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Inside Kendall

The Sustainable Job? New Careers for the Sustainable Hotel

Sustainability is no doubt a familiar word to those in the hospitality lightbulb

People have long been requesting green practices at hotels, from the reuse of towels to energy efficient appliances, building infrastructure and more. The idea of staying at a sustainable hotel or taking a “green” trip is something that more people are demanding of their travel experiences. A 2010 survey of business travelers by Deloitte reported that 95 percent of respondents believe the hotel industry should be undertaking green initiatives.

From luxury spots to family friendly destinations, there is surge of sustainable-focused careers in hotels.

The Case for Sustainable

In addition to the clear environmental benefits, there are several reasons why hotels pursue sustainability, such as gaining market share and generating positive PR, along with the potential to increase profits by cutting costs and increasing operational efficiencies.

  • Cost Savings
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Employee Performance
  • Customer Satisfaction

eco friendly sustainability management hotels hospitality tourismWhere are the Jobs?

Both full-time and part-time positions related to hotel sustainability are rapidly emerging. Almost all major hotel chains have established ongoing sustainability programs and these are usually overseen by a director of sustainability, corporate social responsibility or a similar executive position. Most professionals in these roles have a combination of training and experience in sustainability, along with background in the unique challenges of hospitality. Some hotels have sizable staffs that help assess, plan, coordinate, measure and report on sustainability initiatives for numerous brands, business units and properties around the world.

While these positions aren’t new, they are growing in popularity at some of the most well-known hotels in the U.S. There are also roles for sustainability professionals emerging at the local or property level. These are sometimes dedicated positions, but can also be an aspect or feature of another position within the hotel – management, marketing, operations, purchasing, etc. These individuals need expertise in planning, analysis, measurement and implementation of sustainability initiatives in order to set up, manage and maintain these programs.

As this trend continues to shift the demands of the industry, colleges and hospitality schools are adapting to ensure that graduates are prepared to take positions at hotels and position themselves as a valuable contribution. For example, Kendall College in Chicago, Ill., offers concentrations focused on sustainability, such as the Sustainable Management in Hospitality and Tourism, and aims to embed the basic understanding of sustainability and its impact within other concentrations. It will remain important for students to focus on key areas of employability – event management and planning, operations, marketing, etc. – while showing that they are up-to-date on the latest standards and can bring a green mind to the position. Basically, it’s becoming essential for students within this market to know how to apply sustainable concepts, and within the next few years will surely become a fixed concentration and element of any hospitality program.

Read the full article on Reprinted here from the Hotel Business Review with permission from

Deborah Popely, Kendall College Lecturer and Lead Faculty for the Sustainable Management in Hospitality and Tourism concentration contributed to this article.

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