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Five Simple Ways to Help Your Hospitality Team Connect Guests to the Environment

Ben Farber

Covid-19 gave literal pause to the travel industry in a way we’ve never experienced. The opportunity to reinvent our craft for the better has not been lost—especially with an eye to improving our relationship with the natural environment. We’ve seen improvements in efficiency, brand new eco-friendly service options, and reinvented business features that touch every part of the guest experience (even when that means shifting to low or no touch services).

As travelers re-emerge, environmentally conscious features just so happen to be exactly what they seek. According to Booking.com’s recently released 2021 sustainability report, guests are more motivated than ever to reduce their footprint and travel mindfully. Here are five great ways to help them—and your team—do just that, complete with inspiring innovations from exceptional destinations.

Think OUTSIDE the box to build distinctive environmental programming with innovative, talented people.

Dedicated in-house green teams, skilled environmental instructors, outdoor and adventure experts: people can truly be your most valuable resource in connecting guests to your natural environment. In my work at Bristol Associates, I have been continuously impressed by the power of talented teams to shape the hospitality industry with their personal passion for the natural world. They’re a secret weapon in laying the foundations of programs that help us all explore new ways to embrace the outdoors.

In some cases, these programs lie at the heart of the guest experience. Scotland’s beloved Alladale Wilderness Reserve, for example, offers everything from clay pigeon shooting to whiskey tasting with experts in the Highlands, while a team of river guides in Maine have built up a full outdoor resort experience at Northern Outdoors. Venture forth! 

Reduce energy consumption without a second thought by incorporating automation and low-touch sensors. 

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to create efficient, user-friendly building systems that provide the best possible guest experience while demanding fewer resources. Lighting sensors alone come in a vast array of styles. By monitoring usage metrics and activity, these clever systems can help guests power down without lifting a finger or even thinking twice.

It’s not all about automation, though—low tech features like added towel racks and subtle reuse incentives can help to cut down on extra laundry and water usage, too. 

Tap the area. Local food and beverage resources reduce food miles and packaging waste.

If your venue has yet to embrace food tourism or local gastronomy, the time is now. The idea of travel to “get a taste of place in order to get a sense of place” may not be new, but the value of reducing food miles (and cutting unnecessary supply chain steps) has become increasingly clear for providing consistent, high-quality, and unique meal services to suit our most magical places.

For inspiration, check out the Ranch at Rock Creek, where they source over 75 percent of the celebrated destination’s fine dining from local farms, or the Montage Healdsburg’s on-site apiary, a partnership with local beekeepers which provides honey and beeswax from the area for delightfully place-specific beverages, spa treatments, and even gift shop specialties.

Roll into the adventure and embrace environmentally friendly ways for guests to explore.

While it’s always our goal to help guests unwind, relax, and make the most of in-house facilities, we have an exciting opportunity as hosts to offer a gateway to exploration. Today’s spa and wellness guests are ready to take to the streets, trails, and even canals to get an authentic glimpse of a new place—all while keeping things green. Check out Copenhagen’s solar-powered boats for a particularly distinctive travel adventure with an eye to a light footprint.

Tourism on two wheels is another incredible way to invite your guests to make the most of the area. Portland’s Ace Hotel offers cruiser bikes on loan to anyone who visits, while British Columbia’s Hotel Zed offers trail access and an in-house bike shop for storage, rentals, tuning and tinkering. Inspired yet? Get more great ideas from Outside Online’s roundup of standout cyclist-centric offerings. 

Grow with the flow: gardens can truly make the most of our outdoor spaces and enhance experiences, too.

The natural bounty of your location can offer visitors an incredibly special experience—not to mention a delicious, rejuvenating, or one-of-a-kind treat. Dig in and customize your space by hosting (and harvesting) an onsite garden to surprise and delight guests.

Elegant landscaping and manicured gardens are certainly beautiful, but eco-savvy growing spaces make for more than a lovely view. Philadelphia’s Radnor Hotel and The Secret Herb Garden at the Terrace in London’s Royal Horseguards Hotel use their fresh herbs and produce for both a beautiful backdrop and distinctive culinary service. Or think 40,000 bees on the Jumeirah Frankfurt’s 28th-floor rooftop, where they craft delicate honey to contribute to cocktails, signature spa treatments, and gourmet breakfasts, all in sight of the city skyline.

About the Author:

Ben Farber represents the third generation of family ownership of Bristol Associates. He joined the firm in 2003 with an initial focus in the Casino Gaming Division. Currently, Ben remains very involved with Bristol’s diverse range of clients, as well as overseeing the operations of the firm. Ben has worked in every department at the company, giving him a unique and complete view of the business and understanding in all aspects of Bristol’s operations, including expert talent recruitment for facilities and concessions, food and beverage manufacturing, restaurants and foodservice, travel, and tourism, and so much more. Learn more about Ben and his work at Bristol Associates here.