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Hotel groups missing out on benefits of CSR

23 March 2006

Hotel companies are making strides in developing more corporate social responsibility initiatives, but the sector still lags behind other industries, new research reveals.

A study released by financial consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) into 14 European hotel groups found that while most had some corporate responsibility and environmental policies, few had made any link between these activities and business strategies. Geoff Lane, partner at PWC who conducted the research, said companies were missing out on the real business benefits of responsible corporate activities.

Reputation management consultant Paul Goldsmith agreed. "Hotel groups shouldn't be afraid to make a profit alongside being socially responsible," he said. "Corporate responsibility is a win-win situation."

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Accor, Hilton and Rezidor SAS fared best in the study, according to PWC's
11-point criteria, although the consultant wouldn't name the worst performers.

A Hilton spokesman said: "No hotel worth its salt is going to ignore the community it works within, as we're an integral part of it."

Andrew Cosslett, chief executive of IHG, said: "We need to build a culture of raising our commitment still further to helping the communities in which we operate. Not just because it helps to drive the culture, but because it helps attract talented people to the business."

Lane added: "Corporate responsibility is still a relatively new concept for the hospitality industry. But forward-looking companies can establish a leading position, which will have long-term business benefits, including customer and staff recruitment and retention, and increase shareholder value."

Hotel companies will be increasingly likely to win contracts if they develop a reputation for building and using resources responsibly, said Goldsmith. "If a hotel gets respect from the local community by being a force for good, it will benefit from good workers and business relationships. If it has a bad reputation, it's more likely to be alienated and suffer crime and discontented staff," he added.

Key CSR issues

  • Energy, waste and water management.
  • Interaction with local communities, employment, economic distribution of wealth.
  • Supply chain, local sourcing for building and operating.
  • Human rights and labour standards.
  • Long-term sustainable tourism development.
  • Triple bottom line: economic, social and environmental management.

By Emily Manson

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