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Accommodation Framework

We’re working with some of the world’s leading travel brands to make it easier for consumers to choose more sustainable places to stay. Together, we are striving to:

  • Create transparent reporting systems to help accommodation providers share their sustainability credentials with consumers
  • Allow travellers to recognise and understand sustainability information on the platforms they already know and trust
  • Scale our work across the broadest range of travel platforms and providers

The challenge

Research has shown that a variety of factors related to accommodation – from food miles and waste, to energy consumption and local employment – can significantly increase both the carbon footprint and community impact of a holiday.

However, a lack of access to reliable, consistent information has been cited as a barrier to travellers making more sustainable choices. With a variety of competing certification schemes available, travellers often don’t know what to look for or which labels to trust.

Travalyst’s role

Our goal is to help travellers make better choices, and this starts with being able to consistently find the sustainability information they need on the platforms they already use – platforms like our partners Booking.com, Expedia Group, and Google.

By building upon existing standards, and in consultation with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), our coalition is working to collect data from accommodation providers based on an agreed list of attributes; covering operational and policy information across five sustainability categories. Using an aligned methodology, that data is then displayed as consistent sustainability information that consumers can begin to recognise and understand.

This makes it as simple as possible for consumers to find sustainable places to stay.

Working together

Our Accommodation Working Group has aligned behind a growing list of sustainability attributes, which are shared below. Members of the group are enabling properties on their platforms to submit information on those practices, and so currently on Booking.com, Expedia Group, and Google, consumers can find this information on the property booking page for those accommodations who have submitted their data.

The list is being continually updated and refined to present an increasingly accurate picture of sustainability in the accommodation industry.

The first version of this list was the foundation for Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable badge, which recognises properties for the efforts they are making to operate more sustainably with a badge on the Booking.com platform. As the aim of the programme is to also present this information in a transparent and understandable way for travellers, Booking.com now displays three different badge levels for properties to more clearly illustrate where properties are at on their individual sustainability journeys. The threshold to reach each of these levels is based on the combination of attributes properties have implemented, and the significance of the resulting impact.

The role of our Independent Advisory Group

We work with a group of academics and sector experts, who provide neutral guidance and oversight of the models to ensure that our work is robust, credible and maintains focus on the goal of bringing this information to consumers, at scale.

What consumers see

When consumers search for accommodation, they can be led by the following across Booking.com, Expedia, and Google:

Booking.com

Google

Expedia

Certifications

Across our partner platforms, certifications that a property has been awarded might be displayed. Given the vast number of certification schemes and bodies in the industry, our working group has aligned behind criteria that those certification processes would need to meet in order to be displayed:

  1. Third-party audit1 that includes on-site and/or remote online assessment of sustainable practices reported by the property.
  2. Publicly available standards upon which the certification is based.
  3. Focuses on evaluating the impact of social and/or economic, and/or environmental factors, among others, as encompassed within, but not restricted, to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

1 Glossary (GSTC Glossary of Accreditation Terms):
Third-party: carried out by an individual or body that is independent of the entity being certified or accredited.
Audit: A systematic and comprehensive process of investigation through checking documents, conducting interviews, observation and other means.

Verification

It is important that the sustainability information that Travalyst partners collect from properties can be verified as true and accurate, to ensure that we are having real impact with our work and can give travellers reliable information about their choices.

Alongside our current attribute list and criteria for displaying third-party certifications, our Independent Advisory Group has also validated four initial methods our partners can use to verify the data they collect. These are:

  1. Checkbox claims: use of a checkbox function where properties declare that they have filled in the information truthfully and that they understand that if they have not they will be in breach of the relevant platform’s terms and conditions
  2. Customer verification: use of a guest check-out survey or review where questions can be included to help understand if a guest saw something which the property declared was/was not there (appropriate for some, but not all, attributes)
  3. Third-party certification: as discussed above, the use of a number of third-party certifications that properties have been awarded; all of which have their own robust verification methods to ensure data accuracy
  4. External audits: use of the services of a third-party auditor to validate all attributes selected by the property

In the long term

This list is not exhaustive, and while this is an important first step, there is much more we need to do. In the long term, our coalition will:  

  • Work together – and with our advisors – to add further criteria across all categories
  • Increase the amount of data collected from properties
  • Increase the number of properties that submit their data
  • Create full consistency of underlying data presented across platforms
  • Develop and improve methods for verification of data to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness
  • Share sustainability resources to encourage accommodations to become more sustainable – Booking.com already provide their partners with a handbook
  • Educate consumers on what to look out for when booking accommodation

Please get in touch for more information, or to adopt our accommodation framework.

Accommodation attributes

Below is the current list of attributes, reached in agreement with our Independent Advisory Group, and which our Accommodation Working Group are aligned on:

CategoryAttribute
EnergyLED lighting makes up for at least 80% of the property’s guest and public room lighting
EnergyAll hotel windows are double glazed
EnergyVegetarian menu options are offered
EnergyVegan menu options are offered
EnergyGuest rooms have energy saving switches (e.g. keycard-controlled electricity)
EnergyProperties electricity is 100% renewable
EnergyProperty has a food waste policy that includes education, food waste prevention, reduction, recycling, and disposal
EnergyAt least 80% of food is sourced from property’s local region (e.g. within 50km from property location)
EnergyProperty offers electric car charging stations
EnergyProperty has installed insulation in its outer wall and roof structure
EnergyProperty has installed dynamic/automatic sun shading for its guest room and common area windows
EnergyProperty has installed smart lift software that introduces ‘stand-by’ mode which automatically turns off lighting and fan consumption in lifts
EnergyProperty has installed a variable speed heat pump for its pool that allows the property to select a lower speed setting, saving energy in the process
EnergyProperty has installed a pool cover to reduce evaporation and condensation, reducing the energy required to heat the swimming pool
EnergyProperty has reduced laundry temperature to 60°C for its towel & linen laundry
EnergyProperty has installed cooling systems that do not use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) but rely on hydrocarbons or natural refrigerants as ammonium or CO2
EnergyProperty has reduced energy consumption this year with at least 5% compared to previous year
EnergyProperty has installed energy-saving thermostats that conserve energy when rooms or areas are not in use
EnergyProperty has installed energy efficient appliances in its guest rooms, kitchen, laundry room and reception/offices
WasteSingle-use plastic amenities are replaced by a bulk dispenser
WasteSingle-use plastic water bottles are not offered
WasteThe property has installed water refill stations and encourages guests to use these instead of single-use plastic water bottles
WasteSingle-use plastic soda bottles are not offered
WasteThe property has reusable tableware (replacing single-use)
WasteThe property has reusable cups (replacing single-use)
WasteSingle-use plastic straws are not offered
WasteSingle-use plastic stirrers are not offered
WasteProperty has a recycling plan in place (e.g. in guest rooms, common areas, kitchen) for at least four waste types (glass, paper, plastic, organic)
WasteProperty safely handles and disposes its hazardous wastes
WasteProperty has paperless procedures in place both at the front desk as in the back office
WasteProperty has eliminated styrofoam food containers from its operations
WasteProperty participates in a soap donation programme for which it collects and recycles soap and donates it to regions in need
WasteProperty safely disposes its lightbulbs after these end up as waste
WaterProperty only uses water-efficient toilets (e.g. low-flow toilets, dual flush toilets)
WaterProperty only uses water-efficient showers (e.g. smart showers, low flow shower heads)
WaterA towel re-use programme is available to guests
WaterGuests can opt out for room cleaning (e.g. bed linen laundry is reduced)
WaterProperty has drought-tolerant landscaping with reduces irrigation needs and water use
WaterProperty collects rainwater to use for irrigation purposes in periods of limited rainfall
WaterProperty has installed water-efficient faucets
Biodiversity & EcosystemsWild (non-domesticated) animals are not displayed/interacted with while captive on the property or harvested, consumed, or sold
Biodiversity & EcosystemsThe property compensates for at least 10% of total annual carbon emissions by purchasing certified carbon offsets
Biodiversity & Ecosystems80% of the food products offered by the property is organic
Biodiversity & EcosystemsGreen spaces such as gardens/rooftop gardens on the property
Biodiversity & Ecosystems
Property offers bicycle rental
Biodiversity & EcosystemsProperty offers bicycle parking
Biodiversity & EcosystemsProperty uses only eco-friendly cleaning products
Biodiversity & EcosystemsProperty offers only eco-friendly toiletries in guest rooms
Biodiversity & EcosystemsProperty sources sustainable seafood, avoiding species on the “Avoid” list of the Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide
Biodiversity & EcosystemsProperty takes measures to avoid the introduction of invasive species, and prioritises the use of native species for landscaping.
Destination & CommunityLocal artists are offered a platform to display their talents
Destination & CommunityGuests are offered tours and activities organised by local guides and businesses
Destination & CommunityProperty invests a % of it’s revenue back into the community or in local sustainability projects
Destination & CommunityProperty provides guests with information regarding local ecosystems, heritage and culture, as well as visitor etiquette
Destination & CommunityProperty provides its employees with health & safety training and keeps record of this
Destination & CommunityProperty monitors and reviews its employees’ wages and implements them against national living wage norms
Destination & CommunityAt least 80% of the property’s hotel staff is recruited among local residents
Destination & CommunityLocal residents are given equal opportunities for career advancement, including in management positions
Destination & CommunityThe property uses local, small and medium-sized enterprises to meet 80% of its maintenance, service, marketing & non-F&B supply needs
Destination & CommunityRecords of employee ages are kept and show absence of any form of child labour
Destination & CommunityThe organisation provides training to employees to identify, report and stop child sex tourism and sex trafficking