From Green to Gold: Achieving 90% Direct Bookings Through Sustainability

Thibault Masson

From Green to Gold Achieving 90% Direct Bookings Through Sustainability

In May, at Scale Show Barcelona, a premier industry conference for rental professional managers, Rental Scale-Up curated and hosted the Knowledge Stage, an industry-first featuring only property managers as speakers. This initiative aimed to share real-world tactics for property managers, by property managers, with many fresh faces and first-time speakers.

The closing presentation on Day 2, “Achieving 90% Direct Bookings Through Sustainability,” was crafted by industry veteran, short-term rental operator, and a champion of sustainability in the sector, Bob Garner, alongside Rental Scale-Up Head of Content Uvika Wahi.

This session provided invaluable insights into the intersection of sustainability and profitability in the short-term rental market. Garner and Wahi demonstrated how eco-friendly practices could significantly boost direct bookings, enhance customer loyalty, and improve overall profitability. 

Introduction to Casal dei Fichi’s Success

Casal dei Fichi has become a benchmark in the short-term rental industry by achieving a remarkable 90% direct booking rate and a 65% repeat visitor rate. With over 600 five-star reviews, the business exemplifies how sustainable practices can lead to high referral levels, customer loyalty, and significantly reduced marketing costs. The 20-year journey of running eco-friendly luxury apartments has proven that integrating sustainability into business operations isn’t just good for the environment but also for the bottom line.

Sustainable Action Result: Higher Rated and More Nuances Reviews

The positive impact of sustainability on customer experience is highlighted through direct feedback:

  • Jo (September ’22): Praises the eco-friendly approach of the management.
  • Hannah (June ’23): Appreciates the serious sustainability efforts that ensure limited environmental impact.
  • Jacqueline (August ’21): Values the environmentally sustainable focus, adopting several eco-ideas at home.

These testimonials underscore that sustainability initiatives not only enhance the guest experience but also build a loyal customer base that values and respects the eco-friendly efforts of the business.

Business Advantages of Being Sustainable

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a strategic advantage that can significantly enhance the success of short-term rental businesses. As highlighted in the presentation by Bob Garner and Uvika Wahi, integrating eco-friendly practices can lead to numerous benefits, from increased profitability to a stronger brand image. Here’s a detailed look at how sustainability can transform your short-term rental business:

Differentiation in a Crowded Market

In a saturated market, standing out is crucial. Sustainability offers a unique selling point. Properties like Casal dei Fichi, with its commitment to eco-friendly practices, attract guests who prioritize environmental responsibility. Showcasing features such as solar panels, water conservation systems, and organic gardens can draw eco-conscious travelers seeking accommodations that align with their values.

Attracting and Retaining Eco-Conscious Staff

Eco-conscious businesses naturally attract employees who share similar values, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention. For instance, a property focused on reducing its carbon footprint might appeal to staff passionate about sustainability, fostering a positive workplace culture. Training employees on sustainability practices not only engages them but also enhances their commitment to the business.

Boosting Profitability Through Cost Savings

Sustainable practices can significantly reduce operational costs. Implementing energy-efficient lighting, smart thermostats, and water-saving measures lowers utility bills. For example, switching to a green energy tariff supports renewable energy and often comes with financial benefits. Additionally, waste reduction through composting and recycling programs can decrease disposal costs, making operations more efficient and profitable.

Leveraging Positive Publicity

Eco-friendly practices can attract positive media coverage and word-of-mouth, enhancing brand visibility. Properties committed to sustainability often catch the attention of the press, bloggers, and social media influencers eager to highlight green initiatives. Casal dei Fichi’s sustainable efforts, for instance, have been featured in various travel and environmental publications, boosting its profile and attracting new guests. Hosting eco-tours or workshops can further generate buzz and media interest.

Future-Proofing Your Business

Adapting to the growing consumer demand for sustainable options ensures long-term viability. As travelers increasingly seek eco-friendly choices, properties that have already embraced sustainability will have a competitive edge. For instance, adopting renewable energy sources now can safeguard against future energy price hikes and regulatory changes favoring sustainable practices, ensuring your business remains relevant and resilient.

Building a Strong, Responsible Brand

Sustainability strengthens a brand’s image as a responsible and forward-thinking entity. A robust sustainability ethos can become a core aspect of a brand’s identity, fostering loyalty and trust among guests. Properties that actively communicate their environmental efforts through their website, social media, and marketing materials can build a reputation as leaders in eco-friendly travel. Eco-certifications and sustainability awards further reinforce this positive image, distinguishing your property in the marketplace.

Enhancing the Guest Experience

Guests increasingly appreciate staying in places that care for the environment. Offering eco-friendly amenities like reusable toiletries, organic bedding, and farm-to-table dining options enhances their experience. Casal dei Fichi, for example, provides farm-fresh produce, which guests value knowing it’s sustainably sourced. Informing guests about local eco-friendly activities and transportation options can also enrich their stay, encouraging longer visits and repeat bookings.

When Sustainability Works

Successful sustainability initiatives focus on tangible outcomes rather than just the initiatives themselves. Here are some key strategies they shared, along with examples to illustrate their application:

Home Away from Home

Creating an environment that feels comfortable and familiar is crucial for enhancing guest satisfaction. This means integrating sustainability in a way that complements the home-like atmosphere. For example you can provide guests with amenities such as organic linens and locally sourced toiletries. These thoughtful touches not only offer comfort but also promote eco-friendly living. Guests appreciate the blend of luxury and sustainability, making their stay both enjoyable and responsible.

Outcome Focus

Sustainability efforts should lead to tangible benefits for both guests and the environment. This involves setting clear, measurable goals such as reducing energy consumption or minimizing waste. For instance, installing energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting can significantly cut down on electricity usage, while also lowering operational costs. Additionally, providing recycling bins and composting options helps guests actively participate in waste reduction, reinforcing the property’s commitment to sustainability.

Transparency

Avoiding ‘greenhushing’—or downplaying eco-friendly practices—is vital. Being open about your sustainability efforts builds trust with guests. Clearly communicating your initiatives through your website, in-room guides, and social media can enhance your property’s reputation. For example, Casal dei Fichi details their sustainability practices on their website, including their use of solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems. This transparency not only educates guests but also encourages them to choose properties that prioritize environmental responsibility.

Journey Mindset

Recognizing that sustainability is a continuous journey helps maintain a realistic and humble approach. It’s important not to preach to guests but to share your journey and invite them to join. For instance, Casal dei Fichi often shares updates on new sustainability projects and improvements they are making. By framing sustainability as an ongoing process, they engage guests in their efforts without coming across as self-righteous.

Guest Delight

Always aim to exceed guest expectations with thoughtful sustainability efforts. This means going beyond the basics to provide unique, memorable experiences. For example, offering eco-friendly activities such as guided nature walks or workshops on sustainable living can enrich the guest experience. Casal dei Fichi provides bicycles for guests to explore the local area, promoting a healthier and more sustainable way to travel. These added touches delight guests and leave a lasting impression.

Feedback and Follow-Up

Seeking and acting on guest feedback is crucial for continually improving sustainability measures. Implementing a system for collecting feedback on eco-friendly practices can help identify areas for enhancement. For instance, Casal dei Fichi encourages guests to leave comments about their sustainability initiatives in their feedback forms. This input is then used to refine and expand their efforts, ensuring that they are meeting guest expectations and staying ahead of industry trends.

Simple, Cost-Effective Sustainability Steps

The presentation highlights five straightforward, low-cost steps that short-term rental managers can implement to enhance sustainability. These measures are not only affordable but also collectively make a significant impact on reducing the environmental footprint of a rental property. 

Eco Toilet Paper

Using recycled or bamboo toilet paper is a simple switch that can greatly reduce deforestation and the environmental impact associated with traditional toilet paper production. For example, by choosing brands like Who Gives A Crap which offer eco-friendly alternatives, managers can ensure they are supporting sustainable forestry practices. These products often come in plastic-free packaging, further reducing waste. Guests will appreciate the eco-friendly choice, and it can be highlighted as part of the property’s commitment to sustainability.

Tech Sensors

Installing sensors to manage energy use efficiently can drastically cut down on unnecessary energy consumption. Motion sensors for lighting in common areas, bathrooms, and hallways ensure that lights are only on when needed. Additionally, smart thermostats can optimize heating and cooling based on occupancy and usage patterns, saving energy and reducing utility bills. A property that uses smart sensors to adjust lighting and temperature based on guest presence can significantly lower energy costs while maintaining comfort levels.

Single Use Plastic

Eliminating single-use plastics wherever possible is a crucial step towards reducing waste. This includes replacing plastic water bottles with glass or stainless steel alternatives, providing reusable shopping bags, and using biodegradable or compostable packaging for toiletries and amenities. This move not only cuts down on plastic waste but also aligns with growing consumer preferences for sustainable options.

Green Energy Tariff

Switching to a green energy supplier ensures that the electricity used in the property is sourced from renewable energy, such as wind, solar, or hydro power. Many energy providers now offer green tariffs, which can often be competitively priced compared to standard tariffs. Highlighting this commitment to renewable energy can be an attractive selling point for eco-conscious guests.

Eco-Friendly Web Hosting

Using web hosting services powered by renewable energy is an often-overlooked aspect of sustainability. Many leading web hosting companies, such as Krystal, offer eco-friendly hosting solutions that run on renewable energy or offset their carbon emissions. Promoting this choice can appeal to guests who value sustainability in all aspects of their travel experience.

Becoming Superinfluencers in the Industry

Short-term rental managers are in a unique position to drive substantial change in the travel industry. By adopting sustainable practices, they can act as superinfluencers, not only demanding eco-friendly options from their suppliers but also inspiring their guests to adopt similar practices. This dual influence can create a ripple effect, promoting sustainability far beyond the confines of their properties.

Encouraging Sustainable Supply Chains

By asking suppliers for sustainable products, such as eco-friendly toiletries, energy-efficient appliances, and renewable energy sources, managers can encourage the broader industry to prioritize sustainability. These requests signal a growing market demand for greener options, prompting suppliers to innovate and improve their offerings.

Inspiring Guests to Go Green

Simultaneously, by showcasing sustainable practices within their properties, managers can educate and motivate guests to incorporate these practices into their own lives. Whether it’s through providing reusable water bottles, composting food waste, or simply using energy-efficient lighting, every small action contributes to a larger movement towards environmental responsibility.

Conclusion

Incorporating sustainability is not just about meeting current market trends—it’s about leading the way towards a more sustainable future. By taking proactive steps today, short-term rental managers can enhance their business operations, delight their guests, and contribute to a healthier planet. Embrace your role as a superinfluencer and make sustainability a core part of your business strategy. 

For more detailed advice and resources on implementing sustainable practices, short-term rental managers should explore EnviroRental. This platform offers a wealth of information and support tailored to the needs of property managers, helping them to start or advance their sustainability journey.

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