Listen to Claire Binns, Head of Sustainability at Sykes Holiday Cottages, in the first episode of Sustonica’s brand-new sustainability podcast!
Sustonica has just launched the first sustainability podcast for the vacation rental industry. Specifically designed to help property management companies start on their sustainability journey, both internally and externally.
We are delighted to have as our first guest, Claire Binns, Head of Sustainability at Sykes Holiday Cottages.
Why we have launched the “The Green Sauce” sustainability podcast
“The Green Sauce” was launched to address a vital need in the short-term rental industry: integrating both environmental and social responsibility into business practices. We recognise the significant impact that property management can have on communities and the environment. Consequently, this podcast aims to inspire and guide industry professionals towards more sustainable and socially responsible approaches.
Hosted by Vanessa de Souza Lage, Co-Founder & CEO of Sustonica
As the host of “The Green Sauce,” Vanessa brings a unique perspective to the conversation, combining industry knowledge with a passion for sustainability. Her role as host is to facilitate insightful discussions and extract valuable lessons from our guests. This will ensure that each episode delivers practical, impactful content to our listeners.
“I am convinced that 2024 will be the year that our industry starts to shift towards a more sustainable model which will be based on the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.”
Vanessa de Souza Lage, “The Green Sauce” Host
Who is the podcast aimed at?
While “The Green Sauce” is certainly valuable for individual hosts, its primary audience is property managers (PMs) and industry professionals who operate at a larger scale. The content is tailored to address the challenges and opportunities faced by those managing multiple properties.
What will you learn as a property management company?
You will discover effective ways to reduce your environmental footprint and strategies to positively contribute to local communities. Plus, importantly, how to align your business practices with broader social and environmental goals. This sustainability podcast will give you insights on how to balance profitability with responsibility, making social and environmental impact part of business success.
Meet Claire Binns from Sykes Holiday Cottages
We are honoured to have Claire as the first guest on “The Green Sauce”. Sykes Holiday Cottages are one of the largest property management companies in the world with over 22,000 properties and 1000 staff across the UK. Claire joined the company in 2020 and took on the new role of Head of Sustainability in November 2021 when Sykes was at the start of its journey.
1. What does sustainability mean for a property management company?
Many people believe that sustainability is just about operational initiatives such as lowering energy consumption and reducing waste. But it is so much more than this. The social side of sustainability is what creates a purpose-led brand, as Sykes see themselves. So this covers all your stakeholders: your staff, your property owners and your guests.
2. Why is certification important?
Sykes is very proud to have become a certified B Corp in May 2023. B Corp is a rigorous certification for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. There are now nearly 9,000 certified companies across 95 countries, and the desire to achieve this coveted recognition has skyrocketed in the past few years.
Claire tells Vanessa that it was a really tough process which took 18 months to achieve this seal of approval by a third party. Equally important, it resulted in a great sense of achievement amongst all stakeholders to be involved in becoming a purpose-led business.
3. Why is it important for a property management company to have a Head of Sustainability?
According to research carried out by LinkedIn, sustainability roles are among the fastest-growing jobs globally. Sustainability is a topic which is a significant issue within every discipline and within every industry sector.
Claire believes that a PM will be able to go faster with a dedicated Head of Sustainability. It has enabled Sykes to achieve B Corp status, be involved in biodiversity projects and to address the social side of sustainability such as staff volunteering programmes. By having a defined role in-house, you will be able to set goals and targets and have a much better chance of achieving them.
4. What are Sykes Holiday Cottages’ greatest achievements to date?
Claire tells Vanessa about the pride of achieving B Corp status, as well as some other amazing initiatives. These include owner-donated stays in support of a new charity that offers a free holiday to 100 families who would not otherwise be able to do so.
It is these types of initiatives which bring meaning and purpose to a brand and create such an impact for the families involved, as well as demonstrating the generosity of owners.
5. How do you monitor and measure your sustainability initiatives?
This is a really important aspect of setting up a sustainability plan and employing a Head of Sustainability. You need to see the results and impact of your initiatives.
Claire explains that Sykes has not needed to invest in any expensive software. They use a spreadsheet to record the projects they have partnered with and agree goals and targets together. Ultimately, this results in an annual impact report.
Sykes has worked with a consultant to help them create a spreadsheet to measure the carbon footprint of all parts of the business. Currently, this is based on the financial data of the whole business, but Claire is looking to improve this process and make it more accurate. Like most businesses, most of the carbon emissions are in Scope 3, which are those which are outside your direct control. So, in the case of a PM, this would be emissions generated by your suppliers, your property owners and their guests. This scenario is typical for around 85% of businesses.
Obviously, the most difficult area to monitor and measure is from the properties in your portfolio. Sykes are looking at ways to address this without the need to have data from every single property. It is often said that sustainability is a journey, and this is so true for Scope 3 emissions. So much better to get started, which is why Sykes are talking with Sustonica to help their owners do that.
6. Why has Sykes decided to partner with Sustonica?
Claire talks to Vanessa about the enthusiasm of their owners to do the right thing and the interest that they have in becoming more educated about sustainability. However, there is so much information out there that it can be difficult to know where to start. As such, Sustonica provides a perfect starting point for property owners to get started or to showcase their existing sustainable initiatives. The validation criteria also encourages and supports further progress.
7. How do guests respond to sustainability initiatives?
Claire is part of the marketing department and, as such, is very closely aware of the communication about their environmental and social impact projects across all channels. The team uses good news stories about their projects as well as how to enjoy a more sustainable life. They also cover tourism specifics like travelling by train or connecting with the local community.
8. How can you help owners on their sustainability journey?
Sykes communicates across all channels with their property owners, as well as providing guides on for a more sustainable holiday let. The in-house managed services team is continually sourcing new suppliers for eco products like EV chargers or cleaning products.
As well as the environmental and social benefits, Sykes do not forget to remind owners of the commercial benefits. These are backed up by research that shows every time that travellers want to stay in eco-friendly places.
9. Are the incoming environmental regulations good for business?
In the face of the climate crisis and stark warnings by scientists, businesses have a really important role to play. As such, regulation is important in order to accelerate the progress that is needed. As a B Corp, Sykes also considers the impact they have on people and planet alongside just profit.
If this first episode of our sustainability podcast has inspired you to learn more, ease, subscribe to “The Green Sauce”.
In our first season, we will exclusively host Heads of Sustainability from various short-term rental companies around the world. These guests are at the forefront of integrating sustainable and socially responsible practices into their business models.