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Exploring Hotel Ownership Models: From Independent to Chain Hotels

When we think of hotels, we often associate them with luxury accommodations, exceptional service, and memorable experiences. But have you ever wondered who actually owns these hotels? In the vast landscape of the hospitality industry, hotel ownership models can vary greatly. From independent boutique hotels to large chain establishments, each model brings its own unique advantages and considerations. In this article, we will explore the different hotel ownership models and shed light on who owns a hotel.

Independent Hotels: A Personal Touch

Independent hotels are privately owned and operated establishments that are not affiliated with any larger brand or chain. These hotels are often characterized by their unique character, personalized service, and attention to detail. The owners of independent hotels have full control over every aspect of the property, from design and branding to operational decisions.

One of the main advantages of owning an independent hotel is the freedom to create a truly unique experience for guests. Owners can infuse their personality into every aspect of the hotel, from its design and decor to its amenities and services. This personal touch often resonates with travelers seeking a more intimate and authentic experience.

However, owning an independent hotel also comes with its challenges. Without the backing of a recognized brand name or established marketing resources, independent hotel owners must work harder to build awareness and attract guests. Marketing efforts may include creating engaging content on social media platforms, partnering with local businesses for cross-promotion, or leveraging online travel agencies (OTAs) for increased visibility.

Franchise Hotels: The Power of Branding

Franchise hotels are owned by individuals or groups who enter into an agreement with a larger hotel brand to operate under their name and follow their established standards. This ownership model combines the independence of individual ownership with the benefits of brand recognition and support.

For aspiring hotel owners who want to benefit from an established brand’s reputation without sacrificing their entrepreneurial spirit, owning a franchise hotel can be an attractive option. By leveraging the brand’s marketing efforts, reservation systems, and loyalty programs, franchise owners can tap into a larger customer base and benefit from increased exposure.

Franchise hotels also benefit from shared resources and expertise provided by the parent brand. This support can include access to training programs, operational guidelines, and purchasing power for supplies and equipment. Additionally, franchise owners can take advantage of centralized reservation systems that streamline booking processes and help drive occupancy rates.

Management Companies: A Hands-Off Approach

In some cases, hotel owners may choose to hire a management company to oversee the daily operations of their property. These management companies are responsible for tasks such as staffing, marketing, revenue management, and guest satisfaction. The hotel owner retains ownership of the property while entrusting its day-to-day management to professionals.

One of the key advantages of hiring a management company is the expertise they bring to the table. These companies often have years of experience in the industry and can leverage their knowledge to optimize operations, drive revenue growth, and enhance guest satisfaction.

Management companies typically operate under a contract that outlines their responsibilities and compensation structure. This allows hotel owners to focus on other aspects of their portfolio or invest in additional properties without being burdened by operational responsibilities.

Chain Hotels: The Powerhouses of Hospitality

Chain hotels are part of a larger network that operates multiple properties under a unified brand name. These hotels are owned by large corporations or investment groups who have acquired or developed multiple properties over time. Chain hotels offer consistency in branding, service standards, amenities, and loyalty programs across all locations.

Owning a chain hotel requires significant financial resources as it involves acquiring or developing multiple properties within the brand’s portfolio. However, it also offers benefits that come with economies of scale. Marketing efforts are often centralized at the corporate level with dedicated teams working on branding initiatives and advertising campaigns across all properties.

Chain hotels also benefit from established relationships with travel agents, tour operators, and online travel agencies. These partnerships help drive bookings and increase brand visibility. Additionally, loyalty programs offered by chain hotels provide incentives for guests to stay at different locations within the network, increasing customer retention and revenue potential.

In the world of hotel ownership, there is a diverse range of models to suit different preferences and objectives. From independent hotels that offer a personal touch to franchise hotels that leverage brand recognition, each model has its own advantages and considerations. Whether you aspire to create a unique guest experience or tap into the power of an established brand, understanding the various hotel ownership models is essential for success in the hospitality industry.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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Sustainable Business Model: What Every Leader Should Ask Themselves


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability have become increasingly important issues for a wide range of corporations. There is a growing awareness of the impact of business practices on the world environment, especially from the consumer side. Yet, companies are still resisting making social, economic and environmental sustainability a top priority.

Many hospitality companies are quite simply reluctant to embrace sustainable management. Most lack even reporting on their CSR activities, despite the existence of official reporting systems such as GRI . Companies nowadays mention the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their annual reports, yet there’s little concrete or convincing information available regarding the outcomes. Companies seem to be acting on the idea of sustainability but the end results are scant.


As part of the elective course on Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Innovation taught by Dr Carlos Martin-Rios and Dr Peter Varga to final year Bachelor students at EHL, a panel discussion with industry and academic experts took place on October 2019 aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities in CSR and sustainability from both the academic and professional perspective.

The panel tackled the most pressing topics of the two distinctive, yet interrelated fields: CSR and sustainable business models. Here we summarize the main takeaways extracted from the panel and the previous conversations with the panelists.

  • Mrs. Lilian Roten , VP Brand Management at Swissôtel and Pullman,
  • Dr. Guido Palazzo , Professor of Business Ethics and Vice Dean at UNIL,
  • Dr. Stefan Gössling , Professor of Tourism at Linnaeus University (Sweden) and Professor in Human Ecology at Lund University (Sweden).

What are the Sustainable Development Goals ?

According to the United Nations : “ The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The 17 SDGs are integrated —that is, they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability ."

SDG Integration from United Nations on Vimeo .

What are the main challenges to truly get firms committed to CSR?

The large majority of companies has a longstanding tradition of adopting CSR policies. In many cases each company comes with a dedicated department to deal with ethical and social responsibility matters, yet CSR efforts have seemingly failed to solve the structural problems in society. We posed the question to our panelists.

Walking the CSR talk

Most companies are comfortable with some level of engagement with CSR, yet they struggle with walking the talk. According to Dr. Guido Palazzo - who believes CSR is obsolete and is actually skeptical of its role -

The primary focus should not be on adding a bit of CSR to the usual way of conducting business, but rather on transforming radically companies’ operations and purposes.

In fact, Dr. Palazzo has been highly critical with the otherwise popular “Creating shared value” (CSV), a business concept coined by Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer in their 2011 Harvard Business Review .

Thomas Dyllick , Professor of Sustainability Management at the University of St Gallen , wrote in Financial Times about Palazzo’s research “ Contesting the Value of ‘Creating Shared Value’ (CSV) .” “It is a brilliant dissection of the limitations and shallowness of CSV made it very clear to me that CSV was not the answer to this fundamental debate.”

What factors hinder the implementation of a CSR strategy?

According to our panelists, it’s the big scale companies, owners and suppliers who are the more challenging actors to get on board concerning CSR principles.

One way to increase allegiance to CSR is to spread commitment across all levels in the organization. According to Lilian Roten, in global corporations, company-wide projects seem to have the highest social impact when supported by the individual efforts of each local establishment .

Similarly, Dr. Palazzo suggests that each CSR measure in place should be tackled with a global mindset, fostering accountability at different levels of the organization—from individual employees to top-level managers to external industry players – including suppliers, vendors, partners, customers, etc...

What becomes clear is that CSR is often too narrow in its focus on social, ethical and philanthropic actions, insufficient to address the global sustainability challenges we face.

How to pave the way to Sustainable Business Models?

Sustainability often relates to long-term goals. It addresses the greatest global challenges related to inequality, poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. Organizations increasingly recognize that these challenges are already impacting their operations, the industries and markets they operate and the individuals and societies they serve. Sustainable business models and sustainability practices describe effective strategic and operational responses by business organizations to these challenges.

As one of the world's largest and fastest growing business activities, the tourism and hospitality industry has a responsibility to foster sustainable business models and to incorporate sustainable SOPs. The shift requires profound changes in the way we do ‘business as usual’. Sustainable businesses infuse their strategic mindset with a better balance between short and long-term objectives. They involve all stakeholders along the value chain in the decision-making and problem-solving processes. Also, each business decision related to value creation is managed through the prism of sustainable value: financial, social and environmental.

Committing to sustainable ambitions

The transition toward sustainable business is not without obstacles. Our industry faces major barriers to adopt a sustainable mindset, including the decreasing cost of traveling and accommodation, rising travel frequency and shorter length-of-stay.

According to Stefan Gössling:

The major challenges for sustainable tourism are a) the climate imperative, b) the transformation of the global food system, specifically in tourism and hospitality, and c) the reconsideration of the economic models on which tourism is based. This will mean significant changes in cost structures as a result of carbon taxation and changes towards more regional economic approaches to tourism.

When asked about his view on the level of commitment of tourism companies toward sustainable innovation and the main challenges to turn these companies into truly sustainable innovative firms, Gössling adds:

Tourism companies have not shown much ambition to become more sustainable. There are some independent companies and larger brands that have gone through major efforts to green their operations, but none of the large players has ever seriously considered sustainability, specifically not with regard to climate change.

Coordinating sustainability at all levels

Another challenge for a successful transition is the complexity of coordinating at multiple levels in the organization.

According to Ms. Roten, the focus at Swissôtel is on local or regional sustainability projects. “When it is closer to home, efforts are often long-term, and hence projects also seem to be more successful.” Hotels should have the freedom to act locally, so their employees could assess the impact of such efforts, since measuring the effects is key in the process.

Getting management on board is often not the most difficult side of my job. Owners and suppliers are more challenging. Each hotel wants to support local charities, participate in local and regional sustainability projects. This means that for company-wide projects, (which is usually better for companies like Accor), we have to bundle our efforts and then collect a certain amount of money from each hotel. Global organizations are then the beneficiaries.

“We then have to make sure that communication also targets our owners. This means that our General Managers must be supported in their budgeting processes so that everyone understands the benefits – especially for the individual hotel. Often office management at the brand level do want to push for sustainable management practices but we also need to get our suppliers and our guests on board. A good discussion point is the usage of mini bathroom care products, where we struggle to get support from our suppliers as we push to move towards dispensers.”

The role of investors and consumers

Finally, when considering the other potential actors of sustainability, Guido Palazzo believes that “two stakeholders have so far not yet jumped on the bandwagon of sustainability: investors and consumers.”

The use of certifications or reporting of SDGs is broadly misused by companies and is thereby confusing for consumers. Still, isn’t it in the hands of the consumer to really make a change? Despite all the information available to them, behaviors aren’t really changing and customers should be involved in companies’ sustainability initiatives.

According to Dr. Palazzo:

Companies need to include the education of consumers into their sustainability activities (in their very own interest). Currently, consumers don't care, but Greta Thunberg's initiative is about to change this.

Sustainability and hospitality are hot topics, and as in every actual topic there are usually a lot of misunderstandings and misperceptions. Our panelists acknowledged that tourism contributes to peace in the world, but certain business mindsets and customer ways of traveling are not ok. All panelists agreed that awareness is key to rethinking this topic in a trans-disciplinary way.

Information by itself doesn’t drive change, you must inspire people in order to drive change.

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  • Crane, A., Palazzo, G., Spence, L.J., & Matten, D. (2014). Contesting the value of “creating shared value”. California management review, 56(2), 130-153. https://doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2014.56.2.130
  • Raub, S., & Martin-Rios, C. (2019). “Think sustainable, act local”–a stakeholder-filter-model for translating SDGs into sustainability initiatives with local impact. International journal of contemporary hospitality management 31, 2428-2447. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-06-2018-0453
  • Porter, M.E., & Kramer, M.R. (2019). Creating shared value. In Managing sustainable business (pp. 323-346). Springer, Dordrecht.
  • Scott, D., Hall, M., & Gössling, S. (2012). Tourism and climate change: Impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Routledge, 2012.

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This report demonstrates the business benefits of building sustainable hotels and offers tangible recommendations tailored for hotels investors, owners and developers, operators, and franchisees.

This report demonstrates the business benefits of building sustainable hotels and offers tangible recommendations tailored for hotels investors, owners and developers, operators, and franchisees.

About business case for sustainable hotels, the business case for sustainable hotels provides a thorough analysis of the business benefits of building sustainable hotels and offers tangible recommendations tailored for investors, owners and developers, operators, and franchisees..

The report explores how sustainable hotels can:

  • boost profit margins through utility savings
  • increase revenue through satisfying consumer preference
  • future-proof investment strategies
  • safeguard against regulatory risk and benefit from incentives
  • increase value and validation through certification
  • ensure long-term energy supply

The case studies provide examples of best practice from our members and demonstrate the resource-use reductions, utility savings and return on investment that are possible when hotels are built and operated sustainably.

The recommendations provide tangible actions, often simple and low cost, to ensure every stakeholder considers sustainability integral and increases efficiencies by working together, in order to achieve maximum benefits and address the scale of the changes required.

Who is it for?

All stakeholders in the hotel property value chain can use this business case to support conversations with their business partners to create a more joined up approach to building, refurbishing and operating sustainable hotels and make sustainability integral to all development decisions.

How was the report created?

This report was created in collaboration with IFC – a sister organisation of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group. IFC have provided insight based on their extensive experience in resourcing sustainable building projects and developing their free software (EDGE) to support the design of resource-efficient buildings.

“This research fills a major knowledge gap with focused and quantitative analysis. It shows that the costs are lower than previously thought while the benefits are high, with actionable recommendations for each stakeholder group. The collaboration between IFC and ITP has the capacity to move the entire hospitality industry onto a greener path.” Shamsah Fatima Dhala, IFC’s Global Sector Lead for Tourism.
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Sustainable Hospitality: How to Create a Sustainability Plan for Hotels

Tourists and business travelers are increasingly focused on finding sustainable options when choosing to stay in a hotel. For this reason, hotels must create a sustainability plan that helps them to attract more travelers and simultaneously show their commitment to society and the environment. Hotels that do not commit to and implement sustainable strategies will be subject to uncertainty and instability as traveler demands continue to shift. Additionally, with the changing climate and increasing natural disaster events, a company that doesn’t take the steps to become more sustainable is forced to improvise in the face of climate impacts with unpredictable results.

Creating and implementing a sustainability plan will help hotels meet growing market demand, retain travelers who are increasingly aware of the need to preserve the environment, communicate social and environmental responsibility to the world, save money, and increase their resilience in the face of growing climate uncertainty. 

This article will cover the following steps for creating and implementing a sustainability plan for hotels:

  • Establish your hotel’s current sustainability status
  • Define objectives
  • Design a strategy
  • Create an action plan
  • Measure and evaluate your plan constantly
  • Communicate your achievements and improvements
  • Get help from experts as needed
  • Get certified by a recognized third-party organization

Establish Your Hotel’s Current Sustainability Status

The first step is to establish your hotel’s current sustainability status. This step requires you to analyze your energy, food, beverages, water, and waste. In addition, to get a complete picture of your hotel’s current sustainability, you should calculate your carbon footprint and document any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices currently in place.

Sources of energy consumption for hotels generally include indoor and outdoor lighting, elevators, water pumping, kitchen equipment, and laundry machines. Hotels buy vast supplies of food, drinks, soaps, and linens and use massive amounts of water. All this leads to excessive waste and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 

Once consumption, waste, and emissions have been collected and analyzed and the hotel’s current social, economic, and environmental initiatives identified, you will have a starting point to define objectives, design a strategy, and create a sustainability action plan.

Define Objectives

Hotel sustainability objects must be realistic, tangible, and long-term. Objectives should be selected based on company values, goals, and aspirations. The entire organization should be involved in the objective selection process, from the CEO to management to hotel staff.

A starting place to set goals is to align them with The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals are based on environmental, social, and economic factors and are designed to secure a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. SDG 13, Climate Action , is particularly relevant to hotels as they are responsible for at least one percent of global emissions , a number that is only increasing with demand. Hotels should at the very least aim to meet the Paris Agreement emissions goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be Net Zero by 2050 or sooner. In addition, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance provides guides for water stewardship and human rights to help you to define your objectives in these areas.

Design a Strategy

Designing a robust and effective sustainability strategy can reduce business costs, improve reputation, foster innovation, benefit the environment, and attract new customers who value sustainability.

The most effective and important sustainability strategies for hotels include:

  • Reduce overall energy consumption and switch to renewable energy where possible
  • Install low flow fixtures, optimize laundry machine usage, and implement proper signage to help guests indicate what truly needs to be washed
  • Apply the 6 R’s-  rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle
  • Provide a free shuttle to and from the main town or airport, install bike racks, and encourage employees to take the bus to work with transit passes
  • Ensure all cleaning supplies are chemical-free and use concentrate-based, refillable products to reduce waste
  • Ensure your hotel empowers and benefits the local community by paying a fair wage, employing community members, working with local businesses, sourcing local food products, and putting profits back into the community
  • Switching to LED lights, using compostable plastic, installing drinking water stations rather than giving out water, using light sensors and timers, and instituting an at-will linen washing policy when guests occupy the same room over multiple days

Example Sustainable Waste Strategy

  • Rethink your practices by using recycled materials
  • Refuse all single-use plastic straws
  • Reduce 25 percent of food waste in the next three years
  • Design an eco-friendly linen reuse plan
  • Implement recycling stations on every floor
  • Analyze full life cycle costs of products, including the initial cost and repair, maintenance, and disposal costs

Create an Action Plan

A sustainability action plan identifies points for improvement, defines clear objectives, and establishes initiatives. In addition, the action plan reflects how sustainability will be incorporated into all levels of the company decision-making and creates accountability.

An excellent source to help create a sustainable action plan is the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance . It provides a clear pathway to net positive hospitality and provides tools and manuals that enable any hotel to work towards a net positive environmental impact, regardless of its stage in the sustainability journey. 

The Sustainable Hospital Alliance’s Pathway guides users through four steps:

  • Set objectives
  • Make plans and take actions
  • Review and report

There are innumerable benefits a hotel will incur from developing a sustainability action plan. These include: 

  • Higher revenues and profitability
  • Cost reduction
  • Better customer relationships
  • Lower environmental impact
  • Employee retention

  Example of a Sustainability Management Plan

The Hotel Ambassade ‘s sustainability plan is based on the idea that hospitality and sustainability are intrinsically linked. The plan is based on the following three pillars:

  • People and the market
  • Cultural heritage and the community
  • The environment

 Furthermore, the sustainability management plan includes a plan of actions carried out and commitments to be made in the future. 

Measure and Evaluate Your Plan Constantly

Measuring and evaluating your plan is vital for establishing deadlines and ensuring you meet the objectives, milestones, and initiatives defined in the action plan. As you progress through the planned roadmap, you will also identify new areas for improvement and opportunities that you can incorporate into your strategy and plan. Likewise, the feedback from the stakeholders is essential to foster a continuous improvement process. 

The four phases of implementing a sustainability action plan, defined in the Green Business Bureau executive guide , are:

  • Plan creation must include employees, stakeholders, and the company’s communication plans
  • All the departments of the hotel should be included
  • Include areas such as energy, water, waste, supply chain, transportation, and community
  • Continuous improvement processes of the plan must be incorporated into the program periodically

Communicate Your Achievements and Improvements

Communicating with your employees, customers, and the community will help you position your hotel as a sustainable and responsible organization. This will enhance your value proposition as respect for the environment and social responsibility have become crucial among employees and consumers. The sustainability team and hotel employees committed to sustainability will undoubtedly be the best ambassadors for the brand and the hotel’s sustainability strategy.

Communicate your achievements through ESG Reporting

Another interesting article published by the Green Business Bureau points out the benefits of the annual Environmental, Social, and Governance report (ESG Report) to communicate the hotel’s commitments and achievements on sustainability.  The benefits of ESG reporting are as follows:

  • Transparency fosters accountability and improves the corporate image
  • Investors and lenders analyze ESG reports to assess risk exposure and determine future contingencies that could impact their financial performance
  • Stakeholders are more likely to support companies and brands with an ESG strategy
  • European regulators , through the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and American regulators through the US Security and Exchange Commission-SEC , are setting new rules for companies with ESG reporting

Get Help From Experts as Needed

Countless resources online will guide you along your hotel’s sustainability journey. Organizations such as the Green Business Bureau help companies improve their sustainability practices by providing resources and initiatives. Green Business Bureau Members utilize the GBB EcoAssessment tool to measure where they currently are in their sustainability journey and refer to the library of initiatives and expert articles to plan where to go next.

Get Certified by a Recognized Third-party Organization

Green Business Bureau has the tools and experience to advise hospitality companies on implementing the best sustainability initiatives. At the same time, the Green Business Bureau is recognized as a third party that provides certifications to companies on their progress and achievements in the field of sustainability so they can reflect their accomplishments and green business status to the world.

The time is now for hotels to become more sustainable as the tourism industry is at risk of climate-related impacts, and consumers and employees demand sustainability. Sustainability should be central to a hotel’s mission, values, and day-to-day operations to attract customers, gain profit, and be socially and environmentally responsible. Hotels must create a sustainability action plan with clear and tangible objectives that can be measured over time, optimized, compared against benchmarks, and communicated clearly to the public. 

Having a plan allows you to measure progress, receive feedback, and make adjustments to achieve long-term goals. Transparency will help you become known as a sustainable company that is committed to helping the planet and the community. 

“Rafael has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Lima. Rafael is pursuing a Concurrent Master of Science degree in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies and Global Sustainability, with an Energy concentration, at the University of South Florida. Rafael has more than twenty-five years of working experience as an Executive and Business and Finance Consultant. He is passionate about applying his academic and working experience to helping people and organizations understand the importance of protecting the environment and communities. He loves to spend time with his family and attend sports and music venues .”

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3 reasons why sustainable hotels are the future of the hospitality industry

In terms of the hospitality industry, growing numbers of guests are favouring sustainable hotels when they search for travel accommodation, especially those from younger generations. let’s explore what sustainable hotels are and why they are the future of the hospitality industry..

The planet is becoming increasingly concerned with the effects of climate change and this has led to consumer demand for sustainability and brands that drive positive change . In terms of the hospitality industry, growing numbers of guests are favouring sustainable hotels when they search for travel accommodation , especially those from younger generations. 

Let’s explore what sustainable hotels are and why they are the future of the hospitality industry .  

What is a sustainable hotel?

A sustainable hotel is a hotel that activity strives to promote its commitment to corporate social responsibility . The business adheres to a series of eco-friendly measures that enable it to reduce its carbon footprint and limit its negative imprint on the environment . Although sustainability is a growing trend in most sectors these days, it is particularly relevant to the hotel and travel industry , which is renowned for consuming high levels of natural and man-made resources. 

Examples of eco-friendly measures that sustainable hotels might implement include:

  • Switching to energy-efficient/LED lighting
  • Installing intelligent water management solutions to limit water waste
  • Installing solar panels to reduce carbon emissions 
  • Using eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Encouraging guests to reuse linen and towels
  • Restricting or eliminating single-use plastics (for example, using recyclable and biodegradable packaging for guest toiletries)
  • Sourcing local suppliers for food and beverages
  • Planting a rooftop garden to offset the hotel’s carbon footprint
  • Encouraging paperless check-ins
  • Promoting ecotourism (for example, offering courtesy bicycles to guests)
  • Training staff on sustainable waste management processes

Why are sustainable hotels the future of the hospitality industry?

The most obvious benefit of driving sustainability in hospitality is that eco-friendly industries help to create a better planet for future generations . But there are also a number of benefits in terms of business growth and development .

We are now going to share three major benefits of including sustainable practices in your revenue management strategies to help you understand why sustainable hotels are the future of the hospitality industry .

Sustainable hotels promote revenue growth

Sustainability is linked to revenue growth. A sustainable strategy is cost-effective in the long term and increasing segments of the market are demanding sustainable hotel brands.

For example, switching to energy-efficient lighting and intelligent water management solutions can help you reduce your utility costs . In fact, according to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, a sustainable building is at least 20% more resource efficient . This can drastically reduce your hotel’s outgoings and boost your profits.

Sustainable hotels also generate more revenue because they have a Unique Selling Point that appeals to eco-minded consumers . This helps them attract a larger segment of the market and generate more sales. What’s more, studies have shown that many guests are willing to pay a premium to stay at a hotel that follows environmentally friendly and sustainable practices . This is especially true if your hotel obtains validation through official sustainability certification . 

All this can have a big impact on your long-term revenue growth strategy .

Sustainable hotels enhance customer value perception

With growing concerns about climate change and increased global awareness of the importance of protecting the environment, hotels need to adapt to consumer demand for sustainability in order to stay relevant . Now, more than ever, travellers value brands that promote transparency, sustainability, and circular economies .

Guests are more likely to trust sustainable hotels as they see them as being responsible brands that don’t just care about their business results; they also care about their impact on society and the planet . Plus, if a guest sees that your hotel cares about the environment, they are more likely to believe that you will care about their guest experience , too. This enhances your consumer value perception and helps you attract more guests to your hotel. 

Sustainability doesn’t just help you attract more new guests, either. Sustainable hotels are also more likely to attract repeat customers . In fact, according to a report by Capgemini, 77% of consumer products and retail organizations found that sustainability leads to increases in customer loyalty . 

Sustainability is becoming a legal requirement

Running a sustainable hotel doesn’t just boost customer value perception. Increasing numbers of investors and shareholders recognize the importance of promoting sustainability, especially given the increasing demands of environmental regulatory compliance . 

In fact, sustainability is fast becoming a legal requirement , not just a “nice-to-have”.

For example, governments around the world have already started introducing initiatives such as carbon taxes and restrictive water policies to encourage sustainability in business . In the UK, the recently enacted Environment Act of 2021 is promoting a number of schemes aimed at reducing plastic use and food waste. And the EU’s recently launched Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) will add to growing investor pressure for hotels to report on sustainability performance.

All this means that sustainability is no longer about marketing; the concept needs to be incorporated into all your business operations as soon as possible . By developing a sustainable hotel that complies with these sustainability regulations and respects the environment, you can secure your long-term brand positioning as a quality tourist attraction that generates sustainable revenue growth .

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How To Write a Business Plan for Sustainable Hotel in 9 Steps: Checklist

By henry sheykin, resources on sustainable hotel.

  • Financial Model
  • Business Plan
  • Value Proposition
  • One-Page Business Plan

Welcome to our blog post on how to write a business plan for a sustainable hotel! As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, the demand for eco-friendly accommodations has been on the rise. According to recent statistics, the sustainable tourism market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% from 2021 to 2026, reaching a value of $24.8 billion. This trend presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to establish a sustainable hotel that caters to environmentally conscious travelers. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step checklist to help you create a compelling business plan for your sustainable hotel venture in the US.

First and foremost, conducting market research is essential to understand the current state of the sustainable hotel industry and identify potential gaps or opportunities. This research will enable you to gather valuable data on customer preferences, market trends, and industry regulations. It will also help you define your target audience and understand their specific needs and expectations.

Once you have identified your target audience, it's important to identify your competitors and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your competitors will allow you to differentiate your sustainable hotel from others in the market. This brings us to the next step, determining your unique selling proposition . What makes your sustainable hotel different and desirable for environmentally conscious travelers?

Now that you've defined your target audience and unique selling proposition, it's time to establish a clear mission and vision for your sustainable hotel. Your mission and vision statement will help guide your decision-making and communicate your hotel's purpose to potential customers and stakeholders.

Developing a pricing strategy is crucial to ensure profitability while remaining competitive in the market. Consider factors such as the cost of eco-friendly initiatives, local pricing trends, and consumer willingness to pay for sustainability.

To create a comprehensive financial plan, you need to analyze the costs and revenue streams associated with your sustainable hotel. Consider expenses such as building renovations, eco-friendly infrastructure, marketing, and staffing. On the revenue side, think about room reservations, restaurant sales, and the potential income generated from sustainable activities.

To attract customers and promote your sustainable hotel, create a marketing and advertising strategy . Utilize various channels such as social media, online travel agencies, and partnerships with eco-friendly organizations. Additionally, consider offering discounts or packages to incentivize guests to choose your sustainable hotel.

Lastly, before moving forward with your sustainable hotel business plan, conduct a feasibility analysis to assess the viability of your idea. This includes evaluating the potential market demand, financial projections, and operational considerations.

By following these nine steps, you will be equipped with a well-rounded business plan for your sustainable hotel, positioning yourself for success in the growing market for eco-friendly accommodations. Stay tuned for our upcoming articles, where we dive deeper into each step of the checklist. Happy planning!

Conduct Market Research

Conducting thorough market research is a crucial first step in creating a successful business plan for a sustainable hotel. This research will help you understand the current market trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies. By gathering this information, you can tailor your hotel's offerings to meet the demands of your target audience and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Begin by identifying the target market for your sustainable hotel. Determine who your ideal guests are, their demographics, and their preferences. Are you targeting eco-tourists, families, or business travelers interested in sustainability? Understanding your target audience will guide your decision-making process throughout the planning stages.

Next, analyze the competitor landscape within the sustainable hotel industry. Identify other hotels in your area or region that offer similar environmentally friendly accommodations. Assess their strengths, weaknesses, pricing strategies, and marketing efforts. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate your hotel and attract customers.

Research industry trends in sustainable tourism and hospitality. Stay up to date with the latest advancements in green technologies, sustainable practices, and guest preferences. This knowledge will enable you to incorporate innovative and eco-friendly elements into your hotel's design and operations.

Tips for conducting market research:

  • Utilize online resources: Take advantage of online databases, industry reports, and research articles to gather relevant data.
  • Survey potential customers: Conduct surveys or interviews to understand their preferences, expectations, and willingness to pay for sustainable accommodations.
  • Visit competitor properties: Analyze your competitors' offerings firsthand to gain insights into their operations, service quality, and sustainability initiatives.
  • Attend industry conferences: Participate in conferences and events related to sustainable tourism to network with industry experts and gain valuable insights.

Define Target Audience

Defining your target audience is crucial when developing a business plan for a sustainable hotel. Understanding who your ideal guests are will help you tailor your offerings and marketing strategies to meet their specific needs and preferences.

When defining your target audience, consider the following:

  • Demographics: Identify the age range, gender, income level, and geographic location of your target audience.
  • Purpose of Travel: Determine why people would choose to stay at a sustainable hotel. Are they eco-conscious travelers, leisure travelers seeking a unique experience, or business travelers looking for sustainable accommodations?
  • Values and Interests: Consider the values and interests of your target audience. Are they passionate about environmental conservation, wellness, or supporting local communities?
  • Behaviors: Understand your target audience's behaviors and preferences. Do they prefer luxury accommodations or budget-friendly options? Are they tech-savvy and inclined to book online?

Tips for Defining Your Target Audience:

  • Use online surveys or conduct interviews with potential guests to gather valuable insights.
  • Study existing sustainable hotels and their guest profiles to identify common characteristics.
  • Consider partnering with sustainable travel agencies or organizations to reach your target audience more effectively.
  • Regularly reassess and refine your target audience as your business evolves and new opportunities arise.

By clearly defining your target audience, you can ensure that your sustainable hotel meets their needs and expectations. This will enable you to develop effective marketing strategies, create tailored offerings, and build a loyal customer base who are passionate about supporting your sustainable initiatives.

Identify Competitors

In order to create a successful business plan for a sustainable hotel, it is crucial to identify and analyze your competitors. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of other hotels offering eco-friendly accommodations, you can position your own business to stand out in the market.

  • Start by conducting a thorough research of hotels in your target market that also prioritize sustainability. Look for hotels that have a similar focus on eco-friendly practices and sustainable offerings.
  • Make a list of the key competitors and gather information about their facilities, services, and customer reviews. Visit their websites and social media profiles to get a sense of their branding and messaging.
  • Consider the geographic proximity of your competitors, as this can impact their relevance to your target audience. Hotels in close proximity may offer similar amenities and attract the same customer base.
  • Once you have identified your competitors, analyze their strengths and weaknesses. This can help you identify opportunities to differentiate your hotel and provide unique value to your target audience.
  • Look for gaps in the market that your competitors have not yet capitalized on. This could be an opportunity to offer something different and attract a specific niche of sustainable travelers.
  • Consider reaching out to customers who have left reviews or feedback about your competitors. This can provide valuable insights into what they appreciate and what could be improved in sustainable accommodations.

Determine Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets your sustainable hotel apart from the competition and attracts customers. It is a clear statement that communicates the value and benefits your hotel offers that other hotels do not.

When determining your USP, consider what makes your hotel unique in terms of its sustainability efforts and eco-friendly amenities. What sets you apart from other hotels that claim to be sustainable?

  • Identify your hotel's eco-friendly features : Highlight the specific sustainable practices and amenities your hotel offers, such as renewable energy sources, waste reduction programs, and locally sourced food. Emphasize how these features contribute to a greener and more sustainable experience for guests.
  • Highlight the benefits for guests : Clearly communicate the advantages guests will enjoy by choosing your sustainable hotel. This could include a healthier and eco-friendly environment, the opportunity to support local communities, and the chance to engage in sustainable activities and tours.
  • Showcase your commitment to sustainability : Share your hotel's dedication to sustainability through certifications or partnerships with recognized eco-friendly organizations. This adds credibility and builds trust with environmentally conscious travelers.
  • Emphasize the unique experiences you offer : Outline the distinctive activities and experiences your hotel provides that align with sustainability. This could be offering educational workshops, organizing eco-tours, or providing access to nature trails and biking paths.
  • Research your competitors' USP to ensure yours is truly unique and differentiated.
  • Involve your team in brainstorming sessions to gather diverse perspectives and ideas.
  • Keep your USP concise and easily understandable.
  • Regularly reassess and update your USP as your hotel's sustainability efforts evolve.

Establish A Clear Mission And Vision

Establishing a clear mission and vision for your sustainable hotel is crucial for defining its purpose and guiding its growth and development. Your mission statement should articulate the fundamental reason for your hotel's existence, while the vision statement paints a picture of what you aspire to achieve in the long term.

A well-crafted mission and vision statement will not only serve as a compass for your business, but it will also inspire your team, differentiate your hotel from competitors, and attract like-minded guests who align with your sustainability goals.

  • Reflect on your personal values and passions to inform your mission and vision.
  • Keep your mission statement concise, focused, and easy to understand.
  • Ensure your vision statement is ambitious, inspiring, and forward-thinking.
  • Involve your team in the process to create a shared sense of ownership and commitment.
  • Regularly revisit and refine your mission and vision as your hotel evolves and grows.

By clearly defining your mission and vision, you can align your business strategy, operations, and marketing efforts around sustainability. This will not only attract environmentally conscious travelers but also position your hotel as a leader in the sustainable hospitality industry.

Develop A Pricing Strategy

When developing a pricing strategy for your sustainable hotel, it is important to consider several key factors that will help you determine the optimal pricing for your eco-friendly accommodations and services.

1. Determine your costs: Start by calculating the costs of running your sustainable hotel, including expenses such as renewable energy sources, composting and recycling programs, and sourcing organic and locally-sourced food. This will give you a clear understanding of how much you need to cover to ensure your business remains profitable.

2. Research your target audience: Understanding your target audience's willingness to pay for sustainable accommodations can help you set reasonable prices. Conduct market research and gather insights on what environmentally conscious travelers are willing to spend on eco-friendly hotels.

3. Consider value-added benefits: Highlight the unique selling proposition of your hotel and the additional benefits guests will receive from staying at your eco-friendly establishment. This could include access to sustainable activities, educational materials on sustainable practices, and workshops or events promoting sustainability. Price your hotel accordingly to reflect the added value your guests will enjoy.

  • Offer different pricing tiers: Consider offering different pricing options based on the level of sustainability and eco-friendliness guests desire. This can include basic rooms with standard green practices or premium suites with higher sustainability standards.
  • Consider seasonal pricing: Adjust your pricing strategy based on peak and off-peak seasons, taking into account factors such as demand, availability, and operating costs during different times of the year.
  • Stay competitive: Research your competitors' pricing strategies to ensure you are offering comparable rates for similar eco-friendly accommodations and services in your area.
  • Regularly review and adjust pricing: Continuously evaluate your pricing strategy based on market conditions, customer feedback, and changes in operating costs to remain competitive and profitable.

Formulate A Comprehensive Financial Plan

When planning for a sustainable hotel, it is crucial to formulate a comprehensive financial plan to ensure the business's financial viability and success. This plan will outline the hotel's projected income, expenses, and cash flow over a specific period, typically three to five years. Here are some key steps to help you create a solid financial plan:

  • Estimate your startup costs: Determine the initial investment required to establish the sustainable hotel, which may include purchasing or renovating the property, buying eco-friendly equipment, and securing necessary permits and licenses.
  • Identify your revenue streams: Analyze the various sources of income for your hotel, such as room reservations, restaurant sales, and revenue generated from sustainable activities like bike rentals or guided tours.
  • Project your expenses: Estimate and categorize the hotel's operating expenses, including employee salaries, utility bills, maintenance costs, marketing expenses, and any other necessary expenditures.
  • Calculate your breakeven point: Determine the revenue needed to cover all expenses and reach the point where the hotel begins to generate a profit. This analysis will help you set realistic goals and track the hotel's financial performance.
  • Consider financing options: Explore different financing options, such as loans, grants, or partnerships, to secure the necessary capital for your sustainable hotel. Research sustainable funding sources that align with your hotel's eco-friendly vision.
  • Create financial projections: Based on your revenue and expense estimations, develop financial projections for the next three to five years. These projections will serve as a guideline for financial decision-making and allow you to assess the hotel's long-term sustainability.
  • Monitor and evaluate: Regularly review and update your financial plan to reflect any changes in market conditions, expenses, or revenue. Continuously analyze and compare your actual financial results against projected figures to identify areas of improvement or necessary adjustments.

Tips for formulating a comprehensive financial plan:

  • Consult with financial professionals or experts with experience in the hospitality industry to ensure accuracy and reliability in your financial projections.
  • Consider implementing budgeting and tracking systems to closely monitor income and expenses, enabling you to make informed decisions and identify areas of potential cost savings.
  • Research and take advantage of any available tax incentives or grants aimed at supporting sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.
  • Regularly review and adjust your pricing strategy to maintain a healthy balance between profit margins and attracting environmentally conscious travelers.

Create A Marketing And Advertising Strategy

Creating a solid marketing and advertising strategy is crucial for the success of your sustainable hotel business. It will help you attract and retain customers who are interested in eco-friendly accommodations and activities. Here are some essential steps to consider:

  • Identify your target audience: Determine the specific group of customers who would be most interested in staying at your sustainable hotel. This could include environmentally conscious travelers, nature enthusiasts, or those seeking unique and eco-friendly experiences.
  • Develop a brand identity: Create a brand that reflects your commitment to sustainability. Utilize eco-friendly colors, imagery, and messaging that align with your values and appeal to your target audience.
  • Create compelling content: Produce high-quality content, such as blog posts, social media updates, and videos, that educates and inspires your target audience about sustainable practices, local attractions, and community initiatives. This will help establish your hotel as a thought leader in sustainable hospitality.
  • Utilize digital marketing: Leverage online platforms and channels, such as social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and email marketing, to raise awareness about your hotel and engage with potential guests. Consider partnering with influencers or eco-conscious bloggers to expand your reach.
  • Participate in sustainable events: Attend sustainability conferences, expos, and other events to network with like-minded individuals and organizations within the industry. This can help establish your hotel's credibility and attract partnerships with local businesses.
  • Collaborate with local organizations: Build relationships with environmental organizations, tourism boards, and local businesses that share your commitment to sustainability. This can lead to cross-promotion opportunities and help attract guests who value community involvement.
  • Measure and track results: Regularly analyze the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising efforts. Utilize analytics tools to monitor website traffic, social media engagement, and other key performance indicators. This data will provide insights on what strategies are working and where adjustments may be needed.

Tips for creating an effective marketing and advertising strategy:

  • Emphasize the unique features and benefits of your sustainable hotel in all marketing materials.
  • Showcase positive customer reviews and testimonials that highlight the eco-friendly aspects of your accommodations and activities.
  • Consider partnering with local environmental organizations or nonprofits to support their initiatives and gain exposure among their members.
  • Offer exclusive promotions or packages specifically tailored to sustainability-minded travelers to incentivize bookings.
  • Regularly update your website and social media channels with fresh content to keep potential guests engaged and informed.

Conduct A Feasibility Analysis

Conducting a feasibility analysis is a crucial step in evaluating the viability and success of your sustainable hotel business plan. This analysis involves carefully assessing various factors to determine if your business idea is feasible and sustainable in the long run. Below are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Assess market demand: Evaluate the potential demand for eco-friendly accommodations in your target market. Analyze current trends, consumer preferences, and the level of competition to ensure that there is a sustainable demand for your hotel.
  • Evaluate financial viability: Analyze the financial aspects of your business plan. Consider the initial investment required to implement sustainable practices and determine whether the projected revenue streams are sufficient to cover expenses and generate profit.
  • Review legal and regulatory requirements: Research and understand the local and national regulations related to running a sustainable hotel. Ensure that you comply with all legal requirements and find ways to leverage any incentives or support available for sustainable businesses.
  • Assess operational feasibility: Evaluate the practicality and feasibility of implementing sustainable practices in your hotel operations. Consider factors such as sourcing eco-friendly products, incorporating renewable energy sources, and managing waste reduction and recycling programs.
  • Identify potential risks and challenges: Identify any potential obstacles that may hinder the success of your sustainable hotel. Develop contingency plans to address these challenges and mitigate risks effectively.

Tips for Conducting a Feasibility Analysis:

  • Utilize industry data and market research to gather relevant information and insights.
  • Engage with experts or consultants who specialize in sustainable hospitality to gain valuable guidance and advice.
  • Evaluate the scalability potential of your sustainable hotel business model.
  • Consider conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to assess the overall feasibility and competitiveness of your business plan.

Conducting a thorough feasibility analysis will provide you with valuable insights and help you make informed decisions to ensure the success and sustainability of your hotel. It will also be instrumental in attracting investors and securing funding for your venture.

In conclusion, writing a business plan for a sustainable hotel requires careful consideration and strategic planning. By conducting market research, identifying a target audience, and identifying competitors, you can position your hotel for success. Establishing a unique selling proposition, clear mission, and vision will help differentiate your hotel in the market. Developing a pricing strategy and comprehensive financial plan will ensure the profitability of your business. Creating a marketing and advertising strategy will help attract guests and generate revenue. Lastly, conducting a feasibility analysis will confirm the viability of your sustainable hotel concept. By following these nine steps, you can create a solid business plan for a sustainable hotel that appeals to environmentally conscious travelers and promotes sustainability in the hospitality industry.

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