One of the world’s leading digital platforms has introduced a first-of-its-kind Travel Sustainable badge, created to offer a credible, globally relevant sustainability measure. Launched by industry giant Booking.com, the badge is designed to be applicable to a wide range of property types — from apartments, B&Bs and holiday homes, to hotels, resorts and even treehouses. Adaptable to local realities and considerations, it will highlight the most relevant practices, as well as their high-impact potential — whether you are booking a stay in Amsterdam, or along the Gold Coast in Australia.
The goal of the badge is to make credible recognition of impactful sustainability efforts attainable for more properties worldwide and to provide travellers with a transparent, consistent and easy-to-understand way to identify a wider range of more sustainable stays, no matter where they want to travel.
Making sustainable travel choices easier for everyone
The company’s ambition, alongside the Travalyst Coalition in which it is a Founding Partner, is to create a universal and transparent measure for sustainable property information, across the industry. As such, this first version of the Travel Sustainable badge leverages a set of attributes validated by the Travalyst Independent Advisory Group.
Building off the credible standards for sustainable accommodation already in place, Booking.com has then collaborated with a mix of industry experts to identify a set of the most impactful practices for a property to consider in five key areas: waste; energy and greenhouse gases; water; supporting local communities; and protecting nature.
This foundational framework is currently further broken down into 32 specific sustainability measures or practices that properties can implement, including everything from eliminating single-use plastic toiletries or switching to LED light fixtures to running on 100% renewable energy sources or investing a certain percentage of profits into local community and conservation projects.
For each one of these practices, Booking.com has also worked with reputable sustainability consultancy Sustainalize to develop a robust methodology that assesses their relative weight within the model.
As these weights depend on the environmental and social impact of practices, the model is fit for purpose to identify partners that pursue meaningful sustainability efforts. The calculation also considers the property’s location and accounts for its size, improving the model’s accuracy and applicability for the large variety of Booking.com partners.
All these calculations come together, with each practice being weighted accordingly and taking local factors into account, to create an overall score for the property’s sustainability practices. While the goal has been to create a universal model, operating sustainably means different things in different markets.
For example, water-reducing measures in an area prone to drought or sourcing renewable energy options in a country where that’s not yet widely available are weighted as being more impactful. More detailed information on how individual properties around the world have achieved the badge is available in the Travel Sustainable Handbook.
Properties that meet the required threshold for impact are receiving the first version of the Travel Sustainable badge, including those with a broad range of existing certifications and labels, for example those officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel.
This framework approach and measurement methodology have been officially developed within the Travalyst Coalition and approved by the Travalyst Independent Advisory Group. They continue to be developed with further consultation and advice from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
The badge should both recognise and encourage, says Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability at Booking.com:
“Building a truly sustainable travel industry will take time, coordination and concerted effort, but progress is possible through continued innovation, partner support and industry collaboration.
“We believe it’s important to demonstrate that there is a spectrum for sustainability and that there is value in showcasing the growing number of properties that are at various stages on their individual sustainability journeys. Displaying the practices they have in place makes it easier for everyone to make a more informed and hopefully more sustainable choice — thus inspiring even more of our partners to take the next step to operate more sustainably.”
It is fundamentally important that the metrics behind the badge are robust, adds GSTC CEO Randy Durband:
“Booking.com have developed, tested, and refined this method drawing on GSTC’s expertise and globally-recognised Criteria, lending strong credibility to the framework that has been so carefully crafted.”
Accelerating the sustainability journey
According to a new study just released by EY Parthenon and Booking.com, despite emitting 264 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year, representing 10% of the total annual emissions of the tourism industry, the accommodation sector has the opportunity to lead the way in making travel and tourism more sustainable.
While significant investments are needed to reach net zero by 2050 (€768 billion), the findings highlight that many accommodations have already implemented a range of carbon emissions measures. With adoption levels of the most efficient available technologies and practices varying between 30-70%, though, there is clear room for improvement.
So, given that 64% of UK travellers state they want to stay in sustainable accommodation, for example, Booking.com sees a tremendous opportunity to showcase more of the impactful efforts its accommodation partners are making.
Listings, searches and filters, plus expansion and alignment
During this first phase of launch, the Travel Sustainable badge and an overview of individual property sustainability efforts will initially be visible to travellers on property pages across the Booking.com app and website globally.
As the rollout continues, the Travel Sustainable icon will also start to appear on property listings on the search results page over the coming weeks, along with a Travel Sustainable filter to help travellers identify more sustainable options from the beginning of their search experience on Booking.com.
The list of measurable sustainability practices will continue to evolve and expand over the coming months, becoming increasingly locally relevant in terms of measurement, while maintaining a necessary level of global consistency. As additional practices are added over time, the plan is to also begin aligning this sustainability initiative with other Booking Holdings brands, as well as with other Travalyst coalition partners to ensure consistency across multiple platforms and enhanced sustainable choice for consumers.
Dozens of languages and millions of properties
Part of Booking Holdings Inc, Booking.com is available in 44 languages and offers more than 28 million total reported accommodation listings, including over 6.6 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay.
As part of its Travel Sustainable program, the company shares guidance, insights and best practices with property partners via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content on the Partner Hub.
Unlocking the impact of travel for good
Travalyst was founded by The Duke of Sussex in partnership with Booking.com, Skyscanner, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor, and Visa, plus is newly-joined by Google. Its stated ambition is to unlock the impact of travel for good.
The aim is to drive forward a new, more responsible model for travel that builds upon the work of existing standards, with the goal of making them easier to understand for consumers and businesses, and in turn, implementing and scaling them across the broadest possible range of travel service providers.
- More on the Booking.com Travel Sustainable programme, plus the Travel Sustainable Handbook;
- More on Booking.com in general; and the company’s sustainability policy;
- More about Travalyst, including its Net Zero Commitment;
- More about sustainability consultancy Sustainalize;
- More about the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel;
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