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Retail Revolution The End of Excess

Sabre, a leading global travel technology company, recently unveiled a report titled ‘Retail Revolution’ entailing the current trends in the global hospitality industry which has led to transformation of hoteliers into retailers. Express Food & Hospitality, in this second part of the series, presents excerpts from the report

The chatter around single-use plastics has made your guests realise that the ‘grab-gothrow’ mindset is a dead end for the planet. But it doesn’t stop at plastic. Travellers’ eyes are opening to all kinds of waste – wasted materials, wasted space, wasted food, wasted time and more. They’re demanding that every brand they interact with (their hotel included!) rework its model to eliminate excess at every turn.

Why now?

The war on straws
The eco-topic of 2018– plastic straws – is one major factor driving The End of Excess. In just the span of a few months, governments globally (in the UK, Seattle, India, California, Taiwan, and many, many more) either proposed or enacted plastic straw bans. Prominent companies in all kinds of industries – Aramark, Starbucks, American Airlines, and even unexpected ones like Goldman Sachs – did the same. Without a doubt, these sweeping bans have caught your guests’ attention.

Zero-waste goes global
Another concept that has spread like wildfire? The zerowaste store, which sees retailers selling goods that aren’t encased in the typical plastic packaging. Iterations of this retail model have recently popped up in locations including Hong Kong, Thailand, and New York.

Redefining Resource
Consumers are seeing that ’excess’ has more than just ecoimplications. Especially in hospitality, guests have been introduced to new business models that reconsider what is a resource, and how that resource can be used to its full capacity. Airbnb and Hotel Tonight, for example, have transformed spaces that were traditionally unoccupied by travellers (a homeowner’s spare bedroom, a hotel room between bookings, respectively) into revenue sources.

Plastic-free hotel opens in Bangkok
Opened in June 2018, the Akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok is Asia’s first single-use plastic-free hotel. On arrival, guests are offered stainless steel water bottles, which can be refilled at water dispensers located on every floor. Bathroom amenities are provided in locally-manufactured pottery containers, and biodegradable plastic bags are used in all bins. The move was part of a wider initiative from the Akyra Hotel Group, which pledged to become plastic free by 2020.

Hotel chain turns old bed linen into pajamas
March 2018 saw discarded bed sheets being upcycled into pajamas for kids in need. Claimed to be a world-first, Project Rise: ThreadForward is an initiative of US hotel chain Westin Hotels and Resorts, dreamed up by housekeeping supervisor Carolyn Thoroski. Working with Divergent Energy, the fibers in the bed linen are broken down, before being rewoven into fabric and made into pajamas.

Hotelier purchases excess produce from local farmers
In March 2019, Hilton partnered with FoodMaven, a US company helping local farmers and ranchers sell their excess inventory. The alliance kicked off initially in Colorado and Dallas, as part of Hilton’s larger efforts to reduce food waste. According to Nikki Newman, executive chef at the Hilton Denver City Center, the deal helped her acquire that artisanal and local products that guests favor, while enabling the Hilton location to spend 20 per cent less on ingredients than it had previously.

Fashion label’s concept store shows consumers how to live more sustainably
In August 2018, US-based sustainable clothing brand Eileen Fisher opened a concept store in Brooklyn teaching consumers how to live more responsibly. The Making Space concept store is intended to help consumers live more sustainably, hosting workshops, movie screenings, gallery exhibitions and other events. Making Space also features artistsin-residence; the first is Cara Marie Piazza, who will hold workshops on using flowers or food byproducts to dye textiles. Eileen Fisher’s Remade and Renew clothing lines – made from recycled clothes or out-ofcommission styles – are sold at the store.

Soap company repurposes milk cartons
In January 2019, Cleancult began selling a range of household cleaning products that are natural, bio-friendly, and come in recyclable milk cartons. Based in Puerto Rico, the company’s products, which include laundry and dishwasher detergent, allpurpose cleaner, and foaming hand soap, are based on saponified coconut. Prices start at USD 4.95 for a natural soap bar.

Mixologist creates cocktails from food waste
In December 2018, mixologist Mark Lloyd opened the Zero Waste Bar at Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival. The pop-up bar served cocktails made from waste food donated by vendors at the festival, which celebrates sustainability and wellness. Lloyd also hosted masterclasses to teach attendees how to make their own zero waste cocktails. The mixologist is also known for hosting the Sammakorn Cocktail Club, a ‘secret’, invite-only pop-up bar selling zerowaste cocktails. Open only once a month, the pop-up is located in Bangkok’s Sammakorn suburb.

Renewable energy company unveils the Zero Vacation experience
Finnish renewable energy firm Neste unveiled the Zero Vacation experience in March 2019. In its goal to reach zero emissions in Sweden, Neste is encouraging Swedes to take vacations within the country – rather than taking a carbon-emitting flight overseas. Every aspect of the Zero Vacation, which guests can enter to win, produces as little waste and emissions as possible. On the Swedish island of Lido, guests stay in the NOLLA cabin (made from sustainable materials, running entirely on renewable energy) and dine from a zero-waste menu.

Your Response?

Compelling incentives
The ‘save water, reuse your towels’ callto- action is standard. Can you offer a new, noteworthy incentive for your guests to help you end excess? See how the cities of Surabaya in Indonesia and Istanbul gave residents free bus passes in exchange for recycling plastic waste.

The End-of-Excess experience
Another way retailers and hoteliers alike have boosted consumers’ environmental consciousness? By making End of Excess initiatives double as immersive and even surprising experiences. Brands like Eileen Fisher have transformed stores into spaces for sustainability workshops, while Neste enables guests to fully dive in to the zerowaste life. And imagine if a mixologist like Mark Lloyd ran your hotel bar! Can you show your guests how creative they can be, and how much fun they can have, by reducing their waste?

Capacity capture
The end of excess has fully penetrated the retail sector, as products made with unexpected, would-be-wasted materials flood the market. Could you swap out, say, the standard bar of soap in your rooms with a carton from Cleancult? And is there a resource you’re currently throwing away you could creatively repurpose? See how Westin, instead of contributing to the mountains upon mountains of textile waste, turned its old sheets into pajamas for kids in need.

(Courtesy: Sabre)

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