Anyone running a business today wants to reduce costs to have a healthier bottom line.
If your business is not financially viable, consumers cannot enjoy the unique, delightful services and experiences you share with the world.
One of the easiest ways to save money, is also one of the simplest. You can take action today, it does not cost you anything, and you can even share your results with others, so they get to benefit too.
I know. You are not sure that saving money can be that simple, right?
But it is.
Stop throwing your money in the bin in the form of food waste.
1 in 6 meals in the UK hospitality and catering industry is wasted. ¹
Someone bought that food, someone was paid to prepare that food, and someone is paid to take it away. That is tantamount to burning money.
While it is most probably not intentional, it is definitely not sensible.
While a lot of waste is produced as throw away from customers plates, the majority comes from the kitchen during the preparation, and from spoilage through food that has gone out of date.
According to the results of the survey I recently sent out to the lovely people on my email list, the main concerns of independent hotel, lodge, b&b, and hostel owners are:
1) increasing direct bookings,
2) standing out online, and
3) learning more about how to create a more sustainable business.
I am working hard on addressing concerns 1 and 2, so meanwhile, let’s get started with just one of the elements that can help you with building a greener, more sustainable business.
There is an insider secret that I will share with you here though. The harder you work at number 3, the more engaging content you generate for numbers 1 and 2.
This is what I love and where my passion lies.
Helping you confidently improve your generic marketing strategies while learning how to build that more sustainable business, and then boldly weaving that into your marketing messaging to get your actions and successes out there to the people who matter to your business.
I love having you along on this journey, but first a little more about mine.
Around the millennium, I worked as a tour leader across the Latin American continent. 8 wonderful years I spent leading groups from Rio to Lima, Santiago to Buenos Aires, Bogotá to Panama City. I never tired of staring up at the wide skies of Patagonia, of breathing in the humid scent of wild begonias in Machu Picchu, of wondering what the Spanish settlers were thinking as they cruised through those warm Caribbean winds towards land.
It was a wonderful life, but I began to question early on how to balance the fact that we were frequent flyers while having front row tickets to the slow but steady retreat of the glaciers.
I am taken back to those memories now from where I now live in the Austrian countryside every time I read The Snail and the Whale ² to my children.
"And she gazed at the sky, the sea, the land,
The waves and the caves and the golden sand.
She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all,
And she said to the whale "I feel so small". ²
And yet I am relentlessly positive that there is always something you can do, that we can all do, to make a difference right where we are. And that place begins with knowledge, awareness, and a belief that you don’t have to have all the answers today. You just need to get started.
I have been right where you are. Spinning so many plates to keep your business afloat that you are at high risk for repetitive strain injury. But I also know that warm butterfly feeling you get when your guests check out happy and smiling, ready to share their amazing stay with you to anyone who will listen.
I know you love what you do, and I know you care deeply about where you live and keeping it in the best state possible for future generations to enjoy.
Let’s do this together.
In a recent Hospitality Net study ³, industry experts were asked to propose the three actions they believe would have the most impact in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss for the hospitality industry.
Bastienne Bernasco, Senior Lecturer at Saxion UAS, answered:
1) Plant-rich diets,
2) Health and education, and
3) Reduce food waste.
It is widely recognised that our ability to significantly reduce our footprints begins with critically evaluating and improving on what, where, and how we purchase the products we need to run our businesses.
Buying local and choosing seasonal products not only reduces greenhouse gases emitted from travel, but also supports local businesses, provides the chance to tell stories about suppliers whom your guests could maybe visit, and allows you to create fresher, healthier, menu options for your customers.
You may be aware of all the above, but have you seriously thought about how much food you waste every day?
Calculations from the UK estimate that about 18% of annual food waste is created by the hospitality and food service industry. ¹ That is huge!
Whether you offer breakfast only, cater for large events, just have a small café service, or only focus on bar or spa snacks, there is a way to raise awareness among staff and guests, and significantly reduce your waste.
Even if you own or manage a self-catering accommodation business, you can still tackle the food waste problem by advising guests what to do with their food waste.
Composting is the obvious answer, but even just by raising the subject and sharing some facts, you are doing your bit to educate. Maybe they prepare less, or save for later, or share with someone else because of your message.
Why is food waste such a problem?
Much wasted food ends up rotting in landfills, and there it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21% times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is estimated that 7% of greenhouse gases produced globally are due to preventable food waste. ⁴
There is much to learn, but to get started, here are 5 tips you can apply today to begin to reduce your food waste:
1) Shake up how you serve breakfast
Self-serve buffets generate a lot of waste. Allowing guests to choose from a short, but attractive menu gives them what they want but not too much.
2) Take a look at your supply chain
Buying local and more often can significantly reduce spoilage.
3) Grow something onsite
This could be as simple as fresh herbs for a welcome juice, or a fully-fledged vegetable garden depending on your available space and green fingered capabilities.
We are all busy, we often don’t have time to make changes to the way we do things. But when we learn why making these small changes can positively affect our children’s chances of living healthy and long lives, it can trigger us into action.
5) Meat free Mondays
Another response from a Hospitality Net industry expert caught my attention. It was that of Eric Ricaurte, founder of Greenview.
His message was simple:
1) Offer less beef,
2) Waste less beef, and
3) Eat less beef.
To respond to the idea of eating less meat, the Guardian admits that “it is extremely difficult to separate out the impacts of different farming models and types” ⁵, but the bare basics show us that beef production drives climate change in two ways: first through cow’s emission of methane, and second, by forest degradation and destruction as they are converted to grazing land. ⁶ It also uses a huge amount of water to produce 1kg of beef.
While there is of course a lot more to discuss here about organic meat production and regenerative farming, there is little doubt that reducing our meat intake is better for the environment and arguable better too for our health.
At home I am trying to bring in meat free Monday’s. I am receiving quite some kickback from my 5- and 6-year-olds about why we cannot hide the meat so we “just can’t see it”, or why carrots are SO boring when compared to hand-paneered organic chicken nuggets!
But nevertheless, I see this as my responsibility, and as an opportunity to teach and impact the way my children think about how and what they consume. You have the same opportunity and responsibility to your staff and guests, and for sure won´t get as much kickback!
Let’s help each other by sharing meat free recipes of any kind. They can be child-friendly, spa snack friendly, breakfast friendly. I will happily compile your favourites in categories and share in a pdf when we have enough. If you have pictures of your masterpieces, even better!
Let’s be pioneers. Educate by leading the way to being kinder to the planet without compromising on guest comfort, experience, or full bellies!
Use the hashtag #meatfreemondays, and let’s make a difference, one step at a time.
You will also be surprised just how much marketing content to help you stand out online and generate more direct bookings is created from getting bold and confident about what you stand for. I am here to help with all of that.
So, share your favourite vegetarian recipes in the comments below or send them in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Found inspiration here? If you would like to receive more helpful, relatable, and actionable content relevant to your business, click here to sign up to my email list. No spam, no bombarding you. Just really useful stuff. I look forward to having you onboard :)
² Donaldson, Julia. The Snail and the Whale. New York, Puffin Books, 2003.