Conde Nast Traveler

« More from the World Savers Awards Winners | Main | Ed Norton Takes the Stage at the World Savers Congress »

September 21, 2009

The Bottom Line: Why Responsible Travel Matters

World Savers

by Kathryn Maier

As panel moderator Dorinda Elliott, Deputy Editor at Conde Nast Traveler, said in her introduction, corporate social responsibility has come a long way since Milton Freeman declared that the social responsibility of a business is to increase profits. These days, it's increasingly vital for competitive success.

The way companies look at corporate social responsibility has evolved from philanthropy to real integration into business practices, according to panelist Kara Hartnett Hurst, Managing Director of Business for Social Responsibility. It's now less about giving away the money you've made, and more about how you made it in the first place. It's also becoming more of a leading factor that consumers are considering when deciding whom to do business with.

Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, echoed this statement when talking about sustainability initiatives that have been implemented at his company's hotels, which have proven to produce cost savings as well. An example he gave was that in Santiago, Chile, a team collected waste stream items that were recyclable and received money for them. The proceeds went to a local charity for burn victims. Similar initiatives have been implemented in Moscow and Mumbai. According to Hoplamazian, it's possible to align economic decisions with CSR initiatives, it just takes ingenuity.

Several panelists have increasingly seen that guests want to actively participate in a company's CSR initiatives. Raymond Bickson, CEO of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, says that some of his lodges in India have adopted schools, and offer excursions where travelers can go and read to the children there.

Abercrombie & Kent started its philanthropic foundation 27 years ago, according to Vice Chairman Jorie Butler Kent, who said that social responsibility is just as important to her company's guests as it was before the economic crisis. Every destination management company has a project running now, in 27 countries. Guests love to visit the projects, she said, to see what the company is doing and become actively involved; A&K has recently introduced philanthropic travel as a separate offering.

In response to an audience question about the willingness of companies to work together to achieve a set of common CSR goals, Elliott gave credit to the companies -- Abercrombie & Kent, Carlson Hotels, Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons, Hyatt Corporation, InterContinental, Kimpton Hotels, Loews, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, and Vail Resorts -- who've been working together to set standards for measuring and reducing water consumption. All are competitors, and each company handles these issues differently, Elliott said, but each believed that this issue is important enough to work together on it.

But yet, the average consumer may not know about the CSR initiatives that many travel companies have implemented. Hoplamazian sees this as a missed business opportunity. "Everyone's consciousness has been raised," he said. "Guests now come to our properties aware of and interested and wanting to participate in the inititives."


Two weeks before Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt gave his presentation, the company had replaced 98 housekeepers in their Boston hotels with contract workers paid half as much and without health care benefits. Was this part of Hyatt's CSR program?

Hey rratney, thanks for your enthusiasm. Check out what Dorinda Elliott has been reporting about the Hyatt strike over on

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
Email: Daily updates



Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.
Traveler Magazine




I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions