DENHAM, U.K. — IHG Hotels & Resorts has launched Journey to Tomorrow — a series of new commitments to make a positive difference for people, communities and the planet over the next decade.
In an open letter, Keith Barr, CEO, IHG, highlighted how the global response to COVID-19 has shown what can be achieved when organizations bring together expertise, resources and compassion for the greater good.
“Journey to Tomorrow embodies IHG’s strengthened commitment to make sure we do what’s right, not just what’s needed,” says Barr. “We want every IHG stakeholder to see that we’re on a journey to be successful in every sense of the word and we are determined to contribute towards positive social and economic change, to stand up for key issues such as diversity; equity and inclusion; and human rights; and to make more-responsible environmental choices.”
A global study commissioned by IHG found that, in the space of a year, COVID-19 has increased awareness of responsible travel more broadly, with 60 per cent of people saying the pandemic has made them more socially and environmentally conscious about their impact on the world when travelling. This rises to 58 per cent among travellers aged 18 to 24, compared to 36 per cent for over 55s.
Formed through a comprehensive assessment process involving external experts, stakeholder consultation and industry collaboration, IHG’s plan contributes to the universal framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to provide a blueprint for a better, more sustainable future for us all by 2030.
Journey to Tomorrow encompasses five clear goals that build on the company’s long-term commitments and achievements. These goals, which focus on people, communities, carbon/energy, waste and water, include:
• championing a diverse culture where everyone can thrive by working toward achieving a gender balance and a doubling of under-represented groups across its leadership; cultivating a culture of inclusion for colleagues, owners and suppliers; supporting employees to prioritise their own well-being and the well-being of others; and driving respect for and advancement of human rights
• improving the lives of 30-million people in its communities by driving economic and social change through skills training and innovation; supporting communities when natural disaster strikes; and collaborating to aid those facing food poverty
• reducing energy use and carbon emissions by implementing a 2030 science-based target that delivers a 15-per-cent absolute reduction in direct operations and a 46-per-cent per square metre reduction in franchise operations; a target to have all new-build hotels operate at very low/zero carbon emissions; and maximizing/optimizing the role of renewable energy in its operations
• pioneering the transformation to a minimal-waste hospitality industry by eliminating single-use items or moving to re-usable/recyclable alternatives; minimizing food waste through a “prevent, donate, divert” plan; and collaborating to achieve circular solutions for major hotel-commodity items
• conserving water and helping secure water access in at-risk areas by implementing tools to reduce hotels’ water footprints; collaborating to deliver water stewardship at basin level; and collaborating to ensure adequate water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the communities it operates in
“I believe that how we grow as a company and work to be a greater force for good are inextricably linked,” says Barr. “So, we are empowering our colleagues and working together with our hotel owners and our industry to help shape the future of responsible travel. It’s never been more crucial that we do.”
IHG’s global survey also revealed that consumers are more mindful than ever about travelling responsibly, with 82 per cent of those surveyed saying it’s important to choose a hotel brand that operates responsibly. In fact, research found consumers will spend an average of 31-per-cent per night more on accommodation that meets this need.
“The travel-and-tourism sector plays a huge role in enriching livelihoods and economies around the world and we must ensure its growth contributes positively to the communities, natural ecosystems and cultural heritage upon which it depends,” says Gloria Guevara, CEO & president, The World Travel & Tourism Council. “I’m pleased to see the clear, achievable and actionable 10-year ambitions outlined in IHG Hotels & Resorts’ Journey to Tomorrow plan, which will help support the sustainable development of our sector.”