How to Be More Eco-friendly Whilst Increasing Profits

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In this Boostly podcast episode, Liam interviews Vanessa de Souza Lage, CEO of Sustonica, a company specializing in sustainability certification for short-term rentals. Vanessa shares her extensive industry experience and the motivation behind Sustonica's creation, which aims to address the increasing demand for environmental responsibility in the hospitality sector.Β 

She outlines Sustonica's certification program, focusing on simple yet effective sustainable practices for property owners. The process involves an easy assessment and verification by an external auditor.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Hi, and welcome back to the Boostly podcast. This is a podcast that gives you the listener, the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get yourself more direct bookings. This is the mini-series on the Boostly podcast, where we shine the spotlight on businesses, services, things happening, and news in the industry.

[00:00:19] And today I'm excited because we've got special guests and we're shining the Boostly spotlight on Vanessa de Souza Large for the CEO of Sustonica. Now. Uh, welcome along Vanessa. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thanks for having me. I'm delighted. So first question, I know I've given a bit of an introduction, but can you give the elevator pitch, um, you, you, your history and the business, um, anything you want to tell us?

[00:00:46] Vanessa: So, um, Vanessa, this is large, and, uh, I've been in the industry for about 17 years, uh, first as a, as an online travel agent, uh, type Airbnb, but sadly not as successful. Um, and then as a China manager, I was a co-founder of a channel manager called Renters United. And about two years ago, I decided to found, uh.

[00:01:14] This company which is called Sustonica. And Sustonica is the first certification for sustainability for short-term mentors. It came at a time when owners and property managers of short-term mentors, um, needed a standard, a path, you know, to follow to become, um, more respectful of the environment, more respectful of the community.

[00:01:43] People are wondering, you know, sustainability is a big scary word. What do we do with it? What, how, what can we do? What are the simple steps and complicated steps? And so we came with, with a criteria, with a standard that everybody can, can follow.

How and why did you get into this?

[00:02:01] Liam: How and why did you get into this as, as you, as a host? Why did you, what made you so passionate about Sustanica and, about eco-friendliness?

[00:02:12] Vanessa: What do you mean apart from obviously my education, so I was educated with, you know, a sustainable lifestyle in mind, so I know it from very early on in my life. And I followed those principles throughout my life and influenced many of my friends and, um, and so, you know, being a vegetarian and looking at the future and now recently.

[00:02:39] All the news, you know, something like 75 per cent of UK adults have eco-anxiety. You know, we get faced with terrible news, about the environment. And I felt it was time to step up and do a more mission-driven business, you know, um, something that will help, um, hopefully, change millions of vacation rental homes around the world.

[00:03:08] And I guess the even bigger mission with it is that we have a very special place in hospitality. We're able, to influence so many people because they go through our homes, right? So if we show that we have implemented, uh, sustainable, sustainable amenities, that we are taking care, um, more care. And with that, we're able to influence the guests that go through our homes so that on their return home, they may implement these things as well.

[00:03:40] Liam: How do we know guests care about sustainability? So we

[00:03:44] Vanessa: know they care thanks to very large surveys that have been done by the giants, uh, the OTA giants in this industry, uh, both Booking. com and Expedia have done Large surveys and the one booking. com stats that stand out is that 80 per cent of travellers want to travel more sustainably.

[00:04:09] And 68 per cent of them would feel more comfortable. This is a really good stat for us. It's Estonia. 60 per cent of them would travel, uh, would be, would feel more comfortable travelling in, uh, in an accommodation that has a certification.

How to solve the problem?

[00:04:25] Liam: We talked to, um, Chris Mulhern from, um, IPRAC talking about trust marketing and being certified.

[00:04:33] Certifications do make a big difference in decision-making. You know, this is why, um, in the training industry, if you're, um, certified, you know, if you've got a, um, CPD accreditation, if you're in the UK, that is, then it, you know, it's, it's trusted. And, and this is a really important thing. And when guests see that it might be, um, subconsciously.

[00:04:56] But they're more likely to trust it, aren't they? So, how does Systemica solve this problem then for, um, for hosts?

[00:05:04] Vanessa: So, so we offer a sustainability certification. It's, it's a program that you enter. It's, as I said, sustainability has this really scary aspect to it. So people often think I have to make structural changes.

[00:05:19] I have to put solar panels on my roof. I have to replace the heat pumps, etc. Uh, so it's not that, so there are very simple changes that everybody can make, that you can make at home and that you can make in your vacation at all. Um, for example, um, changing, not offering the small shampoo bottles, uh, in the, in the bathroom with the shower gel and the shampoo, uh, instead offering dispensers.

[00:05:47] Make sure that the shampoo and the shower gel that you offer are free of microplastics. Um, offering toilet paper, I'm giving you very simple examples, yeah. Uh, offering toilet paper that is from recycled paper as opposed to the normal type. Then, you know, if you want to have A little bit more, much more of an impact really because the whole situation with, uh, with the planet is our dependency on fossil fuels, right?

[00:06:14] So the best thing that you can do is give a phone call to your electricity company, your energy company, and require them, ask them to change. Your electricity to a hundred per cent renewable energy now in some areas of the world, this is harder and in others, it's easier, but it's worth a try. And this is in our program.

[00:06:38] So once you have these things that we, we put together a criteria and there's about 40 points, let's say. Um, so you go through the criteria and you say what you have, what you don't have, and whatever you have, you would have to prove it. So in the example of the 100%, um, 100 per cent renewable energy, um, electricity, you would have to upload to our dashboard the invoice that proves that you have 100 per cent renewable energy.

[00:07:08] Um, so there's part documentation for things that we can't see in the flat, and then there's part photo tour. So the owner would go with our app, which is geo-localized. So we know that you are where you say you are, you can't cheat. And then you would take photos of, let's say, if you have an induction cooked up, the induction cooked up, uh, the double glazed windows, the model of the fridge, and all of these proofs that you put together based on our criteria.

[00:07:38] Would then be sent to an external auditor automatically, and the auditor then validates all of these points, all of these photos and the documentation and then gives us to go-ahead to issue the badge. Now, important again, it doesn't have to be scary and it doesn't have to be complicated. Um, it's. 20 per cent of our criteria to get in and to receive your badge this year.

[00:08:05] Then every year to renew the badge, you need to increase it a little bit. You need to increase this percentage. And that is a scaled percentage depending on if you have 50 per cent today, then you only need to increase by 2%. But if you have 20 per cent today, then you need to increase by 4%. So we think of it as a program.

[00:08:27] You know, you, you're not going to do it perfectly from day one, but we give you the good tips and good advice to keep on improving.

Get in touch

[00:08:36] Liam: Let's throw the mic open. How can we get in touch? How can we learn more and come and follow the journey?

[00:08:40] Vanessa: Thank you. It's systemic. com. We have a very transparent website. I hope everything is out there, how we do it, what it is.

[00:08:50] Every point is explained. Um, I'm hoping it's. Easy to understand. And there's a test, a freely available test that you can take, and you take what you have. And then it tells you at the end, uh, how many percentages you would have on our standard. And, with that, you can sign up and provide your proofs, and there you have your badge.

[00:09:13] And if you wanted to contact me directly, Really open, really happy to answer any questions and, uh, give you my email. It's Vanessa at

[00:09:24] Liam: If you do want to carry on this conversation and you listen to this on the podcast or YouTube, you can come and carry on talking about this in the hospitality community on Facebook, come and share what you're doing to be sustainable and go and check out Systonica.

[00:09:37] Thank you very much for watching and we'll see you at the next one. Having a blast. Gonna get

[00:09:42] Vanessa: it's on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tees. Loosely making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you are better. Put direct.

[00:09:54] Here are the words in the podcast. That's what comes next.