COLOGNE, GERMANY—HRS, the leading global corporate lodging platform, introduced a first-of-its-kind solution that gives corporations and employees a way to organize travel more sustainably. HRS’ Green Stay Initiative, in pilot this quarter, leverages proprietary technology to give procurement leaders and everyday business travelers an intuitive system to identify, compare and prioritize hotels that contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of the lodging portion of the typical business trip.
HRS is assimilating data from thousands of hotel groups and independent properties as part of a groundbreaking framework, including details on energy consumption, water use, and waste disposal. Through the unprecedented normalization and organization of this global data, HRS is pioneering a sustainability database that efficiently brings vital information to corporations and travelers as procurement and individual booking decisions are made.
The New Megatrend of Sustainability
The new megatrend of sustainability remains a primary topic around the world as countries and regions look towards taming the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalizing their economies. Highlights illustrating this trend include:
- A 2020 BCG survey of consumers in eight countries found that 87 percent said companies should more aggressively integrate environmental concerns into their products, services, and operations. A 2019 Accenture survey of 6,000 consumers across 11 countries revealed that 83 percent believe it is important for companies to develop sustainable products and services, and 50 percent said they would pay more for sustainable products.
- Governments are making unprecedented pledges in the effort to reach carbon neutral status. In line with the Paris Agreement, the European Union has committed to being climate-neutral by 2050, calling it both “an urgent challenge and an opportunity to build a better future for all.” On the Biden Administration’s first day, the United States took steps to re-join the Paris Agreement and align with global emission targets.
- There have been several announcements from leading automobile manufacturers trumpeting the dramatic reduction of production of vehicles with tailpipe emissions over the next 20 years. Daimler, with its “Ambition 2039” initiative, is one of multiple multi-national brands making firm commitments towards eliminating emissions from vehicles.
- More than 50 Fortune 500 companies—several of which are HRS clients—have joined the Climate Pledge with the aim to be carbon neutral by 2040. These ranks include trailblazing brands such as Amazon, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Siemens.
Not surprisingly, this trend has flowed into the managed travel arena. As corporate travel looks at a redefined ecosystem in the wake of the pandemic, procurement and travel departments are tasked with doing their part to help companies achieve carbon net-neutral status this decade.
“The latest Sustainability Index from Cornell highlights that hotels, on average, account for 45 kilograms of carbon emissions per room night. Metrics like this are vital as companies take steps to reduce their carbon footprint,” explains Martin Biermann, Chief Product Officer for HRS and leader of the team developing the Green Stay Initiative. “As we built this unique global database, we analyzed various approaches to collecting this information. Carbon, water, and waste data varies, as location, climate, hotel type, municipal infrastructure and other factors impact true measurement. While suppliers have progressed in capturing this data, the legacy fragmentation of the global hotel marketplace resulted in disparate data points that are far too complex for companies to efficiently digest. To address this, we took steps to build a normalized global framework that solves these issues proactively. We believe this system can ultimately enable net-zero hotel programs for the world’s largest corporations.”
HRS is educating corporate procurement executives, travel managers and hotel suppliers about the Green Stay Initiative during the global Corporate Lodging Forum series.
How the Initiative Works
Building off the success of the Clean & Safe Protocol launched by HRS in 2020, ongoing hotel engagement plays a key role making the Green Stay Initiative work for both corporations and preferred hotel partners. (More than 60,000 hotels participate—free-of-charge—in the Clean & Safe Protocol today.) With corporate procurement leaders incorporating a hotel’s sustainability practices and performance in the equation as it considers them for inclusion as a preferred partner, hotels are increasingly providing quantitative data regarding their sustainable practices.
HRS has developed a proprietary scoring system, determining actual footprint values on a hotel’s energy, water, and waste usage. This scoring system is based upon guidelines established by recognized organizations such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, and the World Travel & Tourism Council. Hotels are scored based upon their metrics and progress from the prior calendar year. This enables corporate decision makers to weigh environmental sustainability elements based on factual data when developing programs. When hotels are categorized as “Green,” they are awarded a new Green Stay label that appears in procurement displays (when buyers are considering hotels for inclusion as a preferred supplier) and self-booking tools used by employees and travel agents for individual bookings.
“We’re in a unique position as a technology provider at the intersection of corporate procurement, facilitating important engagement between companies and hotel suppliers on this vital issue,” said HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “As a global organization driven by values, we remain committed to innovating with the goal of doing our part to keep our planet pristine and inviting for generations to come on all continents—especially when connecting through travel. The Green Stay Initiative enables companies to dramatically enhance awareness of new sustainability priorities for their travel programs, while also facilitating an avenue for hoteliers to promote their corresponding investments. As our industry emerges from pandemic-related challenges, we’re hopeful this technology will ultimately represent a milestone in advancing sustainable managed travel for years to come.”