Affluent travellers ‘want luxury of choice’ when considering sustainability

A panel of luxury travel experts encouraged brands to involve guests in sustainable decision-making and offer “the luxury of choice” as the travel industry works towards a greener future.

Speaking at Connections Luxury in London at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square this week, panellists said changing consumer habits following the pandemic and the rise of a new environmentally conscious millennial generation meant the way brands must approach sustainability has changed. 

Naomi Heaton, chief executive and founder of The Other House, a new hotel and residents’ club in South Kensington, said: “Luxury is now not just laying everything on and having this experience that is completely dissociated with real life. Luxury for the new generation is being able to make choices about how they want to live and how they want to impact the planet. It’s necessary to involve our guests in the decision-making to make our residents’ club a more sustainable place to live in.”

Hamish Scott, development director at sustainable certification agency Positive Luxury added: “Consumer habits have definitely changed. Consumers are now looking at experiences and staying longer; they're looking at different methods of transport. 75% of generation X and millennials are now using apps to track their environmental impacts. It's about building trust and embracing the opportunities and being transparent in terms of what you are doing.”

Heaton said The Other House had benefitted from being a new brand and “starting from scratch”. The property, which soft-launched this month, will unveil a new app when it officially opens next June to enable guests to view the hotel’s energy consumption as well as control metrics in their rooms like light and air conditioning usage. 

“That enables guests to make their own decisions as to whether they want to modify their behaviour or not,” she said.

“And those kinds of things are really important, because what we feel is our residents do want to make positive impact, they do actually want to change and they want to be able to control and participate in [these decisions].”

She added: “Technology will inevitably underpin sustainability going forward.”

Scott agreed digitalisation would “definitely be a factor” in the future but said businesses large and small should also endeavour to have a 360-degree approach to sustainability by starting small and working “incrementally to continuous improvement”.

He said: “The key is having a holistic approach to sustainability and really understanding what your baseline is. If you don’t understand what your impacts are then you can't improve them, so regardless of whether you're a small business or an heritage business, it's understanding those impacts and then putting together an action plan to reduce those impacts.”

Hamish also encouraged travel brands to find “quick wins” like reducing plastic, using QR codes for menus, leaning on local farms to source products and employing local workers to ensure they are working towards both long and short-term goals.  

Stephan Degueurce-Roberge, managing director of Visit Monaco, added that accreditation was “essential” and said destinations “must lead the way by creating a clear roadmap to stakeholders”.

Image: (from left) Hamish Scott, Naomi Heaton, Stephan Degueurce-Roberge and Hollie-Rae Brader, editor of Aspire, who moderated the panel. Image credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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