Succeeding with Sustainable Business Transformation

In this keynote, we explored TUI's commitment to driving the industry toward a more sustainable future with Melvin Mak.

Melvin started off by providing an overview of TUI's sustainability journey:

1. In the early 1990s, they focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, developing a programme of initiatives but on the edge of the business.
2. In 2015, they developed their first sustainability strategy Better Holidays, Better Worlds, which put the basics in place: from hotel certifications to SDGs, complying with sustainability guidelines.

In this opening keynote, we explored TUI's commitment to driving the industry towards a more sustainable future with Melvin Mak, Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI Group.

Melvin started off by providing an overview of TUI's sustainability journey:

1. In the early 1990s, they focused on Corporate Social Responsibility, developing a programme of initiatives but on the edge of the business.
2. In 2015, they developed their first sustainability strategy Better Holidays, Better Worlds, which put the basics in place: from hotel certifications to SDGs, complying with sustainability guidelines.
3. They Better Holidays, Better Worlds strategy evolved each year to include emerging focus areas, building sustainability platforms until 2020.
4. From 2021 onwards, they are developing their TUI Group Sustainability Agenda, through which they are building on achievements to develop a sustainable business transformation.

TUI's CEO, Fritz Joussen, said the following about sustainability after a decade of transformation:

I see the sustainability transformation as an opportunity for TUI, for the destinations and the tourism industry. It will require an enormous effort from all of us.

Melvin explained that this words also touch on the demand from consumers, although there is a wider number of stakeholders which should be taken into consideration. He also highlighted the importance of policy and legislation, which is reflected by the increase in legislations which regard sustainability.

He then moved on to the four focus areas that he covered during his keynote:

1. Creating more sustainable holidays.
2. Promoting greener and fairer holidays.
3. Supporting their hotels to achieve best practice sustainability standards.
4. Enabling colleagues to be ambassadors for sustainable tourism.

By creating and promoting more sustainable holidays, they focus on getting their hotels, activities and excursions certified by the GSTC, which takes into consideration the triple bottom line, that is, the environmental, the social and the economic impact they have. He exemplified this with one of their case studies, the Fair Travel concept case, which consists of three components. If customers book a holiday through TUI with this certification, that means they will stay at a certified hotel, they will be supporting financially the TUI Care Foundation destination projects, and will help invest in sustainable mobility solutions.

To support their partners, TUI developed a one stop shop for their partners where they could go into and find all the information they needed to comply with, for example, health and safety regulations.

Melvin explained that within the Sustainability section, their partners have access to a vast amount of information regarding their accommodation suppliers, tours, activities, excursions and transport, their circular economy and, soon, their sustainability academy, which is part of their enabling colleagues focus. Through this initiative, TUI will aim to create a new generation of change-makers, which in return will provide TUI with employees who have new skills and knowledge, through the provision of content from TUI, their industry and beyond. They will have nine Centres of Expertise and masterclasses by the Group Sustainability Team.

He then provided an introduction to their Destination Lighthouse Project, which will officially be presented in January 2022. The project will focus on a key TUI destination, with which a multi-year project will be started to shape a new sustainable holiday destination through an open source model. They are also connecting the goals to TUI’s Sustainability Agenda, the EU Green Deal, the SDGs and the National Action Plan.

At the end of Melvin's presentation, Nick jumped in and asked how destinations can work with TUI to develop a business model. He replied that DMOs are key stakeholders for the company, and that engaging local communities and stakeholders, helps them acknowledge the place that people are born and raised in. He added that in order to engage partners and suppliers, they use the transformation process to connect them.

To wrap-up the session, Nick jumped back into the GSTC certification which Melvin mention during his keynote, and asked if TUI is looking into the GSTC  criteria themselves or if they have chosen to be certified through a certification body. To answer this, Melvin explained that they work closely with certification brands that comply with GSTC certification criteria.


Key Takeaways

1. When developing a sustainability strategy it is fundamental to consider all stakeholders involved in the operations (employees, partners, suppliers, etc.)

2. Addressing consumer needs, as well as policy and legislation, is necessary for a successful sustainability implementation.

Published on:
December 2021
About the contributor

Melvin Mak


With 15 years of experience in the tourism industry of which over a decade in TUI's sustainability team, Melvin gained extensive knowledge of the positive and negative impacts of travel and tourism.