Podcast Social Responsibility is More than Just Being Green

by: Mark Johnson, President & CEO, Loyalty 360

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly becoming an integral part of brands’ business strategies.  Typically, when we think of the term “social responsibility” examples of environmental stewardship come to mind.  But in today’s increasingly competitive business landscape, CSR efforts can (and should) go beyond the typical green initiatives that have become expected practice—- especially in the hospitality industry.   Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman Public Relations and panelist at the 2009 World Savers Congress hosted by CondéNast Traveler, summed it up well when he said, “The traveler’s expectation is that the company is going to be green.   Instead of being the eco-cherry on the sundae, it’s in the ice cream.”

Guests have come to expect hotels to be environmentally-friendly—-  be it through water conservation efforts, recycling programs, energy saving initiatives and beyond.  In fact, a recent study by Carlson Hotels found that 76% of travelers said that a hotel’s degree of environmental friendliness influenced their decision of where to say.   Surprising?  Not really.  But what is eye-opening is that the same study found that some guests are willing to pay a premium to those with a high CSR involvement.

This sentiment may well be the driving force behind the way brands are increasingly approaching corporate social responsibility—— evolving from philanthropy to a true integration into business practices.  Once viewed as how you spend the money you make, social responsibility is now more about how you make the money you spend.  And it’s an increasingly important factor consumers consider when deciding whom to do business with.   People want to be associated with companies that are good corporate citizens.

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