Prioritizing Sustainability in a Post-Pandemic World
By Ana Granados Hospitality Sales National Manager, Cosentino North America | June 21, 2020
There is not a single business that hasn't been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another. The impact is still in the very early stages, and we really won't know the true long-term effects until down the line. But, even in the first few months of the pandemic, as the world went through a pause, some good did come: our environment began to heal in a small but impactful way.
From the clear water in the Venice canals, blue skies over Delhi to visibly less pollution in China, these changes over the course of a few months show the true impact we have on our environment and how previously we've been abusing our resources. It's truly eye-opening. Sustainability and the commitment to our environment should be a priority year-round and returning to a world post-pandemic is our time to implement real change.
So where do we start? We can start by examining what daily changes have had such positive impacts on the environment. Most, if not all, interactions are now taking place on the phone, through video conferencing or via email. And what at first seemed alarming, to take all conversation digitally, has actually brought people closer together. We're less likely to drive straight into business and instead, begin calls by having a real conversation about the current climate and how everyone's holding up. We're dedicating our time to learning more about each other. And this new way of communication has had a direct impact: less traffic and less travel has resulted in a drop in pollution.
As recently reported in the New York Times, a satellite that detects emissions in the atmosphere linked to cars and trucks shows huge declines in pollution over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta (source: The New York Times ). In New York City specifically, the article notes emissions of carbon monoxide declined more than 50 percent below typical levels the last week in March. And that drop is solely linked to less car traffic. So, does the future of business embrace more virtual connections? Can we be successful in business and more kind to the environment if we replace 50% of travel?
Another factor to consider is prioritizing guest well-being while prioritizing sustainability. In a recent survey by Skift Research, the research company that provides news, research, and marketing services for the travel industry, one-third of Americans said they hope to travel within three months after restrictions are lifted, which begs the question, how will hotels receive this change? Cleanliness has already become a top priority for the industry and will remain one for the foreseeable future. Hoteliers will likely have to double-down on cleaning products and should consider materials that can help to eliminate the spread of germs.
When making this switch though, manufacturers that keep sustainability top of mind should be considered along with eco-friendly cleaning supplies and products that reduce water consumption. In addition to cleaning, there will be a rise of new technologies and protocols as well. Whether that's a new touchless check-in process, room service or a seal on room doors that indicates the room hasn't been entered since they were last cleaned. Hilton properties actually are already implementing this new "seal of cleanliness" idea. While there's a lot to consider, the opportunity to re-evaluate routine practices now and post-pandemic is a chance to prioritize sustainability.