These days most hotels are at least a shade of green. That is, they are making a varying amount of effort to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations by encouraging guests to re-use towels (now almost standard), reducing their energy consumption where they can or sourcing local and therefore less-travelled ingredients for their menus.

With so many carbon-footprint-saving initiatives now commonplace, travellers are less likely to be impressed by a hotel’s consideration for the natural environment because they would expect as much. The rising interest is in how well your hotel does by its community. You may be treading gently on the planet, but are you extending the hand of friendship as you go?

State-side policies

In the States many hotel chains have mature community outreach policies. Employees at hotels in the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) are involved with projects ranging from mentoring at local schools to donating to charity on ‘dress down’ days with their contributions matched by their employer. The Marriott International chain has helped raise funds to build new homes in some of the world’s poorest countries through its long-standing support for Habitat for Humanity International. And the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company was a founding partner of IMPACT 2030, a global scheme that promotes employee volunteering.

Green venues in the UK

Here in the UK the appropriately named Good Hotel in London (which sits on a floating platform in the Royal Victoria Docks) is guided by the principal that ‘local is social’. This translates into different socially beneficial strategies such as using local food and materials wherever possible and giving local people (especially those who are vulnerable or homeless) training opportunities in the hotel itself. The London based Qbic hotel works with three different community initiatives (Café Art, Bikeworks and Foodcycle) to provide hands-on support for those affected by homelessness. Then there’s the Wesley Hotel & Conference Venue near London’s Euston Station. While every inch the corporate traveller’s friend (with 15 meeting rooms on offer) the 4 star hotel has been awarded a Social Enterprise Mark for its commitment to sustainable operations and social responsibility, in particular the significant financial and practical support it has provided to thousands of students from developing countries over the past 50 years.

The bottom line is that hotels that take a broader approach to CSR are attracting attention, winning friends and gaining ground. And hotel managers who are looking for a competitive edge may find the answer right on their doorstep.