The growing move in sustainability is led by younger generations.

One of the potentially controversial questions which has been quietly raised is whether, with a recession pending, will companies place their investment plans for sustainability on hold or will they at least be reduced? There are operators noting that investment in sustainability does cost more and are asking if owners do really want to invest at this delicate moment in time.

At the same time, there are many procurement professionals noting that local sourcing does also cost more and is this a cost which can wait? Aren’t operators under enough pressure without more?

The counter argument is that investors and talent are both demanding more action in terms of sustainability strategies, urging operators to think longer-term. It is argued that there is little place for more excuses as consumers are prepared to pay higher prices for stronger sustainability. It is now time to do what is right and moreover, it is the emerging generations – millennials and Gen Z – who will hold the power and all research indicates that they want to see better achieved. It would be far better for all now to accept that there is a momentum building which should not be diluted.

The argument is that it if the baby boomers still held “power”, then past records suggest that investment in sustainability would be reduced but the millennials are now taking positions of influence and they possess a different perspective. Will this all lead to some interesting conversations taking place around the board table as this becomes increasingly shared between baby boomers and millennials?

Millennials are now taking positions of influence and, in theory, their period of influence will last well into 2034. It has long been argued that millennials want to see stronger ethics, and will support those brands and companies which do possess a stronger focus on environmental and social issues. It is therefore likely that there is a greater drive towards building stronger sustainability in hotels and the industry. This will be driven by both talent and by the consumer.

  • 55% of travellers state that they are more determined than ever to choose sustainable accommodation but lack of appealing options makes it difficult to put this into practice.”
  • 87% of millennials believe that the success of a business should be measured by its impact on the world.
  • Millennials have had a hard time trusting businesses. Reports have noted that millennials do not believe that business was often ethical and aimed to have a positive impact on society. This is a key driver as the growing call is for businesses to ensure that they do play a stronger in society.

All the above is likely to see greater moves towards investment in sustainability but the other major factor which is bringing together baby boomers and millennials is the lack of talent. There is a growing awareness that there is a need to now nurture all possible talent pools and this will mean investment in ensuring that talent from disadvantaged backgrounds can be far better supported.

One of the subtle changes which has taken place over the last ten years has been a shift from a desire to see all senior execs possess higher educational qualifications to a return to asking the question as to why can’t a junior chef or waiter not become a MD? Can we create a framework that once again gives all talent belief that the hospitality industry is a meritocracy and offers all opportunity to grow and be a success?

Many of the major hotel groups are now investing in creating change in how they appeal to and attract talent. There is a growing understanding that the industry can play a more central role in communities and society. Of course, there is further to go but this is building.

Momentum in the sustainability agenda is building and will grow.