If you’ve casually scrolled through Instagram recently, you already know.
Airport queues are stretching long, cars are on our regional roads, our feeds are jam-packed with glorious holiday snaps – the world is well and truly in travel-mode again.
And – Covid-safe practices in tow – we are well and truly ready for it.
However, as we gently wipe the dust off our suitcases, more and more of us have started to prioritise spending our hard-earned dollars on accommodation run by socially conscious operators.
Nine months into running my own short-term accommodation business, I began to connect with other hosts who shared my sustainable, socially responsible ethos.
I was curious to hear the real-world experiences of local hosts who were driven by – and passionate about – factors beyond the economic.
The result? The Hosting with Heart podcast, an Australian, New Zealand and perhaps even world first, tapping into the experiences of a diverse range of accommodation hosts, from the aspiring to the existing.
Now ranked in the top 2 per cent of podcasts globally, it’s helped me build an online community of more than 850 hosts from around Australia and NZ who have entered the sharing economy primarily to make a difference, not just a dollar.
Now with an exciting new website in the works (launching Friday, 26th August – stay tuned!), which will be the first in the world to showcase properties and hosts that I deem ‘heartful’ (ie: committed to the five core tenets that make up our purpose-driven philosophy, including quality, accessibility, creativity, sustainability and social responsibility) and to encourage holidaymakers and jetsetters to book directly with them, rather than one of the commission-hungry, behemothic online travel agents (OTAs) such as Airbnb, Stayz etc), it’s fair to say I’m passionate about sustainable and responsible accommodation.
So, as you take off on your next – and, let’s face it, very overdue – sojourn, here’s three quick tips to help you tread a little lighter on the earth and find accommodation that’s a little kinder.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
When you’re on the hunt for sustainable accommodation, it’s vital to go beyond the look of the property itself.
The United Nations International Sustainable Development Goals cite reducing inequalities, contributing to local communities as well as responsible consumption and production as key sustainability green lights.
Ask yourself, what does the host of the property do to help achieve these goals? How do they give back to the local community? Perhaps they provide amenities that exclude any single-use products or encourage guests to recycle, compost and use water responsibly? Some might stock locally-sourced amenities, while others (and I dearly hope this increases exponentially in the future) have configured their properties to comfortably cater to anyone living with a disability or chronic illness.
Even the finer elements associated with a property, such as its overarching design, use of reclaimed furniture or how it conserves energy, can be big ticks to take note of.
While it’s easy to be drawn to well-photographed accommodation with a neat sustainable tag in the description, we need to delve deeper to find those properties doing the work – and show them some love.
Whenever and wherever possible, book directly with the hosts.
All too often, the larger OTAs are all words and very little action – dressing up supposed commitments to sustainability and social responsibility in slick marketing campaigns, without delivering any tangible benefits for our people or planet.
By going straight to the host, we can save them the added expense of advertising through the major short-stay accommodation players, thereby ideally enabling them to re-invest into making their properties more sustainable and accessible.
Put simply, culture and communication matters.
When choosing your accommodation, explore how your host respects and acknowledges its history. This might include a visible statement of country as well as education on the land’s indigenous heritage.
A warm, welcoming and inclusive communication style is also indicative of a passionate, caring host. When securing your stay, take note of whether they practice inclusivity and welcome members of our LGBTIQ community to their property, for instance.
As many of us know, living sustainability can also be done simply. As we begin to get back out and explore our world, choosing purpose-driven accommodation can help ensure a much more enjoyable and satisfying holiday as well as helping to create a better world.
By booking accommodation that is kinder to both people and the earth and seeking out socially conscious hosts, we can finally get our well-deserved break while giving our world one too.
Jen Clark is the founder of Hosting with Heart, the leading podcast for short-term accommodation hosts and property managers in Australia and New Zealand. You can follow Hosting with Heart on Instagram here.