Saving the Earth—One Property at a Time

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—With Earth Day coming this Sunday, hospitality brands are highlighting their efforts to help save the planet. Here are just a few of many those efforts going on:

Iberostar Removes Single-Use Plastics

In 2019, Iberostar Group’s portfolio of more than 110 hotels will be free of single-use plastics, following an initial implementation on the chain’s 36 Spain hotels by June this year.

Reducing plastic pollution is one of the key objectives of the sustainability policy on which Iberostar’s business strategy is based. Together with promoting certified sustainable fishing, the protection and conservation of coral reefs and care of the Mediterranean Sea, reducing plastic pollution is one of the key actions included in the ‘Wave of Change’ initiative, part of the Iberostar Group’s sustainability policy that channels its commitment to the environment.

Thanks to this initiative, regular products including bathroom amenities, bags for slippers or clothing, and minibar items will be replaced by others made of alternative materials such as glass, compostable cardboard or renewable plant-based items. Eliminating the 1.5 million plastic bottles that will no longer be used in Iberostar hotel rooms each year will prevent the generation of 43 tons of plastic waste in Spain alone.

The project started in 2017 following an internal corporate audit that detected all the products containing plastic. Plastic straws are a case in point: following a campaign conducted in hotels to cut down on their use and replace them with biodegradable alternatives, usage has been reduced by 10%, which in real terms means a reduction of 10 million units. If all these straws were placed in a line, they would extend for about 1,200 miles or the distance between New York and Louisiana.

1 Hotels Launches Earth Day Every Day Campaign

1 Hotels, a mission-driven, nature-inspired luxury lifestyle brand with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and South Beach has launched an Earth Day Every Day campaign, a year-long initiative that will include activations across all properties focused on raising awareness of environmental issues, specifically around saving our shores. These programs will also be a fundamental part of the soon-to-open 1 Hotel properties in West Hollywood, Cabo, Sunnyvale & Sanya (China).

The campaign to save our coasts is focused on creating awareness of issues such as off-shore drilling, rising sea levels, beach pollution and other human activities that threaten the coasts where many 1 Hotels are located. 1 Hotels is working with the NRDC to help guide advocacy efforts.

“This brand movement supports our commitment for 1 Hotels to not be another hotel brand, but a cause and a platform for change that encourages consistent conversation and action,” said Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, creator of the 1 Hotels brand. “Our goal is to be a living laboratory for sustainable living, to incite urgency, and be an example for change amongst our esteemed clientele, the industry and the world. It is 1 world.”

“Our team members are especially excited to be part of the first-ever advocacy campaign spearheaded by a hospitality brand,” said Arash Azarbarzin, president of SH Group. “We are continuously dedicated to the 1 Vision and its larger purpose to move the mission forward amongst our team, guests and the larger community.”

Earth Day Every Day consists of several brand-wide initiatives including a Phone2Action campaign, a speaker series with advocate guest talks and sustainability screenings, establishing Earth advocates amongst the company’s team members, a Save Our Shores (SOS) package, statement T-Shirts and a letter writing campaign.

Phone2Action: 1 Hotels will use the Phone2Action platform to provide a digital space where activism can thrive. Through action centers situated in each 1 Hotel lobby the community and guests can educate themselves about various environmental issues, including those in their hometown. Once a person selects the cause on which they’d like to engage, they can use email, phone or social media to contact their federal, state and local legislators. This technology offers an opportunity for the 1 Hotels community to engage on issues they care about and become agents of change.

Speaker Series: Each property will host events and talks led by innovators and thought-leaders. Scheduled events include:

  • 1 Brooklyn Bridge: A talk hosted by zero waste advocate Lauren Singer
  • 1 South Beach: “Three stories of peace & sustainability: A blueprint on ways to minimize our impact on the planet and maximize it in the world around us”—a panel discussion with three local experts (Sarah MacMillan, Anastasia Mikhalochkina and Saira Fida)

Dinner in the Dark: On April 22, 1 Hotels’ dining outlets will dim the lights for dinner to raise awareness about a more sustainable and responsible future.

Save Our Shores (SOS) PackageGuests can save up to 30% off theirr stay, plus a $20 credit for guests to use as they wish. 1 Hotels will donate any remaining credit to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to help protect our oceans and other precious natural resources.

Letter Writing: For the entire year, each room will have digital letters that address environmental issues ready to be sent to Congress and relevant government organizations. By having e-letters already drafted, 1 Hotels is simplifying the first step in making your voice heard.

Statement T-Shirts: 1 Hotels has partnered with designers Knowlita, Timothy Goodman, Baron Von Fancy and But Like Maybe? to create statement t-shirts that will be sold at all properties and online. A portion of proceeds will benefit the NRDC.

Other activities include an Earth Day Festival & Artisanal Market at 1 South Beach, test-driving the fully electric BMW i3’s at 1 Brooklyn Bridge and participation in March for Science (April) in DC and Climate Change March (October) in NYC.

Airbnb Launches Global Office of Healthy Tourism

This week, Airbnb launched the Office of Healthy Tourism, an initiative to drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities across the globe.

Since the company was founded 10 years ago, travelers have discovered new destinations and neighborhoods off the typical tourist path, bringing the economic benefits of tourism to small businesses and local residents around the world. Building off of this work through partnerships, programs and events, the company will expand its efforts to economically empower communities, drive travel to lesser-known places, and support environmentally friendly travel habits with the Office of Healthy Tourism.

The company has already embarked on a number of initiatives to promote healthy tourism. Last year, Airbnb Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia opened the Yoshino Cedar House, a landmark listing in a rural community that was slowly disappearing due to an aging population, low birth rate, and exodus of young people. Since the house opened, Yoshino has hosted hundreds of guests from 32 countries, and 70 jobs have been supported in this small town by the spending of hosts and guests. The Office of Healthy Tourism will continue to focus on rural regeneration everywhere, from small villages in Italy to the countryside in China, to help bring the economic benefits of tourism to areas that want to welcome more travelers into their communities in a locally sensitive, sustainable way.

In another project to promote healthy tourism, Airbnb will partner with the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business to host the Africa Travel Summit in September. This three-day summit will bring together thinkers from across the continent to discuss how technology can help shape a more sustainable and inclusive tourism that empowers underserved communities in Africa. The summit will also focus on how to build a resilient tourism that can support places in times of resource scarcity.

Airbnb also helps communities scale accommodations to host big events in a sustainable way. A study by The World Economic Forum after the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, reported that the city would have needed to build 257 hotels in order to have provided enough rooms to accommodate the surge of Games attendees who stayed on Airbnb. For the most recent Winter Games in South Korea, 15,000 guests used Airbnb to attend the event—the equivalent of adding 7,500 hotel rooms. Collectively, hosts in the region earned more than $2.3 million keeping 97 percent of what they charged, ensuring that the money stays in the country, with the local residents in the area.