Hotel sustainability certification is driving savings and increasing customer satisfaction levels, according to Tui research.

But it is a challenge “to get the message to customers” and awareness is hampered by the inaction of leading online travel agents (OTAs) that fail to identify certified hotels.

Tui’s analysis of 2017 data at 330 hotels – 75% of them with sustainability certification – found certified hotels produced 24% less waste per guest night than uncertified hotels, used 19% less fresh water, produced 10% less carbon dioxide and employed 9% more local staff. Certified hotels also recorded higher customer-satisfaction scores.

The hotels were all certified by schemes recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, such as Abta’s Travelife.

Tui sustainability director Jane Ashton said: “Our research shows there is a statistically significant difference to the customer experience. Hotel sustainability certification such as Travelife’s helps drive performance and continuous improvement.

“The challenge remains to get the message to customers. There is still a large percentage who say they would choose a more-sustainable holiday if offered one, but it’s not front of mind when they purchase.”

Tui aims to change that by communicating “why a more-sustainable holiday is a better choice”.

Ashton added: “Our real aim is to create a sea change across the leisure tourism sector.”

But that aim is hindered by leading OTAs.

“It’s a shame,” said Ashton. “These players need to engage more with certification. It’s a missed opportunity because people increasingly point out the difference in all areas. At some point, things will change.”