Future-Proof Your Rentals: The New Green Standard Is Here

Uvika Wahi

sustainability in short-term rentals and the scale green conference 2024

As the clock ticked over into 2023, a stark reminder of our environmental reality was served: the planet breached the critical 1.5-degree Celsius threshold. It’s a wake-up call, especially for industries historically pegged as heavy hitters in carbon footprints, like travel and hospitality. Within this landscape, the short-term rental (STR) sector has been busy at the drawing board, not yet at the forefront but earnestly laying the groundwork for a sustainable overhaul. 

In this article, we explore key developments and potential pathways, including the forthcoming SCALE Green conference in London on April 23, 2024, offering professional managers strategies to future-proof their rentals by embracing the new green standard in hospitality.

Regulation Meets Innovation

The transition from voluntary to mandatory sustainability reporting is like shifting from a casual jog to a full-on marathon. Up until recently, the STR sector, much like the broader travel and hospitality industry, was in a sort of limbo, juggling a plethora of voluntary sustainability standards. But those days are drawing to a close. With regulatory bodies now demanding detailed environmental disclosures – think Europe’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and its global counterparts – the message is clear: get serious about sustainability, or get sidelined.

But here’s the kicker: the move towards sustainability isn’t just about dodging regulatory bullets; it’s about seizing an unmissable business opportunity.

The Consumer’s Verdict: Green is the New Black

What’s particularly intriguing about this pivot is the stark realization within the STR sector that this isn’t just another hoop to jump through. The global call for sustainability is echoing through the corridors of consumer consciousness. The modern traveler isn’t just looking for a place to stay; they’re seeking sustainable experiences, willing to pay a premium for it, and they’re voting with their wallets.

Surveys by Booking and Expedia reveal a seismic shift: 80% of travelers demand sustainable options, 43% are open to paying a premium for them, and 60% have already opted for eco-friendly stays in the past 24 months. 

Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report 2023
Source: Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report 2023

A Year of Green Milestones

In 2023, the short-term rental industry made significant advances in sustainability, pivoting towards not just ticking boxes for compliance but making a real, measurable impact, albeit not without its challenges. Amid this shift, pioneers like Sustonica and QALIA have carved out paths for STRs to not only adopt sustainable practices but to be recognized for it. Sustonica broke new ground with the sector’s first dedicated sustainability certification, setting a high bar for responsible operations. QALIA, with its eye on luxury vacation rentals, introduced a standard that posits luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand.

Pioneering a Green Dialogue

This era saw the rise of platforms like the Green Path podcast and Green Sauce, turning the tide by making sustainability a topic of everyday conversation within the STR community. Travalyst stepped up, adding a layer of oversight by vetting certifications on major booking platforms, ensuring that sustainability efforts are more than just lip service.

B Corp Certification: A Mark of Ethical Commitment

The industry has observed an increase in property managers and agencies, such as Sykes, Sawdays, New Forest Escapes, Luxury Cottages, Luxury Coastal, and Cornish Gems, obtaining B Corp certification. This development goes beyond mere environmental sustainability; it reflects a commitment to a wide range of ethical standards. Within this context, Travel by B Corp has been established, promoting best practices both within the B Corp community and throughout the larger travel sector.

Major OTAs Embrace Sustainability

Major OTAs are also getting with the program. Booking.com, for example, replaced its Travel Sustainable badges with a new system valuing third-party certifications, signaling a move towards more rigorous environmental standards.

Overcoming Sustainability Hurdles

Yet, beneath the surface, there’s an undercurrent of anxiety around data collection inefficiencies, the daunting task of engaging smaller suppliers in sustainability efforts, and the intricate dance of aligning with multiple, often conflicting, regulatory requirements.

The path ahead is one that demands collaboration, creativity, and persistence, urging the STR sector not just towards meeting standards, but setting them, redefining what it means to travel sustainably in the process.

Scale Green Conference: Where Commitment Meets Action

On April 23 2024, the heart of London will pulse with the energy of the short-term rental (STR) industry’s most forward-thinking minds at the Scale Green Conference. The brains behind the operation, Damian Sheridan and Gianpaolo Vairo of the Scale Show, along with EnviroRental, Sustonica, Qalia, and Nikki Mattei, are pooling their expertise to steer the STR world towards a greener future. Team Rental Scale-Up will be reporting live from the event to share insights in real time.

The ambition? To arm STR professionals with a concrete blueprint for embedding sustainability into their operations, pushing the envelope from good intentions to strategic implementations.

A New Format for New Solutions

Ditching the lecture-style setup for a more interactive, workshop-driven format, the conference is designed to foster collaboration and ideation among attendees. Each session, crafted by the organizers’ collective vision for sustainability, will segue into practical workshops where participants can draft their Climate Action Plans under the guidance of experts. This innovative conference structure ensures that attendees leave not just with insights but with a starter kit for sustainability tailored to their operations.

Ongoing Support and a Legacy of Change

But the journey doesn’t end as the conference curtains close. The commitment to fostering sustainable change extends well beyond the event, with a suite of post-conference support poised to keep the momentum alive. Participants will be nurtured with digital guides, provided by Touch Stay, serving as a beacon for implementing the sustainability strategies outlined during the event. This post-event engagement is crucial, offering a continuous line of support and resources to ensure that the seeds planted during the conference bloom into impactful actions.

This commitment is further encapsulated in a forthcoming white paper, set to provide a comprehensive overview of the conference’s outcomes and a roadmap for industry-wide sustainable practices.

Walking the Talk: The Sustainable Event Model

The Scale Green Conference isn’t just talking about sustainability; it’s embodying it. With initiatives ranging from plant-based catering to digital guides and support for local community projects, the event is a testament to what sustainable event management should look like.

Conclusion

The STR sector’s pivot towards sustainability is both timely and critical. As consumer preferences continue to evolve, aligning with these green expectations is not just good for the planet; it’s good for business. The industry’s efforts over the past year, epitomized by the Scale Green Conference, signal a commitment to not just weathering the environmental storm but leading the charge towards a more sustainable future.

Get the most important short-term rental news and insights straight to your inbox, for FREE.

Subscribe to our newsletter using the form below.