Hospitable and Sustainable Amsterdam

22 May, 2017
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On May 9, the Municipality of Amsterdam organised the Gastvrij Duurzaam 020 (Hospitable and Sustainable Amsterdam) meeting for hotel professionals in Casa400. The purpose of this meeting was to provide hoteliers with concrete ideas and tools to improve the sustainability of their organisation and operation.

Kick off

Froukje Anne Karsten, the organiser of the meeting presented its aims; trend watcher Vincent van Dijk presented trends on sustainability worldwide. His conclusion: wake up and get your company green because the customer of the future is expecting this from you.

The Hotelschool The Hague Research Centre was invited to co-create this event and organised two workshops with counterparts of the city of Amsterdam. Arjan van Rheede presented ideas on how hotels could contribute to the ambition of the city to be a circular economy by 2050: simply put, a city is that closes all its loops and designs out all waste.

Arjan van Rheede: Opportunities and possibilities of the Circular Economy for the Hospitality Industry

Arjan’s presentation discussed the basic principles and provided examples of circularity. Showing hotels what they can do themselves and with others, was a good start for the participants to reflect on their opportunities. This workshop had a high attendance of over 40 professionals and led to valuable results. The main finding of the workshop was that the implementation of new initiatives needs to be well managed and really embedded in the organisation. Otherwise, the effect will slip away. The main issue is not inspiration or adding value to the organisation, it is about the employees or the guests.

Follow-up actions from this workshop will focus on helping hotels find and implement circular solutions, and on how to take the guest along this process. Many hotels state that they are not there to educate guests, but merely to provide hospitality. As explained in a previous blog article: Sustainability in the hotel industry, Mr van Rheede does not agree with this statement.

Joost de Vos and Anna de Visser-Amundson: Sustainable Food Management

Hotelschool The Hague colleagues Joost de Vos and Anna de Visser-Amundson hosted a workshop on Sustainable Food Management. Joost presented the LEARN framework. This tool was developed to create awareness of how to treat and choose food in a more sustainable manner and also how to foster an innovative mindset to find alternative solutions that are more sustainable than other, more traditional food options. LEARN stands for (Figure 1):

By using the LEARN framework, chefs and other food producers can analyse the ingredients of their dishes in one easy overview. For example, if you have a beef carpaccio with parmesan cheese on the menu, you should ask: is there a more sustainable way to substitute these products without compromising the taste? Perhaps the beef can be sourced locally and biologically? Could the parmesan cheese be changed for a Beemster mature cheese which has less food miles and gives a new taste dimension? What is the impact on price in that case, and what is the story we should tell the consumer about this new way to offer a classic dish?

Talking about the story, Anna explained the current ‘Rescued Soup Project’ and presented some of the results from the previous field study in La Mangerie restaurant at Campus The Hague. In an effort to save food from being wasted (did you know that 30% of all food is wasted? Read more here), the Hotelschool The Hague Research Centre and kitchen staff started a collaboration in February 2017 to rescue vegetables whilst investigating how to best communicate these ‘upcycled’ dishes to restaurant guests. We decided to make soup of our rescued vegetables and had a fixed soup schedule every week, meaning that the same soup was served on the same day every week. We had a conventional (normal) soup and a Rescued Soup. The response was overwhelming; during the 8 week experiment we sold 2487 bowls of soup, 62% of which was Rescued Soup and 38% was conventional soup (Figure 2):

We further manipulated the message on the signs of the Rescued Soup. Specifically, we zoomed in on the benefits. In weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7 we displayed the ‘self’ benefits’ i.e. the reasons for yourself to buy the Rescued Soup such as taste, quality and healthiness (Figure 2). In weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8 we displayed exactly the same signs but with ‘other benefits’ i.e. the environmental benefits of buying the Rescued Soup (Figure 3). For example, these benefits were reduced water wastage, decreased landfill use and less CO2 emissions.

The results show that when we display signs communicating the ‘other’ (environmental benefits), the restaurant sells almost 17% more soup (Figure 4). This is consistent with other research (see e.g. Green and Peloza, 2014; White and Peloza, 2009) showing that in a public setting, such as a restaurant, consumers are prone to conform to the normatively correct behaviour. Seeing that it is viewed as the ‘right this to do’ to care for the environment, the Rescued Soup did not only sell better than the normal soup (Figure 2), but we also sold more of it when the Rescued Soup signs displayed the ‘other’ (environmental) benefits as these are then congruent with the perceived normatively correct behaviour (Figure 5).

This is just the start of many more rescued food projects at Hotelschool The Hague. Please, follow us for more updates and new discoveries of how to convince consumers to choose for this environmentally friendly food!

Plenary discussion

The final part of the meeting was a plenary discussion with Hans Vugts, General Manager of Casa 400, Arjan van Rheede and Sustainability Alderman Abdeluheb Choho. The key issues of Hotels in Amsterdam were discussed, such as logistical and bureaucratic issues preventing the reuse of food leftovers, traffic generated by hotels and tourism, to the question whether the GreenKey is a good label to promote Amsterdam.

About the author

Research Centre

In 2010 Hotelschool The Hague has founded a university-wide Research Centre. This centre encourages interdisciplinary research with a strong practice-oriented focus, and (inter)national collaborative dimensions. The Research Centre of the hotel school is anticipated to become a major driver of the integration of programmed research, innovations in industry practice, and the educational programme.

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