A week of sustainable hospitality – here’s what I learned

This Spring we welcomed Lizzie, a second-year university student into the Mission : Net Zero team as she embarked on three weeks of work experience.  

Senior Sustainability Advisor, Louise Carr-Merino planned a busy week of team meetings including visits to some renowned hotels in Central London. We sat down with Lizzie to learn more about her career aspirations and how she found work experience with us.  

Best hotel or restaurant or bar in Southampton?
Coming from Southampton, I visit the Harbour Hotel for special occasions, my prom and 18th birthday being most notable. They have a lovely restaurant and bar on the roof terrace, that overlooks the water, and it makes for a very memorable experience.  

What made you choose a Uni degree in Economics and Management?
I was initially drawn to this course as it had a fair amount of flexibility with the modules that I could take. I like that I can pick topics that cater to my interests, and I am currently leaning towards topics centred around sustainability, hence my interest in working with mission: net zero.  

 Next year I am looking forward to spending the year in Brisbane, Australia on a study abroad year with Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Travel has always been a passion of mine and I’m excited to experience going to university in a different country.  

Is a career in sustainability something you’d like to explore?
My interest in the environment stemmed from a series of documentaries and books that I looked at during lockdown. While I have been educated about the impacts of our unsustainable lifestyles, I didn’t comprehend how detrimental our current way of living was to the planet. Because this topic of debate sparked my interest so much, I asked around about careers related to making businesses more sustainable. I then got in contact with Jane Kendrick, the COO at Mission : Net Zero, to arrange a week shadowing the team.   

What advice would you give to an undergrad thinking of planning work experience? 
Even though Mission : Net Zero didn’t offer a scheme for students looking to gain insight into their work, I asked if it would be possible to spend some time with them. There is a lot of pressure, as a student, to have work experience, and rigorous selection processes’ at large companies can make this quite a daunting process. I think that approaching smaller companies can be extremely beneficial for students like myself, as it gives insight into the corporate world, while also allowing for close contact with both the team and clients.  

 Summarise your week for us
I found my week at Mission : Net Zero extremely interesting, and I have learnt a lot through my time with the team. I spent the first couple of days with Senior Sustainability Advisor, Louise Carr-Merino, working in the Hilton London Angel Islington and The Dixon, Tower Bridge, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. During my time with Louise, I learnt about the work the team undertakes and the partners they work with.  

work experience student, Lizzie, at the dixon hotel

📷: Here I am at The Dixon 

Mission : Net Zero helps clients in the hospitality sector demonstrate environmental, sustainability and social impact commitments through earning internationally recognised eco-certifications, including BREEAM, Green Key, Green Tourism and Planet Mark. Louise showed me the rigorous guidelines that are set for hotels to demonstrate their ‘green credentials’ together with the guidance and support offered to hotel’s ‘green teams’ to ensure they meet the criteria, before assessment by the accreditation body.

I was then lucky enough to be able to join in on a meeting with the green team at The Dixon Hotel. During this meeting I saw how the Dixon was looking to improve their current operations to meet the Green Key criteria. The team were enthusiastic about becoming more sustainable, and they already had a lot of green alternatives in place, which was encouraging to see.  

I was able to see first-hand how the criteria discussed in the meeting at The Dixon had been put in place elsewhere, when working with external auditor, Emma Bonde at Green Key client, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, a luxury hotel brand of Marriott International. I shadowed Emma while she carried out an extensive audit, with the intention of the hotel earning prestigious, eco-accreditation. I enjoyed being able to see behind the scenes of a prestigious hotel and found the day very interesting.

mission : net zero team visits the renaissance hotel in london 

📷 St. Pancras Renaissance hotel in London 

 I met with Stephen Richardson with the following day, who explained that many hotels are replacing on-premises IT systems with cloud infrastructure. Due to its flexibility, reliability and security, cloud removes the hassle of maintaining and updating systems, allowing hotels to invest their time, money and resources into fulfilling their core business strategies. One example is the TigerTMS iPortal, used by the guest and hoteliers, in a green and sustainable way by enabling guests to scan a QR-code from their phones to gain access to a rich set of features, including secure messaging, speed-dials to hotel departments, automatic checkout, hotel directory and a range of other services.   

On my last day I had a series of online meetings, the first being with marketing specialist, Lucy Woods. We discussed various marketing tasks, and I ran through some ideas I had for an explainer video being produced that communicates what Mission : Net Zero does, in a simple and engaging way.  

I then met with Alasdair Rimmer to run through the admin process including how decisions are made, tasks are assigned and completed, information is gathered and shared, and resources are allocated. We also discussed a hotel sustainability management system that enables hotels to collect sustainability data, track performance and progress over time, report activities in a transparent way, and ultimately improve their performance.  

I have really enjoyed visiting a selection of hotels that Mission : Net Zero work with and have learnt a lot about the ways hotels operate. Along with many others in my generation I think that it’s important that hotels address their environmental commitments and I now have a deeper understanding of practical action they can take to improve their environmental footprint.

My time with the team has made me more aware about the things I should look out for when visiting hotels, and I will most certainly be more conscious of a hotel’s sustainable initiatives when next booking.  

 

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“I’m pleased Lizzie enjoyed her time with us, shadowing the team and gaining insight into the work we do.  A week isn’t long in hospitality, but we took her behind the scenes to show the important journey that our hotels are embarking on to become more sustainable. For undergrads looking at career options, work experience can be invaluable to gain clarity.”  – Senior Sustainability Advisor for Mission : Net Zero, Louise Carr-Merino

 

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