My take on ITB Berlin 2023

ITB has shown increased industry partners within the travel, tourism and hospitality fields that are now finally, all starting to align in how we foresee the hospitality industry growing sustainably! Along with the responsible tourism track which was a deep dive into all the areas of sustainability, there were many additions throughout the entire event that reminded everyone of our commitment in transforming the industry.

A big topic when it relates to sustainability is carbon emissions; increased regulations and mandates related to carbon measurement has been enforced on the industry. Carbon emissions has become the global indicator that can be translated across all boards and industries describing how much a hotel’s operations negatively impacts the environment. However, what does this mean in hospitality? Publicly, across the industry the topic surrounding carbon emissions should be focused on describing the negative actions & processes on ground and relating alternatives & solutions. Taking this approach will bear greater long run impacts & solutions in the end rather than the current actions on simply paying to offset for the amount of carbon being produced due to your operations.

When we think of daily operations, there should be greater discussions and findings on the 4 standard topics – Waste, Water, Energy, Purchasing. These are the areas impacting our carbon emissions, and are aspects we have complete power in controlling, and changing. With UBBU at Kerten Hospitality, we have connected it to the butterfly effect; which means small steps can lead to big impacts. With communicating sustainability in a manageable manner, this can mean proving properties with the small steps such as simple, low-cost installations further reducing water usage by teams and guests which in some properties can yield annual savings up to 50%. A best practice from our Technical and Engineering Director which has been installed and used on one of our properties is a Heat Recovery System, which is a simple installation, with great impacts! It naturally captures heat from equipment & appliances, removing the need for electrical heating, saving over 6,000 euros in the 9 months of use last year.

Relating to Waste, many authorities, regulators, and the hospitality industry have set targets aimed at eradicating single use plastics. Is this the only focus and most efficient way in every destination to become sustainable? It seems as if many have completely replaced the single use plastic, only to use another single use waste material – paper. Business cards, paper pamphlets, posters, 1 pagers infographic… the list can go on. The aim isn’t to simply reduce single use plastics (where, by the way, there are still Many)… the aim is to become SUSTAINABLE. We connect on our phones, take photos, read, download, however after taking thousands of photos together, we will still exchange a business card at the end.

As an industry, owners, regulators, and especially consumers are we going to stop at banning single use plastics and be satisfied in the name of ‘sustainability’? What more are we going to do? And WHEN?

Conversing during ITB to all industry players about sustainability – it isn’t the innovation, creativity, or software’s that are lacking anymore – but it is simply the will to actually make that change which is lacking. But willingness doesn’t seem to be lacking amongst the younger generation…. In the responsible tourism track, the CEO Panel moderated and organized by Willy Legrand and Xenia a question was raised on the benefits and also challenges with not only integrating GenZ within the workforce but giving them a seat at the table to lead and make that change. Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality beautifully answered that us GenZ’ers simply have a different mindset and determination to all thing’s sustainability.

We may lack the years of traditional hospitality operational experience as our older peers, but that is the beauty that shapes our mind and allows us to question every SOP within the industry… “WHY” is it being done this way?

The term of the decade should be cooperation & collaboration – globally, with all generations, across all industry partners, players, suppliers, consumers. This is not only on the hospitality industry (owners and operators) but everyone that connects to it in any form. The time for sustainability simply being another department/structure within your team is very long gone as this is not an effective approach. It is time to approach and collaborate with our partners with the systems needed for further local community development, building management systems for increased efficiency, solutions & contacts for local supply chains – all further reducing our carbon footprint.

If you would like to share your thoughts or ideas, drop me a note!

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