Your business getting involved in social causes has many positive effects. Besides having a good influence on your surroundings, it also reflects well on your company. Even your team can benefit when you support charitable projects or stand up for a certain cause. That’s why corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly popular in many industries, including the hospitality sector.
Read on for tips on how to implement CSR and what to consider when you’re planning your initiatives.
What is CSR?
CSR means assuming social responsibility as a company and giving back to your community. The focus lies on doing business sustainably. In this case, sustainability includes environmental and climate-related topics as well as social and economic aspects.
CSR also means positively influencing society, the economy, the environment and the community through various initiatives. These can take many forms, depending on the type and size of your company and its possibilities.
Different types of CSR
As a hotel or event venue, you have many opportunities to get involved on a one-time or regular basis. Many businesses even run several CSR programmes. This way they can cover different areas (e.g. environment, socio-economic, etc.) and offer their team a wider range of opportunities to participate.
Here are a few examples to inspire you:
- Focus on sustainability within the company: There are many ways to make a difference in this area. Energy-saving measures, eliminating single-use plastic or working with regional organic food suppliers are among the best ways to minimise your carbon footprint. The good thing is that in many cases guests and clients are happy to contribute, for example by not having their room cleaned during a short stay to save resources.
- Donations: Whether it’s a one-time thing or you do it at regular intervals, you can support charities directly with monetary donations. An alternative would be to match your employees’ donations to their chosen organisations.
- Other forms of support: Donations in kind or help in the form of free services are often well received, too. For example, when accommodation for refugees from Ukraine was being prepared, some hotels donated bedding, crockery or other items of daily use. Others offered free rooms, such as Penta Hotels in the UK.
- Direct collaboration with non-profit organisations: Hosting an event or regularly working on shared projects are also ways to live CSR. Team activities like collecting rubbish or planting trees together are an example of that.
- Paid volunteer days: If you want to offer your employees more flexibility, give them paid time off for a fixed number of days or hours. During this time, they can work for an organisation of their choice.
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How your hotel can benefit from CSR
Getting involved in the ways mentioned above will obviously cost your business time and money. But although the good cause is in the foreground here, it’s important to know that CSR also brings numerous benefits for your hotel.
- A positive image: Studies show that guests see your company as more trustworthy and are more likely to identify with it if you actively practise CSR. This increases your chances of winning over new guests and it strengthens customer loyalty at the same time. Especially in an industry where people frequently want to try out new things, this is an enormous advantage.
- A new unique selling point: Your choice of CSR initiatives allows you to stand out from the crowd. This is very important in the hotel and MICE industry, as many offerings in this area are often interchangeable in the eyes of guests (e.g. room, pool, breakfast...).
- Increased revenue: One study found that 50% of people are willing to pay more if a business invests heavily in CSR. This also counts for hotels and event spaces which operate in an environmentally conscious way or champion social causes.
- Improved morale: Having the feeling that they’re contributing to a worthy cause can be immensely motivating for your team. It also makes your business more attractive to new applicants, which gives you an important advantage in times of a severe staffing shortage. The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 found that a whopping 50% of Millennials would take a pay cut to find a job that aligns with their values.
Caution: Honesty is essential
You’re allowed and encouraged to share your good deeds since otherwise nobody would know about them. Here are a few ways in which you can display them:
- Use social media to show your team at work and let your followers be part of it all in real time.
- Your website is great for listing and linking to all of your past and current CSR initiatives. Here you can summarise your contributions and results and introduce your partners.
- Press releases allow you to share your work with the media and thus reach a wider audience.
- Make sure you update your Cvent Supplier Network profile too. Find out how Beurs van Berlage share their sustainable initiatives on their page.
All this helps you show your work and your business in a positive light. Although this is fantastic for you, you still need to be a bit careful here. Avoid exaggerations. Don’t portray your efforts, results, donations, etc. as better and bigger than they are.
This will quickly backfire and undo your work’s positive impact. Greenwashing is the best example of this. It involves overstating the results of green initiatives and sweeping any of their disadvantages or shortcomings under the carpet. For many brands this has already led to backlash on social networks and in the press. The resulting damage to the company’s image definitely isn’t worth it.
The bottom line is that you should absolutely report on your activities, but without abusing CSR as a marketing technique at the same time. The cause you’re supporting should always remain in the foreground.
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Now you know about the basics of corporate social responsibility for hotels and venues
That means it’s time to get together with your team. Think about which initiatives you want to launch together and which organisations you want to work with. Involve your employees in all important steps, so your activities reflect your common values. That way, CSR will be a success in your business, benefiting not only your hotel but also your environment and your staff.
Next up, discover how sustainability plays a role at The Stratford Hotel London.