Accor, the world’s largest hotel group and operator of brands such as Ibis, Novotel and Sofitel, said it had launched the online platform to make information on sustainability, including, research, surveys and case studies of good practice, available to any operator, whatever their size, for free.
The move coincides with the completion of a major piece of new independent research by Ifop on behalf of Accor that shows the vast majority of hotel guests are concerned by sustainable development.
Accor’s executive vice president for sustainable development, Sophie Flak, said the findings confirmed there could be no more excuses for hotels not taking action on environmental, social and economic development.
“Sustainability is a very well known concept among hotel guests,” she said. “Discovery has gone; it is time for concrete action.”
The survey of 7,000 Accor guests across six countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil and China, found that eight out of 10 hotel guests felt sustainable development was important to them. It also revealed that guests had high expectations for hotels to take action across four key areas: water, energy, waste and child protection.
But Flak said one of the most important findings of the survey was that a majority of guests now expect a hotel that implements sustainable policies to be a comfortable one to stay in.
“66 per cent of guests said a responsible hotel was a comfortable hotel,” she said. “No one can tell me now that they can’t set up a sustainable hotel because it will not be comfortable.”
Accor, which operates 4200 properties across 15 brands in 90 countries and employs 145,000 staff, launched its own five-year sustainability programme, Earth Guest, in 2006. The programme, however, has only been partially successful in meeting its objectives. Accor set itself a target to reduce its energy by by 10 per cent between 2006 and 2010 but missed it by 4.5 per cent, while it only reduced paper waste by 53 per cent against a 70 per cent target. But it exceeded its target on water, cutting it by 12 per cent against a target of 10 per cent. It has yet to set targets on carbon emissions, said Flak, but will be doing so in a new environmental strategy the company will be announcing in early 2012.
The release of the data, early next year, will coincide with the planned launch by the £3.7 billion international tourism industry of common standards to calculate and report on the carbon emissions of the sector.
Accor said findings of its latest research were now available on its open platform, Earth Guest Research. It wants other hotels to use it to adopt sustainable policies and said it plans to release several pieces of new research a year. In return, it is calling on other hotels to share their research and methodology so the whole industry can benefit.
“Sustainability can’t be handled by people who know nothing about it,” said Flak. “That is why we need these documents and facts.”
In September, the UN World Tourism Organisation launched an online toolkit to help hotels evaluate energy consumption, find renewable sources and cut their cost through improved efficiency.