Circularity in the Hotel Industry and Competitiveness: A Manual for Implementing Good Practices

Circularity in the Hotel Industry and Competitiveness: A Manual for Implementing Good Practices

Transforming Vision Into Action - Guidelines and Tools

04 May 2021

Fundació Impulsa

Tourism has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, because restrictions on mobility and activity have hindered the operations of the actors that participate in the tourism value chain and have seriously compromised their results. But above all, because the most disruptive effects of the pandemic and its consequences will undoubtedly fall upon the world of tourism and travel. This situation constitutes a wake-up call, especially for regions and countries that continue to be highly tourism-oriented, to not delay the task of reformulating the foundations of their current competitive position in international tourism markets and finding new levers to activate from a renewed perspective of responsible tourism.

Based on the conviction that sustainability is a key lever for prosperity by means of a growth pattern that guarantees the efficient use of natural and environmental resources, the circular economy is positioned to be an important road to progress in boosting the global sustainable competitiveness of destinations. Although this undoubtedly means a systemic change affecting all sectors and participants that are the essence of the local system, the hospitality sector, with its role in the tourism value chain, is well placed to lead this transition and act as the ‘circularity laboratory’ for the rest of the tourism sector and other relevant areas of production within the local context.

Given the shortage of general and business-related references which address the practical application of the notion of circularity in the hotel business, the Impulsa Balears Foundation, in line with the recommendations of One Planet Vision, and with the support of the Iberostar Group and the UNWTO, has undertaken to build its own strategic circularity framework for the hotel sector in line with the current principles and global instruments, aimed at: (i) enabling good practices to be established and monitored among those within the sector; (ii) encouraging circular connections to be created along its value chain; and, in this way (iii) contribute to closing the gap in implementing the global principles relating to sustainability and tourism at a local level.

The results suggest that the advancement of the current hotel business model towards circularity relies on 3 building blocks or strategic pillars that adopt, following the UN Global Compact’s recommendations, a three-fold perspective: ‘strategic-operational-cultural’. Specifically, these building blocks presuppose that all circular strategies will lead to the management of the available resources, i.e., investment, innovation and governance of hotel companies; the modernization of internal processes, i.e., allocation of assets, supplies and design of service provision; and the participation of the primary stakeholders, i.e., employees, suppliers and clients, B2B included. Hence, to help translate the strategy into action, the framework proposes incorporating 13 circular guidelines, the implementation of which implies for hotel companies continuous monitoring efforts associated with the achievement of annual objectives established in their respective circularity strategies. To this effect, the framework proposes a metric which allows hotel companies to transfer their strategic vision to a balanced and integrated system to track the circular progress of the business and accomplishing this through a series  of 81 key performance indicators (KPIs), which are directly linked to 125 lines of action to inspire the implementation of good circular practices.

All in all, the guidelines of the strategic framework are easily connected with the current reporting standards in the world in terms of sustainability, the elements considered in environmental certification systems, and to global guidelines and objectives that are fundamentally related to the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, it can be said that the proposed strategic framework helps decision-making by hotel companies in any destination where they operate their portfolio of establishments. The proposed framework thus takes on a global nature and ultimately aims to inspire the development of more circular destinations.

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This article for Transforming One Planet Vision into Action has been brought to you by IMPULSA BALEARS. IMPULSA BALEARS is a private non-profit organization that acts as a platform for strategic knowledge and regional interaction. Our mission is to facilitate the decision-making processes of economic and social agents and guaranteeing their impact on the global competitiveness of the Balearic Islands. More than 50 business entities, in addition to the Confederation of Business Associations of the Balearic Islands (CAEB) and the Government of the Balearic Islands, are members of our Board of Trustees.