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Sustainability is becoming an ever more pressing priority for hotels; however, it will take consumer demand and dollar signs to enact real change across the currently healthy industry.

As the global economy rebounds and tourism reaches record heights, hotels are boasting more occupied rooms and higher rates. This is giving the industry an opportunity to consider a looming concern: Sustainability, upon which the future of their business rests.

A recent campaign initiated by Nordic Comfort Hotel and Rainforest Foundation Norway seeks a modern-day solution to raising awareness of sustainability. The campaign’s goal is to push TripAdvisor to add sustainability as a rating choice in the same way that users rate service, food, value, and atmosphere.

“One small dot would mean that every hotel in the world would have to consider their soaps and slippers, their energy use, food waste and social responsibility,” the companies say in the campaign video, arguing that TripAdvisor is the one place where hotels would do almost anything for a top position.

TripAdvisor has separately initiated a program to recognize environmentally-friendly hotels, but has no plans to add a rating category.

“We don’t have any plans to add a sustainability bubble rating specifically, but we do collect written traveler feedback on eco-friendly practices within the traveler review forms for GreenLeader hotels,” explained a TripAdvisor spokesperson.

“We believe our industry-leading GreenLeaders program that includes the combination of hospitality business reporting, traveler feedback and third-party audit validation provides the most comprehensive insights on green practices.”

TripAdvisor partnered with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the United Nations Environment Programme to launch its GreenLeaders program in April 2013. The program awards qualifying hotels and B&Bs with TripAdvisor GreenLeaders status and rates them on a scale from Bronze to Platinum.

There are now almost 8,000 participating properties located across Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and more than 30,000 reviews submitted by TripAdvisor users that highlight the green practice of these properties.

Nordic Choice Hotels and Rainforest Foundation Norway began a conversation about sustainability when one of its hotels phased out palm oil from its food supply in reaction to a Rainforest Foundation campaign, which raised awareness of palm oil planation’s role in deforestation. The hotel’s project was success, reducing its use of palm oil and costs, and rolled out to all hotels.

“Sustainability is a necessary prerequisite for the future of the hotel industry, and the proposed change might be exactly what is needed to push this matter to the top of our agenda. There is no business on a dead planet,” remarked a Nordic Choice Hotels spokesperson Mathilde Vik Magnussen.

“Including the new ranking indicator would make information on a hotel’s environmental efforts immediately accessible, giving guests the option of choosing the greener alternative and inspiring hotels to assess their profile and drive innovation for more sustainable solutions.”

Choice Hotels has a number of initiatives aimed at reducing residual waster, energy use, water consumption and red meat items on menus.

The below video encourages guests to show their support by signing up at and more than 4,000 viewers have already done so.

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Tags: choice hotels, climate change, sustainability, tripadvisor

Photo credit: TripAdvisor recognizes sustainable hotels with its GreenLeaders program. TripAdvisor

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