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Tech-Driven Sustainability: Unveiling the power of technology in achieving ESG goals in Hospitality

Updated: Jan 15

Businesses all around the world are in a current race to score higher on their sustainable investing set of standards, known as ESG.

ESG encompasses three pillars: Environmental, Social, Governance, and measures the level of sustainable impact businesses have achieved. The "E" in ESG refers to the environmental aspect, focusing on how businesses interact with the natural world and address environmental challenges. This is of particular importance in businesses that are mass drivers of the global economy. As the travel and tourism sector directly and indirectly accounted for 10.3% of total global GDP in 2019, the ESG goals are key priorities for the hotel sector. They contribute to environmental preservation, social responsibility, and economic viability.

Achieving those goals means entering a new era of transformation as technology continues to prove its potential in helping hospitality businesses reduce their environmental impact, enhancing social responsibility and improving overall governance.

In this article, we’ll delve into the intertwined relationship between technology and hospitality that is needed to align with ESG principles.

1. Understanding ESG in the Hospitality Industry

Leading hospitality companies have been actively adopting various ESG initiatives and consistently measuring their performances. For example, Accor has a sustainability program called “Planet 21” that provides a positive hospitality experience by offering eco-designed beds and eco-certified cleaning products as well as funding trees for all savings made on water and energy.

Hilton, on the other hand, spearheaded a program called “Travel with Purpose” to drive responsible travel and tourism globally. It's the first major hotel company to set science-based carbon targets aligned with climate science and the Paris Climate Agreement, and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Hilton has stated that it is committed to reducing their water usage intensity by 50% by 2030. Keeping in on trend with their other pledges, Hilton has supported social initiatives such as participating in global volunteer programs, food donation programs and disaster relief projects.

Moreover, Mariott’s “Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction” supports the United Nations sustainable development goals. Marriott aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050 as well as launch human trafficking awareness training, which incorporates real-life scenarios to support its 2025 goal to train all on-property associates to identify and respond to potential human trafficking situations.

While the hospitality sector should lead sustainable efforts because of the high growth rate of the sustainability industry, it can also reap many benefits. Specifically, the hospitality industry is a people-focused business. From the guests to the employees and stakeholders, the hospitality industry’s value is deeply rooted in creating value for others. Embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can provide hotels with a framework to establish their aspirational purpose, inspire stakeholders at all levels, and ultimately enhance long-term shareholder value.

In addition, as consumers' awareness of sustainability issues grows, the demand for sustainable properties is expected to increase. A significant 70% of global travelers express a higher likelihood of booking an accommodation if it is known to be eco-friendly. By effectively promoting a brand or hotel property's sustainable practices and initiatives, these establishments can increase brand appeal and gain a competitive advantage in attracting a larger customer base.

Moreover, advancing ESG goals can also be financially beneficial as sustainable practices often lead to cost savings and operational efficiency. Implementing water-saving technologies like low-flow fixtures, efficient irrigation systems, and linen reuse programs can help decrease water consumption, which results in reduced water bills and operational expenses. So, sustainability efforts not only contribute to a more sustainable future but also yield positive business outcomes in a competitive market.

Furthermore, sustainable practices accelerates its mission of becoming LEED certified. This means that a hotel is awarded points for satisfying certain green requirements in six categories- Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design. This serves as a proof to guests and developers that going green won’t be at the expense of design or comfort

2. The Role of Technology in Achieving Sustainable Goals

The hospitality industry is progressively demonstrating a shift towards sustainability with the help of modern technology. Smart energy management, for instance, uses automation and data analytics to monitor and control energy consumption in hotels. They optimize HVAC systems, lighting, and other energy-consuming devices based on occupancy and demand. Opting for tech-enabled energy management is also cost-efficient, significantly reducing electricity consumption, lowering utility costs, and decreasing carbon emissions.

Occupancy sensors are another great technology to integrate with guest room automation systems to ensure energy efficiency. Sensors detect occupancy and adjust temperature, lighting, and other amenities accordingly and even notify cleaning staff that a room is ready to be cleaned.

One industry where water saving efforts are particularly important is the hospitality industry. Every day, hotels use millions of gallons of water, hence the need for water conservation technologies like smart irrigation systems. They utilize weather data and soil moisture sensors to optimize watering schedules, prevent overwatering and reduce water consumption in landscaping. Low-flow fixtures, such as aerators are becoming more commonplace and more recently the emergence of smart showerheads, automatically reduce water flow only when the guest is absent to save water without compromising guest experience.

To harness the full potential of technology, hotels can also digitize the use of paper. Digital platforms can facilitate operations like guest check-ins or digital access to information. This serves to eliminate menus, program flyers and hotels in-room compendiums, further reducing reliance on printed material.

For a hotel to flourish in today’s climate-centric world – it’s time to add hotel technology. These technological advances serve as a catalyst for satisfying every pillar of the ESG goals. For the environmental impact, they significantly lower the environmental footprint of hotels by achieving carbon reduction targets and conserving natural resources. For social outcomes, they enrich guest experiences by providing comfort, convenience, and seamless services. They also showcase a hotel's commitment to meeting the expectations of socially conscious guests who prioritize sustainability in their travel decisions. From a governance standpoint, technological innovations boost operational efficiency, resulting in cost efficiency and improved governance. They develop monitoring capabilities and advanced data analysis, therefore enabling transparent ESG reporting.

3. Oasense Reva Smart Showerhead: A Sustainable Solution

Motivated by California drought conditions, the founders of Oasense wanted to raise the expectations of water-saving showers. They pioneered a twist to the standard eco-showers that achieve sustainability at the cost of user experience. Oasense Reva showerhead is the sensor-embedded, cutting-edge technology that preserves what people love most about showers while saving 50% of the water used in a typical shower. Oasense Reva is the perfect example of technology-driven sustainability efforts that enhance hotel guests' experiences.

Statistics reveal that approximately 30% of a hotel's total water use is attributed to showering. Moreover, a staggering 70% of hotel guests leave their showers unattended while the water is warming up, resulting in unnecessary water wastage. Oasense Reva addresses these issues head-on by introducing features that revolutionize the way water is consumed in hotel showers. It utilizes advanced sensor technology to reduce the flow to 15% whenever the full rinsing experience isn't needed, and resumes 100% full flow when the guest steps under the showerhead.

Oasense Reva is self-powered by the guests running water and designed around their needs, ensuring a personalized and enjoyable shower experience for them, and making Reva the easy upgrade that provides the smarter way to shower.

4. Conclusion

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices and sustainable goals have become increasingly important for travelers worldwide. One study gaining insight into values around sustainability in travel found that 90% of consumers look for sustainable options when traveling. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the report 2023 also found that “75% of high-end travelers are ready to pay extra to make their trips more sustainable”. This means that if hospitality companies become ESG compliant, guests will become loyal customers, willing to extend their stay and come back. Embracing ESG practices not only benefits the environment but also enhances the reputation and financial performance of hospitality companies.

Technology is undoubtedly part of the pursuit of sustainability, offering innovative solutions to the negative impacts of climate change. Smart showerheads specifically are designed around the user experience, utilizing advanced sensors and automation to reduce water usage. The adoption of these intelligent devices aligns with the global movement towards more sustainable and responsible practices in the hospitality industry.

Technology, beyond smart showerheads, offers a range of opportunities for the hospitality industry to achieve its sustainability objectives. From energy management systems that optimize energy and water usage in rooms to digital solutions that minimize paper waste and streamlines guest experience, technology can revolutionize operations, reduce environmental footprints, and improve governance.

In order to get ahead of the sustainability curve, hotels must recognize the importance of ESG objectives and embrace technology-driven solutions such as smart showerheads and other innovative systems. There is no doubt that the future of the hospitality sector is smart, green hotels and that one cannot exist without the other. This step towards becoming a “smart” hotel is crucial to turning the hospitality sector green.



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