The importance of CSR reporting for hotels

I often tell clients the risk of labeling yourself as "green" or "sustainable" is that you become a target for criticism.  While your intentions may be good, the broad use of such phrases without full transparency raises issues of trust and motivation.  How sustainable are you? How can you say you're green if you have your lights on? Can tourism be sustainable? Is it ethical to pay to pollute? Does removing beef from the menu save far more water than installing low flow shower heads? While the list of potential criticisms goes on, we agree that while no hotel or hotel group can do everything, they can certainly try their best and share their efforts with key stakeholders. During a recent workshop on CSR reporting with Energy Resources Management and GreenView, we left with some key takeaways. Reasons for CSR reporting:

  • Guests are beginning to care
  • Stakeholders seek transparency
  • Compliance
  • Improving your brand image
  • Combatting criticism

Tips on CSR reporting:

  • Know your stakeholders (owners, operators, employees, guests, etc.)
  • Knowing your stakeholders interests will help you define your boundaries of materiality, relevance and significance
  • Certifications and labels are good ways to initially get people engaged, but are so varied in scope they can't be used as the end all and be all of CSR reporting
  • Transparency is key

Roles of CSR Teams today:

  • Education and awareness of key stakeholders
  • Engagement of key stakeholders
  • Integration into company visions
  • Learning and sharing
  • Development of initiatives
  • Watchdogging the industry
  • Compliance

Roles of CSR Teams tomorrow?  While some participants thought CSR would become so commonplace that CSR as a term would become obsolete, most of us agreed that like the growth of IT, CSR will take on a larger role as issues of resource scarcity, population growth, climate change and social imbalance become more apparent.  Reporting is a step that may seem taxing, but is one that's necessary for hotels to gain public trust and stakeholder support.

Click here for a free copy of Towards the Business Case for Sustainable Hotels in Asia, case studies on hotel initiatives by WWF and Horwath HTL, written by Craft House founder, Yvette Jong.