CSR, ESG, and Sustainability: 5 Takeaways from Rising Leaders

Michele Marcinick, CTA | Director of Event Strategy & Development, Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Rising Marketing Leader Council Member 

CSR, ESG, and Sustainability are different terms to essentially get to the same realization this new generation of travelers are considering more than price when making their choices of where to stay and who to travel with. Whether environmental impact, social responsibility, or community engagement be their driving factor, travelers are now not only expecting stellar onsite service, but ensuring that their meal was sustainably sourced, property employees receive fair treatment, and the property is supporting the local economy. 

1.Companies Getting it Right

In the CSR, ESG, and sustainability space, some companies are leading the way. Several RLC members mentioned their companies have taken steps including DEI programs, sustainability initiatives, and sustainable meeting packages. The marketing of these efforts, however, could be improved.  

2. The Gap in Marketing 

A pressing concern that emerged from the discussion was the disparity between on-ground sustainable actions and their representation in marketing. Today’s travelers don’t just want sustainable choices; they want to know about them. With the increasing demand for transparency, companies have an opportunity—and an obligation—to showcase their sustainability efforts. 

3. The Next Generation 

The emerging travelers—millennials and Gen Z—are driving market trends and demanding authenticity. Their preferences heavily lean toward genuine commitment to sustainability, community, and global well-being. Superficial nods to eco-friendliness won’t cut it. They demand real, palpable efforts that align with their values and worldviews. 

4. Community Engagement and Business 

Community involvement was spotlighted as a focal area for many businesses. While some companies grapple with budgetary constraints for expansive engagement opportunities, the consensus was clear: even small, strategic shifts within organizations can yield significant dividends in staff buy-in and community impact. 

5. The Intersection of Hiring and Marketing 

A fascinating tangent of the discussion was the interplay between workforce development, equity, representation, and marketing. There’s an unmistakable gap between many companies’ hiring practices and their marketing narratives. Closing this gap can bolster both internal morale and external perception. 


Questions for Your Team:  

  1. Does your company prioritize Corporate Social Responsibility; Environmental, Social, & Governance; and Sustainability? If so, how? If not, why?
  2. As these articles suggest the traveler is becoming more socially responsible with their choices. Are you seeing this in your own company’s marketing research? Do these preferences align with certain generational demographics? 
  3. Though these efforts require a long-term investment, would you say that your company has seen an increased ROI due to implementing these measures?
  4. With hiring and retaining being a current challenge industry-wide do you feel that your CSR efforts have become a facet of attracting new talent?

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles