Here’s how technology can play a leading role within the hospitality industry to make it greener than it has ever been before

Many companies around the world are starting their net zero transformation and have outlined their targets to reach net zero by 2050. According to the United Nations, science shows that to avert the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a livable planet, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Currently, the Earth is already about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and sadly we continue to break temperature records as emissions continue to rise. To limit global warming to levels called for in the Paris Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

The year 2050 might seem far away, but the task is immense, and actions need to happen now, at scale and speed. For many companies, to achieve net zero, they require a reduction of approximately 50 per cent in their footprint by 2030. Achieving this goal will be challenging for companies, so we need to harness all the technological tools in our arsenal, including innovation, digitisation, strategic levers and AI.

So how does one integrate digital transformation measures into their sustainability plans? Here are seven ways to point you in the right direction:

Analyse the data: What is the starting point for your company? For example, real-time measures and information from utility meters, iOT measurement points on technical equipment, etc. This gives you an accurate picture of where your current position is, and the concrete measures you need to put in place to achieve your goal.

Forecast data: Look at specific levers including energy, water, and food waste/consumption. Technology (and AI) can help us forecast data better and create digital twins of the most resource-intense companies (hotels in our case) and forecast their utility consumption behaviours.

Sustainable stays: Technology can be used to forecast consumers’/guests’ behaviour and help with eco-friendly suggestions, for example guiding them towards sustainable stay options.

Staff and guest engagement: Technology can be used to engage people and encourage them to make sustainable choices by showing the impact of their choices and decisions and creating a self-reinforcing loop of even more impact.

Simplify processes: Alongside simplifying processes, eliminate repetitive tasks so we can serve our clients better, leading to less waste, paper use, food waste, etc. If processes are dealt with automatically or online, this frees up time for value-added tasks to serve guests, such as assistance for less mobile clients and tailored local tips on the destination.

Traceability: With technologies such as blockchain, we can trace items, be more selective in our purchasing, calculate menu footprints, be smart about modelling, and reduce overall food related footprints. We can also trace the origin of materials that go into furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Personalisation: For example, in a hotel setting, we can use technology to better understand the needs of a client staying in a hotel for business or leisure, and whether the client prefers green choices such as green housekeeping. This can generate additional cost savings and revenue.

Technology opens a world of possibilities. Often, for companies it’s simply a matter of prioritising, finding the right partners and dedicating resources and time to pilot those measures and then scale them. The transition to a net zero world can only be done with a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about our planet. Technology is the key tool to drive our common journey to net zero by 2050.

Inge Huijbrechts is the Global senior vice president for Sustainability, Security and Corporate Communications at Radisson Hotel Group.