IHIF 2020 Patron Sponsor Interview: Gabriel Escarrer, Vice Chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International

Gabriel Escarrer, Vice Chairman and CEO, Meliá Hotels International(melia Hotels)

Follow the Leader - As the global climate emergency deepens, it is incumbent on businesses of all types to do their part in cutting emissions and making their practices more environmentally friendly. 

    Why is it so important to be named the most sustainable hotel company in the world?

As a family company with more than 64 years of experience, Meliá has always considered the social and environmental aspects of our destinations a priority, and over the past few years we have aligned all our strategies and public commitments with the United Nations Sustainable Development Objectives contained within the 2030 Agenda.  

In 2019, we achieved one of our most important goals – being named the most sustainable hotel company in the world, in the corporate sustainability assessment (CSA) made by the sustainable investment agency SAM, for the preparation of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

    What does this recognition really mean and what are the criteria used by SAM for the evaluation? 

CSA is based on a rigorous and structured analysis of three major dimensions in the performance of companies: the financial dimension, analysing key performance indicators with regard to finance, risk and corporate governance; the environmental dimension; and the social dimension.  

Our company has the honour of having achieved an overall score of 83 points out of 100, the highest score ever achieved by a company in the travel industry, and ahead of our competitors among the top 20 international hotel chains in the world. We achieved the highest score in the travel industry in such important aspects as code of ethics and compliance, risk management and responsible supply chain.  

In some important criteria, in addition to leading the travel industry, we achieved the highest possible score: 100 points out of 100. This occurs in areas such as climate change strategy, customer relationship management, fiscal strategy and transparency, and the way we listen to our stakeholders through our materiality analysis.

    Can you tell us about some specific projects or measures that you are most proud of as a company?

By the end of 2019 we will have completely eliminated single-use plastic elements from our hotels and offices, and our environmental strategy 2030 aims to continue making progress in the reduction of emissions, estimating a reduction in water use of 8% per stay and 18.4% in CO2 emissions per stay (which is scheduled to be down by 50% by 2035). We also expect to ensure that 70% of all of the electricity we consume globally comes from renewable sources, recycle 50% of the waste from our hotels, and promote a more responsible supply chain that is physically closer to the business.  

In line with our environmental strategy, in 2019 we launched a project focused on the more responsible use of energy in 110 hotels called C02PERATE. The project involved an investment of €4.5 million to help the company meet its objective of halving its CO2 emissions before 2035.

    And in social and labour issues?  

Sustainability is one of the three major drivers of our corporate transformation –together with digital and cultural transformation – and we have made significant progress in incorporating social responsibility criteria in the destinations we operate in. Our hotels are already major drivers of economic and social development projects in our destinations, such as the Soap for Hope project in partnership with Diversey that combines the recycling of soap with the promotion of social inclusion. I would also mention our 10-year partnership with UNICEF for child protection, working together on projects that promote the employability of young people and the inclusion of young people at risk, among others.