Social Responsibility in the Hospitality Industry: What You Can Do and Why You Should

Social Responsibility

Most people want to make the world a better place. And most guests want to stay in lodgings that help do this, whether it’s through a new green initiative or a facemask donation program. 

Here’s how you can become more socially responsible and benefit your community and your brand at the same time.


Guests care about the natural world they’re leaving their grandchildren; they want them to see the same beautiful places they have. Who knows…Those grandkids may stay at your hotel one day too. Ninety percent of consumers look for sustainable options while traveling and another 70% are willing to give up some convenience for it. 

You can attract these go-greeners if you: 

  1. Reduce plastic use. There’s a floating plastic island in the Pacific three times the size of France. We’re at capacity for those little Keurig pods. You can also cut your plastic consumption by using digital room keys instead of cards. 
  2. Swap out lightbulbs for energy-efficient alternatives. 
  3. Install low-flow taps and toilets. 
  4. Put in triple-glazed windows. Not only will your rooms be environmentally sound, they’ll be warm
  5. Get your food locally. This reduces your carbon footprint and can also be part of your unique selling proposition—what makes you different from everyone else. Guests love a little area charm. 
  6. Have charging stations for electric cars. 

And if you’re looking for something more decorative…plant a rooftop garden. This can even help with number five above. There’s nothing more local than right upstairs! Rooftop gardens help maintain healthy indoor temperatures and provide a soothing place for guests to sit and put their feet up. 

You could also put solar panels on your roof like the Hospitality Awards finalist, The Hotel Marqués de Riscal.  

For more inspiration, check out El Nido Resorts in Palawan, Philippines. Not only do they have gorgeous white-sand beaches, they help preserve those gorgeous white-sand beaches. The resort was constructed using renewable materials and boasts advanced water catchment systems, gray water recycling, desalination plants, and on-site composting and sewage treatment facilities.

Using a cloud property management system is a green way to go as well. It doesn’t only save paper with contactless check-ins and emailed receipts. It also eliminates the need for onsite servers, which contributes to a reduction of energy consumption, especially across multiple properties. Mobile housekeeping reports help with energy reduction too by letting staff know in real time when rooms are vacant, so they can ensure lights and air conditioning are turned off promptly. 

Community Service and Charitable Contributions 

Social responsibility means more than caring for the environment. It means caring for people and communities too. That makes sense as a hotelier. Your community makes your locality great and entices travelers to visit. Create initiatives or programs that give back to the community you love.

Accor won a 2021 Hospitality Award in social responsibility for setting up the All Heartist Fund to benefit individuals experiencing either financial or health-related hardship because of Covid-19. They assisted over 94,000 people, and their brand was recognized for it. Guests can feel good about staying there. 

You don’t have to give money. One finalist for this award, Odalys Group, gave in kind by providing studio apartments to women fleeing domestic violence.

Another hotel, The Berkeley, started a drive-through offering free hot meals to emergency service workers during the pandemic. What you do can be as simple as seeing if you can donate any leftovers to your local food bank. 


Speaking of Covid-19, it makes a bad souvenir. Use these common sense measures to help prevent the next variant from popping up at your hotel. 

  1. Offer contactless check-in. The fewer people breathing on you and your staff the better. 
  2. Sanitize. Use your property management system’s housekeeping report to update room status in real time, so you know what’s been taken care of…and what hasn’t. 
  3. Communicate your Covid-19 protocols clearly in your pre-arrival emails and on on-site signage. 
  4. Have flexible cancellation policies. You don’t really want the guest in room three with a sore throat and fever. 

Staff Conditions

Staff are fleeing the hospitality industry. Housekeeping employees are leaving their Lysol behind because they make under $30,000 a year; that’s not much to support their families on. Your guests will be happier knowing you pay your staff liveable wages. Benefits don’t hurt either. Health insurance goes a long way. 

In addition to fair compensation, make your employees’ work day smoother by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Use your cloud PMS to improve interdepartmental communication and streamline tasks like check-in and housekeeping. 

Align with your staff’s values. The section on sustainability above applies to attracting employees as well as guests. 

Whether it’s about the environment or working conditions, staff need to know you care. And this is a show don’t tell situation. Don’t give them a powerpoint on how much the company values them, treat them like you value them every day. 

Disability Access

One in four potential guests has a disability. Make sure everyone feels welcome by offering appropriate accommodations. Closed-captioning, dyslexia-friendly font, wheelchair ramps, and alternative menu options can all be helpful to those with disabilities. While one in four potential guests has a disability, that doesn’t mean they all have the same disability. Listen when they tell you what they need. 

Be Honest

Nothing helps your brand more than a quality product. Don’t exaggerate the social good that you do or “greenwash” your hotel; let your environmental and community initiatives speak for themselves. Guests can fact-check, and they won’t come back if they feel deceived. They may even leave a review deterring others. 

Travelers today are more conscious about their impact on the world than ever before. They want to stay in accommodation and support businesses that do what they can to improve their localities. So, implement social responsibility initiatives at your property. It’ll be good for the world and great for your brand.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published November 2018 and updated June 2022.