HomeHotelRiu and Lopesan, starting the cultural transformation towards sustainability

Riu and Lopesan, starting the cultural transformation towards sustainability

The truth is that it is not at all common for tourism companies to openly recognize that their sustainability strategies are in diapers and that, although on the right path, they have just begun to take the first steps; when the most common thing is to announce with great fanfare all the initiatives undertaken, which are still true, but often without clear lines of action to support them. That is why the sincerity of Catalina Alemany, director of Social Responsibility and Corporate Training at Riu Hotels & Resorts, is even more appreciated; and José Alba, general director of the Lopesan hotel division, at the conference “Innovation, digitalization and sustainability” of Hosteltur Academy, AEHM (Madrid Hotel Business Association) and the General Directorate of Tourism and Hospitality of the Community of Madrid.

Catalina Alemany has opened the debate by admitting that “sustainability is something very new for everyone; we are newbies. The same thing is happening that happened with the qualitywhich at first was limited to a department focused on it, to evolve into be part of the companies DNA and apply to all processes. In sustainability we have also gone from a specific area to including it in the company strategic plan and be treated in the Board of Directors. There is still a long way to go to continue the same evolution as with quality, but we are in the good way”.

From left To the right, the moderator, Carmen Porras, Hosteltur journalist; Catalina Alemany, from Riu Hotels & Resorts; and José Alba, from Lopesan. Source: Hosteltur.

Alemany bets on “the transformation, because you can return from change, but not from transformation; it’s a step that companies take that has no turning back. Although it is a very slow process when you have to share it with so many agents in the organization to decide what to do in sustainability, desire to involve everyone and implement”.

Along these same lines, José Alba has been convinced that “today we set the goal on sustainability, but it will not begin to be successful until we becomes a culture. We have our focus there, supported by KPMG and validated by the Board of Directors, but until the action plan does not penetrate to the lowest levels of the organization “We will not have managed to turn those objectives into a reality.”

“We are working to achieve level 2 decarbonization in five years, as stated in the 2024-29 Strategic Plan. To achieve this, compliance with this objective is part of the criteria for the annual bonuses that managers receive,” as José Alba has revealed.

Training and communication, keys to this culture change

Precisely to achieve that culture change In companies, training is key, as highlighted by the director of Social Responsibility and Corporate Training at Riu, in addition to communication: “We need a story; tell stories to the employee so that they assume them as their own, because everyone’s commitment is important, generate that commitment to the culture of sustainability. Furthermore, most of our workers are in contact with the client and must internalize that story to be able to transmit it to thembecause it must be the same story for both to generate awareness and involvement”.

Sustainability training should be based on three layers, according to Catalina Alemany: “Inform, to know what I have to do; train, to know how to do it; and most importantly, get them to want to do it, to want it, to not do it out of obligation but to respond to everyone’s will, creating an emotional bond in which we all participate, without tricks. We must enchant them with something that everyone wants to belong to; It is not easy and for this communication is very important”

At Lopesan they have also focused on training with their “Lopesan for Good”as Alba explained, “oriented to the internal client, with more than 8,500 hours of training in sustainability, without there being benefits behind it for the owner, but for society, the environment, the sector and the business in the long term. The advantage is that Our staff is already very aware of the effects of climate change in a fragile island territory like the Canary Islands.; effects that we are already experiencing, such as the sand that reaches us from the Sahara having multiplied by 100 or the rise in sea temperature by one degree or one and a half degrees.”

Use cases

At Riu they have “a Sustainability Committee which is working very well for us, made up of a member from each area of ​​the organization, with very frequent meetings where proposals are shared and whose decisions are submitted to the Council. Then it is very important monitor how measures are being implemented and with what resultsto avoid making it seem like we are getting nowhere.”

In the case of Lopesanwhich for five years have had two photovoltaic parks and one wind farm, are already self-sufficient in energy consumption. And they will also be (almost) in five years in sustainable agricultural productssince they have 120 million square meters in farms that supply them 40% of the fruit and vegetables in their buffets; A percentage that will rise to 80% in the next five years, without reaching 100% because “there are products that are not available in the Canary Islands.”

Other news related to sustainability strategies:

– Social sustainability in hotels: culture, data and alliances are key

– Riu advances in sustainability with its new Proudly Committed strategy

– Pioneering regenerative tourism project in Europe at a campsite in Madrid

– Riu, first hotel company certified by Aenor in Zero Food Waste

– Ilunion Hotels and Women Action Sustainability alliance on sustainability

– Ranking of the 100 most responsible companies in 2023: eight are from the sector

In his commitment to kilometer zero, 84% of its suppliers are local although, as he has recognized, “the commitment to sustainability it’s not cheapalthough in the long term it always is: the sustainable fishing It is 16% more expensive per kilo, and the meat 18%. Furthermore, at the moment only 20% of the fish we acquire, and which we send to our a la carte restaurants, comes from sustainable fishing because it is not that widespread either.”

On the other hand, in his industrial catering and laundry services They have cut their CO2 emissions by 40%. All initiatives “with the aim of minimizing the carbon footprint, which we communicate to the client.”

The most aware customers

Sustainability, as Alemany has stressed, “sooner or later it will become a choice factor; In fact, it already is for certain market segments such as MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and fairs) and corporate tourism. Are the most sensitive because corporations already have their own commitments in their sustainability strategies applicable to the entire value chain, and if you do not comply with them, they will not consider you.”

In it vacation tourismAs he added, “sustainability attributes are beginning to have value due to pressure from travel agencies and OTAs. It is not an element of choice but it will be because the customer already has that awareness for other things that are part of their decision making for any product and service, and soon it will also include vacations.”

By nationalitiesAs stated by the general director of the Lopesan Hotel Division, “the Nordic customer is the most aware with a lot of difference. The central european markets They are starting, but they are light years away. In 2016, 1.1 million tourists from the Nordic countries came to the Canary Islands, a figure that has fallen in recent years to around 700,000 due to the phenomenon of shame of flying. And it is a trend that is here to stay. In fact, they prefer to book in our hotels in the Baltic due to the proximity to their markets of origin, especially the younger segment, which is hyper-aware. Therefore we must focus on reduce emissions and diversify emitters to compensate for that drop.”

Source: Hosteltur

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