Does Sustainability Make Commercial Sense?

April 25, 2023

The hospitality industry has a dramatic impact on the environment. Energy usage, water consumption, wastage, and the use of consumable goods are all contributing factors.

This is only one part of the reason why sustainability is the key to a successful business in the 21st Century. There is also the commercial aspect. Getting sustainability right can mean opportunity and additional profit. Failing to get it right won’t just mean you’re damaging the environment—you could be damaging your business.

Sustainability – why now?

Consumers are increasingly demanding more social and environmental responsibility from businesses. As a result, sustainability becomes vital to achieving greater competitiveness.

But are business leaders following this trend, or are they behind the curve?

I’d like to think that most companies have moved beyond the point of believing that sustainable business practices aren’t a priority. I hope they recognise the importance of environmental protection and the value of leaving the planet a little better than they found it.

Sadly, the reality for many is that it’s all about the trade-offs. The question that is often asked is:

“Do we implement sustainable policies at the cost of our bottom line?”

But does it really have to be one or the other? In my opinion, thankfully not – and I’m not alone in my assessment. Building sustainable supply chains has been a growing trend for years, and guess what? Those early adopters are seeing a related increase in profits.

Photo by Christopher Bill on Unsplash

Making green

The industry has been quick to respond to these changes and is progressively turning ‘green’.

The main focus of new policies centres around the following:

  • Recycling
  • Re-using grey water
  • Preventing waste
  • Reducing energy usage
  • Lowering carbon footprints

Many major players within the hotel sector regularly publish sustainability reports. Look at the reports of Hilton WorldwideIntercontinental Hotel GroupMarriott, and Radisson as examples.

These reports often include initiatives to reduce negative environmental impact. Building these initiatives into your business can be a challenge. Building a profitable business (or in fact re-building one, after two immensely difficult years) is a challenge. That makes running a business that is both sustainable and profitable extra tough. However, if we rethink and re-imagine possibilities, we can achieve anything.

When considering our own journey at Conference Care, I look at the development and launch of our Carbon Consultancy service. It was a natural extension to our sustainable past and our aspiration to lead the industry in the future – but it had to work commercially as well. The two aren’t mutually exclusive!

It’s not a “get rich quick” scheme—consider the development, recruitment, and time costs. But, by being first to market with a unique product, there is greater value to us. Now we can start conversations about sustainability with potential customers who aren’t interested in speaking to “just another” events agency!

An environment for opportunity

Today’s leaders face the opportunity to carve out a new future for their businesses. By bringing the principles of sustainability into their strategy you gain the ability to reach new markets and consumers.

There is a growing focus on people, planet, and profits. Now, the onus lies with business leaders to figure out the right balance between short-term and long-term priorities. Getting that balance right will create enhanced value for stakeholders.

Sustainability can boost profitability in many ways. The benefits include:

  • Improved efficiencies
  • A positive reputation
  • Futureproofing against more regulation which is sure to come

Take time to review your practices on a regular basis and find the best ways to implement change.

We’re at a crucial and unprecedented moment in the events sector and the wider tourism industry. Guests’ awareness of the environmental impact of their trips is at an all-time high. You should address these concerns by implementing and communicating sustainable practices and initiatives. As research suggests, more and more customers are willing to reward businesses that they see as sustainable. Sustainability equates with profitability, but it’s also good business sense.

As we travel and explore the world again, we have a unique opportunity to transform our behaviours and actions.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

What can I do?

There are hundreds of sustainable practices you can implement in your event strategy. It’s important to start taking small steps and embrace some of these initiatives. This will help you save money by being more energy efficient. You’ll help to preserve destinations and local communities. You’ll bring people closer together while differentiating yourself from the competition. All these factors will help attract more revenue to your business.

Get inspired. Treat sustainability as an integrated approach, from your operations to your product choices, to your guests, local communities, and even your providers. Don’t forget—communicate what you’re doing, people want to hear about it!

If you need ideas for sustainability initiatives you can implement at your event, speak to one of our expert sustainability consultants today by calling 02476 369580 or visit Carbon Consultancy to book your FREE consultation.

– Blog by Chris Peacock, Director at Conference Care