Interview: World Travel & Tourism Council's David Scowsill - Business Travel News

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Interview: World Travel & Tourism Council's David Scowsill

September 14, 2011 - 10:25 AM EST

David Scowsill

David Scowsill

The World Travel & Tourism Council is moving into the second phase of its project with the International Tourism Partnership to develop carbon reporting standards for hotels. Several hotel companies—including Accor, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Premier Inn, Red Carnation Hotel Collection, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Wyndham Worldwide—are working with the groups to develop the standards, which largely will be informed by the GHG Protocol standards. WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill recently updated BTN lodging editor Michael B. Baker on the project's progress.

What challenges do you face in developing these standards?

It's something in which WTTC has been involved for a long time. If you look at greenhouse emissions from airlines or cruises, it's relatively easy to compare across countries, across groups, etc. Within the hotel industry, everybody uses different standards, different ways of measuring things and different things that they measure. It's very important for us, as a global body with a lot of hotel groups as members, to play a leading role in this in order to provide a bit of power to the numbers that people are producing.

What's the timeline?

It's a three-phase project. The first phase ran from May to August of this year. We haven't yet decided on the timeline for phases two and three, but those will come out fairly shortly. The working group will reconvene this fall to work out the next phase. We'll work to further develop more comprehensive methodology and fine-tune what we did in phase one through to June 2012.

What areas are you looking to measure?

We're looking along the lines of air conditioning output from hotels against heating output, restaurant usage, electricity usage and everything from cleaning equipment to purification systems, all of which have greenhouse gas implications. It's every part of the hotel supply chain. The aim very much is to come up with a base guideline with these methods and then calculate the carbon footprint of individual rooms. You can take it down to a room level by looking at the overall greenhouse gas emission of a particular hotel divided by the number of available of rooms.

How will the GHG Protocol standards apply?

It's been the aim of this from the very beginning to ensure that this does align with the most commonly used standards of the GHG Protocol. There were a number of difficulties with that. Clearly, the group has been in the process of fleshing this out, and we don't have all of the answers at the moment. Different companies measure in different ways. We're trying to take a number of existing standards, like the GHG Protocol, and make sure it all hangs together under the banner of the initiative.

Will this ultimately produce something hotels can report to buyers in RFPs?

It's a possible use of the data, but it's just one of them. We're not doing this in order to compare one hotel against another or one hotel group against the other. By the range of people involved, you can see it's a pretty cross-industry and serious group. How the data would be used eventually, it's impossible to say at this stage. It will have a very wide range of uses. Corporate travel managers absolutely could be one set.

Are you planning to develop standards for hotels by tier?

You could use the data that way, absolutely. It isn't necessarily an explicit goal of the project to do that, but it would be one of the implications of the data.

Are you looking to bring in more hotels in developing these standards, or is it a set group for now?

It's a set group for now. If others wanted to join the group, there'd be no pushback. With the range of companies that are involved, individuals aren't looking at it for a competitive advantage. It's about trying to set up a series of common standards, so we would welcome anybody else and particularly their data set into this. We'd love to have them as a part of the research.

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