9 steps for a sustainable property management company
How eco-friendly measures can help your property management company
When your clients succeed, you succeed, and sustainable property management brings many benefits for vacation rental owners.
In return for higher booking rates, better reviews, and more repeat guests, owners will stick with your property management services and rave about you to other hosts. Now, let’s dive into the advantages in a little more detail.
Help your clients to attract a new market of eco-conscious guests
Consumer demand for green holiday accommodation is steadily increasing. According to Expedia:
- 65% of consumers would like to choose environmentally friendly transport/accommodation on their next trip
- in the past two years, 40% have stayed in lodging that’s reducing its environmental impact
- on average, consumers are willing to spend 38% more to make their travels more sustainable
That’s a huge chunk of your target market expressing a determined wish to choose more eco-friendly accommodation. Many are even willing to pay a premium to access it. Encouraging your clients to implement eco initiatives opens them up to this market, and connects them with those guests who are most likely to:
- enjoy an intentional stay at the property
- share their excitement in a 5-star review
- return for their next sustainable break
Moreover, if your branding is attached to the rental properties you manage, guests will start to associate you with the wonderfully sustainable holidays they experience there. Next time they want to travel guilt-free, they’ll know where to look!
Stand out from the crowd with eco badges on OTAs
Online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Booking.com, have also grasped the sustainable turn taken by consumer demand. They’re responding by creating eco badges which allow travellers to filter properties by sustainable action.
For example, Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable programme now includes three levels of badges which properties can display alongside their listing. Potential guests can filter their search to only view ‘Travel Sustainable’ properties. Holidu’s ‘Eco properties’ filter works in a similar way. There are even entire OTAs, such as EcoBnB, dedicated to showcasing environmentally friendly short-term rental properties.
By encouraging your clients to meet these sustainable criteria, you connect them to a rich market of eco-minded travellers. This boosts your reputation as a property manager who knows how to squeeze the greatest possible value from OTAs.
Depend on future-proof rental businesses
As a property manager, your income depends on other people’s rental businesses. So, you want these businesses to be as robust as possible.
Convincing your clients to stay ahead of an increasing number of sustainability regulations will save them from sudden, expensive deadlines in the future. You’ll also help them to save on running costs, as energy-efficient buildings see lower energy bills. Freeing up this income and helping them to avoid unexpected regulatory costs reduces the risk that a sudden change to their revenues affects their ability to pay your fees.
What’s more, if your clients’ properties are destroyed in one of the extreme weather events which climate change is making more common, you’ll lose that income stream. Slowing and reversing the effects of the climate crisis is the only way to ensure that we still have properties to manage in decades to come.
3 ways to encourage property owners to go green
What does it actually mean to encourage your clients to implement sustainable initiatives? We’ve gathered three key strategies that you can use to get the ball rolling.
1. Demonstrate the advantages of sustainability for rental properties
We often assume that sustainable changes require a heap of time, effort, and cash, with no immediate reward. This couldn’t be further from the truth, but you need to show your clients that sustainability sees high returns.
You could start by:
- gathering data on the growing demand for sustainable stays – the Expedia survey we cite above, and Booking.com’s 2022 Sustainable Travel Report both provide some great evidence.
- highlighting success stories – point your clients towards people who have done it all before, and seen the benefits first hand. Check out our case studies if you’re looking for some examples.
- using resources that already exist – there are plenty of articles, talks, and podcasts from short-term rental sustainability pros which explain precisely how eco initiatives benefit operators. Share them with your clients and let the experts do the work for you.
2. Show rental owners how easy sustainability can be
Once you’ve convinced your clients that environmentally-friendly initiatives are worthwhile, it’s time to nudge them into action. Encourage them to start with those changes which require minimal effort, but which will bring rapid results. This could include prompting them to:
- Switch to a green energy provider
- Install energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, when the time comes to replace them
- Choose ecological, plastic-free cleaning products, such as Splosh
- Remove single-use plastic from properties
- Clearly label recycling bins
These small alterations will help them to get started on the right path. They’ll see the benefits, such as positive guest feedback and lower energy bills, which will push them to make more impactful changes as time goes on.
The EnviroRental Sustainability Roadmap contains clear, actionable sustainability strategies, presented in the order that we recommend you complete them. No matter where you and your clients are on your green journeys, you’ll find a suitable starting point and a route you can take to continue.
3. Incentivise rental owners to implement new eco strategies
Education goes a long way, and your clients will hopefully realise pretty quickly that it’s worth their time to embed sustainability into their businesses.
However, it never hurts to incentivise them further by rewarding those properties which make environmentally responsible choices. This could look something like:
- pushing these properties to the top of the results page when users browse your website
- charging a slightly lower commission rate to green properties
- agreeing deals with partner service providers to benefit eco property owners
If you’re rewarding environmentally-friendly clients, you need to develop a method to determine who’s eligible for these rewards. This could be as simple as partnering with a third-party certification to ensure that clients meet meaningful sustainability standards, and support them in the process of doing so.
Sustonica is the first green accreditation developed specifically for vacation rentals, and could be the perfect partner to support you.
Remember to take eco steps closer to home
Aside from encouraging your clients to embed sustainability into their short-term rental businesses, there are many ways you can take sustainable action on your own doorstep.
Here are six ways you could start reducing your own emissions:
1. Check that your website is hosted green
The servers which power our websites use a huge amount of energy, and many are still powered by fossil fuels. This could mean that the carbon footprint of your rental management company is far larger than you realise.
The Green Web Foundation’s free tool allows you to check if your website is hosted green, meaning that its hosting company runs on green energy sources and/or offsets any carbon emissions. If it’s not, they show you how easy it is to switch to a green provider.
2. Reduce emissions from your offices
Reducing your office emissions is a flexible project which you can mould to fit your current capacity and resources. It could look like:
- switching your office building to a green energy supplier
- encouraging flexible home working to reduce commuting emissions
- supporting employees to use green forms of transport when they do commute
- removing single-use plastic from your kitchen and canteen spaces
- providing water filters and tea & coffee stations
Green solutions will look different for each company and office. To figure out what will work for you, try creating a Climate Action Plan. This process will encourage you to map out precisely what your goals are, and how you’ll reach them.
3. Offset what you can’t reduce
By 2030, just seven years from now, we need to have reduced our emissions by 45%. In order to achieve this, we must be ambitious in our climate action plans.
However, we simply can’t make those changes overnight. So, once you’ve reduced your emissions by as much as you can right now, look into offsetting whatever remains with a service such as Ecologi.
4. Support external environmental initiatives
There are many initiatives which are entirely dedicated to helping the short-term rental industry do its bit to tackle the climate crisis. EnviroRental is one of them.
We’ve gathered a broad range of resources – from webinars and case studies, to blog articles and data analysis – to provide vacation rental operators with all the tools they need to meaningfully green their business.
Our Sustainability Roadmap walks operators through clear, actionable steps that they can take to reduce their environmental impact. Business owners have the exact information they need to start (or continue!) their sustainability journey.
We’re supported by a generous group of sponsors who want to do their bit to foster change within our industry. You could join the ranks of these environmental trailblazers and know that you’re contributing to sustainability education for short-term rental operators across the world.
5. Take inspiration from pioneering property management companies
Saskia Weber, Project and Marketing Manager at Interhome, recently appeared on The Green Path podcast to discuss how Interhome is tackling climate change.
Their key initiatives include:
- signing the Glasgow Declaration
- encouraging guests to offset their holiday’s carbon emissions
- investing in biodiversity projects
- developing their own eco badge to encourage owners to make changes
Importantly, they see their climate plan as a marathon, not a sprint. Saskia emphasised that they’re not going to achieve all of their aims overnight, but they are committed to taking one step forward each day.
6. Integrate your environmental initiatives into your marketing
Sometimes, we’re so afraid of being accused of greenwashing that we prefer to keep our environmental initiatives quiet. However, in order to see the business benefits of sustainable property management, you need to ensure that guests and rental owners know about what you’re doing.
Shouting about how you’re greening your business encourages others to do the same, and gives them a template for their own climate action. Together, we can raise standards across our entire industry.
To communicate your sustainable changes, talk about them openly and honestly through:
- a dedicated page on your website
- social media channels
- email marketing
- industry events
Start your green journey with EnviroRental
The easiest way to start on your path towards sustainability is to make use of EnviroRental’s resources. Sharing our free Sustainability Roadmap with your clients provides them with a step-by-step guide to effectively greening their vacation rental businesses. All you have to do is send them the link!
If you want to take it a step further, consider sponsoring EnviroRental. Your support is crucial for us to continue producing and sharing these resources. It’s an incredibly simple place to start, and it marks you out as a short-term rental management company willing to put its money where its mouth is.
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