Did you know that according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, hotels are responsible for 1% of global carbon emissions?
Finding ways to reduce our impact on the environment is not only vital to combat the current climate crisis, but to attract leisure, MICE and corporate travel business. Now as we approach recovery, event professionals, event attendees, and travellers are more conscious than ever of how their choices affect the world around them, and the impact they have on the environment.
We spoke with industry professionals to understand the choices they and their businesses are making to bring hospitality and events into an eco-conscious era.
Gabriele Ramonaite – Groups & Events Sales Manager, The Stratford, shared her experience with us.
Tell us a bit about you and your role at The Stratford Hotel London.
The Stratford is a design hotel that does things differently. Set across the first seven levels of Manhattan Loft Gardens, we are made up of 145 rooms, four event spaces, two restaurants, three bars, three rooftop gardens and a gym & wellness centre. Manhattan Loft Gardens is a vibrant east London community with rental loft apartments allowing us to have a unique offering for guests to spend the night, stay the week or become residents and move in for good.
We opened in 2019 and worked with a fantastic team of architects and interior designers to produce a building that evokes the timeless glamour and maverick social spirit of New York’s legendary long-stay hotels.
I have been working events since 2017, my initial role was operationally by running the day to day in a 5* luxury Mayfair hotel, over a short period of time I was promoted to event planning. Having had the opportunity to execute events has allowed me to understand and know how to deliver exceptional customer service, whilst making people happy. My biggest satisfaction is being part of my clients’ journey where we collectively come to the successful execution after weeks or months of planning.
What kind of demand are you seeing from event planners where sustainability is concerned?
Our focus on sustainability is a mandatory requirement for RFPs from corporate clients and event planners. They want to know what we are doing and show that we have sustainability measures in place. It’s not an option, it’s a must.
This could be anything from how we measure carbon, energy and water usage to certifications and programmes. They also want to know about our food offerings and if we provide organic food and if it’s sourced locally. Another aspect is our single use plastic usage, and also whether we have strategies in place for reducing water usage, using sustainable materials and our diversion of waste.
What steps has The Stratford taken toward being more eco-friendly?
As a business, sustainability is one of our key passion points and since before opening, we have focused on ways we can ensure our hotel is eco-friendly. We have embedded GROW which is the overarching theme for our spirit of sustainability. This means we cultivate growth in our people, greenery, and encourage growth in awareness around issues that matter.
We focus on reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible, such as by ensuring as many of our suppliers are using electric vehicles, using only LED lights within the building, installing solar panels, having flush limiters, and reducing our plastic usage, such as in our dental and shaving kits.
In our building, we have three sky terraces, offering a unique open space for our guests and vertical community. We’ve looked at optimising this space from an eco-friendly and biodiversity standpoint as well, such as by growing herbs and other ingredients which can be used by our food and beverage outlets.
As sustainability is a passion point for us, we want to get our employees involved as much as possible. For those interested in this area, we have formed a ‘green team’ where members from each department come together and discuss what we can do to improve our efforts and practices.
We widely show our plethora of transport link options via our website and on other resources so our clients and guests know how carbon footprints can be reduced for events and visits. As we’re based in London, there are plenty of public transport options as well as nearby bike hires and attractions which are walking distance from us.
What challenges do hotels and venues face where sustainability is concerned?
One of the main challenges is from third party vendors and ensuring they are focusing on sustainable initiatives.
What's on the horizon? Are there any eco milestones or goals for The Stratford?
Being more sustainable is a constant, ongoing goal for us that we will always be working towards. Stratford as a borough is particularly windy, so we want to investigate how we can utilise this wind in the form of energy in the future. We also want to utilise rainwater; this is drained through our building so we want to look at options on how this can be reused and therefore conserve natural resources. Another area is the solar energy that we collect, we currently have some solar panels fitted but we would like to increase this amount.
What advice would you give to other hotels who are trying to be more sustainable?
The main way to try and be more sustainable is by educating people and ensuring initiatives are effectively managed. You need to ensure your employees and the next generation know the importance of being sustainable and how a 360 approach can be maintained by looking at everywhere in your building.
This could be your hotel fittings, the food and beverage ingredients, the uniforms, the cleaning products used, the suppliers you work with, the mode of transports, the recycling facilities, the list goes on… Being sustainable is an ongoing mission, there’s always something that could be better for the environment and it’s all about looking at what’s best for your business and wider community.
Need a bit of eco-inspo?
Check out our detailed guide on how hotels and venues can be more sustainable. Discover why sustainability matters to your buyers, interviews with sustainable hotels and creative ways to get your eco on!