WANTED: LEADERS WITH HUMILITY
At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, one of the most evident feelings was the backlash and criticism of leadership, particularly in relation to inequality issues and climate change. WEF published a survey in 2015 that claimed that 86% of people believe we are suffering a global crisis in leadership; it’s difficult to imagine that figure being lower today.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, called for a change in narrative – from protectionism and isolationism, to a politics of inclusivity, kindness and empathy. Her New Zealand Labour government intends to hold ‘wellbeing’ as a central, core pillar during its term of office and will publish a ‘wellbeing budget’ in May this year.
Ardern has demonstrated on several occasions a sense of humility uncommon in global leaders. Many trailblazers and global influencers have recognised that it’s time to move beyond GDP, and to focus on what matters most to people and the planet. This isn’t new, but as division and growing inequality become increasingly pronounced across the world, citizens are urgently seeking a change of approach.
“Higher costs mean higher tax but the gain you can bank on is a happier, healthier, more sustainable nation”
Paul Polman, until recently CEO of Unilever, is one of the few leaders to have already demonstrated what purposed change can achieve. Polman is a prominent advocate of multi stakeholder (woke) capitalism, which requires companies to be conscious of their wider social impact. Under this strategy and during his tenure, Unilever shares rose 150% in value, far outperforming the FTSE 100 index which was up 70% over the same period.
Governments have the same obstacles to overcome as the private sector. Higher costs mean higher tax but the gain you can bank on is a happier, healthier, more sustainable nation.
In high labour sectors such as hospitality and travel the challenge faced is to determine the return on investment generated by wellbeing investment, while protecting overall profit growth. There is little doubt anecdotally that wellbeing culture, services, design and experience are all in demand by guests and employees alike. But there’s an urgent need to establish an evidence-based, data supported model that demonstrates the value delivered and that will convince owners and investors of the returns in a sector ably placed to achieve it. Watch this space!
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
GOING FLIGHT FREE TO SAVE THE PLANET
The appetite for travel and pursuit of growth in the UK aviation industry shows no sign of abate. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 70.8 million flights were taken out of the UK in 2016 (the highest ever) with airport expansion planned to grow that number further. Meanwhile, it’s reported that there is zero chance of the UK meeting its global emissions targets.
The Dutch, Germans and Swedes all have a name for the guilty feeling of travelers aware they are contributing towards climate change – ‘flight shame’. A Swedish based initiative called ‘Flight Free’ has persuaded 14,500 people to commit that they will not take a single flight during 2019. The 2020 campaign will launch soon and it’s expected that commitment will grow in a similar vein to Veganuary (up 183% with 168,542 having signed up for January 2019).
Peter De Wilde, CEO of Travel To Tomorrow, has highlighted the destructive impact of travel in some cities and regions. He acknowledges the complexity in tackling the destructive side of over-tourism, both environmental and societal, and asks whether attracting more visitors is always better.
“The threat to the planet and to the fabric of local society is increasing rather than receding in some pinch point towns and cities”
Nevertheless the threat to the planet and to the fabric of local society is increasing rather than receding in some pinch point towns and cities. Establishing tourism formulae and strategies that enable a more inclusive, sustainable balance is pursued in some quarters, ignored elsewhere. In Portugal, 83% of all tourism businesses implement sustainable practice to some degree. Private sector initiatives (such as going ‘flight-free’) are likely to proliferate – and calls for higher tax levies for frequent flyers are already being discussed.
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
VEGAN STAYS PUT WELLNESS TO THE TEST
Hilton has unveiled a 100% vegan designed hotel suite at the Hilton London Bankside. From furnishings to room service and amenities, not only does every detail pass the Vegan Society test, but the materials used also show environmental awareness. Pinatex, for example, is a breathable, leathery material made from the pineapple leaf.
Whether this topical coup is intended as a Hilton signature for rollout or a news-generating PR initiative remains to be seen. Either way, the pursuit of wellbeing as a core pillar to hospitality brand growth is now irrefutable. Hilton’s initiative is one of the first ‘toes in the water’ that will test resonance with guests, and whether this type of investment can achieve a financial return.
“The pursuit of wellbeing as a core pillar to hospitality brand growth is now irrefutable.”
Since the acquisition of Exhale and Miraval, Hyatt continues to establish its foothold in the ‘big brand flag’ wellness space. The company’s wellbeing strategy weaves throughout the entire Hyatt proposition, endowing the brand’s message and service provision with roots, culture and purpose. Elements include: a pilot programme for the workforce, communicating Hyatt’s ethos of care and wellbeing; establishment of FIND, a new wellbeing experiences platform; double credit card loyalty points for fitness participation; and a pledge to Hyatt’s wellbeing ethos beyond the bricks and mortar of the group’s properties.
For hospitality brands to make a sustainable success of integrating wellbeing, and achieve a real shift in the sector, they will have to demonstrate clear returns, both financial and otherwise. These initiatives are a step in the right direction.