Talking Point: Five ways for hotels to be responsible employers

The accountability of a responsible business doesn’t just target customers, it should target employees as well. In this Talking Point post Gemini founder Ryan Jackson lists some of the ways businesses can ensure they’re being responsible employers.

RPH Cafe on the PARK 1.jpg

Employer responsibility is a hot topic of late but what does this mean to the employee? What direct impact does this have to his or her working day?

Many companies use the term loosely and their actions do not support their words which is unfortunately a common theme throughout business.

Historically business has served the needs of its shareholders and aimed to squeeze every bit of profit out of the company which has often been at the expense of the employee. However, there is a new generation of companies that live and breathe their modus operandi and we are moving into a new era of business where the common hierarchy system is no more. The shift has moved towards shared values that impact not only the employees but all whom interact within the company’s field of influence.

But what does it really mean to be a responsible employer? And what are the expectations of employees who enjoy working within an organisation which has a corporate conscience?

The embodiment of business ethics has to be genuine and come from the very top of the organisation. It cannot be engineered and so it requires the MD or CEO to immerse themselves fully into these moral ethics whilst holding senior management accountable for the integration of these principles within procedures, processes and policies.

I and the team at Gemini Parking Solutions are seeing the results of many years work, stripping the business back to its very core to establish and define who we are as an organisation and what we represent. We have created a distinct company culture that leads the way not only within the parking management industry but also within standard British business culture. We fully embrace the meaning of what it is to be a responsible employer and so I share with you five ways in which hotels can become responsible employers.

1.     Embracing and defining your company values.

Values are often considered a very corporate thing to have and are ironically undervalued. Often people scroll through Google selecting values that have no inherent meaning or thought behind them. But by becoming a values focused company it binds you to a higher standard. Your values will define how your employees think, speak and behave. They act as guiding principles that define the company culture, brand and vision. Hiring, firing, marketing, growth strategies and every decision should be made according to the company’s core values. This sets an expectation and a mutual understanding for employees and service partners alike.

2.     Focusing and encouraging employee development

Developing your team members to become the best versions of themselves not only creates a more skilful, efficient and productive workforce but also helps keep employees engaged and reduces employee turnover.

Without a clear vision or working towards an objective, employees begin to feel stagnant and that they’re not progressing. This is when they begin to look outside of the business to further their career. When employees aren’t offered quality training, 40% are liable to leave within the first year of employment.

The alternative perspective is described by Zig Ziglar, the renowned motivational speaker who said; “What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them!” 

I personally feel development goes beyond job specific training and is more about empowering your team to achieve and expect more from life. Sharing success formulas, skills and belief patterns so they too can create the life they desire. 

At Gemini we created a unique development hub that carries employees through a continuous journey encompassing all areas of personal development including mindfulness, limiting belief systems, personal values and money management. The results and feedback has been priceless and reinforces the importance of employers adopting this strategy.

3.     Wellbeing in the workplace

Create an environment where employees look forward to going to work. It is said the average person spends over 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime therefore it seems ludicrous if efforts aren’t made to improve the working environment and the general wellbeing of those who are dedicating their lives to help you fulfil your vision.

Companies are increasingly aware of the adverse effects of a stressful working environment and the negative implications this can have on employees. Gym membership has been a popular employee benefit but this has been replaced with in-house meditation or mindfulness programmes as employers recognise the importance of mental health and creating a more harmonious environment. Fruit boxes, yoga, life-coaching sessions are just some of the initiatives run by forward-thinking employers who see the value in investing in their teams.

4.     Embracing your social responsibilities

This goes back to my earlier point of business now serving society as opposed to solely its shareholders. Previously large corporations had a reputation for their moral ethics and rarely gave back to their local communities but this has changed with companies such as The Body Shop or Ben & Jerry’s who see “giving back” as part of their brand identity. Consumers are choosing to spend with companies that demonstrate strong social values and this is fast becoming one of the deciding factors when making any purchase.

Interestingly as a result of this shift there are now certification schemes such as B Corp which is achieved if a company can demonstrate rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. The tide is turning so it’s crucial that businesses take their social responsibility seriously otherwise they could lose customers that were once loyal.  

5.     Build an environmental awareness

66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. People are choosing to do business with companies that have gone further than green and are embodying the concept into their business.

Being environmentally responsible can start with the smallest of steps. Choosing to purchase recyclable goods, seeking renewable energy sources or simply inviting guests to re-use their bedding or towels. It could mean implementing a green supply chain so everything about each business purchase or process has green considerations.

For example, Jennie Lawson, the founder of Mimosa Beauty Salon, has committed to making her business eco-innovative. 

  • They only buy British and local to ensure a low carbon footprint.
  • They are 100% landfill free
  • All their lights are LED
  • They use the most eco-friendly washing machines and washing powder.
  • They’ve installed environmentally friendly soundproofing inside the walls and decorated with eco-friendly paint.
  • The flooring is 74% recycled carpet, coconut flooring and sustainably sourced laminate throughout the salon.

Jennie has committed to help save the planet and our oceans from the plastic crisis.  She says “Every decision with the expansion of Mimosa has had the planet at its core. If it is not “clean” for the planet or people it does not enter the salon. It has been both exhilarating and challenging. When you have a vision as huge as helping every single person on this planet to have clean water, and stopping ocean animals dying from ingesting plastic, every step in the right direction helps.”

Companies such as Ikea, M&S and Unilever have all made changes to the way they operate by introducing an environmentally responsible outlook to their business. They are not only seeing their environmental targets being achieved but reaping financial rewards, attracting new customers and reducing their environmental impact.

Ryan Jackson is the founder and CEO of Gemini Parking Solutions, the UK’s only “values-based” Car Park Management Company.  A serial entrepreneur, Ryan’s passion is to build disruptive companies that shake up the status quo and pave the way for a new age of thinking in various industry sectors. 

Source: Green Hotelier

Small accommodations with a big heart for sustainability

Maison Blanche is a chain of three small boutique hotels in Ukraine where the “look and feel” signals the commitment to sustainability


 Maison Blanche has three small hotels, one in central Kiyv and two in the outskirts of the capital of Ukraine. All three hotels are Green Key awarded.

All three hotels have individual rooms that all differ from one another in size and decoration, but their common feature is the wooden appearance. The beds and most furniture are wooden and locally produced.

There is a strong commitment to saving of water, energy, waste and resources in all three hotels. They have a standard policy of when to change towels and sheets (unless the guests ask for it to be done more often). The cleaning in the hotels is done using products without any harmful substances. The two hotels with restaurants (Berezovka and Mynitsa) are serving meals with organic and locally sourced products. Maison Blanche Mynitsa has beautiful nature surrounding the hotel. Maison Blanche Berezovka has two bicycles so that the guests have an opportunity to bike in the nearby forest.

The hotels are all active in communicating and encouraging its guests to support the environmental efforts of the hotels, both in the rooms, kitchen, public areas, etc.

More information about the hotels can be found on


Green Key’s recent accomplishments from 2017 are highlighted in the latest FEE Annual Report

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) has recently published their most recent Annual Report 2017. As always, the developments of all FEE programmes, including Green Key, are presented in this document.


Landal Rønbjerg Holiday parks, the first Green Key awarded holiday park in Denmark, is featured on the report’s cover page.

The following achievements have developed in the Green Key programme during 2017:

  • An increase to nearly 2,800 awarded establishments in 58 countries with the Green Key label. Establishments in Montenegro, Hungary, and Ireland were the first in their countries to receive the Green Key in 2017.
  • The programme was given a big boost in Mexico in 2017 when Grupo Posadas, the largest Mexican hotel chain, decided to make all of its 140 hotels Green Key compliant.
  • The UN named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IY2017) and Green Key was named a “Friend of IY2017.” Green Key organised and participated in several events related to IY2017.
  • Green Key organised its second Best Practice competition in 2017, focusing on partnership and local engagement for sustainable development. 28 Green Key establishments from 12 different countries participated in the competition, and the winner was Kasteelhoeve Wange (Belgium).
  • New corporate partnerships progressed with Orbital Systems, Eventplanner (online event planning platform) and Ecobnb (sustainable accommodation search website).
  • The cooperation agreements with Rezidor Hotel Group (now called Radisson Hotel Group) and Starwood Hotel Group (now part of Marriott Hotel Group) continued in 2017.
  • Internally, Green Key produced its first informative video about the programme in 2017, and published 17 news articles outlining Green Key’s contribution to each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Aside from Green Key, FEE's other programmes, Blue Flag, Ecoschools, LEAF and YRE, are also presented in the Annual Report. 

Marriott Push Toward Shower Dispensers to Reduce Waste, Trim Costs

For a 140-room property, moving to a three-bottle shower dispenser system is expected to result in the elimination of more than 23,000 tiny toiletry bottles annually - the equivalent of 250 pounds of plastic per year.


Marriott International this week unveiled its new shower-toiletry program for the five brands that make up the bulk of its properties - Courtyard, Fairfield, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites and TownePlace Suites. The shower dispenser program, which includes Paul Mitchell shampoo, conditioner and body wash, will be announced at the Managed by Marriott GMs conference.

For a 140-room property, moving to a three-bottle shower dispenser system is expected to result in the elimination of more than 23,000 tiny toiletry bottles annually - the equivalent of 250 pounds of plastic per year. “We expect to see savings of $1,000 to $2,000 per hotel annually,” says Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability & Supplier Diversity for Marriott International.

The transition to dispensers in the shower will be a requirement for Marriott Managed hotels among the five brands and optional for franchised properties. By the end of this year Marriott expects at least 1,500 hotels out of 3,400 hotels to adopt the program. The switch to dispensers fits well with Marriott’s Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction initiative which was launched last November. One part of Serve 360 is reducing waste by 45 percent by 2025.

Starwood Brands Have Been Using Them

Marriott has been using dispensers for a while and its recently acquired aloft and Element brands have been using them, but this new commitment is by far the company’s largest. Timing was key.

“We were doing a lot of R&D with suppliers,” Naguib says. “They had to develop dispensers that had the right look and feel, worked well, and cleaned easily.” Marriott settled on a Paul Mitchell system that includes three separate bottles positioned side by side in one fixture. The bottles are made from recyclable PET plastic and are recycled once empty; they are not refilled. A “window” on each bottle allows housekeepers to see how much liquid remains. “We are still partnering with Clean the World and they can recycle the bottles,” Naguib adds.

Naguib says there are currently no plans to transition to liquid soap at the bathroom sink. “Customers want that bar of soap at the sink,” she says.

Gregg Carlson, General Manager at the Residence Inn Dulles Airport @ Dulles 28 Centre in Virginia said his 151-room hotel has been using dispensers for more than two years but it just changed over to the Paul Mitchell system during room renovations.

“I like the fact that it is a green initiative with a high-quality product,” Carlson says. “Our housekeepers love it because they don’t have to make sure all the little bottles are placed.”

Source: Green Lodging News 
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Green Key awarded establishment wins the 2018 Green Hotelier Award

NH Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst in the Netherlands has won the 2018 Green Hotelier Award organised by the Green Hotelier Magazine of the International Tourism Partnership

 Copyright: NH Hotel Group S.A.

Copyright: NH Hotel Group S.A.

The 2018 Green Hotelier Awards have named the world’s most eco-friendly and sustainable hotels as part of Responsible Business Week.

The winner in the category of carbon is Green Key awarded NH Noordwijk Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst from the Netherlands. This NH Hotel Group’s property in the Netherlands has exceeded its targets over the last year by reducing its energy consumption per occupied room by 15%. The establishment has as well ensured that energy is not wasted throughout the building, so they have reduced energy through cogeneration and the use of more natural solutions like using sunlight for lighting and heating. The hotel uses centralised systems to control room temperature and monitor energy use throughout the building, but also help their guests reduce their own footprint by offering electric car charging points and bike rentals. Their commitment to reduced carbon footprint has really paid off.

Other winners included Mercure Convention Center Ancol Jakarta from Indonesia (in the category of water and the overall winner), Glenuig Inn from Scotland (in the category of waste) and Six Senses Laamu from the Maldives (in the category of community).

The annual awards by Green Hotelier Magazine changed format this year to align with the International Tourism Partnership’s goals for 2030. These goals invite the hotel industry to align their corporate social responsibility efforts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (also called Global Goals). Editor of Green Hotelier and Awards judge, Siobhan O’Neill said: “We were delighted to receive applications this year from many hotels and their owners/managers who are thinking hard about how the can contribute to the Global Goals. Every single hotel is deeply committed to doing their bit for people and planet, and many of them go above and beyond to have huge positive impacts for the communities and environments where they are located.”


First Green Key awarded hotel in Sierra Leone!

The Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel is the first hotel in Sierra Leone that has achieved the Green Key award. Congratulations!

Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Freetown Sierra Leone.jpg

Green Key is proud to announce the expansion of the programme to a new country: Sierra Leone. The Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko in Freetown is the first hotel in the country that complies with Green Key's strict criteria. The hotel has excellent internal communication concerning sustainability and truly cares for the local community and environment. For example, it supports tree-planting activities in the surroundings and made donations to the victims of the Freetown flood in August 2017. During the Ebola Epidemic in 2014/2015, the hotel hosted international aid agencies that used the hotel facilities as offices and as a research centre. 

Green Key congratulates the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko for its excellent work in sustainability and is proud to have the hotel among its awarded establishments. 

Hotels can be water stewards with six simple steps

Demand for fresh water is likely to outstrip supply by 40% by 2030. Hotels are high water consumers and guests can use ten times more water than the average for the local population. It is therefore crucial for hotels to act now to reduce their water footprints.


A new report from ITP – the International Tourism Partnership – highlights the six steps hotels and hotel groups need to take to embed water stewardship throughout their property and portfolio.

Released on World Water Day, the Water Stewardship Report outlines the reasons why hotels need to act on water and the six simple steps they can take to ensure they’re doing everything they can to protect this vital resource.

With just a few months to go before authorities are forced to switch off the water supply in Cape Town, South Africa, water crises around the world are thrown into sharp relief. Forty percent of the world’s population suffers water shortages for at least one month each year. For hoteliers, these are critical concerns. If there’s no water, there’s essentially no hotel.

Meanwhile, those countries which are forecast to have the highest water stress in coming years are also amongst those with the greatest tourism growth, putting hotel companies at the forefront of current and future water challenges, including water scarcity, pollution, access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), extreme weather events and governance.

But it’s a complex issue. Whilst water is a global concern, water resources can only be managed at a local level, making corporate water management tricky for multinational hotel companies. ITP’s guidance aims to bridge the gap between local water issues and company-wide water policies by recommending six steps essential to any corporate water stewardship strategy.

Last year ITP launched four Goals for the hotel industry for 2030. ITP’s Goals, aligned with the United Nations Global Goals, include a Goal for water:

To improve water stewardship across the industry, ITP members commit to embedding water stewardship programmes across their hotel portfolios as a means of reducing the number of people affected by water scarcity. Members also support improved water-use efficiency, sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity.

ITP sees its role now as supporting its members and the wider industry on the journey to achieving the Goals, and the report represents their understanding of the global water risk, hotels’ role as global operators and high consumers, and the steps they must take to become responsible water stewards and good neighbours.

The guidance is backed up by new research from ITP sponsored by Ecolab with Greenview’s expertise due to be released later this year, which reveals the huge disconnect in the hotel industry between current water cost and water risk valuation. The research shows that not only are most of the top hotel growth markets located in destinations with high water stress and an undervalued cost of water (e.g. China and Southeast Asia), but also the most water-intense hotel regions in the world have the highest risk of water cost increase. The index uses actual data from key hotel markets for stakeholders including hotel owners and developers, as well as destination managers, to contemplate the full risk of aggregate hotel development to their own bottom line.

Announcing ITP’s Water Stewardship Report, Nicolas Perin, ITP’s  Programme Manager said, “Without water hotels simply cannot operate, therefore it is in the companies’ own interests to embed water stewardship throughout their portfolio and for their future development. Water stewardship in hotels addresses the physical, health, regulative, reputational and financial risks hotel companies will increasingly face. Our latest guidance and research insights provide hotel companies with evidence-based information on how much water risk may impact and cost their properties in future years with an unprecedented level of detail in the industry.

“We’re making the report public on World Water Day as our charitable remit invites us to share this knowledge, understanding and these best practice examples with the wider industry to help us all achieve more in support of the Global Goal on water than we can by working alone.”

Research shows a hotel can consume up to 1,500 litres daily per occupied room, and in some countries, guests use ten times or more water than is typical for local people, therefore hotels have a particular responsibility to improve their performance on the water and embed practices which seek to reduce their water footprint.

The six steps for hotels to action an effective water strategy are:

  1. Understand your relationship with water, including quantifying your current and future water use, identifying its sources, impact and dependencies and sharing that information through reporting and engagement with local stakeholders. ITP provides research, tools and benchmarking to help hotel companies through this step.
  2. Set targets and create a plan of action. Prioritise areas where the best impact can be made and define long-term targets based on science and local contexts. Set indicators for progress with trackable metrics and transparent performance indicators that each property can report against.
  3. Manage water sustainably in your operations. Identify water efficiencies at the property level, ensure adequate wastewater treatment, reduce your pressure on freshwater resources by recycling water and involve your staff and guests to support your water stewardship measures.
  4. Work with suppliers on water. Analyse products and services of highest spending and engage with suppliers regarding their water stewardship to better identify and address your indirect impacts on water in basins where they are operating.
  5. Build resilience to extreme events and water shortages. A water stewardship strategy should include procedures and provisions to provide immediate relief effort, address recovery needs and help mitigate against future occurrences of extreme weather events. Properties should focus on improving their resilience to floods, manage their freshwater supply and protect local communities when disaster strikes.
  6. Collaborate on sustainable water management. Any hotel can impact on the quality of water and on other water users. Hotels need to understand the local water risks and opportunities, engage with existing water initiatives, share information with the public sector and other water users, and support access to clean water, health and sanitation.

ITP provides a range of free resources for the hotel industry to use to improve its performance on the water. Hotels are invited to:

Source: Green Hotelier

Green Key launches its Best Practice Competition 2018!

Green Key is running its Best Practice Competition from 20th April (FEE's Global Action Day!) to 15th August 2018. Please send us your best practice story and be in with a chance to become Green Key's Sustainability Champion 2018!


The topic for this year's Best Practice Competition is: 


We would like to find the best activity, event, initiative or practice that informs guests about the environmental initiatives of a Green Key awarded establishment and guides them to responsible behaviour during their stay in the establishment, in the destination as well as at home. 


Background of this year's best practice competition

The theme relates to SDG 12 “responsible consumption and production” to ensure “sustainable consumption and production patterns". Not only does Green Key help consumers to identify responsible tourism establishments, but awarded establishments also have to inform their guests about sustainable practices during their stay. Furthermore, Green Key awarded establishments are encouraged to engage their guests in their sustainability actions through activities, events, rewards etc.

Read more about Green Key's contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals here

Good luck to all participants!

New Green Key Brochure Available Now

In the last couple of weeks, we have worked on our new updated Green Key Brochure for 2018. This brochure is now available for download online.  

 We are happy to share our most recent Green Key Brochure for 2018 with you. The cover features three of our six eligible establishments types. This booklet was developed to be distributed to our awarded establishments, as well as for any other entities or individuals that would like to know more about Green Key.  We aim to raise the awareness of our programme, its processes and criteria globally with a new and fresh format. The brochure also links to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN and how Green Key promotes and integrates these within their criteria.  You are more than welcome to utilize the brochure in your channels and within your establishments.  If you are interested in knowing more about the Green Key programme, please do not hesitate to  contact us  at Green Key.    The new brochure can be found  here .

We are happy to share our most recent Green Key Brochure for 2018 with you. The cover features three of our six eligible establishments types. This booklet was developed to be distributed to our awarded establishments, as well as for any other entities or individuals that would like to know more about Green Key.

We aim to raise the awareness of our programme, its processes and criteria globally with a new and fresh format. The brochure also links to the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN and how Green Key promotes and integrates these within their criteria.

You are more than welcome to utilize the brochure in your channels and within your establishments.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Green Key programme, please do not hesitate to contact us at Green Key.  

The new brochure can be found here.