How Integrating Technology Within the Hospitality Sector Can Improve Sustainability

Date: 09/02/2024


With more and more people looking to align themselves with eco-aware businesses, the hospitality sector must act fast to align themselves with this demand.

The hospitality sector naturally sticks out as an industry that might run into sustainability issues. The hotel industry on its own is now responsible for around 1% of global carbon emissions, and this number isn’t slowing down.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as things like the reliance on energy and water consumption as well as consumable goods don’t exactly spell ‘good news’ for the environment.

So, how can the hospitality industry adopt a more sustainable approach to appease a society that’s more eco-conscious than ever? 

The Current State of Sustainability in Hospitality

Recent studies claim that 72% of travellers across the world believe that sustainable travel is an important matter – and 87.32% believe that sustainable travel is ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’ to them personally.

Some establishments have successfully integrated eco-friendly practices, demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility. 

Marriott International and InterContinental Hotels Group, two major global hotel chains, have switched single-use shower bottles for larger pump dispensers to minimize their plastic usage.

This saved IHG around 200 million bottles per year and Marriot saved around $14 million.

Striking a balance between meeting the expectations of customers and implementing eco-conscious initiatives poses a considerable problem. The industry grapples with the task of delivering exceptional guest experiences while minimizing its ecological footprint.

The traditional methods are no longer sufficient, prompting a search for inventive and effective tech solutions.

What Makes a Hospitality Venue Sustainable?

Sustainable travel, hotels, restaurants and convention centers are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint. For example, they may adopt practices that minimize their use of plastic, recycle responsibly and reduce water and food waste.

Other sustainable hospitality practices might include:

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable hotels and convention centers prioritize energy-efficient practices. They invest in technologies like LED lighting, smart thermostats, and renewable energy sources to minimize their carbon footprint.

Waste Reduction

From smart waste management systems to comprehensive recycling programs, sustainable hospitality establishments actively work to reduce waste generation and promote responsible disposal practices.

Water Conservation

This involves implementing water-saving technologies and encouraging guests to participate in these practices to reduce the amount of water wasted. 

For instance, hotels can invest in low-flow fixtures such as aerated faucets and water-efficient showerheads to reduce water consumption without compromising guest comfort.

Sustainable Sourcing

Hotels and convention centers host hundreds if not thousands of guests at a time. So, by integrating locally sourced, organic, and environmentally responsible products in their operations, they can help cut down on the carbon footprint associated with transportation and production.

Community Engagement

Convention centers often play a significant role in their local communities and can actively contribute to environmental initiatives and community development projects.

The centres can be used to participate in community initiatives such as environmental clean-up events, educational programs, and sustainability workshops. 

By actively engaging with local organizations, schools, and community groups, convention centers can improve their commitment to environmental responsibility while engaging their community.

Key Technologies Driving Sustainability in Hospitality 

The good news is that the hospitality sector now has more sustainable technology at its disposal. Plus, being under the sustainability spotlight means they’re under more pressure to invest in this kind of tech.

We’ve already seen IHG and Marriott adapt their practices to become more sustainable, but what other technology can the hospitality use to improve their efforts?

Joining The Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative

In alignment with the broader sustainability drive within the hospitality sector, the Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative stands as a crucial framework for achieving carbon neutrality in event hosting. 

This initiative encompasses a range of strategies and technologies aimed at minimizing or offsetting the carbon footprint associated with hosting events, particularly within conventions and hotels. 

Any business looking to become more sustainable can join up – and it’s easy!

Card Readers and Digital Check-ins

Automation plays a huge part in our day-to-day lives, from SumUp card readers to make payments fast and easy, to digital check-in desks. How does this help with hospitality’s sustainability efforts? Fewer plastic cards are being used. 

Consider a convention center with hundreds of attendees. Traditionally, each attendee would receive a plastic access card or possibly a laminated lanyard. These cards and lanyards can be replaced with passcodes via apps and emails. 

Plus, attendees can simply walk straight to their event without having to queue at reception.

Energy-efficient Tech

Hospitality establishments, especially hotels, use up a lot of electricity. So a great way to reduce both the cost and environmental impact of this is to invest in energy-efficient alternatives. 

Some examples include:

  • Switching incandescent light bulbs for LED bulbs – LED bulbs consume significantly less energy, have a longer lifespan, and contribute to lower electricity bills.
  • Solar panels – Installing solar panels on hotel rooftops, in gardens and anywhere else that’s appropriate can reduce dependence on traditional power sources. Plus, this turns out cheaper in the long run.
  • Green roofing – Integrate green roofs or living roofs with vegetation to improve insulation, reduce heat absorption, and promote energy efficiency. Green roofs also contribute to better stormwater management and enhance the overall sustainability of the building.
  • Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems – Upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with energy-efficient models. Use smart thermostats and sensors in guest rooms to optimize temperature control based on occupancy, preventing unnecessary energy usage.
Energy Storage Solutions

Invest in advanced energy storage technologies, including improved batteries and grid-level storage systems. Both play a vital role in stabilizing energy supplies from intermittent renewable sources and supporting energy resilience.


Considering roughly a third of the world’s food is wasted (that’s about 1.3 billion tons a year), the least hospitality should be doing is composting their food. 

Things like coffee grounds, banana and orange peels, certain vegetables and tea can be fed back into the earth to enrich the soil and help grow plants and vegetables.

Most hotels have outdoor spaces, and all that’s required to compost effectively is building the compost pile. This is done by mixing food scraps and garden waste and layering it with wood chippings or leaves to keep insects and pests away. 

Apps and Digitalising Traditional Processes

Eliminating the need to print paper receipts, invoices, bills and other documents that typically come with the hospitality process is already happening. Simply ask for your receipts and invoices to be sent to your email to avoid the need to print. 

This saves the industry money on buying paper and obviously eliminates the need to use paper.

Smart Grids

Smart grid technologies enable more efficient and reliable energy distribution by integrating digital communication and control systems. They enhance grid management, reduce energy losses, and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources.

The Economic Impact of Sustainable Hospitality Technologies

Embracing sustainable hospitality technologies goes beyond environmental benefits, it can also bring substantial economic advantages. 

Above, we mentioned how two of the biggest players in the hotel industry saved millions after switching from single-use shower bottles to larger pump dispensers. 

Well, the same concept can be applied to pretty much any venue. 

Something as small as replacing event lanyards with digital check-ins or QR codes not only eliminates the need to use plastic but also means you’re making a one-time purchase as opposed to many.

There are benefits to energy-saving tech, too. Solar panels, for example, can save the average U.S. homeowner around $42,000 over 25 years. Additionally, a resort in the Maldives saves up to 30% a year on their energy bills through solar power.


Organisations like the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) are putting pressure on the hospitality industry to become more sustainable. They launched the Hotel Sustainability Basics Initiative, which demands hotels of all sizes, to switch to more sustainable practices.

If the hospitality industry adopted even a handful of the sustainable changes mentioned above, their carbon footprint would be drastically smaller. Obviously, if integrating these sustainable changes was easy, more of the hospitality industry would be doing so. 

However, the hospitality industry is finding innovative solutions to overcome the challenges associated with adopting sustainable practices, with new technology playing a crucial part in this.

If more pressure is put on the industry to abide by strict sustainability practices, the hospitality industry could play a vital role on the path to a more sustainable future.

This article was written by Ashley Harris, a contributor to AIPC with a deep passion for the hospitality sector and the technological innovations that are reshaping the industry. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.

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