top of page

Hotel Partner - How Guldsmeden Hotels demonstrates sustainability credentials

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

In this edition of Hotel Partner, we hear from Patricia Plesner, CEO, Eco Hotels and Gabriella Kingelin, Sales Manager, Guldsmeden Hotels about How to demonstrate hotel sustainability credentials. We learn:

  • what defines an eco-hotel

  • the value of having sustainability credentials

  • changing traveller behaviours and expectations of eco-sensitive travellers

  • how to commit to sustainability

  • implementing the strategy engaging staff

  • starting off with sustainability


Discover eco hotels


Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple Podcasts


Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome back to Travel Market Life. In this episode, hotel Partners, we are looking at how to demonstrate hotel sustainability credentials. We're going to be joined by Patricia Plesner, the CEO of Eco Hotels, and Gabriella Kingelin, the sales manager at Guldsmeden Hotels. We'll be exploring what defines an eco-hotel, the value of having sustainable credentials, the changing behaviours of eco-sensitive travellers, how to implement an eco and sustainable strategy and the impact that it has on hotel revenue and the bottom line


Ryan Haynes:

Joining me on the line now is Patricia Plesner, CEO at Eco Hotels. Patricia, thanks ever so much for joining us today. Now there's a big talk around eco and sustainable hotels and travel offerings. Can you tell me what defines an eco-hotel?


Patricia Plesner:

It's a really good question and I'm pretty sure there exists a lot of different definitions in hotels calling themselves eco hotels for eco hotels.com, the online hotel booking site that I started three years ago. We connect and cooperate a lot with GSTC - Global Sustainability Tourism Council. They acknowledge and recognize a bunch of different certifications in certification bodies and if a hotel has one of these certifications, we know the audit is done correctly as well as we can be transparent with the travellers about what specific certification it is. So, from our perspective, it would be primarily the GSTC-recognized, acknowledged ones and generally speaking, we're seeing that it's hotels that incorporate environmentally friendly initiatives, looking into energy efficient measures, water conservation programs, waste management, but actually also now looking into more than just the environmental aspect but also the social one and the economic one.


Patricia Plesner:

So, it's a good round of everything.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah. I mean, you know, there's a lot of talk about greenwashing. So, the importance, having these certifications and being able to prove how far your sustainability actually goes is really important for travellers. But tell me what is the value for hotels for having those sustainable credentials?


Patricia Plesner:

We are seeing, it's a market that's growing a lot in terms of the traveller community. People are looking into it when they go shopping when they go to the stores when they're at home. We're all caring more about the environment as well as the social and economic factors. But generally speaking, they're opening up to a broader audience of eco-conscious travellers aligning with the sustainability trends we're seeing on a global market and in that sense also potentially increasing their revenue through higher room rates, cost savings from all of these different operations that they're going to imply having a certification.


Ryan Haynes:

Okay, that's fantastic. And obviously, education is key. Highlighting that to eco travellers is essential if you want to bring that market into your hotel. But now looking at those sorts of consumer travellers that are really eco-sensitive, we've seen so much change over the last few years and as you've highlighted the importance for sustainability and the fact that it's at the forefront of so many people's minds. Are you seeing consumer behaviour change or are there certain expectations and what are those as you look at sort of the bookings through Eco Hotel's website,


Patricia Plesner:

You mentioned it earlier with the word greenwashing. So, the more we hear about the word sustainability in every matter of our lives, the more where we become of how important it is not to just have transparency, but we are actually as consumers or travellers expecting transparency. And with transparency comes verified sustainability efforts. It comes with CER certifications when you're making a booking. And by prioritizing these eco-friendly practices, community engagement, and social impact, we're seeing that it just creates the verification that a lot of hotels need for consumers to believe in it to limit all thoughts of greenwashing.


Gabriella Kingelin:

Yeah.


Ryan Haynes:

Well, let's actually have a conversation with a hotelier now, shall we, who've actually been through that entire process? They've, they've put themselves out on the line and said, right, yes, we are going to be eco-friendly, we are going to address sustainability in our hotels. And to help us through this is Gabriela Kingly, the sales manager at GOs Meet and Hotel. Thank you ever so much for joining us today. Why did you guys choose to commit to sustainability in the first place?


Gabriella Kingelin:

Well, at Guzman Hotels, we have actually worked with sustainability since its beginning in 1999. And we have always committed to providing our guests with a wonderful stay with as minimal environmental impact as possible by also contributing to the industry's common pool of knowledge on sustainable practices in our daily operations. And SWAN has actually been driven by a passion for sustainability since its beginning due to our very dear founders and owners, Sandra and Mark Winnett, for whom sustainability is such a critical factor. And those values are truly essential to our business.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And actually, many would've called us or will call us the front runners of sustainable hospitality since our beginning in 1999. And I believe that the initiative to commit sustain sustainability came from inspiration across the globe. And it has always been a significant factor for both Sandra and Mark W in their daily lives. And as sustainable front runners, each eco-certification didn't really play a critical part in the early hotels’ interesting years. However, as we are founded in an innovative spirit with sustainability in our DNA, these eco certifications have always played such an important role.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And even more, today the competition, as Patricia mentioned in the hotel industry and consumer behaviour in general, is extremely high. And this is especially in terms of ecological practices and sustainability. And we also want to show our guests and our partners that we are committed to managing our hotels in an environmentally responsible way. And throughout the years, as we have seen and can see now, sustainability has evolved further. And this has also driven us as a hotel chain not to be afraid to learn new things and evolve our efforts and continue to improve along the way.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And by running a sustainable operation, it also means that you are never done. There will also be new possibilities and new technologies and knowledge that you can implement to become even greener. And we really try to embrace that in our daily operations.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean, it's wonderful that is coming from the very top all the way down, isn't it? You’ve actually got someone who's actually shining that light rather than you having to beg the general managers and owners to do something that is sustainable. I mean, as an employee there, I mean, how does that make you feel and how does the rest of your team and, and colleagues embrace this sustainability and contribute to it?


Gabriella Kingelin:

Well, we could say that as we were founded in an Innovative spirit, sustainability has been implemented in its daily operations since the beginning. And well, in the most effective it’s human nature to make work as simple and as possible, as it can be, as it saves time. But at the same time, when you add sustainability to the picture, it changes and there's a need for a completely different routine, which we have had ours in had to engage our staff to do well as, as, as well as I have. And it's necessary that we ensure clear communication from start about what is the pro product that we offer so that we can ensure that we can secure a great guest experience all the way through.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And we do share information about sustainable initiatives, goals, and achievements regularly on our, on our platform. We do it through internal newsletters and emails as well. And I think what I've been most effective in is our onboarding. So, every time a new person or new, we hire new staff, we try to tell them about the little things at Guzman that have great storytelling behind them, such as our decor, our amenities about the building's history, about what little, you know, initiative we have done to make it extra special. Then that way we also engage the staff to listen to fun and engaging storytelling that is easier to remember rather than following a pro procedure where it's step-by-step guidelines that you would most likely forget.


Ryan Haynes:

Mean, that must be wonderful. I mean, you must naturally attract people who are sustainable and eco-conscious anyway to be working at the hotel, particularly if it's got such a strong ethos now. I mean, what is the impact that you're actually seeing commercially and that guest perception, particularly as we are seeing eco hotels now grow in importance for travellers today?


Gabriella Kingelin:

Well, ever since, you know, the world society became greener and more concerned about, you know, plastic and waste pollution. It also seems that our guests and everyone else around have been more aware of how sustainability plays an important role in daily life, which is also a criterion when travelling or booking a hotel. So, if I can say it has been a great advantage on our part as our guest perception is very positive towards our sustainable boutique hotels, as we can see an increasing interest and also revenue in our hotels due to the, you know, increasing interest in both sustainability and eco-consciousness.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And we do have a lot of different customers and guests at GOs Mill and it's really quite hard to put them in a box. It can differ from corporate guests to leisure travellers, to photographers’ influencers and highly dependent on the hotel as well. But our typical guest is someone who values sustainability and likes to travel with a good consciousness. But as Patricia mentioned before, we also see increasing competition in the market. There are lots of other hotels around Europe where sustainability is an equally significant factor for them as well and some even more, some are even way more, more way further ahead than we are.


Gabriella Kingelin:

And we see a lot of competition, especially through OTAs. So external booking platforms as all they have also implemented different strategies to enhance their, you know, eco-certified hotels on their platforms for favourable PLA prices.


Ryan Haynes:

Patricia Gabriela mentioned a number of initiatives that they've had going since 1999. They've obviously been on top of their game and continually trying to be on top of the game. But you know, in order to be sustainable in a world where people are looking for that authentication, there are a number of certifications that can demonstrate those eco credentials. Can you talk us through some of those and do you know what hotel you should be thinking about when it comes to getting certified?


Patricia Plesner:

So first thing I would do as a hotel if I wanted to become certified is made an assessment of my current practices. What do I want to be better at? What would the goals be? What would my action plan be? And when you have that and you understand, you can go to GSTC'S website and read about the regional-based certifications because normally these certifications also do an independent audit. Go to your hotel, check it out, help educate the people, and understand why it makes sense. In some cases, you also see a five-year-old plan where you can see, okay, in five years I've actually saved some on my water because I fixed this and did this, so, so being able to understand the whole process is good.


Patricia Plesner:

It also depends on which certifications you use. We work with several certifications. One of them is the screen key that I believe Guzman Hotels is also certified by just as Screen Globe. I think it's also one of your certifications in Guzman Hotels and you have Earth Check Travel Live. There are a lot of great certifications out there. Some certifications look more into the social aspect, some look more into diversity and environmental factors. It all really depends on which certification you want to go with and that partnership when you speak with them and try to evolve your operations for Eco Hotels, we look into all of the certifications.


Patricia Plesner:

The thing we care most about is being as transparent as possible with our travellers as this is a demand from their side we want to adjust to. And that helps by having the understanding of which certification the hotel has gone with. How is the score, what are they looking to improve further with Guzman Hotels one of the first hotel machines we got on Eco hotels.com now we have around 20,000 at that time we had zero three years ago. Wow was a really good connection in terms of what is important for them to have their travellers understand how we can help promote the sustainability aspect of Guzman and assist in that matter.


Ryan Haynes:

Absolutely fascinating and I mean to get on Eco Hotels you need one of these certifications, but you believe you don't provide the audience. It's about going to an advisor or a consultant to get that done independently before coming to work with Eco Hotels. Is that correct Patricia?


Patricia Plesner:

Exactly. What we do have is a pending certificate. This means that as soon as the hotel has started, there's a certification process. We allow them to join Eco Hotels. This makes sense as we charge a way lower commission than what you're normally seeing at other OTAs. Allowing the hotels to see if they actually get some traction from our green travelling community of eco-conscious tourists. And that will hopefully help them understand that it's actually important for a lot of travellers to understand the hotel. And if we have a, we are very transparent in this certification, if we have the, the pending logo on our website, travellers understand, okay, we can now see that the hotel is actually in the process of becoming certified.


Ryan Haynes:

Now, Gabriella, we've talked about your staff and obviously guest perception. How much are they sort of providing you with recommendations and noticing areas in which you could actually approve your sustainable credentials within the properties?


Gabriella Kingelin:

Well, well we have always taken great pride in actually getting a lot of feedback from our guests and also staff. And I would say they have had a really big impact in making sure that we stay up to date with all of these eco credentials. As Patricia spoke about in these e-certifications, we have quite a few guests that actually come by and say, have you heard about these new certifications? And I have read this in an article in a news newspaper or listened to an expert telling us about more sustainable practices that we could actually adapt into our hotel chain. So that has been a, a really, a great aspect to have a guest that actually values the sustainability aspect.


Ryan Haynes:

Fascinating. And then do obviously continually feeds into the plans for furthering your eco credentials and, and building out either a roadmap or, or seeing how you can address to, to make it more efficiencies across the business.


Gabriella Kingelin:

Well, always, and actually, you know, sustainability wasn't really a part of our external communication about 10 years ago, which was, it was not really a considered a selling point back then, so we simply did it because we separated it because it made sense to us and then we kept having these certifications. We have as Patricia and Ecos also have the Green Key and the Green Globe. And we are really proud of these. They demonstrate our ongoing commitment to sustainability and our goal is to keep improving and letting the world know about these sustainability efforts. And ever since then we are always continuously working on sustainable strategies and for every hotel that we open, we try to implement even more sustainable practices than the last one.


Gabriella Kingelin:

Our newest hotel opened is Hotel Urban Resort, which I'm actually sitting at right now. And we have implemented our, or showers, which is a revolutionary shower system that can recycle water due to our NASA technology. And people have been MindBlown in regard to this technology. They, and then you might ask, okay, so how come not all the hotels have this revolutionary technology in their shower systems, but we have a motto and there is nothing sustainable throwing away things that actually.


Ryan Haynes:

Work. Now those three top tips that you would give hoteliers please for going eco-friendly and having those sustainable credentials. Patricia, what are your top three?


Patricia Plesner:

Join ecohotels.com would be my number one of course. And then I think it would be to make sure that the external and internal communication aligns. And I think the third one would be to first just get started and then continue to evolve. We learn more and more every day, so there's no real stopping in terms of how sustainable you can become.


Ryan Haynes:

Patricia Gabriela, thank you ever so much for joining us today and giving that insight into being a sustainable hotel property.


Patricia Plesner:

Thank you for having us.


Ryan Haynes:

So very pleased there to be joined by Patricia Plesner, now the CEO at Eco Hotels and Gabriel Kingly, the sales manager and Guldsmeden Hotels, looking at how to demonstrate hotel sustainability potentials that are part of the Hotel Partner series. Check out our recent episodes with Louvre Hotels and Virgin Hotels as well as with Journey Hospitality. Thanks so much for joining me. Check out all the other episodes on Travel Market Life. I'm Ryan Haynes, ciao for now.

13 views0 comments

コメント


bottom of page