Procurement Service Providers can help luxury operators’ source eco-friendly products that meet travelers’ demands and create authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences
By Annie Davidson
Environmental responsibility and sustainability are driving hotel guests and restaurant patrons to be hyper-aware of the sourcing behind the meals they are eating, accommodations they are choosing and solutions they use during travel (i.e. water bottles, cutlery). In a recent article titled “The Next 5 Years: Future Hospitality Industry Trends You Need to Know,” Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury, said, “Millennials – who have officially bypassed Baby Boomers in the workforce – are twice as likely to support hotel brands with strong management of their sustainability and social goals.” For them, sustainability plays an important role and is a differentiator in the future of hotels.
According to the Top Trends in Hospitality 2019 report, “one of the biggest challenges facing luxury brands is becoming and staying relevant for a new generation of clients.” The study predicts that consumers under 35 will account for more than half of the global personal luxury goods purchased in the market by 2025. For the luxury hotel segment to become and remain relevant to this group of reigning travelers who will be instrumental in driving revenues through 2034, operators should consider doing more than just providing lavish hotel accommodations and serving trendy dishes. Delivering authentic experiences not found elsewhere will go a long way towards attracting and retaining new guests. That means filling each stay with localized food and beverage items and one-of-a-kind amenities to elevate the overall experience. But that is just the first step.
To truly separate one luxury destination from the next in the minds of Millennials, operators can choose to source responsibly from suppliers who enforce humane practices and ensure the highest standards for human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption are being met. Operating more efficiently is possible by reducing food waste (possibly growing food onsite or sourcing food locally), requesting eco-friendly packaging, eliminating plastics, moving to plant-based proteins, and offering healthy food options made from scratch.
Implementing these practices may be a challenge for hoteliers to go alone, but thankfully, operators of luxury accommodations can turn to their Procurement Services Providers (PSPs) for support, guidance and other value-added services. A PSP will not just help properties save money on core products; they can also assist with sourcing and contracting suppliers offering sustainably sourced food products and sustainable amenities that define the experiences desired.
Of major importance to this demographic are creative, sustainable, and plant-based cuisines, and the ability to accommodate varying dietary restrictions. Here are a few sustainability trends that luxury hotel and restaurant operators may want to consider in 2020:
- More and more luxury hotels are committing to sourcing cage-free eggs. IHG, Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson, Wyndham and MGM Resorts recently announced their commitment to sourcing 100 percent of eggs (shell, liquid and egg products) from cage-free sources globally by 2025. Finding farms that raise cage-free chickens for eggs can be difficult, but a PSP can bring a unique perspective on this challenge to assist luxury operators with finding the right farms to meet their sourcing needs.
- Eco-friendly packaging, plant-based proteins, revamped classic cocktails, specialty burger blends (mushroom-beef burgers, etc.), and unique beef and pork cuts are also on the minds of today’s Millennial travelers. By mixing old with new, and combining classic comfort foods with something radical, travelers will achieve a more sought-after dining experience. Strategic sourcing and purchasing are making this type of experiential transformation possible.
- Sourcing local is another key opportunity for hoteliers to improve their carbon footprint by working with local distillers, farmers and purveyors who can also help enhance the guest experience for luxury diners wanting a local “feel” integrated into their travel experiences. Knowing what they are eating, where it was sourced and how it was raised can be important. Finding enough locally sourced products to meet a hotel or restaurant’s daily demand can be difficult. A PSP will do the legwork to find the best local products at the best prices while not forsaking the highest quality standards.
- Research shows 50% of produce grown in the U.S. is thrown out as waste. As a result, composting, recycling and incorporating zero-waste processes are increasingly becoming more important. Many Chefs are introducing and enforcing zero-waste policies to create dishes from repurposed scraps, trim and other food items that would normally go into the trash. A PSP can help source organic and natural foods to help operators minimize non-sustainable ingredients.
- Eliminating single-use plastic items is a hot button generally with most travelers. They seek sustainable products such as paper drinking straws and alternatives to plastic water bottles. Although hoteliers are encouraged to offer hydration solutions beyond the bottle like filling stations or to switch to reusable plastics or even paper, it can still be difficult for them to find ample suppliers to meet growing demand. Leveraging a PSP can help ensure the luxury operator knows what options are available on a variety of sustainable goods.
- Offering more gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and keto options as menu mainstays is a great way to accommodate varying dietary restrictions and Millennial’s desire to eat more plant-based meals. It’s no longer enough to have just one or two of these options on the menu. Healthier ingredients are moving into the spotlight, and a PSP can help identify the best quality sources and pricing for alternative milks, plant-based ingredients and superfoods. Chefs will be sneaking more vegetables into pasta, pizza, breads, and sauces and creating full-vegetable burgers, jerky and chips, made from ingredients like mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach or cauliflower.
Sustainability can also be an important business consideration for luxury hoteliers trying to attract conferences and events. To capture a portion of the $840 billion meetings business, luxury accommodations with event spaces may also want to ensure that their venues, menus and supporting services are operating green. According to the M&E 2020 Future Trends Report, Millennial travelers are poised to become the biggest group of business travelers globally from 2024 onwards, and Centennials are right behind them. Both groups will be seeking luxury venues to host events that have sustainable practices in place. Topping the list of meeting planners’ demands are venues that eliminate plastic waste, opt for locally sourced and produced food and drinks, and source and purchase from ethical suppliers.
The sustainability challenge faced by luxury hoteliers is real and on the rise. It is no longer just a feel-good, marketing promotion to attract guests or a nice-to-have, on-trend hotel commodity. Eco-friendliness is now a must-have priority for a growing number of environmentally and socially conscious travelers. To protect the planet, reduce the property’s carbon footprint, and help all businesses achieve complete decarbonization by 2050 (according to the International Tourism Partnership), luxury hoteliers may want to consider conferring with a PSP that has the relevant expertise to help them develop a strategic procurement plan that will benefit their brand and bottom line.
About the Author
Annie Davidson is Director for the Luxury Segment at Avendra. As North America’s leading hospitality procurement services provider, our supply chain management solutions are tailored to our clients’ business strategies and deliver benefits beyond great savings. We combine years of hospitality expertise, purchasing power, services and software to help customers impact the bottom line, improve operational performance and better serve their guests and members. If you are seeking a procurement partner that has the relevant expertise to support your sustainability goals, seek Avendra. www.avendra.com