It has become increasingly clear lately that the short-term rental industry must recognize the importance of sustainability initiatives and strive to reduce their environmental impact. The climate crisis is definitively afoot, and between natural disasters, an ongoing energy crisis, and consumer demand for greener travel, now is the time for the short-term rental industry to invest in greener solutions in order to protect our environment and build an efficient alternative to antiquated models of unsustainable lodging.
Industry sustainability advocate and Casal dei Fichi owner Bob Garner has been instrumental in pushing this message and leading by example for a few years, and now he has created a free one-stop-shop resource filled with sustainable actions and opportunities, specifically from the standpoint of short-term rentals, in EnviroRental.
Which urgent factors have led to the creation of EnviroRental?
We have previously reported on growing interest among travelers to travel in a more authentic, sustainable way. For instance, according to Booking.com’s 2022 Sustainable Travel Report, 81% of global travelers confirmed that sustainable travel is important to them, and 71% of travelers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, denoting a spike of 10% in this last figure in since last year.
However, consumer interest is but one facet of the need to take sustainable action. EnviroRental points out that:
- The climate emergency will have significant impacts on millions of vacation rentals as they respond to market forces, legislation and regulation.
- The typical vacation rental professional hasn’t yet made substantial eco changes to reflect the current environment.
- Some of the larger hotel chains are moving to reinvent themselves as sustainable. Owners/Property Managers do have the ability to flex to a new eco-friendly environment more quickly than a big hotel chain – that is an advantage.
- Large booking platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com and Vrbo will increasingly calibrate their algorithms to favour properties that are eco-friendly.
- Short-term rentals are under increasing scrutiny in many markets because of concern about their impact on communities.
Short-term rental professionals want change but not sure how to manifest it
The discussion on sustainability in vacation rentals has gained a fair amount of momentum in the past years. Large booking platforms such as Booking.com have begun eco-badging to help travelers find sustainable properties faster, which is a signal for the rest of the platforms to follow in the not-so-far future. At this time, though, it seems unlikely that these platforms will act as active resources for managers and hosts to refer to in a bid to become more sustainable.
Vacation rental managers also acknowledge that increasing regulations are headed their way soon. In France, for instance, hotels will have to display an environmental label in all their promotional communication – a regulation that may soon extend to vacation rentals, too. The French government also already seems to be well on its way to banning the least energy-efficient houses from booking platforms such as Airbnb.
Increased demand for sustainable stays, the energy crisis, and impending regulations have created a perfect storm for professional managers to transform into sustainable businesses, but a dedicated resource that accounts for the very specific challenges that short-term rental pros have had thus far been lacking. Enter: EnviroRental.
With its motto of Signposting Sustainability for Vacation Rentals, EnviroRental is geared to not only help vacation rental pros get tips on how to become more sustainable but also to act as a force that galvanizes collective action, instead of relying on “isolated voluntary acts of goodwill“.
A sustainability portal designed specifically with the challenges of short-term rentals in mind
EnviroRental plans to use a three-pronged approach of Educate, Inspire, and Influence by making key resources and information readily available to professional managers looking to make a change. In the website, one will find:
- Data/facts: Trends in vacation rental hosting, data from multiple sources on consumer attitudes, survey of property managers to assess/validate assumptions on an eco road map
- Outcomes: Benefits of vacation rental sustainability – SEO, repeats & referrals, return on interest, branding, competitor advantages, new markets, etc.
- Accreditation: An overview and assessment of accreditation schemes, what they do, and how they work. e.g. Sustonica, REST, Green Tourism, Green Key, Green Pearls, etc
- An overview of booking platforms focused on eco-travel such as Ecobnb, Intrepid, Exodus, Responsible Travel along with how to use them and what they offer to help you gain green business.
- How to position yourself in the market to capitalize on the changing traveler expectations. No greenwashing and no green hushing – getting the balance right.
- Case Studies: In-depth look at what sustainable short-term rental professionals have done and the benefits that flowed from their initiatives.
- Collaboration/Support/Leadership/Services: Who is out there to guide you? How you can connect with others who have already taken some environmental steps e.g. Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, Future of Tourism Coalition, GSTC, The Glasgow Declaration.
- A Road Map: How to get started in a managed way as you migrate to a low-carbon business, take action whilst still focusing on your business success.
- Practical Actions/Support/latest news
- Latest news articles on Eco travel
- Interactive forum for subscribers
- Green Path podcast by Deborah Labi
- Practical solutions on topics like heating, carbon offset, transport etc
- Technology solutions
- Awards and press attention
- Blogs covering relevant topics and actionable steps
- News on what booking platforms are doing on the subject of sustainability
- Measurement and Action: A guide to the various measurement tools to help you assess your current carbon emissions and what you can do to reduce them over a planned timescale.
EnviroRental is set to be a useful resource for short-term rental managers seeking to go from discussion to action. By taking a focus on reducing emissions and conserving resources, short-term renters can help to maintain an environment that is viable and livable both now and in the future. As individuals and businesses alike increase their reliance on short-term rentals, they must prioritize paying attention to the environmental implications of these practices.