Sustainability in restaurants: the future of hospitality

Impact of sustainability in restaurants

To operate responsibly and drive sustainability in restaurants and hospitality industry, companies must address environmental and social challenges with conviction and develop practical interventions. Technology is here to help hospitality leaders achieve their sustainability goals.

With the growing size of the global pipeline of new hotels and restaurants mushrooming every year, leaders must measure and manage the impact of this growth. The hotel industry accounts for around 1 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, buildings more broadly generate 19 percent of energy-related GHG emissions and consume 40 percent of electricity globally.

Whether it is restaurants or retail brands, we are entering an era of sustainability where ‘mindful shopping’ or ‘sustainable choices’ have taken precedence. This trend pivots us to an age of sustainability-minded customers that care deeply about the environment and seek companies that care about environmental issues.

Customers globally are making lifestyle choices and buying decisions by their values, attitudes, and preferences and not just by their wallets – the reason that explains why sustainability in hotels and restaurants is more at the forefront than ever.


How does a sustainability-minded restaurant look like?

Sustainable hospitality is the practice of creating and using more resource-efficient models of construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition of buildings. A sustainability-minded restaurant is more efficient when pursuing technology and guest behavior modifications for reduced resource usage in construction and operations.

Sustainable practices in restaurants stand out because most travelers and guests today look for companies that share their values. According to Skift Research, visiting destinations and hotels that reflect their values and sustainability will likely intensify over time.

Travelers and guests want to ensure that the companies they give business follow environmentally, socially, and ethically sound practices. An overwhelming majority of millennials and Generation Zers today will pay more for products and services that don’t harm the environment, deplete natural resources, or negatively affect people’s lives or wildlife.

To differentiate themselves and stand out, the hospitality industry, especially Quick Service Restaurants can focus on a few key aspects leading to attaining sustainability goals:


#1 Use of energy efficient options

Energy conservation in the hospitality industry entails a dual approach: efficiency and reduction.

Energy conservation may also include training employees in behaviors that reduce energy consumption and sending friendly reminders to guests about using in-house resources or electricity. For efficiency, organizations can look for opportunities to use green technology or products. For example, switching to energy-efficient LED lights. Energy-efficient buildings, innovative sewage systems, and intelligent automated controls would reduce costs for both hotel owners and residents. Internet of things is a big area where smart switches and lighting can significantly improve the guest experience. Self-check-in/check-out functions, smart-locking systems, and automated temperature regulation and controls can further accelerate conservation.


#2 Reduce and manage waste

For hotels and restaurants, the opportunities to limit waste are numerous. They can source their food locally or grow it by themselves to avoid food wastage. This sustainability mindset ensures fresher products and reduces food spoils significantly. Restaurants can even adopt policies where leftover food is sent to donation camps than being discarded. Installing water-efficient and energy-efficient products such as water-saving and energy-saving filters can also make a huge difference.


#3 Use of organic products

Travel and hospitality (T&H) contributes to a substantial carbon footprint at a global level – not contributed by the movement of tourists alone, but also by the transportation of supplies that are essential in every hotel. Unlike other materials, organic products leave a lighter carbon footprint. These include products made of all-natural and chemical-free ingredients. Products that come in biodegradable and recyclable cartons are nature-friendly. Incorporating these sustainable amenities makes a positive impression on the guests; it also protects the natural surroundings guests come to visit.

Ultimately, the restaurant industry needs to ensure it works in harmony with the environmental policies. Being mindful of the social and economic impact by not overconsuming resources, not polluting, respecting local communities, and working to conserve biodiversity helps you meet your sustainability goals. In doing so, the industry protects its very existence in the longer run. For this reason, sustainable hospitality has emerged.


The benefits of sustainability practices


  • Firstly, sustainability plans can help improve brand image. According to a recent Trip Advisor survey, most consumers care about sustainability deeply. People prefer environmentally friendly hotels and restaurants, which affects their perception of the company brand.


  • Sustainable initiatives offer hospitality a lot better businesses incentives. When organizations demonstrate their commitment to green practices, they can draw more tourists and more profits.


  • Additionally, a business that embraces sustainability can better attract the elite work talent of younger generations looking for companies that share similar values.


Technology enabling sustainability goals in restaurants

When it comes to answering how can restaurants be more sustainable, leaders in the hospitality and QSR sector play a crucial role – in adopting sustainable business strategies and fully integrating sustainable practices as a business goal. Restaurants can improve efficiency and attract customers looking for environmentally and socially responsible products and services with good leadership and the use of technologies.

In addition, it is imperative in modern times to lead organizations to sustainability through innovative, environmentally friendly technology that can result in long-term cost savings. Though implementing sustainable concepts and ideas through technology requires an initial investment, the combined impact of waste reduction, energy efficiency, and the like can lead to significant cost reduction in the long run. For example, advances in technology related to renewable energy have lowered the costs using sources such as solar or geothermal energy.

Sustainability will undoubtedly influence the future shape of hospitality, as technology such as voice, artificial intelligence, and robotics will become a part of how customers experience services.

Today, many new-age start-up chains are trailing the likes of self-check-in and check-out options, smart-locking systems, and automated temperature regulation and controls. Future hotels are likely to deploy intelligent tech solutions such as guest check-in with a mobile app and facial recognition to open the door and in the elevator. Using voice recognition, visitors can control temperature, lights, and curtains in the room. There is a possibility that robots deliver water and fresh towels, which is not far from happening.

But one thing is clear, it all boils down to creating a comfortable, hassle-free, and seamless stay for guests. Connected travelers expect a seamless and hassle-free experience, from the moment they begin searching for a hotel and restaurant to when they arrive, eat, stay, and check out.

Using smart design embedding technology across the value chain can level the playing field for budget hotels, QSRs at par with luxury brands who already are in quest for breakthroughs.

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