By Giles Fuchs, owner of Burgh Island Hotel (www.burghisland.com)
For many, a new year is a time for renewal and rebirth. It is certainly true for the hotel sector, as it starts to re-shape itself for the revival that is already taking place in hospitality. Many hotels are re-thinking their strategies, revitalising their offers and re-positioning themselves in the market to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
One area, which has already been increasing its importance is sustainability. This year will likely see it become critical to hotels’ prosperity as travellers focus on a hotel’s sustainability and ESG policies intensifies and almost defines the hotel choices they make. Also, from providing relief for rising energy costs and cultivating a healthy local supply chain, to attracting and retaining talent, ESG strategy could be key to solving the hotel sector’s challenges in 2023.
Renewables can help alleviate rising energy costs
For hospitality businesses, the energy crisis has compounded pressures and over a third of UK pubs and restaurants were forced to reduce their opening hours due to rising energy costs last year. However, energy prices have now moderated, and the economy has, so far, managed to narrowly avoid recession. Indeed, energy bills may well fall below the price guarantee by the summer.
This tempering of energy price rises should not stop hotel owners taking action. Despite the upfront cost, ESG policies with a focus on increasing renewable energy supplies will drive down bills in the long-term while also benefiting the planet.
Getting started may not be as daunting as it seems. At Burgh Island, we commissioned a Sustainable Energy Strategy Report, courtesy of Doug King Consulting, which has given us invaluable insight into the renewable energy capabilities of our property.
Your hotel needs you
At the end of November last year, a survey of hospitality businesses in the UK showed that the vacancy rate stood at 11% compared to a UK average of 4%, costing the industry £22bn per year. However, in the last quarter of last year, according to a survey in the Morning Advertiser, vacancies fell from 158,000 to 149,000, a drop of 5.5%. Hotel owners can, of course, help accelerate this declining trend by implementing their own initiatives, such as better training, more sociable hours or providing a higher standard of accommodation.
Introducing more sustainable and environmentally friendly policies, can also help. In fact, 33% of job hunters think ESG policies have affected how they search for job opportunities, with nearly two in five (38%) employees prepared to look for a new role if their current firm’s ESG policies were not up to scratch.
Good to go local
Amidst cost and workforce concerns, the prosperity of a hotel or other hospitality business’ local area is often a key factor in its success. Clearly, the cost-of-living crisis is having a disproportionately profound effect on local industries, which often rely heavily on small, regional customer bases. However, again sustainability policies can play a role not only helping local firms but also the hospitality businesses themselves.
One initiative is to support local suppliers. For example, almost 100% of Burgh Island’s produce is sourced locally and in addition we grow our own produce on our own on-site garden. This has aided the development of a fantastic relationship between the hotel and goods and services providers in the area, leading, in some cases, to new experiences for our guests.
Although recently there has been a trickle of more optimistic economic news, the outlook is still challenging. However, hoteliers who may be tempted to reign in their ESG policies and trim their sustainability initiatives would be taking the wrong decisions. Reviving, rather than reducing their ESG commitments, is important across the range of hotels’ operations and could well be the key factor in many hotels’ survival and success.