Earlier this summer, SH Hotels & Resorts captured media attention for its carbon neutral efforts by announcing a new feature to in its customer loyalty program. In addition to the usual amenities, guests at high-end properties in Miami, London and Cabo could now choose to redeem earned loyalty points for carbon offsets credits funding projects in North America, India or Kenya.
With this move, SH Hotels joined other major and luxury properties offering carbon offset options to their guests including Meliá Hotels International, which launched a similar program in 2019. Canada’s Coast Hotels and Resorts has been inviting its guests to add a $1 a night to their bill to purchase a night’s carbon credit since 2010.
Providing your guests a voluntary option to offset their own carbon emissions can be an important and rewarding part of your business’s carbon-neutral policies. It’s a beneficial way to convey your brand’s commitment and it offers your guests an option to do their part in decarbonizing travel and hospitality.
But is a carbon-offset program for guests something that only a major luxury brand or global company can afford to launch? As we learned from a recent presentation on carbon offsets from Travel International/Impact Travel Alliance: Seattle, researching and implementing a successful carbon offset program could take some work!
Fortunately, there are a growing number of businesses ready to assist any destination of any size with affordable and scalable turn-key solutions. They can partner with hotel management to provide many or all of the tools needed to build an offset program, including carbon emission calculation technology, shopping cart integration for online ordering, and, most importantly, financial transparency in carbon offset programs sponsoring.
We took a look at four of them:
Founded in 2017 in Auckland New Zealand, Carbon Click is the collaborative partner that’s hosting the SH Hotels loyalty program. The company has roots in the hospitality industry when its founders met while working on airline carbon offsetting initiatives.
CarbonClick quickly expanded focus to retail and ecommerce businesses with an out-of-the-box “Green Button” API, allowing customers to voluntarily add a small, calculated fee to offset product shipment and other emissions. Their Green Button integration is now available for businesses using Shopify, Woo Commerce and Magneto ecommerce solutions.
Revenue generated from the app, after fees for the service, is split 50/50 between a carbon offset project based on your locale and a high-impact international clean energy project. For scalable loyalty programs, like the one at SH Hotels, or a bespoke application customized to
your needs, contact their team.
Another shopping cart app, developed in 2014, this one offers the quickest and most seamless way for a small hospitality business to integrate voluntary carbon offset purchases into their online purchase portal. Contributions are pooled into a fund that invests in projects vetted by the company and certified by Verified Carbon Standard or Climate Action Reserve.
Customers choosing to make a contribution receive email confirmations with a unique link to their “Giving Portfolio” tracking their donation history. Participating businesses can track marketing performance metrics associated with the app, including customer loyalty trends and cart abandonment rate analytics in the Carbon Checkout Dashboard.
The app is currently limited to Shopify-enabled businesses and some destinations may not feel that currently chosen projects, a wind power facility in Mexico and a landfill gas to energy project in South Carolina, connect with or convey their own locale’s brand. But
if you are looking for ease of use and fastest implementation, this solution offers the basics.
By far our favorite for its alignment of company mission and range of businesses it serves. As part of the LivClean suite of business solutions, which also include eCommerce and Corporate packages, EcoStay is specifically designed for the smaller or independently owned properties looking for affordable sustainability initiatives with an emphasis on the guest’s experience.
Headquartered in Canada, EcoStay currently partners with several major Canadian hotel chains including the Alberta Hotels and Lodging Association, as well as US-based Best Western. Projects funded through member hotels focus exclusively on forestry conservation, with programs in British Columbia, Vermont, and Alberta. Plans for additional US projects in Maine and Alaska are underway.
According to president Christina deVries, Ecostay welcomes businesses of all sizes. “We have small boutique hotels & lodges, and even an eco-adventure glamping experience as members. We can also work with properties that only operate seasonally,” she said. “Implementation is very streamlined, with on-line staff education, free start-up marketing package, and it takes less than 5 minutes a month administration.”
4. Sustainable Travel International
For hotels and destinations ready to build a comprehensive carbon-neutral and sustainability program unique to their operational needs, Sustainable Travel International is widely recognized is the go-to resource. Your carbon offset purchase is only half the picture and they can work directly with you to measure, reduce, and then offset emissions for your business. Several educational tools and articles are available freely on their website.
They also foster partnerships between tourist businesses and their communities, strengthening local supply chains and economic support between the stakeholders. The funded carbon reduction projects are chosen based on the co-benefits they provide to local communities and biodiversity and their alignment with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To learn more about Sustainable Travel International and how it can partner with your business, contact them online at Carbon Offsets for Businesses – Sustainable Travel International.
5. Ecologi for Business
You've given your guests opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of their journeys. But what about yourself and your employees? Ecologi, founded in Bristol UK in 2019, has a possible solution.
With a commitment to radical financial transparency and just the right amount of skepticism, this climate tech start-up has developed Climate Positive Workforce®, a subscription product for small and medium businesses. In their model, your business's total carbon footprint calculation is based on number of employees along with an average of their business and personal travel impact.
What made Ecologi stand out for us was the passion of its commitment to climate action and its honesty in recognizing that motivation and enthusiasm alone wasn't enough. To ensure scientific peer-review and accountability of the projects they fund, Ecologi works with a voluntary group of academics and researchers, who serve on their Ecologi Climate Committee (ECC).
As Sam Jackson, Climate Impact & Partnerships Manager explains it: "In order to truly maximise our climate impact, we would need to tap into a whole wealth of climate knowledge, from leading experts in the field."
Additional business products from Ecologi include shopping cart app integrations for Shopify and Zapier, a customizable API tool that generates carbon offset purchases based on the online customer actions you choose, and an "Add More Impact" button for your profile or website for one-time and voluntary contributions.