It’s time for industry buy-in on positive initiatives
It’s time for industry buy-in on positive initiatives
16 NOVEMBER 2018 7:00 AM

The hotel industry has made several laudable steps of late aiming to make the world a better place, but we need to see those efforts take effect across the spectrum.

As I sit writing this column, I’m looking at the San Diego Bay from the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. I’m here as part of a trip where Hilton is showcasing some of their sustainability efforts as they work toward their recently made promise to halve their environmental footprint by 2030.

That goal is obviously a commendable one, especially because their targets are across the entire Hilton system, not just the corporate entity and brand-managed properties. Those of us familiar with the fragmented nature of the hotel industry know just how big of a challenge that can be to get a sea of franchisees all moving in the same direction for a goal that isn’t as clearly delineated to dollars and cents as the typical brand-owner-operator interactions would be.

And to the wider industry’s credit, this is just one of a couple big initiatives announced of late with altruistic aims. The AHLA-driven “Five-Star Promise” was the big, headline-grabbing move recently when several of the largest hotel companies promised to get safety devices in the hands of employees by 2020.

There are some who have been vocal about that particular program not going far enough and whether state and local governments should make it an official requirement instead of trusting the word of businesses, but no one is arguing against the stated intent and the idea of making hotel employees safer.

Both of these initiatives are reminders the hotel industry has a considerable amount of impact on the broader landscape, from the environment to people’s wellbeing—something underscored again by Hilton’s related promise to continue its focus on corporate social responsibility.

But while it’s a relatively straightforward exercise for the big brands to set these goals and start pushing things in the right direction, the ultimate success or failure of these initiatives are going to fall on the everyday owners and operators further down the food chain.

We hear all the time that fundamentally the hotel industry is a street-corner business, so whether or not hotels are making a positive impact socially or environmentally will vary based on what street corner you’re on. This is a diverse industry with people representing innumerable different viewpoints, but I sincerely hope the great majority of hoteliers out there can see these efforts, as incomplete as they currently are, and decide that their particular street corner is going to not only meet these important benchmarks but surpass them.

What do you think? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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