Voluntary carbon offsetting allows the customers of Sokos Hotels to take responsibility for their carbon footprint

Friday, January 20, 2023

S-Group is a customer-owned Finnish group of co-operatives in the retail and service sectors, with more than 1,800 outlets in Finland. In addition to offering services, for example, in the supermarket and the department store trade, S-Group also operates in the travel and hospitality business. Sokos Hotels is part of S-Group, and the chain has 44 hotels in Finland and one in Tallinn.

S-Group is aiming to be a pioneer in responsibility in all its industry sectors. The travel and hospitality unit utilizes S-Group’s sustainability program and has also created its own roadmap until 2025. One of the biggest sustainability themes in Sokos Hotels is to reduce the chain’s carbon footprint.

“In our business, one of the biggest sources of emissions is energy consumption,” says Jukka Kaartinen, Development Manager at Sokos Hotels. “Also food and food waste create emissions and therefore, we are planning to start following the planetary health diet, which means more plant-based options for our customers. In addition, we want to offer more domestic options. In our travel and hospitality unit, the domestic content is around 80% but we can still improve this,” Kaartinen mentions.

Emission calculations allowed Sokos Hotels to start offering voluntary compensation

The initiative for voluntary offsetting came partly from customers: especially the business customers of Sokos Hotels have in recent years started to ask questions about the carbon footprint of the hotel services. Hence, the chain decided to calculate the carbon footprint both for accommodation and breakfast. After the emissions had been calculated, Sokos Hotels was able to start providing voluntary carbon offsetting.

“It was agile for us to start doing this with Compensate. We appreciate the fact that Compensate confirms the existing emission calculations and we also value their scientific approach, transparency, and the reporting they do. In addition, it is important to us that Compensate is a Finnish service provider, even though they operate globally. All this makes us feel confident about our collaboration,” Kaartinen highlights.

The Sokos Hotels’ customers can offset their accommodation and breakfast when booking their stay online or via the sales service. It is also possible to choose this option when checking in and out of a hotel. Kaartinen mentions that when it comes to their systems, this feature was easy to implement, and the process is all-in-all effortless. Compensate gets an automated message from Sokos Hotels once a month to invoice the previous month’s compensation fees and to allocate those to Compensate’s carbon capture portfolio. The price of compensation is 0,47 € per night in Finland and 1,22 € in Tallinn, Estonia. When doing emission calculations, country-specific emission factors were used and this explains the difference in prices.

I’m sure this affects our brand image and customer experience positively. We also believe that the role of compensation will increase in the future.

Especially those hotels, where offsetting has been more popular than on average, have communicated that customers have given good feedback on voluntary offsetting. “I’m sure this affects our brand image and customer experience positively. We also believe that the role of compensation will increase in the future. We started doing this in challenging times, as we first had a pandemic and now there are other big issues happening in the world. We are aiming to communicate more about this, and we want our actions around sustainability to be concrete,” Kaartinen says.

Offsetting done by customers doesn’t impact the climate action of Sokos Hotels. The chain already utilizes only electricity produced by renewable sources and encourages the local energy partners to provide more district heating and cooling with renewable energy sources. In addition, the energy efficiency of the hotels has been improved over the years. S-Group also challenges its suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint by a total of one million tons. Being a big actor in the market, S-Group’s climate action has a significant impact.

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