Hotel Sustainability: 27 Statistics Illustrating the Growth of ESG in the Hotel Industry

By Hotel Tech Report

Last updated March 15, 2022

4 min read


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Are you wondering if the industry’s focus on sustainable practices is just a passing trend or if the sustainable hotels movement is here to stay? Or are you looking for inspiration as you strive to make your hotel more diverse and inclusive? It’s not only travelers who are increasingly looking for more sustainable and ethical options where they can stay at hotels who focus on initiatives for a clean carbon footprint and minimal environmental impact like food waste reduction and reducing high impact guest experience touch points like daily room cleanings.

Investors, hospitality management professionals and owners are recognizing that hotels that rate highly on the ESG scale are not only attractive investments, but they also provide the services and benefits that both guests and employees are looking for.

Hotels are a large stakeholder within local environmental ecosystems and given the hospitality industry’s carbon intensive nature (i.e. flying on an airplane) hoteliers are sensitive to ensure that once guests arrive at their destination that they do everything they can to minimize impact. The good news is that there are tons of great options today like low-flow toilets, reusable refillable bottles, digital key cards, organic food, composting straws and energy-saving air conditioning.

In this article, we’ll explain what exactly ESG means for hotels and run through 27 statistics that show ESG in the hotel industry is here to stay.

What is ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance)?

Before we dive into the stats, you might be wondering what ESG is. ESG, or environmental, social, and governance, is a framework that investors use when assessing potential investments. The environmental piece refers to initiatives around energy efficiency, waste reduction, and water conservation. The social piece includes company policies for health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, and fair labor practices. And the governance piece refers to the company’s ethical business practices, diversity of the boards of directors, and adherence to laws and regulations.

Investors who are socially or environmentally conscious might not want to invest in companies that produce large quantities of fossil fuels, for example. The ESG framework helps investors understand how the company protects (or harms) nature, how it treats its employees and communities, and whether it has ethical standards of corporate governance. 

Sustainability and Conservation Data

  1. A 2021 study found that 81% of travelers surveyed said they plan to choose a sustainable accommodation option in the coming year. The share of green-minded travelers has risen consistently over the past 6 years that the survey was conducted.

  2. Hilton conducted a survey in 2018 which found that a third of guests research a hotel’s environmental and social practices before booking, and 44% of guests under the age of 25 do so. 

  3. Being sustainable doesn’t need to break the bank. Building a LEED-certified hotel only costs 1-2% more than one that’s not green, according to the United States Green Building Council.

  4. The state of New York is considering a ban on single-use toiletries in hotels, and, if it passes, the law would eliminate 27.4 million tiny toiletry bottles annually in New York City alone.

  5. California has already passed a bill to ban small toiletry bottles; beginning in 2023 hotels will get fined $2000 for repeat offenses.

  6. IHG and Marriott planned to remove all single-use toiletries from their properties by the end of 2021. This move would save over 200 million tiny bottles globally each year at IHG, and over $14 million each year at Marriott.

  7. A 2020 Booking.com survey found that 53% of respondents want to travel more sustainably when they take future trips.

  8. Laundry accounts for 16% of water use at a typical hotel. Hotels can significantly reduce water use by implementing a towel reuse program: in Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace saved 30 million gallons of water in a year by implementing such a program.

  9. Guests can be encouraged to help your hotel be more sustainable. A 2015 study found that guests were 20% more likely to reuse towels if they were asked to place a door hanger on their door if they reused towels.

  10. Over 60 hotel companies are part of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, making up 4.5 million hotel rooms, or 25% of total hotel room inventory globally.

  11. Choice Hotels has committed to use cage-free eggs in 100% of the company’s properties around the world by 2025. 

  12. Amsterdam-based hotel brand CitizenM is known for its properties built through modular construction. By assembling building components and rooms elsewhere, this method of construction can decrease supply chain costs and reduce waste to around 2%. A traditional hotel produces 10-20% construction waste.

  13. Modular hotel construction also produces 68% less carbon emissions since the property can be built faster and with fewer truckloads of supplies and less crane use.

Diversity and Social Impact Statistics

  1. Hilton was named the #1 on DiversityInc’s 2021 ”Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list. Over 170 nationalities are represented in Hilton’s workforce, showing that the company is dedicated to hiring a diverse base of employees.

  2. Marriott announced a commitment to reach gender parity and in executive roles by 2023, plus 25% of executive roles held by people of color. Marriott also plans to have 3,000 properties owned by women and people of color by 2025.

  3. Together with E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), 1 Hotels, a sustainability-focused hotel brand, recently announced $120,000 in funding to go to emerging business leaders with ideas in the clean energy space.

  4. As part of its RiseHY program, Hyatt has committed to hiring 10,000 “opportunity youth” between the ages of 16 and 24 by 2025.

  5. Hyatt has also donated $4.7 million to nonprofits around the world since 2008 through the Hyatt Community Grant program.

  6. Hotel companies have launched more generous parental leave policies in recent years; in 2016 Choice announced it would give new mothers up to 12 weeks off at full pay, and employees needing to care for loved ones could receive up to 4 weeks of leave fully paid. 

  7. Hilton also revamped its parental leave policies in 2019 to offer 12 weeks to new mothers and 4 weeks to new fathers and adoptive parents.

  8. Through their work with Operation Homefront, Choice Hotels donated 2,000 room nights to American veterans, active service managers, and their families.

  9. In 2020 Marriott partnered with the Red Cross to host roughly 500 blood drives, which resulted in 14,000 units of blood. 

  10. Wyndham announced that the company achieved 100% gender equity in pay for its executive team in 2021.

  11. 51% of Marriott’s top 20% highest-paid employees in the United States were women in 2019.

Corporate Governance Datapoints

  1. Women held only 21% (51 seats) of the 238 available board seats at the US’s top hotel companies in 2019, according to a study conducted by AETHOS Consulting Group, but in 2021 that number has increased to nearly 25%.

  2. Wyndham was named a World’s Most Ethical Company in 2019 and 2020 by the Ethisphere Institute.

  3. By the end of 2020 over 29,000 managers at Marriott completed anti-corruption training, and a further 11,000 employees completed a business ethics course on global trade sanctions.

As you can see, hotel companies around the world are making strides to be more sustainable, socially impactful, and ethical. ESG in the hotel industry is the new normal, so now is a great time to implement some ESG initiatives at your property.

Sustainability initiatives from solar panels and elimination of single-use plastics to sustainable cleaning products / linens and LED lighting and even paperless check-in - there are tons of ways you can do your part to reduce your hospitality business’ footprint and minimize your negative impact.
Millennials were perhaps the first generation of conscious consumers to desire eco-friendly hotels and champion initiatives reversing the effects of climate change but they certainly won’t be the last.

Every hotelier should take a long term iterative approach to reducing their environmental footprint as future generations continue to demand even more thought around these initiatives. You don’t necessarily need a completely green hotel and brand to do your part - even small changes like reducing the energy use in unused guestrooms can make material impact.