The hospitality sector has a powerful impact on the environment through water and energy consumption and the use of consumable goods, while also relying on the natural environment – unspoilt landscapes, beaches, glaciers, and fresh air; all of which serve as tourist attractions.
In a recent study conducted by Google, 82% of people surveyed said that the degree of sustainability of a company influences their purchasing decision. This is supported by Skift Research, which noted that 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital.
With sustainability widely being regarded as the key to a successful business in the 21st century, Google has responded to the climate crisis by launching a series of new attributes for hotels’ Google Business Profiles, to help them highlight their green initiatives.
Four new categories of sustainable attributes
1. Energy efficiency
- Green building design
- Energy conservation program
- Energy use audited by an independent organization
- Energy from carbon-free sources
- Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems
- Energy-efficient lighting
- Energy-saving thermostats
- Electric car charging station
2. Water conservation
- Water use audited by an independent organization
- Water-efficient faucets, toilets, and showers
- Towel and linen reuse program
3. Waste reduction
- Recycling program
- Food waste reduction
- Donates and composts excess food
- Soap and toiletry donation
- Safely handles hazardous
- Safely disposes of electronics, batteries, and lightbulbs
- Refillable toiletry containers
- Water bottle filling stations
- Compostable food containers and cutlery
- No Styrofoam food containers
- No single-use plastic water
bottles or straws
4. Sustainable sourcing
- Responsible purchasing policy
- Organic food and beverages
- Locally sourced food and
- Responsibly sourced seafood
- Organic cage-free eggs
- Vegetarian and vegan meals
- Eco-friendly toiletries
These attributes allow hotels to show users their sustainable and environmentally responsible policies. In addition, it will help hotels to rank better in local search results when a user uses keywords related to sustainability (e.g. ‘sustainable hotel’, ‘hotel with renewable energy’, ‘hotel with organic food’).
How are these attributes added?
To implement the new attributes, you have to go to your Google Business Profile account, under Information > Available services > Add attributes.
In addition to the sustainability attributes, Google has also enabled the option for hotels to add an eco-certification. Hotels that have met sustainability standards from an independent organisation such as Green Key, Green Seal, and EarthCheck will have an eco-certified badge next to their name in searches on google.com/travel.
When a hotel is labelled “eco-certified” on Google, it means they have reported earning a certification from an agency that Google has identified as meeting the following standards:
- The agency must use globally recognized and reputed criteria to evaluate the hotel.
- The evaluation must focus on environmental impact from at least these 4 categories:
- Energy efficiency
- Water conservation
- Waste reduction
- Sustainable sourcing
- The agency must conduct an on-site audit to verify the hotel’s sustainability practices or use an independent third party to do so.
Eco-certifications are granted to hotels that meet sustainability criteria designated by a third-party certification agency. Eco-certifications also serve as a signal to help consumers and the broader community know that your hotel is actively working to make a positive environmental impact in the world.
Sustainability for Hotels on Google in action
Google has now partnered with Travalyst, a not-for-profit sustainable travel organisation founded in 2021 by Harry, Duke of Sussex. Google will help the organisation to develop a standardised model for calculating and displaying carbon emissions from air travel, which will ultimately lead to the development of similar standards for hotels.
We already know how important sustainability is to your guests and your business growth, and that there are hundreds of sustainability practices you can implement in your hotel. If you choose not to highlight to potential guests what you are doing to help preserve the destination, local community, and environment you will lose out on customers who prioritise sustainability.