ISO 21401:2018 - A modern vision for management of accommodation establishments

ISO 21401:2018 - A modern vision for management of accommodation establishments

ByAlexandre Garrido

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The global interest for environmental and social themes increases the desire of people to experience more sustainable services and products. The client, the tourist, is becoming more and more conscious and responsible and would like to enjoy tourism sustainable experiences.

ISO 21401 standard that has just been published was developed to meet the demands of sustainable tourism development and can be used by any type, size and geographic location of accommodation establishments.
 
alojamiento sostenible
This standard is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 and will therefore address issues such as human rights, health and safety, environmental protection and development of local economy.  Implementing the standard will help the organizations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Essentially, by managing accommodations establishments sustainably there will be a huge value to society
ISO 21401 define a sustainability management system, including the main aspects of sustainability that should be managed by the accommodation establishments, such as:
  • environmental dimension: water consumption, energy, waste generation and protection fauna and flora; 
  • social dimension: the generation of work and income, the valorization of culture and the development of the local community; 
  • economic dimension: the prevention of accidents with customers and employees, customer satisfaction and the economic viability of the enterprise.
A sustainability management system is a modern way of doing business. Its implementation allows the accommodation establishments to make their strategic decisions based on information and data related to the positive and negative impacts of the environmental, social and economic dimensions. The adoption of this form of management strengthens the decisions made, contributes to business objectives, reduces costs, improves supplier and community relationships, maximizes guest experience and satisfaction, and improves the image and reputation of the business. 
 
Benefits for all
Accommodation establishments that implement the Sustainability Management System based on ISO 21401 will be able to attest to their guests and to the whole market that they are sustainable enterprises. Besides that, it will bring benefits to all stakeholders, such as:
  • Community
  1. Minimization of negative environmental and social impacts at destination;
  2. Increase work and income for the community
  3. Improvement in the relationship with the accommodation establishments;
  • Employees 
  1. Improvement of professional qualification and recognition;
  2. Increase engagement and satisfaction;
  3. Improvement of the quality of the work environment;
  • Suppliers 
  1. Increase partnership
  2. Development of local suppliers
  3. Strengthening the local economy
  • Guests
  1. Maximization of satisfaction
  2. Increased quality of services
  3. Improvement of the tourist experience
  • Local Government
  1. Development of destination
  2. Strengthening the image of destination 
  3. Gain competitiveness for the destination;
  • Accommodation establishments
  1. Decrease in operating costs
  2. Strengthening Business Management
  3. Improvement of operational controls
  4. Reduce risk and increase opportunities
  5. Improvement of the brand image
  6. Certification of the Sustainability Management System
 
Five tips to start implementing ISO 21401
The management of the sustainability of an accommodation establishment is the most adequate solution to face the current challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities of the market. To start applying the ISO 21401 standard, it is recommended:
 
1. Get to know your Hotel from the point of view of sustainability
Make a diagnosis of the sustainability practices adopted, the current model of business management and how sustainability is applied.
From this, carry out a mapping of the main activities developed in the enterprise, relating the aspects and impacts related to sustainability involved with these activities, always thinking about the three dimensions involved: environmental, social and economic.
 
2. Implement Sustainability Indicators
You should quantify the performance of current sustainable management practices. For this, choose and implement a set of sustainability indicators related to the aspects to assess if the practices are actually reducing the negative impacts. This will increase the quality of management decisions to be made.
 
3. Define sustainability goals
After identifying the impacts related to the operation of the Hotel and measuring by means of indicators the results, it is time to define sustainability goals. Such as reducing water consumption by 10% or increasing guest satisfaction to 90%.
 
4. Implement the Sustainability Management System
Implement the requirements of the Management System (ISO 21401) to connect the business strategy with the identified aspects and impacts, objectives, indicators and sustainability practices.
 
5. Improve Hotel Performance.
Based on the results obtained and considering all aspects and impacts of sustainability related to your business, plan and implement new sustainable practices and produce improvements in the management of your business. 
 
Have a sustainable management! Make your Hotel environmentally responsible, socially just and economically viable!
 
Alexandre Eliasquevitch Garrido
Convenor of ISO/TC 228/WG 13 - Sustainable Tourism