Pro Tips

Sustainability Matters: 8 Ways to Go Green with Your Vacation Rentals

October 13, 2022 |
sustainability matters

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it

Robert Swan

The climate emergency is upon us. The time to go green with your vacation rentals is now. For your business, for your guests, and for the planet. 

As the planet gets hotter, so does the demand for eco-friendly vacation rentals and sustainable travel options. When the pandemic completely halted travel, travelers had the opportunity to reflect on the wider impact of their trips. As a result, many have become more conscious of reducing their carbon footprint and pressure on local communities when they travel.

Guest enjoying nature at an eco-friendly vacation rental.

In fact, according to Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report 2022, 78% of global travelers intend to stay in an eco-friendly vacation rental this year.

Not to mention, the leader of the global battle against climate change is a 19-year old Swedish girl, so it should come as no surprise that 66% of younger travelers – the fastest-growing age group choosing short-term rentals –  are likely to consider eco-friendly travel options. 

The Case for Sustainability: The Numbers Don’t Lie

There is a strong (and growing) case for property managers to adopt eco-friendly practices for their vacation rentals, and the proof can be seen in the numbers:

  • 44% of US travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future.
  • 71% of travelers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably.
  • 53% are more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago.
  • 38% of travelers actively look for information about the sustainability efforts of a property before they book.

Check out our Earth Day Infographic for more digestible statistics on the ever-growing demand from travelers for greener, more sustainable vacation rentals.

The Benefits of Eco Property Management for Your Rental Business

#green in natural scenery

While keeping the planet cooler should be the main motivating factor, there’s a ton of other benefits that come with being an eco-friendly property management business, from stronger branding and profitability to attracting partners and investors. 

Better Public Image

Making your vacation rentals greener builds trustworthiness as a brand by demonstrating that you are not merely a profit-driven machine, but an ethical brand driven by a higher set of values and priorities.

As a result, reviews, social proof, and visibility will naturally increase, making your brand look great while driving more direct bookings in the process.

Increased Listings Visibility

Getting into the eco-friendly vacation rentals game opens up your door to the world of eco-friendly OTAs like ecobnb and bookdifferent. Stays booked in alternative accommodations have risen 40% in the last 2 years, making now a better time than ever to enter this market.

Only vetted and approved vacation rentals can be listed on these sites, which receive high traffic from the growing number of environmentally conscious travelers looking to make more sustainable choices when it comes to their accommodations.

And in an industry first, Booking.com has given eco-friendly property management companies the opportunity to add a Travel Sustainable Badge to their name; their Travel Sustainable partners are rewarded with increased visibility across their platform.

Looking for more ways to leap up the Booking.com rankings? Check out our ultimate guide to achieving maximum exposure for your Booking.com listings.

Property Investors Love Sustainability

According to the United Nations, real estate is responsible for approximately 40% of the world’s energy usage. Many property investors are becoming more conscious of their role in this, and actively research the sustainability histories of companies. They are becoming increasingly intent on partnering with companies that are committed to sustainable practices, viewing them as more resilient and cost-effective.

Pocket More Profits Per-Listing

Ultimately, it pays to be sustainable. Prioritizing energy-saving measures is an effective way of decreasing bottom line spending costs, and when combined with the benefits mentioned above, having an eco property management business equates to more guests through the door, which in turn means more money in your pocket.

Attract Better Guests

Marketing your properties to eco-conscious guests will generally result in your guests taking better care of your property, meaning lower bills and less damages. They will be more likely to turn off lights, scale back on water and electricity where possible, and if they are determined to leave their outdoor environment better than they found it, they’re likely to carry this sustainable mindset across to your vacation rental too.

8 Ways to Make your Vacation Rentals Eco-Friendly

1. Get Creative with Your Rental

Sometimes thinking outside the box is the best approach when it comes to sustainability. Think about how your property and local environment interact and work best together. Based on this assessment, you can add unique experiences to your guests’ stay. Let your imagination take the wheel.

Here’s a few fun ideas to kickstart your brain into eco-mode and get your guests interested and excited about sustainability:

  • Birdwatching – leave out some bird seeds and a pair of binoculars, along with some information about the bird species found in the area.
  • Borrow Shed – stock up a shed (or even a box) with items that tourists may find themselves buying for a single holiday and then disposing of. Think buckets and spades, bodyboards, and inflatables.
Bucket and spades left abandoned on the beach after use.

  • Litter Picks – we may not have the data to support the claim, but we’re pretty certain about one thing: younger guests LOVE litter picks. Stock your property with a couple and provide information about local beach (or other nature site) cleanups. This is a fun way to keep kids entertained on a day out exploring nature in the local area.

2. Invest in Home Automation

No matter where you are in the world, energy prices are soaring. So for those looking to reduce their environmental impact while simultaneously slashing their energy bills, look no further than smart home technology. Smart home providers like Brivo and Operto dramatically increase your vacation rentals’ energy efficiency with smart thermostats, smart lighting systems, smart cookers, and more, ensuring that your guests use all the energy that they need, and none that they don’t.

Guest enjoying the capabilities of a smart home from their phone.

These devices (and many more) run on the properties WiFi and adjust various energy-consuming processes from heating to light intensity to ensure that no excess energy is being used when it doesn’t need to be. Not only do they afford property managers and guests ultimate convenience and control over their property, but they can also save them up to $500 per year per property.

With strong benefits for property and planet, and buyback times as short as a single year for some smart devices, the higher upfront cost is a small price to pay to kickstart your journey toward a greener vacation rental and a lower energy bill. 

3. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances

Lighting accounts for 15% of all energy use in a typical home, making it a good place to start. Converting all your lightbulbs to highly efficient LEDs may cost a little investment up front, but the benefits are abundant; they consume a mere fraction of the energy of a regular bulb, last up to 50 times longer, and require replacing far less frequently which makes them low maintenance for you and your staff.

Energy efficient appliances

To make your vacation rentals greener elsewhere in the house, you’ll want to bump up the efficiency of your electrical items by switching where possible to ENERGY STAR appliances. These eco-friendly products are of the same (or better) quality but adhere to strict energy efficiency criteria. With demand on the rise, they can be easily found in electronic stores and online and will save you up to $300 per property per year on your electricity bills.

4. Keep it Clean, Keep it Green

Sustainable cleaning practices have become an integral part of any eco-friendly vacation rental. 

It starts with eco-friendly cleaning products, which consist of sustainable packaging on the outside, and environmentally friendly products on the inside. These products are less toxic too, making your properties more child-friendly, and generally more pleasant to be in.

Eco-friendly cleaning product with green leaves coming out the bottle

People also have a role to play here. You can encourage your cleaning staff to use less water, and give your guests the option of requesting new towels while encouraging them to reuse their old ones. Often, guests notice the signs about reusing towels and appreciate your efforts.

Sign asking guests to reuse towels where possible to be more eco-friendly
Source: JW Marriott

When it comes to rural properties, many PMCs with struggle with the handling of off-site laundry services, often leaving the environment to foot the bill for the countless back-and-forth laundry journeys made. Look no further than Guesty customers and eco property management company Ayres Vacation Rentals for a model solution; based in rural Tennessee, they decreased their laundry costs by 40% by purchasing more sheets and inventory. 

The result: 100s of labor hours saved driving back-and-forth to laundry services, reduced carbon footprint, and yes, a win for both PMC and planet.

5. Promote Sustainable Tourism

Another way to make your vacation rental more eco-friendly is by promoting and facilitating sustainable practices for your guests, and making it easy to follow them.

Couple enjoying a local outing on their environmentally friendly e-scooters provided by their vacation rental.

When exploring locally, guests can be encouraged to use alternative transport options. Help them on their way by adding information on local buses and trains to your housing manual, and be sure to include the best routes to local landmarks and the airport to make it easier for your guests to make greener decisions. Better than that, you can provide bikes or electric scooters at your Airbnb to make sustainability fun and convenient!

Shopping at the local market is a great example of sustainable tourism

You can also use your housing manual to promote local, environmentally friendly businesses. Whether it be a local market, antique shop, or organic restaurant, pointing your guests in the right direction is a great way to support local businesses that are doing their part to reduce their environmental impact. They’ll be grateful for it too.

Check out this article for more ways to support sustainable tourism at your properties.

6. Switch to Renewable Energy

Switching to a renewable energy tariff has never been easier, and it’s often cheaper too. On your energy bill, you should be able to see the resources that your energy comes from, whether it be carbon, wind, solar, or another form. If your tariff is not fully green, you can contact your energy supplier to explore renewable options, and if they can’t provide any then it’s time to jump ship to a supplier that can.

Valuable tools like Powersetter allow you to compare energy suppliers, and make the jump to a cheaper supplier that harnesses and invests in green energy. Sound simple? It really is.

An eco-friendly approach guaranteed to save a property management company money in the long run is to install solar panels. While not as simple and straightforward as other solutions, solar power can give you total independence from traditional energy suppliers, especially if your properties are located where the sun shines. The significant upfront cost has a buyback time of 6-15 years depending on which panels you choose, and that free solar energy is only becoming more valuable as gas and electricity prices climb higher.

Graph showing the payback times of different quality solar panels

If you’re looking to attract high-end travelers to your vacation rental, installing an electric vehicle charging station could be the green ace up your sleeve. Guesty partners OK2Charge offer an electric vehicle charging solution designed specifically for vacation rentals, allowing property managers to monetize electric vehicle charging while providing a much-desired guest amenity and property differentiator.

7. Give Single-Use the Boot

Single-use plastics have somewhat become the poster child for environmental sustainability. 300 million tons of plastic reach landfill each year, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. 

single-use plastics piling up in landfill sites.

To become more eco-friendly, property managers should cut out (or significantly scale back on) single-use plastics in their vacation rentals – switching them up for green alternatives – and must only use them when absolutely necessary.

These are small, easy switches to make; choose metal cutlery over plastic, clean with washable cloths rather than paper towels, and purchase reusable coffee pods rather than disposable ones. 

Encourage your guests to cut down on single-use products too. Equip your vacation rentals with reusable Tupperware containers and eco-friendly shopping bags, and ensure there are filter jugs or water dispensers on site to negate the need for plastic water bottles. Single-use plastics also extend to guest amenities like guest toiletries… time to switch those little soap, shampoo, and conditioner bottles up for large, refillable dispensers.

Do you give your guests single-use products as gifts? Try switching it up by gifting them a reusable water bottle or mug!

When you have no choice but to use plastic, choose the type of plastic wisely. Make an effort to find out which types of plastic are recycled or composted in your area, and switch to using that one.

8. Become a Recycling Champion

If single-use plastics are the poster child, then recycling is sustainability’s old friend. Although, while 94% of Americans are in favor of recycling, only 35% actually do so. Why such a large discrepancy? Confusion and inconvenience.

Sometimes there’s one recycling bin for everything, and sometimes plastic, glass, cardboard, etc. need to be separated, which often leads to it all ending up in the main trash can.

Clearly labeled recycling bins showing what waste goes where.

That’s where you come in. Clear instructions and visuals that explain exactly what goes where are a great way of encouraging guests to recycle. Your guests will appreciate the clarity and enjoy doing their part for a greener planet while helping you run a greener vacation rental. 

Final Thoughts

The climate emergency isn’t going anywhere, and as its impact begins to be felt by many around the world, the demand for eco-friendly properties and practices grows. Luckily for property managers, there is much to gain by jumping on the sustainability train. Your public image will improve, as will the visibility of your properties, and your pockets will reap the rewards of offering eco-friendly vacation rentals to your guests.

Remember, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time to plant a tree is now. The same applies to eco-friendly vacation rentals – the best time is now.

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