Here at the Green House we often get referred to as an eco-hotel (as in AA Eco-Hotel of the year 2013 – sorry, we’re shameless). It’s not a label we tend to use ourselves though, to us – the Green House is a luxury boutique hotel first and foremost. It just so happens that it’s a luxury boutique hotel run by a bunch of people who believe that quality and sustainability are just different sides of the same coin – you genuinely can’t have one without the other.
So it was really nice to receive a bit of news recently that suggests the rest of the world is catching on to this idea. The Green House is one of a handful of hotels and B&Bs in the UK to have been awarded platinum status (the highest possible rating) in the new TripAdvisor “Green Leader” scheme. Now if we’re totally honest, this in itself wasn’t a great surprise – the truth is, we would have been disappointed with anything less. But what we feel is really worth celebrating is the fact that TripAdvisor has finally recognised that eco-friendly travel choices are no longer just a niche interest among its millions of users.
The launch of the Green Leader scheme in the UK in March 2014 (it started in the US about 18 months ago), came off the back of research that found more than three quarters of travellers felt more positive about their trip if they had made “eco-friendly” choices. More than 80% (that’s right, four out of five) wanted their hotels to have environmentally friendly practices. However, nearly half felt that hotels didn’t provide enough information about sustainability. (We hope that’s not an accusation that can be levelled at The Green House. While we avoid all forms of lecturing/preaching, the information about our green core principles and practices is there for anyone who’s interested – on our website, in our room literature, and from our front of house staff, should you choose to ask them.)
The Green Leader scheme has been designed as a way to plug this information gap. TripAdvisor users can simply click on the discreet green leaf on the Green House page to get a detailed list of the environmentally friendly practices we have in place, and what customers can expect from their stay.
As some commentators have pointed out, the scheme isn’t perfect. For one thing, there is no external certification or audit process, as there is for, say, our ISO 14001 environmental accreditation. However, TripAdvisor says there will be random audits carried out each year by third party sustainability experts. Also, where customer feedback suggests a hotel’s green claims are inaccurate, TripAdvisor promises it will send the auditors in – a very public shaming is sure to follow!
So not perfect, but certainly better than nothing. As one responsible tourism expert put it: “With 260 million unique monthly visitors in 2013, and more than 150 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions, the green credentials of businesses will be out there in the marketplace. That is a game changer.”
But for us, the really exciting part is that clearly, in the minds of a growing number of hotel visitors, quality and sustainability are now inextricably linked. As TripAdvisor’s Jenny Rushmore put it: “Often, properties with high sustainability standards are best in class in other areas of service, too… the overall experience of a green trip is more enjoyable”.
Jenny, I don’t know if you can hear us, but down here in Bournemouth, we’re cheering. Click here to read more about our sustainable principles.