Sustainability In Hospitality 101; Interview with Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand

一    Tiffany McGrath
|    July 20, 2022

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Sustainability In Hospitality 101; Interview with Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand

“A good decarbonisation plan that comes too late is a bad decarbonisation plan.”  Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand, Professor, Author, Speaker. IU International University of Applied Sciences.

What is “Sustainability in Hospitality 101” and what can Hoteliers do about Sustainability?

(Summary of Podcast Interview with Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand. To access the full interview, click here.

Prof. Dr. Willy Legrand is the lead author of Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Principles of Sustainable Operations, a leading textbook used across universities globally now in its 4th edition)

In this session, we catch up on: 

  1. What is sustainability in hospitality 101?  
  2. What are the current challenges facing hospitality operators when it comes to implementing sustainable practices? 
  3. What short- and medium-term goals could Hoteliers focus on looking forward in 2021 and beyond? 

Defining Sustainability in Hospitality 101

Prof Dr Willy Legrand describes sustainability within the hospitality industry as; 

  • Exploring ideas, solutions, and strategies to manage current operations; 
  • Developing future hotels in a way that is kind to the environment, healthy and inclusive to the workers, and pleasing to the guest;
  • Whilst having a positive effect on, and within a community, yet being profitable to the operators and in turn the owners. 

The recipe which falls within a complex combination of environmental responsibility and social and economic obligations is quite complex when it comes to implementation. 

Current Challenges to Implementing Sustainable Practices?

Activating large-scale change is made challenging due to how hotels operate. The complexity surrounding ownership, brands and operators hinders the ability to make large scale changes and make them quickly. Larger organisations parties often include investment businesses that are not the same as the one operating the property, which in turn may be running their own brand, so getting all parties on board with a common goal and a method in which to implement and streamline goals and targets can be very time-consuming. Managers/owners of smaller independent operations can make decisions quickly and adapt to change more readily in smaller operations. 

Overall, sustainability in the Hospitality industry has been progressing very slowly to date. Announcements of Big Bold Goals such as those made at the Paris Agreement are seemingly overwhelming to achieve because of the complex structure of the industry. In order to achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, the industry must commit to mitigating emissions to keep the temperature increase within 2 Degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. To do this, we as an industry need to activate decarbonisation on a large grand scale in order to achieve carbon neutrality. The industry must implement aggressive energy efficiency measures and the implementation of renewable energy to make an impact. 

Expected Focus for Medium-to-Short Term Goals:

Those hotels genuinely committed to sustainability will be able to bounce forward; those that use it for marketing may only just bounce back post-pandemic. Those that are committed need to focus on: 

  • Energy Reduction, 
  • Bio-diversity Loss, 
  • Increasing Green spaces and green space ratios. 

Hospitality operations need to gather data; without data, change cannot be measured, and goals/targets cannot be met. The metrics are imperative. Operators need to begin now, monitor energy and water consumption, plan for green spaces, and not wait until the hotel is busy setting goals. From large hotels to independent restaurants, there needs to be a focus on energy usage, food waste and water consumption so that together as an industry, we may see results in decarbonising the industry. 

Its important to also know the SDGs. Being familiar with the UN’s 17 Sustainability Development Goals provides a framework to work towards, a common goal that outlines the roadmap that we can work together to achieve. 

In the words of Prof. Dr Willy Legrand, “A good decarbonisation plan that comes too late is a bad decarbonisation plan.”  

Written by: Tiffany McGrath

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