Mireia Guix,Tourism & Hospitality Management Bachelor Assistant (TSI-Turismo Sant Ignasi)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is increasingly becoming more important to achieve business competitive advantage. Despite the lack of uniformity and understanding of this concept, concerning its name, content, application, and theories to support it, an increasing number of hotel companies are engaging on it.
An example of the importance of this movement is Hotel Barcelona Princess 4* located in the first responsible business area in Barcelona (since 2011).
This hotel addresses the competitive context by transforming the value chain activities to benefit the society. They have implemented a sustainable management approach since 2006 incorporating local economic, social and environmental elements in the operational management decisions. Worth mentioning is their participation since 2012 in the Incorpora (LaCaixa) program. In which 44 persons in risk of exclusion, of whom 84% women, have benefited with a 6 months paid internship as a first step to integrate back into the working market. Completion of the program increased from 45% to 71% in each edition.
The hotel manager, M. Hernandez believes a competitive advantage of its businesses can be achieved through strategic CSR engagement. When questioning why the hotel has followed this path, the director answers: “Because I believe in it … it is not easy, first the management needs to truly believe in it.” And on the following question: What do you take out of it? “Invaluable personal satisfaction, thousands of stories to tell … and yes, the company wins.” He stresses the increase of motivated staff, sense of pride and pertinence to a company that responds to the sustainable challenges. And eventually, the intangible industry of hospitality, highly motivated staff results in higher customer service and satisfaction rates.
On 2006, Porter and Kramer predicted a necessary future move from CSR to, Corporate Shared Value (CSV) as social responsibility moved from damage control or PR campaigning to building shared value between society and businesses.
Hotel Princess is an example of how a company can jump from strategic CSR to CSV. The passion of the hotel manager has reached and affected positively the interest and commitment of the intermediate managers and staff. It has achieved the level of purely implication. A future program will be released this 2014, entirely based on a bottom-up approach. This defines new policies and operating procedures in a triple bottom line management. In the pursuit of their own organizational performance and profits, all actions will need to create shared value for society. The future program of Hotel Princess is applying the three reinforcing ways identified by Porter and Kramer on 2011, in which companies can find opportunities to generate new wealth by focusing on society challenges:
- Re-conceiving products and markets: innovate developing products to meet the potential market needs.
- Reimagining value chains and redefining productivity: the future program will identify the operational issues that have both an effect to the companies’ performance and the social consequences of business activities.
- Development of supportive clusters at the company’s locations: Barcelona Forum District is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 with the aim of bringing together companies, institutions and associations, located in the new business area of the Barcelona Forum, who develop their activities by sharing common values in the field of social responsibility, environmental commitment and cultural development. Hotel Princess is one of the main drivers of the Socially responsible area as “the success of every company is affected by the supporting companies and infrastructure around it”. Supportive clusters generate new value.
As more companies abandon de traditional management approach focused only on economic performance and embrace the shared value approach there is still hope for companies to succeed in the current climate and create competitive advantage. The areas where there is expected a growth are those where the connection between competitive advantage and social issues are stronger, such as: environmental impact, supplier access and viability, employee skills, worker safety, employee health, water use and energy use.
Indeed, Hotel Princess has identified and expanded the connections between social and economic progress, but only time will tell if Hotel Princess has the appropriate environment with the required innovation structure and co-creation procedures, with the various stakeholders, to develop further the value creation strategy and enhance its long-term competitive positioning.
(Comunicación presentada en la 8th International Conference on Responsible Tourism / Round Table “Local Economic Development”. Manchester, 4 de abril de 2014)