Preferred Hotel Group has launched a new brand of sustainable hotels worldwide, which aim to promote travel as a force for good – a sentiment accelerated by the pandemic.
Beyond Green kicks off with 24 exemplary examples of hotels and resorts in the portfolio, all of which have been extensively vetted under the watchful eye of brand leader Costas Christ, global sustainability expert and founder of Beyond Green Travel, which Preferred acquired in February.
“Never before has there been a greater need to promote a kinder and gentler way to explore our beautiful, yet fragile planet; this is a bright spot in an incredibly challenging year,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, chief executive of Preferred Hotel Group as she announced the initiative.
“Driven by our wider brand promise, Believe in Travel, which guides every decision we make as a company, we believe that now is the time to go big and be bold as we look to the future of travel. While some brands have gone quiet, we have chosen to double down and focus on making developments in this key area,” she added.
“While there may be a tendency to think of sustainability as just the latest travel buzzword, its roots are long and deep. What we are witnessing is an evolution of travel, not a passing trend,” said Christ. “Sustainable tourism is not about giving something up, it is about gaining something more – a great vacation that it is also a force for good. And it is time for the travel industry to move forward with great ambition.”
There is also a big opportunity for travel advisors to become involved as Beyond Green grows, via the Green to Gold programme, which will work with selected agents by extending unique benefits to their clients when booking one of the properties, such as resort credits, early check-ins and other IPrefer benefits.
Agents will also be able to access curated content to help them understand the wider sustainability issues and “promote the unique stories and vision” of each member property.
“We want to help transfer the knowledge of these hotels in a quick and friendly way to travel advisors’ customers so everyone can share in spreading the word,” said chief marketing officer Kristie Goshow.
The Beyond Green platform will provide member properties with global connectivity, distribution technology, marketing, sales, quality assurance, branding, and sustainability solutions, as well as access to participate in I Prefer Hotel Rewards, the points-based loyalty program for independent hotels, which has 3.7 million members.
An interim website is now available, prior to the brand’s official consumer debut in Q1 2021. By that stage, Beyond Green member properties will also be bookable on a common GDS chain code, to be announced in early 2021, which will be linked under Preferred Hotel Group Inc.’s master GDS chain code – PV. Until then, bookings and interest can be sent to email Book@StayBeyondGreen.com.
Any property entering into Beyond Green must pass 54 sustainability points that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Examples of these requirements, which form part of an ongoing, biennial on-site inspection process of all members, include management of overall environmental operations to establish benchmarks and set additional sustainability goals including carbon emission reduction targets; elimination of plastic water bottles and reducing single use plastics.
Other criteria include support for biodiversity conservation initiatives and restoration and protection of natural habitats; embracing local cultural vernacular in design and decor and supporting the preservation of cultural heritage sites, a demonstrated priority to hire locally according to fair wages, benefits, and non-discrimination policies that meet or exceed legal requirements; and priority to purchase goods and services from locally owned and operated businesses.
“We understand there are a lot of sustainable travel initiatives out there, but none were doing quite what we are doing – bringing together a growing global collection of sustainable hotels and making them easy to identify and book,” said Ueberroth.
“There are others [hotel collections] out there for sure – but to me, this is not a competition: the more of us who are championing this the better. In a way, I hope that one day we won’t even need to have collections like this, because all of travel and hospitality will be focused in operating under the principles we operate under with Beyond Green,” said Christ.
He added one of the ambitions for Beyond Green was also to create a collective impact statement to show the traveller that by choosing these hotels they really were making a difference.
“Between our current members in Africa alone, they are protecting eight million acres of endangered species habitat, that is how big the impact of choosing to travel in this way is,” said Christ.
Preferred Hotel Group includes the Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide brands and Ueberroth said there was very likely many more applicable members across the portfolio, but the launch 24 members are resorts that Christ and his team had been able to forensically vet personally to ensure sustainability standards.
“The pandemic has caused some obvious issues in being able to get out there and see the hotels, but we will be opening up to new members as soon as we can,” she said.
The launch hotel members of Beyond Green are: