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Partnerships

In addition to the 17 global partnerships with which Fairmont has aligned for the purpose of brand development (e.g. Air Canada, BMW, Mastercard, Reebok, etc.) (FHR, 2016a), Fairmont has also partnered with a number of programmes (internationally, nationally, externally and internally) signifying its sustainability interests. For example, the World Heritage Alliance is an example of an international partnership established by Fairmont based on an interest in protecting the cultural heritage and traditions of locals and ensuring that the benefits of tourism are shared. The World Heritage Alliance is an industry-leading initiative jointly formed by the United Nations (UN) Foundation and Expedia, Inc. to promote conservation, sustainable tourism and economic development for communities in and around United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. The first project undertaken was with Fairmont Mayakoba, an ecologically diverse resort located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mayakoba partners with Community Tours Sian Ka’an, a service alliance with three tour operators. The tour operators carry out tours in selected areas, work closely with park managers to ensure minimal impact and ensure that a percentage of the revenue is directed towards conservation efforts (FHR, 2010). The Pembina Institute, a Canadian non-profit environmental organization supporting clean energy transition, is an example of a national partnership with which FHR sought assistance. Since 2006, Fairmont has purchased enough wind power to offset greenhouse gas emissions generated by all 837 front desk check-in and corporate office computers in North America (James, 2008).

In 1990 Fairmont created the Green Partnership Program (Fairmont Royal York, 2015). Reid (2006) pointed out that Fairmont developed its Green Partnership Program before the development of the International Hotels Environmental initiative (IHEI), whose goal was to raise awareness of the necessity for hotels to consider their environmental performance. A number of environmentally focused services are captured in the programme, including Eco-Services (e.g. composting food waste, reusable meeting materials), Eco-Accommodation (e.g. water saving showerheads, temperature controls, sheet/towel exchange programmes), Eco-Cuisine (e.g. local food sourcing) and Eco-Programming (e.g. nature walks). Fairmont’s Green Partnership Program is recognized as an industry-leading approach and demonstrates the hotels’ commitment to reducing their environmental impact, which is a key component of their overall operating philosophy. This approach provided a way for Fairmont to achieve goals at the corporate, employee committee and operational level.

FHR sets environment specific policies and goals at the corporate level and employee volunteer committees are then tasked with the implementation (Reid, 2006). The primary goal from the corporate level is to be seen from a public relations perspective as a hotel chain that cares for the environment (Reid, 2006). Accordingly, the Green Partnership Program was focused on improving areas of energy and water conservation, waste management and community outreach programming involving local groups and partnerships, focusing on sustainable and responsible practices. Responsible practices include recycling, kitchen-waste diversion, retrofitting energy-efficient lighting, conducting community outreach programmes and purchasing green power. In order to reflect Fairmont’s broader sustainability goal, Fairmont’s Green Partnership Program evolved into the Fairmont Sustainability Partnership, established in 2013. The Fairmont Sustainability Partnership emerged based on a realization at the corporate level that sustainability is about ‘more than just the environment’ (FHR, 2013). Thus, Fairmont sought to demonstrate its accountability and integrity in its business conduct, going beyond its immediate interests. The articulation and commitment to a holistic ecosystem rather than just one element of the sustainability model demonstrates industry progress. Furthermore, a refocusing demonstrates Fairmont’s continuous interest in adjusting and improving its internal activities to more effectively contribute to sustainable societies (Lozano, 2013). Fairmont’s broadening focus, from its emphasis on its environmental impact to a sustainability partnership, supports the WCED definition and a tridimensional construct (Bansal, 2005) focused on sustainability and social responsibility blurring the line between CS and CSR (Montiel, 2008).

The Green Partnership Program established ‘Green Teams’, later referred to as ‘Sustainability Teams’. The goal of the teams established on each of the properties is to ensure Fairmont accomplishes its wider sustainability goals and is driven by a volunteer committee. As such, employees and some representation from management are responsible for demonstrating the broader commitments of the hotels (Reid, 2006). Empowering hotel staff to engage with the company vision is clearly strategic; however, it could be interpreted as deflecting responsibility and/or the costs associated with carrying out such programmes. FHR Sustainability Teams worldwide volunteer 15,000 hours through, for example, the Giving Program (Fairmont Hotel and Resorts, 2016a). A critique presented by Reid (2006) about such programmes is the direct impact the high turnover rate of young hospitality employees could have on programme success. This was clearly considered from an operations perspective, as indicated below in Table 15.1. One of the guiding principles of the Sustainability Partnership Program (8th principle) would be to ‘focus on our people’, thus providing ways for employees to upskill in order to assist in the retention of hospitality staff interested in growing with the hotel.

The Fairmont Sustainability Partnership Program comprises four key pillars including: responsible business, striving to conduct business with integrity and accountability for sustainability commitments; ecosystem, enhancing the well-being of local communities and making a positive impact beyond the immediate Fairmont properties; environment, striving to reduce environmental impact by strategically integrating innovative practices across all properties; and engagement, striving to engage, support and collaborate with stakeholders. All four pillars present opportunities for hotels to demonstrate integrity with regards to the environment, society and economy. The guiding principles of Fairmont’s Sustainability Partnership Program demonstrate Bansal’s (2005) tri-dimensional construct of CS.

Several of the guiding principles presented in Table 15.1 demonstrate the priority given to communities (1, 3, 7, 8) who are either involved in or affected by FHR. A number of programmes and specific activities align with the sustainability commitments outlined by FHR properties. The process of identifying and seeking external support to achieve Fairmont’s

Table 15.1. Guiding principles of the Fairmont Sustainability Partnership Program (Adapted from FHR, 2013.)

Guiding principles

Explanation

1. Responsible business

Conduct business in an ethical, honest, transparent way that is environmentally responsive

2. Sustainable growth

Growth in consideration of the unique environments of Fairmont properties in consideration of communities and benefits for the future

3. Integrity

Imbedded into decision-making, aligned with strategic goals, benefiting people, community and the environment

4. Innovation

Use dynamic thinking and innovative technology to enhance the luxury experience, while adapting and responding to the changing market and grand contemporary issues

5. Resource efficiency

Reduce the negative impact of operations

6. Equality and respect

Conduct business using practices that meet global standards of ethical conduct, and support equality and mutual respect

7 Communities

Invest in communities to provide growth and positive benefits

8. Focus on our people

Provide people with opportunities to succeed, grow and give back to communities

sustainability goals is evidenced in these partnerships. A component of Fairmont’s Sustainability Partnership Program is exploring how properties can integrate sustainable practices with regard to their culinary and property specific offerings. The chapter will now move on to discuss the significance of local sourcing in line with most of the above guiding principles.

 
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