How Hilton is leading the change in sustainable tourism and hospitality
With sustainability and ESG high up on the agenda at the Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) in Dubai this September, our media partners Hospitality Net asked a number of industry partners how they are leading the change when it comes to sustainable tourism and hospitality.
As an industry, we have an important responsibility to preserve the beautiful destinations in which we operate for generations to come. I firmly believe that our commitment to building a sustainable planet and resilient communities with transparent, actionable plans will help create a truly meaningful contribution towards our future.
Additionally, research shows that sustainability is top of mind for our guests and bookers: According to a study by Accenture, 86% of travellers want to travel more sustainably, but only half of that number manage to do so .
It is not only our guests who are seeking sustainable travel experiences – Hilton recently commissioned a survey to understand what Gen Zs and Millennials want from an ideal job in the post-pandemic workplace. Our research revealed that more than two-thirds of UAE residents say it is important that the company they work for has a strong sense of purpose, and a quarter say they would want an employer which champions sustainability throughout its operations.
Our future team members and leaders are also focused on sustainability, as evidenced by the Sustainable Hospitality Challenge (SHC), an initiative that tasks students to develop sustainable solutions. I look forward to being a judge of the SHC at the Future Hospitality Summit this year and seeing the innovative ideas the students present.
The very real threat of climate change, coupled with the focus of guests and team members (both current and future!), is driving the industry’s shift towards sustainability and destination stewardship – and I am proud that Hilton is leading the change. More than a century ago, Hilton was founded on the belief that our hospitality had the power to be a force for good in this world. That higher purpose continues to guide everything we do, including Travel with Purpose, our environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy to drive responsible travel and tourism globally.
We are pleased to be taking a leadership position in fighting climate change, as the first major hotel company to establish science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. We are also taking steps toward reducing our environmental footprint through our ‘Watts, Water and Waste’ programs. In fact, we recently announced that we are raising the bar on our carbon reduction goals: We aim to cut emissions intensity by 75% in our managed portfolio by 2030, helping us drive toward a net zero future.
As hospitality companies work to operate more sustainably, the importance of measurement cannot be understated. Measurement can help track and assess progress, encourage participation from stakeholders, communicate achievements and more. At Hilton, since 2009, we have used LightStay, our award-winning ESG management system, to track, analyse and report our environmental and social impact at our global portfolio of hotels, and articulate progress made towards our 2030 Goals. Capturing and acting upon data in LightStay has helped us save more than one billion dollars in utility costs since its inception – a great result which I hope will inspire others to adopt similar measurement systems.
We must also work in partnership with others. For example, we work closely with local governments to support sustainability initiatives such as Saudi Environmental Week, and Hilton has built partnerships with organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund and Clean the World. We also participate in Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and World Travel & Tourism Council committees and working groups, and signed the United Nations Global Compact. Working with others, as well as offering our expertise, is essential to maintaining the momentum we have all made so far – and will ensure that collectively, we make the world a better place for our employees, guests, owners and communities.