Booking.com has launched its ‘Travel Sustainable’ badge, a “credible” sustainability measure that will provide highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices.
The badge is available to any kind of property that has implemented a combination of sustainable practices that meet the requisite impact threshold for their destination.
Designed to be applicable to a wide range of property types, including boutique hotels, and adaptable to local realities and considerations, the initiative is a first of its kind in the industry, according to the web platform.
The goal of the badge is to recognise impactful sustainability efforts attainable for more properties worldwide and to provide travellers with a transparent, consistent and easy-to-understand way to identify a wider range of more sustainable stays, no matter where they want to travel.
The company’s ambition, alongside the Travalyst Coalition in which Booking.com is a founding partner, is to create a universal and transparent measure for sustainable property information, across the industry.
Building off the credible standards for sustainable accommodation already in place, Booking.com has collaborated with industry experts, including through Booking.com’s leading role within the Travalyst Coalition and other industry experts, to identify a set of the most impactful practices for a property to consider in five key areas: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature.
This foundational framework is currently further broken down into 32 specific sustainability measures or practices that properties can implement, including everything from eliminating single-use plastic toiletries or switching to LED light fixtures to running on 100% renewable energy sources or investing a certain percentage of profits into local community and conservation projects.
For each one of these practices, Booking.com has also worked with reputable sustainability consultancy Sustainalize to develop a robust methodology that assesses these practices’ relative weight in the model.
As these weights fully depend on the environmental and/or social impact of the practices, the model is fit for purpose to identify partners that pursue meaningful sustainability efforts.
The calculation also considers the property’s location and accounts for its size, improving the model’s accuracy and applicability among the large variety of Booking.com’s partners.
All these calculations come together, with each practice being weighted accordingly and taking local factors into account, to create an overall score for the property’s sustainability practices.
While the goal has been to create a universal model, operating sustainably means different things in different markets.
For example, water-reducing measures in an area prone to drought or sourcing renewable energy options in a country where that’s not yet widely available are weighted as being more impactful.
Properties that meet the required threshold for impact are receiving the first version of the Travel Sustainable badge, including those with a broad range of existing certifications and labels, for example those officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel.
This framework approach and measurement methodology have been officially developed within the Travalyst Coalition and approved by the Travalyst Independent Advisory Group, and continue to be developed with further consultation and advice from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
“Building a truly sustainable travel industry will take time, coordination and concerted effort, but progress is possible through continued innovation, partner support and industry collaboration,” said Marianne Gybels, director of sustainability at Booking.com.
“With our Travel Sustainable badge and program, we are recognising the sustainability efforts of a broader range of properties around the world in a credible and transparent way for consumers. In addition to encouraging properties to strive towards achieving the Travel Sustainable badge, we believe it’s important to demonstrate that there is a spectrum for sustainability and that there is value in showcasing the growing number of properties that are at various stages on their individual sustainability journeys.
“Displaying the practices they have in place makes it easier for everyone to make a more informed and hopefully more sustainable choice for their next trip, no matter where they want to go – thus also inspiring even more of our partners to take the next step to operate more sustainably.”