Lemon Tree Hotel Company was ranked 9th in India’s Best Companies to Work For 2016 and received Asian Human Capital Award 2015 among many others. Founded in 2002, it is India’s fastest growing chain ofhotels, operating in 21 cities. For this interview, which is part of a series with all the finalists for this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards, Anula Galewska speaks with Aradhana Lal, Vice President – Sustainability Initiatives at the Lemon Tree Hotel Company.
Anula: How do you communicate your efforts towards sustainable tourism to your guests?
Aradhana: Lemon Tree Hotels approach to running its business is to focus on the Triple Bottomline, which comprises:
- People – Fair and beneficial business practices toward labor and the community.
- Planet – Sustainable environmental practices
- Profit – Economic value created by the organization after deducting all costs
This is built into all the operational practices and impacts the use of electricity/power, replacement of traditional energy by renewable energy, water recycling and reuse, waste management, etc. Also from the people perspective we have built a culture of inclusion and diversity and hire people with disability as well as people from economically and socially marginalized segments.
The above approach is communicated to our guests and customers through our website and social media platforms; through extensive media coverage and exclusive stories on our company-wide sustainability initiatives; as well as in the lobby through a digital photo frame and in the rooms on the television home channel. Also our staff and managers are trained to speak of the work we do with respect to inclusion and environmentally friendly practices.
Anula: How do you engage local community in what you do?
Aradhana: By hiring people who are ‘Opportunity Disabled’ in some (i.e. either people with disability or people from economically/socially marginalized segments) we are able to represent a slice of society inside our company and offer independence, dignity and self reliance to those who have previously not got a chance to prove themselves.
Anula: How do you engage your suppliers in what you do?
Aradhana: We encourage our suppliers (of products used in the construction or operations of our hotels) to use environmentally friendly practices within their own company and to offer us those products e.g. air conditioning, insulation of the building, etc. that have the least negative impact on the environment.
Further, we encourage our talent sourcing partners – like the security agency and the contract/temporary staff agency – to provide opportunities to the opportunity disabled, just as we do.
Anula: What is unique or innovative about your marketing and communication approach?
Aradhana: Our Marketing approach is very matter of fact and we subtly drive the sustainability focus through all our brand communication i.e. website, social media, engagement with the media, media events and familiarization visits, etc.
Anula: What marketing and distribution channels work best for you?
Aradhana: Social media and exclusive stories by topline dailies newspapers and magazines and special feature newspaper and magazines. Here the target audience engages with our brand and their loyalty to the Lemon Tree brand gets further strengthened.
Anula: What motivated you to apply for World Responsible Tourism Awards?
Aradhana: The WRTA award category – Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment – rang true for us because Lemon Tree believes that the brand should stand for more than ‘just profit’ and we are therefore driving the brand to become truly Indian and Trusted. In order for us to make these values a part of our DNA, we have focused our efforts on creating a socially inclusive work environment which seeks to bring in people of different backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities and offer them work as a unified team with a common goal.
We believe that persons with disabilities (which can be physical, social or economic disabilities leading to an opportunity deprivation) must be provided the same opportunities as others to realize their full potential and live with dignity. By creating a supportive environment in the organization that allows them to deliver their best, we are able to play a part, however small, in social inclusiveness, opportunity/livelihood creation and therefore nation building.
Anula: What expectations do you have if you win?
Aradhana: If we do win this award it will be very exciting for us as the World Responsible Tourism award is very prestigious and meaningful and it is a part of an iconic platform i.e. World Travel Mart. This will enable the Lemon Tree brand to tell its story to a global audience in a focused manner.
This article is part of the interview series with the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 finalists, with whom we explore the best practices in marketing and sustainable tourism communications. The rest will be published between now and the opening of World Travel Market on November 7th.