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Sustainability Implementation: What are the ten SOPs your hotel needs?

Ten SOPs for your Hotel or Group Sustainability Implementation

Due to a lack of time and internal resources behind hotel sustainability projects, the implementation may be complex. However, being without a specific budget or department is no longer an excuse for inaction.

Specifically, how can we ensure that teams take action and that hotel operates with a strategy that seeks to generate positive long-term value for all stakeholders in a hotel or hotel chain?

As a result of hotel efforts in sustainability implementation, innovation, and hotel operations, here are ten Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to implement in your hotel or hotel group operations. These procedures will ensure a meaningful impact on the sustainability plan.

Why do hotels need them?




  • Overcome internal resistance to change and empower team action.

  • Data Management

  • Make it easier to gather data across departments and analyze it periodically.

  • Involve teams to commit, take action and be more agile.

  • Communication and commitment will help the internal speed and get things done.

  • Keep track of data for regulatory compliance, certifications, and external audits.

  • Establish the appropriate internal organization and responsibilities for external certifications (such as sustainability certifications, regulatory compliance, ISOs, etc.).

  • Use technology and have a continuous improvement approach to SOPs implementation.

Implementing cloud PMS, building technology systems, measuring and reporting tools, and in-house communication tools will help to improve the implementation, communication, and transparency of organizational processes. Why does it matter for hotels?

  • Reduce risk and improve internal management systems.

  • Enhance employee and guest experience.

  • Better communication and cooperation between internal and external business stakeholders.

  • Capture business development opportunities.

  • Ensure corporate sustainability performance.

What are the main SOPs?

The 10 SOPs List

  1. Purpose Management

How to bring the hotel or hotel group essence to life. The purpose of the SOP is to introduce a practical approach for integrating it into operations. The aim is to educate on how to create cultures that thrive and boost innovation in the organization.

2. Sustainable Supply Chain Management

This Standard Operating Procedure will help managers and employees understand the importance of ethical Supply Chain Management. This document aims to establish a structure and internal organization on who will be responsible for supervising these practices. It also aims to minimize risks for the business and support positive impacts on local communities.

3. Anti-corruption

It is a policy that employees, officers, directors and affiliates, and all persons that act as a representative, agent, or advisor must comply fully with the Prevention of Corruption or related anti-corruption laws of foreign countries where they operate. The Policy's purpose is to ensure compliance by all business stakeholders with all laws and statutes of the country and any other countries in which the company does or intends to do business.

4. Planetary Boundaries (Land / Biodiversity) & Hotel Circularity

Delivering sustainable operations means integrating agriculture and food systems, ending deforestation, scaling up nature-based solutions, and restoring ocean ecosystems. With this SOP, hotels and groups can map operations and establish internal systems to drive the company's journey into this transition.

This SOP will be directly linked with the following one.

5. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan

Hospitality is a business that depends on natural resources, landscapes, climate, social stability, and many other factors. With issues such as natural disasters, weather conditions, involuntary migrations, political conflicts, and water scarcity, companies have to measure their impacts and start creating operational processes, governance, and due diligence to achieve real challenges and meaningful outputs. Thus, teams have to be educated and prepared for different climate scenarios as well as mapping risks for board and management teams to navigate different scenarios. A contingency plan and education for this transition are essential for climate action beyond energy.

6. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

International Frameworks such as Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women, United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, WEPs, the targets of the SDG number 5, UNECE Declaration for “Gender-Responsive Standards and Standards Development, Gender Lens to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct and the ILO recommendations can help to build this SOP.

At a European level the Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, there is a commitment to achieving a Union of Equality. The Strategy presents policy objectives and actions to make significant progress by 2025 toward a gender-equal Europe.

In this regard, most European countries' regulatory frameworks currently require or will require having an Equity plan. However, to have real diversity, inclusion, and equity the SOP must be created to account for other industry-specific realities and have a transversal and holistic approach to DEI. See the importance of intersectionality and take action beyond hotel operations to eradicate any discrimination by sex, religion, nationality, age, social class, disability, etc.

Intersectionality is a theoretical framework for understanding how multiple social identities such as race, gender, sexual orientation, SES [socioeconomic status], and disability intersect at the micro level of individual experience to reflect interlocking systems of privilege and oppression (i.e., racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism) at the macro social-structural level.

Harris, A., & Leonardo, Z. (2018). Intersectionality, race-gender subordination, and education. Review of Research in Education, 42(1), 1-27.

7. Wellbeing & Mental Health

The Wellbeing and Mental Health SOP facilitate an environment where everyone feels safe and make it easier to enable people-centric innovation. To do so, it is imperative to create an environment where teams can thrive regardless of adversity.

8. Human Trafficking Prevention

By following this standard operating procedure, employees will be provided with guidelines and information on the prevention of human trafficking and its implementation. This will enable them to ensure internal commitment to preventing human trafficking and spot potential cases of it.

9. Hotel Departments and Human Rights

If we would like to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it is required to ensure commitments and management systems that support businesses to deliver in the respective social and environmental challenges.

Hospitality companies have to make a public commitment and take a proactive approach to respect human rights. Head offices and in-house teams in hotels and chains have to have processes internally so they can identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for, damage or damage caused to human rights. This is one of the procedures that will guide how to remedy the negative consequences on human rights the company cause or contributes to causing.

10. Sustainability and Guest Experience Even though it is the last one, this SOP is the most relevant one as it connects all the other SOPs to how they impact and affect the Guest experience, from trip planning to post checkout experience.

Engage guests in meaningful activities. A great example is engaging guests in conservation activities. Nowadays, more brands connect with clients in meaningful experiences that bring value to local communities, support regeneration, and protect local biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

They are ten to start with to ensure smooth implementation in the hotel or hotel group operation.

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Published by Maribel Esparcia Pérez, Managing Partner at the European Sustainable Hospitality Club

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