Accor releases new sustainability research, aims for industry green dialog

ÉVRY, FRANCE Accor SA is launching Earth Guest Research, an open platform for sharing knowledge on social and environmental issues relating to the hotel industry that will make sustainable tourism research available to all industry operators and the general public.

The first publication made available to industry players is a world-first global survey of hotel guests’ expectations regarding sustainable development and guests’ concerns and expectations surrounding green.

Contrary to popular belief, according to Accor’s research, sustainable development seems to be of more concern to men (82%) than to women (72%). Business customers—the majority of whom are still men—are found to be more concerned about the topic than leisure customers.

Economy hotel guests seem more sensitive to sustainable development issues, although researchers believe this may have more to do with demographics, as young people—who are generally more concerned with green issues—make up a larger percentage of down-market guests.

Seven out of ten guests say they would select a responsible hotel even if it were not as well situated and were slightly more expensive.

Brazilian guests are particularly concerned about sustainable development, and Chinese guests are more worried than others about personal health and wellness.

Nongovernmental and international organizations rank last on the responsibility scale for guests, the research finds. One in three guests believes that sustainable development is first and foremost the responsibility of individual citizens.

More than half of survey respondents (51%) say they want their guestrooms to be at the right temperature as soon as they arrive. Paradoxically, 93% favor adjusting the air-conditioning themselves, even if it means waiting several minutes for the desired temperature to be reached. It seems that guests are willing to sacrifice some of their own comfort in favor of the environment, as long as they have a choice and are allowed to play an active role in the process.

The survey of hotel guests’ sustainable development-related expectations was carried out last August by France market research institute IFOP in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Representative of hotel users in each country, the sample groups comprise nearly 7,000 respondents who spent at least one night in a hotel in the previous 12 months, including a cross-section of hotel types and segments.

“While some of these findings need to be interpreted with caution, they nonetheless reflect a new awareness of sustainable development issues and, more importantly, the emergence of new behaviors,” says Sophie Flak, Accor’s executive vice president for organization and sustainable development. “As a leading hotel operator, it’s our job to deploy innovative solutions that minimize the impact of each stay no matter how responsibly our guests behave, while offering them the opportunity to play an active role if they wish. We believe that sustainable development will drive continuous improvement across the board by creating offers and practices that are efficient, safe and environmentally friendly. Our goal is reinvent hotels sustainably.”

To contribute to the development of the Earth Guest Research open knowledge platform, Accor will soon share its environmental footprint with its peers. A first in the hotel industry, the assessment includes all of Accor’s hotels worldwide. Accor will unveil its new sustainable development strategy in the fall.

“With 4,200 hotels worldwide and our pioneering experience in sustainable development, our role is to drive change and lead the tourism industry in this field,” says Accor Chairman and CEO Denis Hennequin. “I strongly believe that sharing our knowledge will enable us to advance, and that we need to leverage sustainable development concerns to develop new, more sustainable products and services that will eventually lead to a whole new approach to the hotel experience.”