Google Wants To Help Guests ‘Go Green’ On Their Next Hotel Stay

Robert Roffulo

The search engine’s new “eco-certification” offers everything you need to know about how and where to book sustainably. Save water sign label on hotel encourage guest reuse bath towel getty Amid all of the volatility that’s come with working in the travel space over the last year-and-a-half, I didn’t think […]

The search engine’s new “eco-certification” offers everything you need to know about how and where to book sustainably.

Amid all of the volatility that’s come with working in the travel space over the last year-and-a-half, I didn’t think anything could surprise me anymore. That’s wishful thinking of course, and upon the check in at the W Hotel Aspen this summer, when I was handed not one, but two single-use plastic water bottles, I was surprised, and not in that warm and fuzzy, checking into a new luxury hotel kind of way.

When I peeked behind the plexiglass partition at the check-in counter and saw the hundreds of single use plastic bottles available for guests throughout their stay — and found an additional four single use plastic water bottles waiting in my hotel room, my surprise turned to concern.

A member of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio — the hotel chain that vowed to ban single use plastic straws and toiletries by 2020 — also just announced this week that they plan to reach net-zero gas emissions by 2050, a major feat if they can accomplish it.

W Hotel Aspen opened in late August 2019, in a destination whose sustainability practices and commitment to the environment are so deeply engrained in the culture here, one couldn’t help but wonder how this hotel could have so miraculously missed the mark.

Of course, this is only one hotel out of the hundreds of thousands around the world with room for improvement. And while it might not be fair to single-plastic shame them (certainly they’re not the only hotel brand that’s guilty of what’s come to be known as greenwashing) I’m far from alone in my dismay when it comes to hotels not carrying the sustainability torch at time when it couldn’t be more vital.

According to a study conducted by earlier this year, 83{352461131e134de422042936fefa1ec7b3be3957215d9cdd4e62cdd9b65caf90} of travelers worldwide said they not only believe sustainable travel is vital, but 61{352461131e134de422042936fefa1ec7b3be3957215d9cdd4e62cdd9b65caf90} said the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. Nearly half of those surveyed said they still believe that in 2021, there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available, with 53{352461131e134de422042936fefa1ec7b3be3957215d9cdd4e62cdd9b65caf90} admitting they get annoyed if the place they’re staying stops them from being sustainable.

In an effort to make it easier for travelers to find sustainable hotel options in their destination of choice, Google launched a new feature this week, that will “eco-certify” hotels that are doing the work necessary to be more sustainable.

In a blog post published by the search engine this week, Google said hotels that are labeled as “eco-certified” must meet certain standards of sustainability from independent organizations including Green Key or EarthCheck. Those hotels that meet their standards will feature an eco-certification badge in the form of a green leaf icon next to their name, according to Google.

Here’s an example of a hotel that has been eco-certified on Google:

Travelers will be able to independently vet and evaluate the hotel’s specific sustainability efforts. All you have to do is click on the “About” tab to see a list of what that hotel is doing in terms of their sustainability initiatives — from waste reduction efforts and energy efficiency to water conservation measures.

According to Google, the search engine is working with hotels around the world including independent hotels and chains like Hilton and Accor, to gather this information and make it easily accessible for Google users. In order for a hotel to qualify, each individual property will have their sustainability practices audited by a team of engineers, designers and researchers whose sole focus is on travel sustainability.

While Google says that it’s updates like these that will continue to help travelers around the world make more sustainable choices, the onus is on us to actually use it.

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