Highlights from Executive RoundTable for Net Positive Hospitality

一    Tiffany McGrath
|    March 8, 2024

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On March 7th, Sustainability Kiosk hosted thought-provoking invitation-only Executive Roundtable at Anantara Dubai The Palm. Sustainability leaders from leading hotel brands including Minor Hotels, Jumeriah, Accor, Millennium, Mandarin Oriental, The First Group, Raddison, and Rove – convened to discuss the future of hospitality – a future built on achieving net positive impact. 

The event wasn’t just talk. Attendees participated in the Net Positive Hospitality” simulation game developed by the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA). This interactive experience allowed participants to grapple with real-world challenges and strategize solutions for achieving net positive hospitality within their properties. 

This immersive game challenged participants to run a virtual hotel for seven years, making decisions that balanced financial performance with social and environmental responsibility. Through the game’s four focus areas – People, Planet, Place, and Prosperity – players implemented sustainability initiatives, tracked their impact, and learned how even small changes can lead a hotel towards a net positive future.  

An online drop-in from Claire Whitely, Head of Environment at SHA, further fuelled the discussions. 

Challenges and Opportunities: A Shared Vision Emerges 

The executive roundtable delved into the complexities faced by hoteliers when implementing sustainable practices. A few key themes emerged: the need for enhanced communication and collaboration. Open information sharing, reliable solution providers, and transparency were all identified as crucial for success. 

But the discussion wasn’t limited to just sharing concerns. Participants also identified several exciting opportunities: 

  • Building a Safe and Open Forum: Fostering a space where hoteliers can learn from each other’s experiences is essential for collective progress. 
  • Leveraging Bottom-Up Approaches: Engaging teams throughout the hotel structure can cultivate a culture of sustainability ownership. 
  • Aligning Vision with Suppliers: Collaboration with suppliers who prioritize sustainability will strengthen a hotel’s overall impact. 

Key Issues on the Table 

The roundtable addressed a range of challenges that impact sustainability efforts in the hospitality industry: 

  • Costs: Concerns about the financial viability of implementing sustainable practices were a recurring theme. 
  • Inconsistency: The lack of standardization across different countries and certification programs was identified as an obstacle. 
  • Design Integration: Integrating sustainability principles from the design stage of a hotel project can lead to significant benefits. 
  • Guest and Staff Awareness and Education: Fostering a culture of sustainability requires education at all levels, from guests and staff to the surrounding community and suppliers. 

Shaping a Sustainable Hospitality Future: Key Takeaways

The roundtable wasn’t just about identifying challenges; it was about charting a path forward for a more sustainable future. Here are five key takeaways that will guide our focus.

1) Reaching Net Zero by 2050: The urgency of the climate crisis was acknowledged, and all participants shared reaffirmed their commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 through Net Positive Pathways.

2) Addressing Regional Challenges: Issues specific to Middle East, such as refrigerant use, waste management, and energy regulations were identified for further discussion and collaborative solutions.

3) Beyond Self-Assessments: Recognising the limitations of self-assessment tools, the group called for robust benchmarking and reliable data collection methods.

4) Maintaining Sustainability Momentum: Strategies were discussed to ensure holistic long-term commitment for sustainability initiatives after COP28 and prevent initiatives from loosing steam overtime.

5) Collaboration is Key: The importance of working together, sharing knowledge, and inspiring stakeholders across the industry was a central theme.

The Middle East hospitality industry is poised to lead the way in crafting a future where luxury experiences go hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility. This roundtable serves as a testament to the collective commitment of hoteliers in the region to achieve a net positive future for the industry.   

 Sustainability Kiosk is now committed to bringing together these voices regularly, creating a “Sustainable Hospitality Regional Task Force” dedicated to driving meaningful impact. 

Stay Involved in Shaping a Sustainable Hospitality Future

Want to be part of the conversation and contribute to a more sustainable future for hospitality? Register with us to receive invitations to future Sustainability Kiosk events, including our next collaborative event planned around the upcoming Arabian Travel Market (ATM). 

We’re currently finalizing the schedule, so stay tuned for updates!

This is an second event from Sustainability Kiosk, after a successful roundtable in 2023 in collaboration with Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, on the side-lines of Arabian Travel Market. You can watch the video highlights here.

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