Remember my post about the Ceres report that analyzed climate change governance practices among leading consumer-facing corporations? Ceres found that the travel and leisure industry was a poor-performer in their analysis, scoring only 27 out of a possible 100 points and sitting next-to-last among 11 sectors surveyed. Ever since I read that report, I’ve been especially keen to hear about sustainability initiatives in travel and leisure. (These companies will have to “tune in” to this issue sometime soon, won’t they?) As it happens, over the past few days, I’ve run across some encouraging news from this sector.
First, Hotel Interactive reports that hoteliers and industry suppliers are (finally) “Getting Serious About Going Green.” In fact, sustainability was the focus of a panel discussion held at the 2009 Buyer Interactive Trade Alliance & Conference (BITAC), which is occurring this week in Las Vegas.
Here are some great quotes from the article:
“The reason green is taking hold is it’s good business, its smart business. There’s nothing wrong with doing something that is good for the environment and saves money,” says Jeff Slye, Chief Evolution Officer with Kimpton Hotel & Restaurants.
Mark van Hartsevelt, principal Gemstone Hospitality, sees meeting planners as the ones who are driving change. “They’re asking what we do to be green. Do we have plastic bottles on the table? What kind of detergent do we use? If you don’t answer the question right, you don’t get the business,” says van Hartsevelt. (For further reading, there’s a report on sustainable business meetings here.)
Donald Lee, Manger of Sourcing and Procurement with Disney World Wide Services, stresses the importance of engaging employees in sustainability initiatives. “We find cast members who are passionately engaged about the environment. Then we put them on a task force and ask them what can we do about going green,” he says.
In other news, Marriott International, Inc. announced last week that is has launched a new way for guests to green their hotel stays. When you book a room, you can offset the carbon generated during your stay by contributing $10 to a Brazilian rainforest preservation fund. Marriott has already supported the fund with a $2million commitment, all of which is part of the company’s five-point environmental strategy, called Spirit to Preserve.
When I checked out this sustainability platform, I was pleased to see that Marriott is taking steps to green its supply chain. Specific initiatives include: greener key cards, eco-pillows (filled with material made from recycled bottles), coreless toilet paper (Marriott estimates this alone will save nearly 3 million gallons of water and 21 tons of packaging waste annually), earth-friendly towels, recycled pens, low VOC paint, biodegradable laundry bags, and low-phosphate laundry detergent.
According to their website, Marriott spends about $10 billion annually buying products and services for its 3,000 hotels around the world. Obviously, corporations like Marriott can have a big impact when they start working together with vendors to create green solutions, and it’s great to see that initiatives like these are beginning to take hold in the travel and leisure industry.