2.13 Understanding sustainability: TUI

Through this case study, you'll be able to understand the importance of addressing sustainability in the organisation’s strategy, operations and relationships with stakeholders to lead transformation in the destination.

This case study's keynote, facilitated by Melvin Mak, Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI Group, is a great example of how tourism organisations can develop sustainable initiatives throughout the years

Achieving Sustainability Through Business Transformation

This case study's keynote, facilitated by Melvin Mak, Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI Group, is a great example of how tourism organisations can develop sustainable initiatives throughout the years and include sustainability at the core of everything they do to create an impact by tackling those objectives they can influence through their daily operations.

Main Takeaways

  • All stakeholders involved in the business' operations need to be included in the organisation's sustainability strategy to achieve objectives.
  • The successful implementation of sustainability within the organisation requires addressing consumer needs, policy and legislation.
  • Sustainable transformation needs partnerships to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them.

Summary

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. The 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 these words also touch on the demand from consumers, although there is a wider number of stakeholders that should be taken into consideration. He also highlighted the importance of policy and legislation, which is reflected by the increase in legislation that regards 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.

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.

The Rhodes Co-Lab

During his keynote, Melvin introduced us to their Destination Lighthouse Project, a multi-year project which was officially presented on 20th January 2022. The idea behind the project is that sustainable transformation of the tourism industry will only succeed if we think in terms of value chains and include holiday destinations as genuine partners in plans. The project will include numerous individual initiatives to show what sustainability can look like locally, with the purpose of sharing their findings with others and transferring them to other destinations.

The project's aim is to work together with a destination to shape the sustainable holiday destination of the future through an open-source model, covering important subjects such as education, mobility, waste avoidance and green energy. TUI is connecting the goals of this project to their Sustainability Agenda, the EU Green Deal, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

The chosen destination for the implementation of the project has been Rhodes, and TUI, in collaboration with TUI Care Foundation and the Government of the Region of the Southern Aegean has launched the "The Rhodes Co-Lab". Its aim is to develop Rhodes into an international beacon for the sustainable development of holiday destinations. The Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them on Rhodes. In addition, a think tank will be set up on Rhodes to bring together international experts and strengthen and further develop the sustainability transformation of the tourism sector. The Co-Lab supports the sustainability initiatives of the government of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the South Aegean Region and is part of TUI's long-term Sustainability Agenda.

The Co-Lab's work is based on collaboration and exchange - not only with the local tourism industry but with the industry as a whole. In a first step, local partnerships will be established for the four workstream areas mentioned below in order to anchor the transformation projects deeply on the ground:

  • Protection of biodiversity and the environment.
  • Education and training opportunities.
  • Promotion of cultural heritage.
  • New concepts for energy, water or waste management.

This case study's keynote, facilitated by Melvin Mak, Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI Group, is a great example of how tourism organisations can develop sustainable initiatives throughout the years

Achieving Sustainability Through Business Transformation

This case study's keynote, facilitated by Melvin Mak, Group Head of Sustainable Business Transformation at TUI Group, is a great example of how tourism organisations can develop sustainable initiatives throughout the years and include sustainability at the core of everything they do to create an impact by tackling those objectives they can influence through their daily operations.

Main Takeaways

  • All stakeholders involved in the business' operations need to be included in the organisation's sustainability strategy to achieve objectives.
  • The successful implementation of sustainability within the organisation requires addressing consumer needs, policy and legislation.
  • Sustainable transformation needs partnerships to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them.

Summary

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. The 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 these words also touch on the demand from consumers, although there is a wider number of stakeholders that should be taken into consideration. He also highlighted the importance of policy and legislation, which is reflected by the increase in legislation that regards 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.

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.

The Rhodes Co-Lab

During his keynote, Melvin introduced us to their Destination Lighthouse Project, a multi-year project which was officially presented on 20th January 2022. The idea behind the project is that sustainable transformation of the tourism industry will only succeed if we think in terms of value chains and include holiday destinations as genuine partners in plans. The project will include numerous individual initiatives to show what sustainability can look like locally, with the purpose of sharing their findings with others and transferring them to other destinations.

The project's aim is to work together with a destination to shape the sustainable holiday destination of the future through an open-source model, covering important subjects such as education, mobility, waste avoidance and green energy. TUI is connecting the goals of this project to their Sustainability Agenda, the EU Green Deal, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.

The chosen destination for the implementation of the project has been Rhodes, and TUI, in collaboration with TUI Care Foundation and the Government of the Region of the Southern Aegean has launched the "The Rhodes Co-Lab". Its aim is to develop Rhodes into an international beacon for the sustainable development of holiday destinations. The Co-Lab will work with the local tourism industry and international partners to find concrete solutions and develop and implement them on Rhodes. In addition, a think tank will be set up on Rhodes to bring together international experts and strengthen and further develop the sustainability transformation of the tourism sector. The Co-Lab supports the sustainability initiatives of the government of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the South Aegean Region and is part of TUI's long-term Sustainability Agenda.

The Co-Lab's work is based on collaboration and exchange - not only with the local tourism industry but with the industry as a whole. In a first step, local partnerships will be established for the four workstream areas mentioned below in order to anchor the transformation projects deeply on the ground:

  • Protection of biodiversity and the environment.
  • Education and training opportunities.
  • Promotion of cultural heritage.
  • New concepts for energy, water or waste management.