Booking Holdings launches new sustainability badge for accommodation
Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the travel agency’s new functionality to help consumers find hotels and accommodations that implement sustainability practices.
– The travel industry is recovering from its COVID-induced sleep, which means travel companies are stepping up their game to win your business. Booking Holdings, which is the parent company of sites like Priceline and Kayak, has just launched its Travel Sustainable badge for climate-conscious travelers. And now Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, is joining us.
Glenn, always glad to see you. So tell me about this badge. What are the key indicators that a hotel or establishment must achieve to obtain this sustainable development badge?
GLENN FOGEL: Yeah, well, thanks for having me. And we’re very excited about it, we’re really helping make sure consumers who want to travel in a sustainable way know where they need to go. And that way, we work with the homes, making sure they’re able to do the things that we think are important for sustainability.
Five categories. The first is waste. The second is energy and greenhouse gases. The third thing is water – what are they doing in terms of using the water. The fourth thing is to support local communities. And then, finally, we want people to protect nature. These five things – these five categories – are we asking, what are the combinations doing in this area? We work with them, and we have 32 factors, metrics, under these five categories that we measure and score and put in an algorithm, bring it out and see whether or not they’re eligible for that Travel Sustainability Badge.
And if they do, that’s great. People will research these properties. Otherwise, we will work with them. We will help them. We will show them the playbook: how can they improve and get this badge?
– But then, sir, how exactly is that controlled? Who is the referee? Isn’t it difficult to sort of supervise all the measurements in all the establishments?
GLENN FOGEL: Yes, no, this is one of the big things that everyone worries about. You know, the hotel says, hey, we do this. And then, do they really do it or, don’t they?
So we have several different methods that we use. The first thing is if the hotel works with a third-party consultancy that does all kinds of sustainability things and issues a certification, well, the hotel sends us the “shertification” – “cer -tifi-cation “- certification is on. And that’s what will earn them this badge.
But if they don’t have it, they respond to surveys and the like, and we may have someone, depending on some properties, if we send someone, we have a local partner service dealing with them all the time. anyway, and check it out. Does this happen or not? And then the last thing is to make sure they keep doing these things. And we will do this by interviewing our consumers. Pretty easy thing.
You know, if a hotel says it has a pool, but it doesn’t, we’ll find out pretty quickly. Now, it works the same with this. If a hotel does things like LED lighting, and we say, OK, you do LED lighting, and later we survey consumers, and they say, hey, these people don’t have lighting. LED, they have these old incandescent, we will find out pretty quickly. And then we’ll have to deal with the hoteliers and see what we can do to fix this problem.
– So there is no cost to you, the company, is there, Glenn, to institute this badge? I know you have a few other badges as well, called Travel Proud and Travel Worker-Friendly. Tell us a bit about that. But I’m also wondering if there are any costs associated with this when you track these properties to make sure what they promise is what they actually deliver.
GLENN FOGEL: Yeah, so actually, you know, we’re looking at our budget for 2022 right now, and I see how much money we’re spending on sustainability. And in fact, it is not cheap. Of course, we don’t actually help bring the LED lighting to the hotel, but what we do is we have people working on it, working with the hoteliers, doing all of these things. plans.
And then, again, there’s the whole problem of trying to make these algorithms – figuring out who’s suitable, who’s not, or not. You know, we just spent a lot of money with a consulting company called EY Parthenon, and we’ve been talking a lot about hosting and sustainability, and how are we going to get to 2050? How are we going to achieve this goal of net zero that everyone knows we need to achieve?
And we put that. You know it’s going to cost $ 760 billion, apparently that’s what this consultancy said to try to get the entire hosting industry to go to net zero by 2050. A lot of money. We work with them. And that’s what we do, because we know how important it is. Thatâs why weâre doing it.
– And sir, I just wanted to ask you really quickly, you know, that’s a great idea. I don’t know why no one came up with the concept before that. But what sort of sustainability consideration is there when considering a hotel stay or travel right now? And is it the younger ones who are more interested in a sustainable environment, the older ones? Or is it generalized?
GLENN FOGEL: Well, there is definitely a tilt. I think we’ve all seen polls, we see a little tilt towards younger people. Of course, that makes sense since the problem is they’re going to be on Earth – older people? Like, I’m almost 60 years old.
You know, how long am I gonna stay here? Who knows? But certainly, if you’re only 20, you’ve got a long way to go. You really need an Earth in which it will be possible to live. This is why they might have a little more incentive to do so.
But for everyone, I think we are all inspired to make this place a better place, to make the world a better place. And that’s why we do it. And you know, some for hoteliers they do it not only because they can get more customers but also, it can actually improve their operating margins. And I’m going to come back to the same example I just gave about LED lighting. Of course, that’s a bit more of an upfront investment, yes. Put in a little more money to get LED lighting compared to the old fashioned lighting. But over time you will save money because it will cost less because you use less electricity.
And that’s something we think we can help hoteliers. Now we can do the right thing. Not only can you get more customers, but you can also have better operating margins.
– You know, Glenn, the last time we spoke was just a few weeks ago, when you released your better-than-expected quarterly results, and that was when the travel restrictions were easing – Here in the United States as well. And I’m just curious. We are a few weeks away from this quarter now. What do you see? Does it live up to your expectations?
GLENN FOGEL: Well, you know, one of the things we talked about when we made the results calls, we saw hot spots in terms of COVID infections increasing in some parts of the world, especially in Europe. And I don’t know if you’ve been following the news, but it’s actually … it’s a little baffling. It’s disappointing. You know, we were all hoping to have some kind of linear pickup.
But if you read the news, you see that the Netherlands recently released new rules on masks. And you see, Austria has new rules. And we spoke during the call on the results of Germany, Italy, Russia. So it’s a bit disappointing.
And even in the United States, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the rate of infections has actually started to rise again. And that, of course, is of no use to anyone. So what I keep emphasizing is how important it is for everyone to get vaccinated. And if you have already received your two shots, think about it, am I still ready for my booster or not? This is how we’re going to get out of it, and the sooner we get out of this pandemic, the better for the travel industry.
– Alright, Glenn Fogel is the CEO of Booking Holdings. Thank you very much. We thank you for your visit.