One of the various positive effects of the pandemic is the increasing global awareness of millions of people about environmental issues. Research conducted by Booking.com recently confirms this trend, concluding that, with the return of travel, travellers are more aware of looking for how to travel more sustainably.
The big players in the distribution sector, in their quest to adapt to user concerns (according to Travalyst, 71 % of global travellers think that travel companies should offer more
sustainable travel options) and their goal to transform the future of travel into a more sustainable one, begin to display sustainability labels on their platforms. If your hotel is committed to the environment, show it to your users in the main shop windows and take advantage of it. Here is how:
Since the end of summer 2021, Google has begun to identify eco-sustainable hotels and Google Travel users can already see information about these hotels and their ecological certifications in their Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) listings within the Google Travel section.
The hotel’s sustainability will be highlighted with the icon of a green leaf in those hotels that have been granted the environmental sustainability certification by one of the 29 entities or standards recognised by Google.
By clicking on the badge you will get information about the hotel’s sustainable practices:
What do I have to do to activate it and have that icon appear in my hotel?
The first thing is to obtain an eco-sustainable certification from one of the entities accepted by Google. Once you get it, you must go to your Google Business Profile file, and entering Information > Hotel Attributes you can find the Sustainability and Eco-certifications section. Here you can register your sustainable practices and certifications.
In the sustainability box you can detail all those listed practices that you have implemented in your properties. Either by checking Yes/No or specifying another reason.
In the environmental Certifications section you can indicate the one that the hotel has:
Once this is done, you have to wait a few days for Google to update your file and the ecological badge appears in Google Travel.
Will this eco tag affect my position in rankings and with the use of Google filters at all?
There is neither ranking advantage in Google Travel rankings beyond tag visibility that can make more discerning travellers choose your hotel.
Nor there are filters to choose eco-certified hotels, currently. But it is very likely that in the near future we will be able to filter by this type of certificates, as it happened with the implementation of previous filters on previous occasions:
- In the past, Google did not show occupations in its searches and then added the adult and child settings.
- In the case of cancellable fees, Google started by showing the conditions of the fees in its results and later the filter to show only cancellable fees.
- During the pandemic, Google has added the room filter for COVID-19 emergency staff, highlighting Google’s policy of supporting sensitive causes for the general public.
Another of the major players in distribution that have recently joined the trend of promoting sustainable hotels is Booking.com, which since November 15 shows its users sustainable accommodations through the “Travel Sustainable” badge.
What to do to activate it
In the “Properties > Sustainability practices” section of the Booking.com extranet you can mark the sustainable practices that your property complies with.
Properties that reach the required impact threshold (through a combination and weighting of each of the practices), as well as those that have a wide range of existing certifications and labels, for example, those officially recognised by the World Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel; receive the Travel Sustainable badge. If you have another ecological certification different from these, you can request Booking.com to be included as a certification body through this form. These organisations send information about the certifications of the properties to Booking.com twice a year.
As with Google, it is to be expected that later on it will be possible to filter the properties that have the sustainable property distinctive.
Given this global concern for a more sustainable world, some governments are taking a practical approach by providing subsidies for obtaining sustainability certificates, and hopefully more will join in.
As an example, the European Union has launched a programme to help companies and industries that have been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the hotel industry (more information on NextGenerationEU).
There is no harm in asking your local or regional government if they are considering it.
The trend towards sustainable consumption is advancing unstoppably in all industries, and has been reinforced by the pandemic. As a hotelier, it is important to have a real awareness and the goal of contributing to reduce the environmental impact of tourism activity, deepening real eco-sustainable practices. But this is also an opportunity to advertise it to your potential guests: your property will gain visibility and prestige that go beyond direct sales, reaching the global image of your hotel on the internet and in the offline world.
Google and the big OTAs are taking their first steps by configuring their platforms as showcases to make these green initiatives visible, and this is just the beginning of an infinite race towards a more sustainable world. It is in your hands to take advantage of this eco-visibility and continue adapting the operations of your property until you achieve sustainable and high quality tourism.