Visit Dorset Business Support Hub Make your business sustainable
Being a sustainable business is not only good for the planet and will help towards lowering your carbon footprint, there are also other benefits which you may not have considered. There are opportunities to save money, be more efficient and also widen your customer base.
According to Bookings.com, 71% of their customers in 2019 wanted more sustainable options to choose from. This echoes more recent research by Euromonitor, which says that 76% of consumers are now more concerned about sustainability than pre Covid-19. However, the number of tourism businesses prioritising sustainability now is only 42%, meaning there is a huge opportunity to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly holidays and low impact tourism.
VisitBritain has lots of resources to help your business become more sustainable. In addition, we've pulled together further resources and local case studies which you might find useful.
Being sustainable during the pandemic
Green Tourism have produced a useful blog about reducing single use packaging and plastics while still maintaining hygiene standards and keeping customers safe.
City to Sea have information about using re-usable containers during the pandemic and say "Over 125 health experts from eighteen countries have come forward releasing a public statement to reassure both businesses and consumers that reusable containers do not increase the chance of virus transmission and are safe to use, providing basic hygiene is in place."
Litter Free Dorset are promoting a few simple steps for serving contactless coffee in re-usable drinks cups and you can watch their video on YouTube.
City to Sea provide similar advice about serving tap water top ups for re-usable water bottles during the pandemic.
UK Hospitality have some great tips for reducing food waste and re-distributing leftover food if you find that you have surplus stock.
Be inspired by what others are doing
Read about or watch videos showcasing what other leisure and hospitality businesses in Dorset are doing to become more sustainable.
Waterside Holiday Park case study shows how they lowered their energy bills, which will result in an annual saving of £16,000 a year in energy costs. They received a project grant from Low Carbon Dorset of £35,636.75.
Bridport Leisure Centre case study contains information about installing LED lighting with £3,400 saved annually in energy costs. They received a project grant from Low Carbon Dorset of £5,210.60.
Persuasion in Lyme Regis are reducing their plastic waste - hear about the benefits and what ideas they have implemented.
Marsham Court Hotel have implemented a recycling scheme which has reduced 3 tonnes of waste going to landfill each month.
Albany Guest House in Lyme Regis talks about their experience on reducing plastics as well as saving energy and water.
Silverlake Dorset which are part of the Habitats First Group have purchased electric buggies for their maintenance and housekeeping teams, plus installed electric car charging points and purchased electric cars for their sales teams.
Dorset House Lyme have implemented many changes to the running of their B&B which you can read about on their website. They are a Green Tourism Gold Award winner.
Southern Breeze Lodge in Southbourne have already implemented a Green Policy and have plans to continue to lower their carbon footprint. They are a Green Tourism Silver Award winner.
Webinars and podcasts
VisitBritain held a Covid-19 Business Recovery webinar during July 2020 regarding sustainability. It is an hour long and includes speakers from Foresight Factory (from 2 minutes 30 seconds) talking about consumer trends, City Nation Place (from 14 minutes 58 seconds) providing insights into sustainability from around the world and Green Tourism (from 28 minutes and 23 seconds) talking about staying green during the pandemic, including eco-friendly cleaning products and avoiding single-use items. You'll need to register first before you can watch the webinar.
In March 2021, the Energy Saving Trust hosted a webinar about purchasing electric cars and vans for business use and the savings which can be made through lower running costs and taxes. You'll need to register first before watching the webinar.
In April 2021, the Energy Saving Trust hosted a follow up webinar about installing electric vehicle charging points at tourism businesses, including new announced grants. You'll need to register first before watching the webinar.
Reducing food and landfill waste
Billions of pounds are thrown in the bin and over 1 million tonnes of food waste sent to landfill every year which could still have been eaten. Guardians of Grub have lots of useful info about reducing food waste. Their Cost Saving Calculator helps businesses find out how much money and carbon equivalent they could save if they reduced wasted food.
Clean Conscience provide hotels with a way to divert their leftover and unused bathroom toiletries and soaps from going to landfill and being re-distributed to those in need.
If you offer a takeaway service, City To Sea have put together a guide on different options and which are the most sustainable options to use.
To reduce packaging provided to your customers, encourage them to bring their own reusable water bottles, coffee cups, lunch boxes and cutlery. Not only will it reduce waste going to landfill, it will save your business money. You can promote this at your business and perhaps offer a small discount to encourage customers to take part (or charge more for products sold in packaging that you have supplied). City to Sea offer free promotion for businesses who sell products without packaging on their popular ReFill app. The combined effort of businesses already offering tap water refills saved an estimated 100 million single-use bottles from entering the waste stream in 2019.
Take a Green Step provide information about working towards becoming a zero waste hotel.
There are 5 certified Plastic Free Communities in Dorset and many more communities in progress. They work with businesses, residents and local organisations to collectively reduce plastic waste. You can find out more and make connections with your local group via the Litter Free Dorset website.
Saving energy and water
Find out more from Take a Green Step about 5 affordable ways to reduce energy consumption. It is aimed at hotels, but the information is also useful for other tourism businesses. They have also produced a guide about how you can communicate with guests so they can be eco-friendly during their visit and help your business save money.
Low Carbon Dorset offer free technical support and grant funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Grants are available for up to 40% of your project costs, between £5,000 and £250,000, depending on your project and organisation. You can read case studies about businesses who have already received grant funding showing how much money they have saved and how much they have reduced their carbon footprint by.
With travel and transport being a large part of a visitor's carbon footprint when travelling to and around Dorset, helping your guests to make sustainable travel choices makes a big difference.
Read Green Tourism's blog about how to encourage customers to travel more sustainably.
If you are thinking about installing an electric vehicle charging point at your business (whether for your customers or your staff), you might be eligible for grant funding. The Government announced in February 2021 that B&Bs and accommodation providers would qualify for grant funding.
Greening your outdoor space
Green Tourism's Help Save the Bees campaign have some useful ideas about encouraging bees to visit your gardens and outdoor spaces, including setting up your own bee hives.
The Woodland Trust have put together their top 10 tips for environmentally friendly gardening including growing your own food, composting and adding a water feature.
Your business could become a Wildlife Gardening Champion for Dorset Wildlife Trust. All you need to do is implement at least 6 wildlife-friendly features in your garden/greenspace and then you will receive a plaque to display at your business. Great for nature, a good marketing tool to show how wildlife-friendly you are and it's free to join the scheme.
Toolkits and best practice guides
Sustainable Tourism for Dummies is a useful resource filled with tips and advice for improving energy and water efficiency, considering green transport options, managing waste, choosing sustainable suppliers, writing an environmental policy and communicating with your customers about your 'green' offering.
VisitBritain have produced several best practice guides for different accommodation types:
Marketing your sustainable business
If you are already an eco-friendly business and want some tips on how to communicate your eco-credentials to potential customers, Visit Britain have produced a helpful toolkit. It splits customers into 3 separate groups and gives advice on how to tell your eco-story and market your business in the most effective way. One of the case studies is The Green House Hotel in Bournemouth.
Green Business Award Schemes
There are a number of award schemes which tells your customers that you are an eco-friendly business.
There are 24 other Dorset businesses who achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Green Tourism award in 2020. This is a national, annual accreditation scheme with fees starting at £150 + vat with a one-off admin fee in your first year. You can find out if your business could achieve an award using their free, 10 minute GreenCheck quiz.
The David Bellamy Conservation Awards is an accreditation scheme run in partnership with the British Holiday and Home Parks Association. There are currently (as of March 2021) 22 parks in Dorset with either a Bronze, Silver or Gold award. The parks that take part in the scheme are all regularly assessed by the scheme’s team of local wildlife experts. The assessors look at the steps parks are taking to: manage their land as a haven for wildlife, reduce their use of energy, water and other resources, reduce, reuse and recycle the waste they produce and support their local communities. Once you join, you can then take the Honey Bee Pledge and become a Honey Bee Friendly Park. There are some useful tips on their website which you can share with your guests about they can play their part in being eco-friendly while visiting your business.
14 other Dorset tourism businesses have achieved a Litter Free Coast and Sea award. This is a free scheme aimed at not only benefiting your business but also the beaches, local environment and communities which surround you. After all, Dorset's beaches and its beautiful countryside are one of the main reasons why visitors choose to visit our area and if the bathing water quality was poor or the beaches were littered with plastic bottles, visitors might choose to go somewhere else.
One of the categories at the Dorset Tourism Awards is the Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award. It recognises tourism businesses committed to being sustainable, responsible and ethical in how they operate and interact with customers, the wider community and the environment. All entrants will receive summary feedback, with additional feedback available for a fee. Eligible winners will be 'fast-tracked' into corresponding categories of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and from these may be selected to represent the area in the national VisitEngland Awards.