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Sustainability + hospitality branding

6 October 2022 4 min read

“Going green” and “eco-tourism” are familiar buzzwords of the hospitality industry. Their humble origins appeared in the form of in-room appeals to guests to reuse bathroom towels. Signs are emerging that a less cosmetic form of sustainability is being embraced by international travellers, guests and hoteliers around the world.

Sustainable inbound tourism is likely to become increasingly prevalent in Vietnam. 70% of travellers expressed their concerns about sustainability, noting that they would be more likely to book a hotel knowing it was truly eco-friendly.

In practice, sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all destination. Hotel brands may apply different sustainability strategies based on their locations, properties, operating models and facilities.

Experiencing sustainability

“Greenwashed” practices are no longer appealing to guests. Hotels can look beyond sustainable claims to polish their names and consider applying sustainability into their operations in practice. Consumers would appreciate the actual experience of how the brand is protecting the environment, contributing to societal developments, and enriching its communities to ensure shared value and prosperity.

Interestingly, some of Vietnam’s hotels are becomingly ever more creative and innovative in the ways they approach sustainability.

Many hotels are doing something. Is it enough?

Savanna’s Villas have incorporated natural airflow, solar heating, wastewater treatment, and plastic-free policies. In addition, they decorate their hotel by planting local flora to enhance local biodiversity. This is a highly Instagrammable approach, further communicating their sustainable brand values through social media—all the while embracing Hoi An’s natural countryside charm.

Meanwhile, another hotel has opted to enhance their ESG benchmarks. The Caravelle was the first property in Vietnam to receive Earthcheck’s Gold Certification in 2015. The hotel has held onto that status ever since, meeting industry benchmarks in their daily operations. All the rooms are lit with energy-saving LED lights, reducing paper usage, and free water refill stations are located on each floor to reduce plastic bottle use. Additionally, the hotel staff regularly stage clean-ups, fun-runs, and flash-mobs to raise awareness around climate change. This is a great example of a hotel that caters to the sustainable concerns of both internal and external stakeholders.

Zero waste and recycling policies could be avenues of improving their sustainability efforts. One resort went beyond composting and on-site water purification. Mango Bay Phu Quoc goes beyond “best practices” with their long-term reef rehabilitation and tree planting projects. They regularly conduct biodiversity surveys on Phu Quoc in partnership with Wildlife At Risk.

Encouraging long-term stays–enduring hospitality

For hotels to remain ahead of the competition and become consumers’ long-term loyalty, sustainability may well be the answer. By hosting sustainable practices at the core of the brand, consumers and employees would better align with the hotel brand’s purpose, encouraging them to revisit, spend more to show their support, and spread the word in the digital space.

As the hospitality industry transforms to better look after our planet and society, consumers want to be given the opportunity to join their initiatives in driving change and making sustainable choices.

For hotel brand owners and operators, this opportunity involves making the experience of sustainability meaningful and enduring beyond recycling bathroom towels.

This article was first published in Sustainable Vietnam: A Focus on Sustainability, Partnerships, and Impact on 6 October 2022.

Dominic Mason
Managing Director, Southeast Asia
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