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Rain, rain go away - Ed’s letter

As you sit here reading this there’s a strong chance that you’re also listening to the pitter patter of July storms and muttering to yourself about how this isn’t the kind of climate change you were looking for.

The UK, we were assured, would be hotter and sunnier. We’d be growing champagne. There would be palm trees all over. Summer would last forever. Obviously climate change is bad, but in the UK there was a general feeling that there would be some moderate upside.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that what the UK is in line for is more storms in the winter and a pervading damp the rest of the time. This is not even remotely what the country’s hospitality sector needs to hear. The Euros has provided a fillip to pubs and bars, but prior to that there was much commentary on how we needed to get people into pub gardens and how impossible that was when they were under three feet of water.

There is an opportunity here, tough though it is to see it, and that is to embrace the market for sustainable hospitality. The evidence for climate change is all around us and, as we saw prior to the pandemic when flight shaming was a thing, not acting may cost you customers.

Uptake is mixed across the hospitality sector. Pubs and restaurants have tended to focus on the locally-sourced aspects of sustainability, if they do at all, whereas hotels have gone in deeper on operations, most likely because they are part of longer-term real estate plays which will fall foul of incoming carbon laws. Every hotel brand wants to show investors that they are the the best pick to futureproof a property.

Uptake is also mixed across the generations. Cris Tarrant, chairman & founder, BVA BDRC, pointed out that “one of the most intriguing aspects of the split across the different age groups is that the older generation - typically the war generation  - are the group which is taking the most sustainable measures and living in the most climate-friendly manner. These are the people who are insulting their lofts, hanging heavy curtains to prevent drafts, wearing jumpers rather than putting the heating on, acting to try and limit their consumption.”

It may not be intentional, but it’s happening nonetheless. Where things get interesting for hospitality is where revenue growth can be attached to sustainable measures. Consumers are largely happy to make a sustainable choice if it doesn’t cost more, but they are less eager to put their money where their morals are.

This is shifting slowly, BVA BDRC reports, starting with the luxury sector, where more disposable income can be found to support future hopes and dreams. As the weather gets worse and the reality of our situation sinks along with our garden umbrellas, embracing sustainability could be good for the planet, and the bottom line.


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