CEO Bram Van Der Hoek, shares Sircle Collection's commitments to creating a sustainable future.
With a shared passion for hospitality, the Sircle Collection team creates one-of-a-kind hotels, restaurants, stores and spas in some of Europe's most inspiring neighbourhoods. Earth Day saw the group announce its partnership with EarthCheck. EarthCheck's CEO and Founder, Stewart Moore, sat down with their CEO Bram Van Der Hoek to share Sircle Collection's commitments to creating a sustainable future.
Image: Bram and his dog, Kees.
Stewart Moore (SM): Bram, we are currently moving into a post COVID-19 recovery period. What do you see as the big issues facing sustainable tourism this year?
Bram Van Der Hoek (BVDH): The pandemic deeply impacted the tourism industry from 2020 to early 2022. While tourism has greatly picked up in much of the world, the industry will be in recovery this year. The crisis in Ukraine will also greatly impact every industry, this year and beyond. Both events are recent, stark reminders of our responsibility as a company to take care of people. We must refocus our efforts to guarantee a healthier and greener future for our communities and beyond.
Stewart Moore (SM): Where will you focus your attention as a company this year?
Bram Van Der Hoek (BVDH): This year's Earth Day marks a significant turning point for our company. I was incredibly proud to share the news of our partnership with EarthCheck. We consider you the world's leading sustainability advisory group for travel and tourism. We aim to benchmark and certify all of our properties through our partnership. This will ensure our assets meet globally recognised sustainability standards and support our hotel teams improve their performance against proven science-based methodologies. We aim to certify three of our properties by the end of 2022, with plans to certify the remaining 10 next year.
SM: It’s hard to believe that Agenda 21 turns thirty this year. What is Sircle Collection doing to respond to the SDGs moving forward?
BVDH: Sircle Collection and its brands are now committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set by the United Nations. These 17 goals are the blueprint for creating a sustainable world for future generations, encompassing everything from creating sustainable cities to erasing gender discrimination. Companies across all sectors are aligning with this action plan, which will have a considerable ripple effect worldwide. Knowing that EarthCheck Certified is mapped to these goals is extremely important.
SM: We all recognise that sustainability is an ongoing journey. What does your sustainability work plan look like this year?
BVDH: We are ready to aggressively pursue our sustainability action plan with more energy, inspiration, and clarity. Of course, this won't be easy. Navigating the complexities of sustainability within the hospitality industry is a complex puzzle to solve. Still, I remain hopeful, knowing the minds of this brilliant team at Sircle Collection are dedicated to this cause together.
Our strong external partners also give me hope. Sircle Collection has partnered with Except Integrated Sustainability, a sustainability consultancy based in the Netherlands, to help us establish our company's environmental guidelines. With a more long-term and holistic strategy, we can invest more wisely, avoid undesired future lock-ins and ensure sustainability. Our collaboration with Green Partner is also integral to our success. They help us find clarity within this complicated subject. I'm also inspired by our key partners in our cities, from reducing food waste with Too Good to Go to the invaluable Ibiza Preservation Fund.
SM: Finally we hear about more conscious consumers, do travellers really care about sustainability?
BVDH: Consumers are now very aware of the environmental, social and economic challenges that face the planet. Research clearly demonstrates that safety, health and wellness, and responsible business practices are essential in all travel decisions.
Business travellers have always been the leading driver for responsible business practices. The leisure market is a bit more hedonistic. However, recent research has indicated that more than three in five international leisure travellers (62%) are now actively seeking out tourism operators that adhere to responsible standards when they go on vacation. We’re also seeing increased enthusiasm for supporting local communities when they travel.