“Social responsibility has come more to the fore over the last few years in general – not just in the hospitality industry,” said john Firrell, director of the Considerate Hoteliers Association (CHA), a membership group that promotes sustainable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices in hotels.
“Now a lot of companies looking to make mass bookings will ask what the hotel’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy and environmental policy are before they put in their request for pricing. If you don’t come out with the right answers now, you don’t get the business.
“Companies now have their own CSR policies and they expect the hotels they use to match those.”
UK and abroad
Efforts can be varied both in their content and their location. For example, Steve Lowy of umi hotels recently spent ten days in Cambodia, providing free mentoring to Rosy Guesthouse via a pilot Skills Exchange Initiative set up by the International Student Travel Confederation.
The exchange allowed Rosy Guesthouse to learn about using internet and other advertising for their hotel, and to work with other hospitality operators for the general benefit if the industry as a whole.
Firrell called on others in the sector to become involved in similar initiatives, whether these be in the UK or abroad.
“It’s lovely to be able to go off to these places and give them a leg up, but there are also lots of cases where social responsibility is required closer to home within the hospitality industry,” he told BigHospitality.
“Social responsibility is a form of big society, and there’s a lot we can do to help.”
Time, not money
“It’s not something that necessarily has to cost money – what it costs is time and effort,” he said. “For example, hotel staff can volunteer to help in charities, organisations or charities like The Ark and Hospitality Action.”
Some initiatives only require foresight and minimal planning – for example donating used soap or hotel furnishings and linens after a refurbishment.
“There’s an awful lot of things that hotels can get involved with. Then it’s up to the hotel whether they chose to capitalise on it via their marketing or not. Some chose to keep quiet about it and just get on with it. But at the end of the day, it is good PR – it’s nice for people to know that there’s a business getting involved in the local community.”
CHA has around 200 industry members, an increase of 50 on last year.
The association is currently calling for entries to its 2011 awards, which recognise sustainable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices in hotel operations.
The deadline for the awards, which will this year comprise of seven categories including several new ones, is Thursday 31 March 2011. More information and entry forms can be found on the CHA website www.consideratehoteliers.com