and tools to reduce energy use, and advance the Company's global sustainability efforts.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.