Progress has been made on environmental reporting by hotel companies, but major blind spots remain. The asset-light model being pursued by most large hotel companies jars with the need for greater oversight by head office to really track and improve emissions.
The good news: Reporting by hotel companies on their environmental targets and abatement efforts is improving.
The bad news: Still too often hotel companies pick and choose what they report on, and there is, so far, little backlash against those that drag their heels.
Skift Research last week launched its latest report: Progress in Sustainability: Hotel Company Analysis 2023, in which we investigated the environmental performance of the six largest hotel companies through their CDP filings. CDP was formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and is a non-profit organization that encourages companies to disclose their environmental impact.
Choice Hotels has no climate reporting at all, and Wyndham has very little scope 3 reporting, and that is important to note, because scope 3 includes all emissions from franchise hotels. Incidentally, Wyndham is the largest franchise holder of the companies investigated.
A quick cheat sheet: Per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, greenhouse gas emissions are divided into three ‘scopes.’
- Scope 1: Direct emissions from the activities of the organization including fuel combustion. Hotel chains report scope 1 emissions only for those hotels that are under operational control, which are those that are owned, leased, or managed by the company.
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organization. As with scope 1, this only includes emissions from hotels under operational control.
- Scope 3: All other indirect emissions. For hotel chains all scope 1 and 2 emissions from franchised hotels are included here. Other major contributors are emissions from purchased goods, waste, and business travel by employees.
CDP reporting guidelines still leave a lot of room for interpretation. Hotel companies can decide themselves whether each scope 3 factor is relevant to their operations or not. We see many companies indicating it is not relevant and therefore not tracked for many years, and then all of a sudden it is relevant and tracked.
The differences in measuring scope 3 emissions also means that it is hard to compare total emissions when including scope 3, as some companies have a much more comprehensive scope 3 coverage than others.
Below is an excerpt from our recent report on the reporting of scope 3 emissions – in the form of a few slides. Albeit challenging, all companies should do better in the measuring and reporting of this scope.
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Progress in Sustainability: Hotel Company Analysis 2023
We’ve covered the environmental performance of hotel companies before, but that research was due an update. Much has happened in the world, and – probably unrelated – hotel companies have become better at setting emission reduction targets and reporting of current performance. Let’s continue that trend.
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Photo credit: Hotel housekeeping staff stacks up dirty laundry Tania Dimas / Pixabay