BHS Trend Watch Marisa Sukosol

By Mark van Ogtrop
October 2019 Beacon
Sky Hospitality

The Thai hotel industry is looking for greener pastures. With the escalation of green consumer trends and heightened competition, sustainability is a key factor in successful brand management of hotels. Increased accreditations in planet-friendly practices are driving the hospitality industry to prove their environmental merit.

 

Sustainability in Thai hospitality is not just a passing trend. It is quickly becoming a priority and a moral must-do for hotel businesses who are fast adopting sustainable practises in operations as well as sales.

 

Mark Van Ogtrop, Executive Director Beacon Sky Hospitality met with Marisa Sukosol Nunbhaksi, Executive Vice President of Sukosol Hotels and Vice President of the Thai Hotels Association to discuss sustainability within the Thai hotel industry.

 

MVO: Please share with us an update on Sukosol Hotels

MSN: We’ve been in the hotel business for nearly 50 years, which started with the Siam Bayshore in Pattaya. Today, we have five hotels; 3 in Pattaya and two in Bangkok and in a couple of years we will be opening The Siam in Chiang Mai.

 

MVO: What are the Thai Hotels Association (THA) objectives?

MSN: THA has close to 1,000 member hotels, large and small operating all over the country. When there is an issue that impacts the Thai hospitality industry, such as sustainability, the association represents our hotel members when communicating with government and the private sector and provides thought leadership and recommendations to our members.

Another of our duties is to ensure that Thai hotels remain competitive in the worldwide marketplace. This involves a lot of training and education for our members.

Sustainability is an important trend in hospitality that effects everyone’s lives. The THA is increasingly promoting sustainable practices in hotel operations.

 

MVO: What trends have you seen evolve recently?

MSN: Sustainability, with the reduction of single-use plastics, which is a component of a hotel’s waste management operation, is the trend right now. Consumer demand of wanting less disposable plastics in their travel journey is growing and initiating a plastics reduction within the Thai hotels industry.

Demand for green meetings is also driving the business events sector. At Sukhosol Hotels we offer a green meetings package to event planners. We aim to reduce the resources that are consumed at meetings, minimalizing our carbon footprint with less energy consumption, plastics-free service of drinking water, use of local products and reducing food waste.

 

MVO: What challenges do Thai hotels face in becoming more sustainable? 

MSN: Sustainability makes business. Implementing green initiatives can save costs and positively impact hotel profitability.

Green certification is important. Certification provides third party verification of what hotels are doing in terms of environmental conservation. A big problem in Thailand that effects everyone is waste management. The infrastructure cannot properly handle the amount of waste being generated. Recycling plants cannot handle the volume or types of waste. Hotels need to be more mindful in reducing their waste. Proper waste management is the main challenge facing Thai hotels.

 

MVO: What is the responsibility of Government and the Private Sector to drive sustainability?

MSN. It takes two to Tango. Sustainability is a Public-Private partnership and we are blessed that initiatives driven by THA have been supported by the Thai government. While international chain hotels operate in the main cities and tourist destinations, most of the hotels and guesthouses in Thailand are SMEs. These small businesses do not always have the economic means to adopt new ways of doing business. This is where the government has been very supportive of smaller hospitality operators. Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau has also been leading the way with education, accreditation and their Green Meetings Guide.

Our role at THA is to build awareness and educate hotels in sustainability and how important this is for our future. If our hotel members wish to compete internationally, this is what our members should do. Consumer demand is driving change towards more sustainable operations.

 

MVO: What advice do you have for hotel owners and what action you would like to see?

MSN: Sustainability makes business sense. Sustainability is also ‘Cool’ and it is something that you should do. When building a hotel business, we need protect the resources that the business is dependent upon – the natural environment, local community and staff. Going green saves costs.