In this review, I am going to analyze two Netflix Docu-Series that have the tourism industry as a central theme. First, Cabins in the Wild where eight building projects compete to become the best cabin in Wales. Secondly, Instant Hotel where with a contest format as well, 5 couples rate each other’s housings that have been turned into hotels in order to pursue a final prize.
The case of Cabins in the Wild
There has been a quick revolution in the tourism industry, especially in the luxury sphere. The stigma that big equals luxury has vanished and comfort and experience are taking over as a definition. This show exemplifies this fact through the creation of low-cost cabins with high-end details to offer a luxurious experience. Hence, we see that sustainability comes to action, especially on the building material choice. It is highly appreciated that the materials used are sourced locally and that present low maintenance. Wood here is a clear example of it, together with stone and steel that also help the cabin integrate with nature and its surroundings. This not only helps reducing supply chain costs but also reduces shipping and storage, resulting in lower emissions and energy usage. Also helps developing communities pushing the businesses and suppliers.
As all of them lies in a secluded location they serve as a romantic holiday getaway. The location makes them one of the few accommodation options in the area, being especially interesting for all those travelers planning to stay overnight in the area. They offer a solution to the existent demand and they do it in a unique way amidst nature.
Again, thanks to the isolated emplacement, some facilities must be taken into consideration such as electricity and running water. For the first one, an idea that they come up with is the installation of solar panels to power the equipment in the cabin. Also is very important the element of natural light and how to get the most of it, as during the daytime it becomes key to reduce power consumption. For the latter, running water can be obtained from a rainwater collector, making it highly sustainable but dependent on the weather.
However, most of these measures lie within the environmental sphere of sustainability. An aspect that of course becomes essential “in the wild”, but it is also one of the most known spheres. There is though an aspect that can be taken into the social sphere and that is the creation of a story related to the social background of the location. All the designs were created with welsh society and manners in mind, so not only the cabins offer accommodation in a secluded location, but also display the rich culture behind it. That itself can become a reason to visit, potentially increasing the demand and thus creating new business opportunities for the region. It also can help increase the awareness of the welsh culture not only among visitors but for locals as well. Also already establishes a sustainable accommodation model in the area, perhaps becoming an influence for future projects.
The case of Instant Hotel
The hospitality market has become highly competitive, especially in the collaborative economy platforms like Airbnb, making hoteliers struggle on offering something special that differentiates from the competitors. That sometimes leads to an increase of listings in residential areas, implying socio-cultural impacts on the destination. Instant Hotel shows how homes are converted into hotels with identity, which mostly reflects the owners' personality.
In this show, underneath the layers of gossip and competition, we can glimpse the three sustainability spheres. First, starting with the environmental sphere, amenities have a very important role here. The use of disposable amenities is criticized in this series, as the guests are looking into receiving souvenirs instead, or at least items that can be reused. This of course helps with the no generation of unnecessary waste. The understanding of the consumers’ personal responsibility is core in sustainable businesses and strengthens their marketing strategies. Especially for those consumers who care about the product or service they buy and associate the brand with it.
Another aspect covered in this sphere is the local attractions and the use of local fauna and flora as entertainment. The best example here is the crocodile trips made in the first episode, where several complaints are being made on how using animals as an attraction is unethical. Some establishments or businesses use these methods as a differentiation activity to attract clients. One of the most famous controversies on the topic was related to Tripadvisor. They were accused of promoting businesses that worked with animal exploitation. Most of the visitors are not actually aware of this fact, which leads to hidden cruelty.
Moving on into the social and economic sphere, the use of local products, being as a souvenir itself or as a part of the stay for the guest – like a garden for vegetables and fruits – helps both the image of the hotel and the local businesses. Also, the implication of the guests into gardening, cleaning, and other activities further strengthen this relationship with the local community. In regard to the farming culture, hospitality is experiencing innovation implementing city greenhouses bringing the products home, and being able to develop a circular ecosystem for their restaurants.
In a conclusion, even though the shows are not centered on sustainability matters, some information and ideas can be obtained through deep viewing and analysis. Some of the measures here shown can be extrapolated to the hotel industry as a whole and help integrate some sustainable practices into the businesses. One example would be the usage of natural light and heating in order to reduce power consumption. Added to green electricity, it boosts the sustainability of a hotel.
Another important point relies on the socio-cultural impact that the hotels make on the destination. As we’ve seen in the cabins, they reflect the culture behind the emplacement. European hotels could take this as an advantage and use it to offer a unique product and beat competitors.
Finally, local products - being materials, food, or activities - are a step forward to sustainability as we have seen applied to the souvenirs and activities offered to guests in Instant Hotel.
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