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Growth of sustainable tourism, how does that translate in reality?

While 2017 was declared the year of sustainable by the WTO, what is the reality of this? How have the market's players put it into practice in terms of concept, building, operations, marketing, in the different regions?


Marie Balmain, Director Sustainable Growth - RSE at the group Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs,

Yonas Fall, Senior Program Manager at Pur Projet,

Sophie Gautier, Head Asset Management Hôtels de Foncière des Régions,

Hervé Guillon, Head Sustainable and Adapted Tourism at the Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris,

Franck Laval, Founder Solar Hotel,

Thierry Lerévérend, General Manager Teragir.

Do sustainable development policies have an impact on customers, and thus on business activity and/or costs? If so, how should the impact be assessed?

Yonas Fall: In the absence of an environmental initiative, 50% of hotel guests say they are willing to reuse their towels; when an initiative is taken, this number rises to 96%. Actions favoring sustainable development have a significant effect on customer behavior and thus on the results of an establishment or network.

Franck Laval: Interest is measured both directly through cost savings, particularly energy savings (e. g. in the mid-range segment, 8%), and indirectly through awareness acquired among customers. And this may have other benefits, for example some municipalities are considering abolishing the tourist tax for certified establishments.

Sophie Gautier: We gained 30% in terms of building consumption with the thermal Regulations - RT 2012, then we moved on to the HQE, the BBC... But even though you may have a very green building, the infrastructure doesn't convey a message to the customer; we must also work on usage to give it appeal. For example, the customer easily understands with a vegetable garden.

Marie Balmain: To make a difference, you need stronger markers than sorting waste or collecting towels. In our park in Moselle, for example, the animal world has generated very positive feedback from our customers. The impact of sustainable development actions on customers can be assessed via satisfaction questionnaires.

Hervé Guillon: And the sustainable development item is an important detail for influencing customer satisfaction: environmental management ensures the overall quality of the offer.

What good practices can be used to successfully implement a sustainable development policy?

Sophie Gautier: Many tools exist, but what is important is to integrate the elements of sustainable development very early on, from the design stage, and to pursue them much further downstream. To be successful, the logic of sustainable development must be translated from the building plan to the activities offered in the hotel.

Marie Balmain: We must force ourselves to create a new culture of sustainable development, especially among employees, without forgetting the local residents who play a crucial role in making a site integrate its environment. Make local pilots to raise standards, before deploying initiatives more widely. And think of operations, because emissions during construction are equivalent to 3 years of operation, so over a long period of time operation have the most impact.

Franck Laval: The training of operational teams is therefore essential to ensure that a sustainable development policy is effective. And it is a good way to develop a sense of belonging to the group among employees, so that they feel better integrated. This also has the positive effect of reducing turnover.

Thierry Lerévérend: Labels play a fundamental role in enabling teams to structure a sustainable development approach, draw up a road map and know when the goals have been achieved. They make it possible to demonstrate credibility to partners and clients alike, and thus avoid a backlash caused by an accusation of "green-washing", which can have disastrous effects.

Hervé Guillon: And they can also have an impact on certain customer profiles, less leisure than corporate or business events, because they, too, have often taken steps to obtain certification for their sustainable development and CSR policies, and can therefore be sensitive to them.

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