The Department is involved in a number of different projects, several examples of which are listed below. Each of these projects ties in with one of the following areas of research.
- ‘Enjoy!’: how can you ensure that sustainability is the core of your hospitality product or service and is reflected in every aspect? In other words: how can you create a service which is fully sustainable in every way without adversely affecting the customer experience?
- ‘Join!’: how can businesses involve customers and employees in the sustainability process?
- ‘Support!’: how can sustainability be integrated into the business process?
Fully Sustainable Hotel Experience
The majority of European hotels ask their guests to reuse their towels, while is it also becoming increasingly common to see vegetarian items and Fair Trade coffee on the menu. Still, how do you ensure that sustainability goes beyond a few basic measures and that the hotel experience you offer your guests is fully sustainable, without undermining the guest experience? Through its research project ‘A Fully Sustainable Hotel Experience’, the Department aims to work with colleagues at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences to develop a hotel concept in which the three dimensions of sustainability – people, profit and planet – are fully integrated. We feel this concept inspires people and employees to contribute to sustainability. The project is funded in part by the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH).
It may be the most tangible example of sustainability policy you’ll find in any hotel: the slip requesting guests to reuse their towels in order to reduce hotel water consumption and protect the environment. Yet research has shown that only 16 per cent of guests take this message to heart and actually do use the towel for two days rather than one. What might be done to improve this? Working with Stenden Hotel and third-year students of our School of Hotel Management, the Department is investigating whether the message printed on the slips might be rephrased so as to incite more people to reuse their towels.
Myths about young holidaymakers
When young people go on holiday, are they interested mainly in having a good time? Do they really spend all their time online? Do they go for the cheapest option, with little or no interest in nature and the environment, or are they, in fact, interested in nature trails and other outdoor activities when dreaming about a trip or planning a holiday? Through this research study, the Department intends to find an answer to these questions by exploring some of the values that influence young tourists. The initial findings of the study are encouraging: it turns out that, when going on holiday, young people are mainly looking to relax and recharge. For that reason, large numbers of young people do enjoy nature holidays, often combined with cultural activities. These teenagers and young adults are influenced by values such as altruism and an interest in nature when thinking about where they would like to go on holiday and booking their trip. The Department is conducting this study in conjunction with market research company TNS NIPO, the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) and Dr Simona Staffieri.