How MindClick is helping hoteliers meet ESG goals

As environmental, social and governance initiatives gain prominence in a growing range of businesses, sustainability rating and analytics company MindClick is taking steps to provide designers and procurement professionals with information on not only where products come from, but on how to make designing a hotel—from sourcing to installation—more sustainable. 

At last year’s Hotec Design conference, MindClick CEO JoAnna Abrams noted that sustainability has become a priority among travelers, with 70 percent of respondents to a survey saying they would seek travel destinations that shared their values around environmental and social responsibility. Corporations also have established ESG policies and are requiring their employees to stay at hotels that meet certain sustainability standards. Similarly, banks are considering carbon emissions when deciding what projects to fund as part of a swath of international efforts to support environmentally friendly development.  

With these factors in mind, MindClick is helping hospitality professionals meet new goals by evaluating every step of the design, procurement and renovation processes, looking at overall carbon emissions and waste from sourcing materials to installing products in their final spots within a hotel. “We [are getting] smarter about how we do it,” Abrams said.

ESG and the Supply Chain

Estimating that 80 percent or more of an organization's carbon footprint is in its supply chain, Abrams bemoaned the lack of consistency in the guidelines and the lack of clarity around definitions. In order to determine how sustainable a product is, the MindClick team examines its materials, what chemicals are involved in the manufacturing process and even the packaging used in shipping the product from one development stage to the next. “We consider how that product supports reducing energy, water and waste in the hotel—and then, of course, in renovations, what can be done with it [so] it doesn't end up in the landfill but instead is returned to the supply chain,” she said. 

Abrams also acknowledged the challenges involved in disrupting the supply chain, which she described as “massive” in the hospitality industry: “If you've got disruption in your supply chain and you can't get those casegoods in, you can't open your hotel, so none of the other supplies, equipment, food and beverage is even possible.” As such, she said, the industry needs to pay attention to what is happening in the world of design and construction, and then “layer in” everything else from there. 

Value and Impact

With metrics and data in hand, Abrams said MindClick can help designers and purchasing decision makers to select the right product for each job—“without requiring these people to have to have a Ph.D. in sustainability or go hunt down … any eco-labels or certifications.” 

Based upon the data MindClick provides, decision-makers can see the carbon impact associated with the products they're selecting and get a better view of the overall impact a project will have based on individual components. “Not only do we provide guidance on how to optimize brand standards, we actually come in and do assessments of where your brand standard is today,” Abrams said. “That's step one. Step two, then, is to help them access the data that we have from their suppliers.” As a company, she added, MindClick can be considered a partner to those suppliers, helping them improve their performance and find the right hotels for their products. 

MindClick also is working with owners and operators on custom projects, analyzing environmental impact all the way through a project. “We're helping all the stakeholders understand what the impact story [is] going to be as a result of the choices [they’ve] made,” Abrams said. This can include how much carbon has been reduced and how much waste has been diverted, but also what kind of sustainable materials have been selected and—based on selected products and suppliers—what the project’s diversity, equity and inclusion situation will be. 

As such, Abrams said MindClick is promoting “value and impact engineering” as a new factor for the industry to include in the overall decision-making process for each project. “The customer, the buyer, can make that choice and have that knowledge right at the table along with quality, lead time, performance, price, etc.,” she said. The need for clear data is unprecedented, she added, as decision makers better understand the impact of their choices.

Abrams also noted the importance of collaboration and partnership between suppliers and all the different stakeholders with whom they interact while building, furnishing and supplying hotels. “There's really exciting innovation that's out there, and it's important that stakeholders leave room for the conversation about that innovation,” she said. 

With increased conversation about all the different components of the supply chain and improved awareness of ESG efforts, Abrams is optimistic for the industry's long-term sustainable future. "It's better to talk about incremental progress you're making and to acknowledge it's a journey," she said. "It's far better to do that than to claim you're perfect."