How Millennials and Gen-Z Are Reshaping The Hotel Industry

Danny Pecorelli, Managing Director at Exclusive Collection
Published on November 13, 2019

Our purpose for travelling is changing.

Business travel and visiting friends and relatives remain key drivers, however, mass tourism is moving from a packaged week or two to people seeking one off enriching experiences. Such experiences are no longer defined solely by location but by how they enrich us by adding to our overall sense of wellbeing. It’s a global trend that’s driven by millennials and GenZ-ers who are willing to allocate a substantial portion of their disposable incomes to the business of experience.

More importantly for hoteliers, today’s consumers want to use brands that are authentic about their ethics, the origins of their products and the production processes. Add the term sustainability to this and the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors are having to realign and reconsider their supply chains and their impact on the local community and wider planet.

Sustainability is a well-trodden subject in the hospitality sector and a conversation that will never abate thanks to dramatic footage from TV programmes such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and the realisation that we can all make a difference. And while our actions to counter our impact may seem marginal, even miniscule in comparison to what’s happened before, we all have a collective responsibility to address sustainability.   

The need for hospitality operators to be conscious of the environment is a longstanding conversation. Sustainability has caused a major transformation in buying habits and the onus from consumers and buyers to be sustainable and ethical brings a whole new dynamic to the sector.

It used to be said the success of a hotel was down to location, location, location but there is a marked shift to values, values, values. Being sustainable is a non-negotiable service to society. 

With 11 unique businesses across 6 destinations it’s imperative we keep track and seek buy in from across the estate: “We are committed to providing amazing experiences in a manner that ensures a safe and healthy place for our employees and guests, and minimises our potential impact on the environment”. 

Our people are vanguards of this mission statement and with so many falling in to the millennial bracket they embrace our stance and continually provide us with feedback for areas of improvement. We also work with our partner suppliers to help us achieve our mission. 

We take a progressive stance with goals such as the removal of all single use plastic by 2022 and a medium goal to have a zero-waste direct to landfill policy with a target of 95% waste to be recycled. 

We also recognise the sum of marginal gains across the collection that touches bedrooms, spa, kitchen, conferencing and Michelin Stars. From the coffee capsules in our 462 bedrooms where the aluminium is recycled and the coffee grinds turned in to coffee logs, the introduction of bedroom bins that encourage guests to recycle, moving away from glossy coffee table books to their online versions on our Crave in-room tablets, retracting shower caps in the bathrooms to plastic free cotton buds; we are taking a forensic outlook across every department.  

Food and drink is one of the most significant areas where we continue to have a quick and demonstrable impact. Our approach is to use more of the region’s supply chain from local butchers and farmers to growers and suppliers and space permitting we have installed kitchen gardens onsite to cultivate our own herbs, salads, fruit and vegetables. At Lainston House, this autumn’s rich apple harvest provided guests with fresh juice and at South Lodge and The Manor House we collect eggs each morning from our own chickens. The principle of using the local larder is apparent at The Bybrook at The Manor House which, in 2020, achieved a Michelin star for the fourth consecutive year. Under Chef Rob Potter all dishes use locally sourced ingredients, and he is dedicated to serving seasonal and classical food combinations, with the aim of creating ‘a relaxed fine-dining menu influenced by the seasons, as well as being dictated by the beautiful British produce harvested within the grounds of The Manor House’.

We have garnered quite a reputation for Botanica at South Lodge whose menus draw on Mediterranean influences and use produce and artisan suppliers from the local South Downs. The all-day dining concept champions a plant rich menu headlined by our signature Wasted Burger made entirely from the pulp of the morning’s freshly prepared juices. 

Across all properties we provide glass bottled mineral water from South Downs Natural Mineral Water which is bottled at source just outside the historic City of Chichester.  The Ridgeview Wine Estate in the South Downs National Park provides nearly 10,000 bottles of sparkling wine to the group and is also our house pour. Our deep dive outlook towards our food and beverage supply chain has certainly brought some interesting facts to the fore; despite its exotic connotations, Bombay Sapphire, is bottled in Whitchurch, a 30-mile radius from Pennyhill Park and therefore a big tick as our house gin. 

We also partner with our suppliers to help us achieve our mission to minimise our potential impact on the environment by challenging them on their use of packaging and delivery methods.     

Perhaps our biggest undertaking towards sustainability to date has been the Spa at South Lodge. This 44,000 sq. ft. complex comprised of a luxury spa, gym, hydrotherapy pools and wild swimming pool was conceived to blend in to the environment through its wood cladding, meadow roof and biomass boiler. Recognising the benefits of marginal gains, we’ve considered the minutiae again; organic toiletries and toothpaste and even sun lotion from local suppliers while waste water is recycled via a reed bed system. The £15m investment has put Exclusive Collection not only at the fore of design but as a pioneer in sustainability.  

In any business – and particularly the business of hospitality - people are our mainstay and we strive to echo our sustainable values through their workplace and practices. Vegan meals and electric car charge points aren’t just for guests, they are for our teams too and by living these values we encourage commitment to the environment at every level in The Collection. 

As a privately owned business with an independent voice and outlook we are fortunate to be able to react quickly. We want to lead by example, draw on best practices and show how even the smallest changes can have an impact. A united voice from hoteliers and collectively challenging issues such as plastic room keys can only be positive  – just as we are all hearing the changing demands of today’s consumers and buyers to be sustainable and ethical.  

Good service on property is a given.  Being sustainable is a non-negotiable service to society that we all need to work towards or as I like to think of it: Values, Values, Values.   

Please share your thoughts on how we, as an industry, can push the sustainability agenda more. Share your thoughts on the LinkedIn article here.