Travel Sustainable
Booking.com's sustainability programme
Overview
Sustainability overview image
Embracing a more sustainable travel industry, together
At Booking.com, we’re committed to working towards making more sustainable travel the way to experience the world. As a leader in the travel industry, we are aware of the impact travel has on the planet and the need to take collective action. And we can’t do that without travellers like you.
Sustainability overview image
What is the Travel Sustainable programme?
Our aim with the Travel Sustainable programme is to support and encourage accommodation partners, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to become more sustainable.
Sustainability practices
Sustainable practise
Selection of sustainability practices
As a starting point, a long list of sustainability practices was drafted with support from sustainability experts and existing sustainability frameworks in the tourism and hotel industry, including Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sustainalize and Travalyst. This list was then narrowed down based on the impact each step would have and the financial and operational efforts required to implement it. Where applicable, we also considered travellers' understanding of sustainability in hospitality while creating this list.
Impact categories
Our sustainability practices are grouped under 5 categories that an accommodation on our platform can take to create a positive impact or reduce their negative impact when it comes to sustainability in hospitality. These 5 categories are:
Sustainable practise
Energy and greenhouse gases
Reduce emissions through the use of renewable energy, efficiency in buildings, operations and purchasing.
Sustainable practise
Waste
Achieve better prevention and better processing of waste, including measures like eliminating single-use products and ensuring waste is recycled or properly processed away from landfills.
Sustainable practise
Destination and community
Ensure equitable access and distribution of benefits within the local economy the accommodation is a part of.
Sustainable practise
Water
Reduce water consumption, whether through behaviour, by employing both high and low-tech solutions, or by opting for less resource-intensive alternative products.
Sustainable practise
Nature
Actively conserve native and natural biodiversity and wildlife, and prevent animal exploitation at all times.
29 sustainability practices and their benefits
  • LED lighting makes up for at least 80% of the accommodation's guest and public room lighting
    decreasing the energy demand for the accommodation's lighting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • All windows at the accommodation are double-glazed
    improving the thermal efficiency of the accommodation and decreasing the energy demand for heating and cooling the accommodation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Vegetarian menu options are offered
    decreasing the energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions per plate
  • Vegan menu options are offered
    decreasing the energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions per plate
  • Guest rooms have energy saving switches (e.g. keycard-controlled electricity)
    decreasing the amount of wasted energy for the accommodation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • The accommodation's electricity is 100% renewable
    using cleaner energy to have less or no greenhouse gas emissions
  • The accommodation has a food waste policy in place that includes education, food waste prevention, reduction, recycling, and disposal
    decreasing the energy consumption needed to produce the food
  • At least 80% of food is sourced from the accommodation's local region
    reducing the need and distance for transporting food with a smaller CO2 footprint
How the Travel Sustainable programme works
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Travel Sustainable levels
Accommodation partners can achieve three different levels under the Travel Sustainable programme.* These are:
Travel Sustainable Level 1
Travel Sustainable Level 2
Travel Sustainable Level 3
The Travel Sustainable level for an accommodation is determined using an impact score, which is calculated based on the sustainability practices they’ve told us they’re taking. We define impact scores per each sustainability practice, which in turn create the continent-level impact thresholds. These thresholds determine a certain score an accommodation needs to get in order to reach one of our levels.
Certified level 3+
Travel Sustainable Level 3+
We recognise any accommodation that make exceptionally strong commitments towards becoming more sustainable by subscribing to one or more third-party certifications. These accommodation partners are given the 'Travel Sustainable Level 3+' badge on Booking.com.
Travel Sustainable Level 3+
How we determine Travel Sustainable levels
The Travel Sustainable programme uses an impact measurement approach that is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. LCA considers the environmental impact of the whole life cycle of a product or service, starting from the sourcing of raw materials to the end stage where it is discarded or recycled.
To create the levels in our Travel Sustainable programme, we calculate the 'impact score' of each sustainability practice an accommodation adopts.
Here is how we calculate this score:
1:
Step 1
We take a look at the material composition of a product or service and the resource use of this product and service. After this, we determine the unit of measurement to put a number to the use of the specific product or service. Where possible and useful, we get country or sector-specific data for this step.
2:
Step 2
We combine the data from the previous step to calculate the 'standardized impact' of a single practice. We call this standardized because the impact is not specific to the hospitality sector.
Calculating the thresholds for levels
We want to be fair to each accommodation's sustainability efforts since implementing sustainability practices depends on the ability of each accommodation partner and the accessibility of the sustainability practice at their location. This is why we take the following into account:
1:
Practice criteria
  • What is the investment needed to take a certain sustainability practice based on the accommodation type and its location,
  • How accessible a certain sustainability practice is where the accommodation is located,
  • Whether or not a certain sustainability practice needs other parties' involvement to be implemented.
2:
Maturity levels
These factors decide the maturity level of a certain sustainability practice an accommodation adopts. These levels of maturity per sustainability practice are determined separately for each continent. For example:
For an accommodation's electricity to be 100% renewable, this option needs to be available on the power network where the accommodation is located. This is why this practice requires a high level of maturity for an accommodation in Africa. Whereas in Europe, this is easily available via energy providers, making this practice entry-level for an accommodation located in Europe.
Only using water-efficient showers such as smart showers and low-flow showerheads is a practice that requires a medium level of maturity for an accommodation in South America to implement it. Whereas, in North America, this is easier to implement so it requires a low level of maturity.
Looking at practice criteria and maturity levels for practices when creating our level thresholds means that Travel Sustainable levels have different meanings per continent. This is why a Travel Sustainable Level 2 accommodation in Africa doesn't have the same level of commitment to sustainability as a Level 2 accommodation located in Europe.
Verification
It’s important that the sustainability information we provide to travellers is accurate and up to date. In the Travel Sustainable programme, there are 3 different ways we use to verify the sustainability practices accommodation partners claimed.
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Booking.com's contract with accommodation partners
In order to ensure the travellers can trust the information shared on our platform, it is important for us that all practices have been verified and that the information we publish is correct.
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Sustainability practices we ask travellers about
We ask travellers to review their experience after every stay. During this review process, we ask some questions about the accommodation to determine if the features and facilities accommodation partners list on Booking.com match the reality.
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Third-party verification
We’ve also partnered with a trusted independent auditing company called SGS to help develop a process to verify sustainability practices.
Frequently asked questions
Discover Travel Sustainable properties
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