The host-guest relationship is the key to sustainable hospitality: Lessons learned from a Dutch case study

Elena Cavagnaro, Anna Düweke, Frans Melissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


As for any other business, our collective challenge to realize sustainable development requires hotels to incorporate the principles of sustainability in their operations and to simultaneously create economic, social and environmental value. Although hotels are increasingly engaged with specific aspects of sustainability, many if not most hospitality professionals still seem to assume that guests are predominantly driven by hedonic and gain motives, view sustainable measures as a threat to their hospitality experience, and are therefore not willing to accept more progressive sustainability measures. This article explores whether this assumption is correct and whether guests are willing and able to focus on sustainability related (normative) values during their stay in a hotel, and thus accept an adjustment to the current host-guest relationship in hotels. By reviewing relevant literature and analysing the results of interviews with hotel guests, this article concludes that as far as the guest is concerned, the host-guest relationship within hotels need not be limited to a purely economic transaction but actually offers room for an open and informed discussion between host and guest on ways to transform this relationship to one that actually supports sustainable development of the hotel sector and wider society. This conclusion will hopefully inform a more mature approach by hotels to the integration of sustainability in their strategy and operations, and a more unreserved and collaborative dialogue with guests about current and future sustainability measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
JournalHospitality & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Guests' expectations
  • Hospitality
  • Host-guest relationship
  • Sustainability
  • Values

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