How the hospitality industry could transform, even in the wake of a pandemic

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By 2050, hotels will need to reduce emissions per key by 90 % to be in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Public and political pressure on the sector is rising to implement drastic changes in coming years. Many hotel and restaurant chains are responding, but the path to a clean hospitality industry remains a long one. However, the current pandemic offers a pause that might be able to accelerate a reset.

An increase on food, energy and water demand will be more widely felt in the hospitality industry, a high service, people-intensive, mobile business. The health and balance of the ecosystem will become part of asset development and economic viability. We are at a watershed moment, a necessity in the evolution of the hospitality industry. This is an opportunity for an industry that touches everyone to be used as a platform to make people’s lives better through environments that support sustainability.

“From buildings and destinations to the surrounding neighbourhoods, the hospitality industry has a significant impact on the ecosystem as well as local culture and economies. There are so many fantastic touchpoints and opportunities to implement sustainable strategies and initiatives that can not only make a shift towards more circular systems, but also contribute to a memorable customer experience”, says Margaret Steiner, Architect and Project Manager at White Arkitekter.

Barriers to sustainable progress can be solved together
The hospitality industry is not only one of the oldest industries known to mankind but also a resilient one. It has navigated and survived through the storms of war, natural disasters, plagues, industrial, technological and other market disruptors. As a whole, the industry has been slow in adopting regenerative business practices, due to the heavy investments needed to update existing locations and inherently low profit margins compared to other industries.

White Arkitekter and The Royal Park Hospitality Hub launch a recent report on Transforming Hospitality Environments – scenarios and approaches for sustainable change. The findings of the report consider what is beyond the industry definition of hospitality, seeing it as an ideology is; “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” It is a way to build social, organisational and behavioural value to progress the hospitality industry. Thematic in this paper is social value driving the formation of the constructed environment. Security, safety and systems design are the fundamentals of hospitality; three pillars that need to be ethically designed and incorporated.

As social values change, and the importance of community and security rises the role of the hospitable built environment will be forever changed. Interdisciplinary approaches will demand that we understand other perspectives, and this is the key for achieving the pace of change and scale required for conscious impact.

“We are at a critical, exciting, tipping point where we can change the way we think, act and speak about business. Bringing the cognitive head, legacy heart and environmental bodies together to positively guide how we choose to grow. This conscious stewardship and governance encourage a purpose driven, interdisciplinary approach. It enables diverse incubation against big industry questions responding with business models and approaches never thought viable before”, says Shereen Daver, Co-founder Royal Park Hospitality Hub.