Changes in the documentation for Google Hotel’s Sustainability policies

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On the 30th October 2023, Nerea Ivanova a fellow hotel SEO noticed that the “Eco-certificate” section in the Google Business Profile dashboard had disappeared. 

All 29 certificates were removed from the “Hotel attributes” menu in the GBP dashboard, there was no announcement from Google and even some speculation that the sustainable icon would be entirely removed, just like the Health & Safety icon.

Below is an example of the previous certificates recognized by Google.

These “sustainability attributes” have been controversial since they first appeared in September 2021. Google did not verify any of the sustainability information provided by the hotel. The user was not aware of this, as is now the case for Google Reviews, and the integrity of the sustainability policies of the hotel relied, most likely, on those responsible for the management of their GBP profile, possibly an agency. Or someone who did not understand the implications of adding extra certificates and eco-friendly and recycling programs. 

In any case, the eco-certificates and sustainability policies represented in Google Hotels was never accurate. Will the new policies solve this?

Some background on the “eco-certified” attribute

The incentive of updating the hotel’s sustainability attributes in its Google Business Profile included, among others:

1. A sustainability icon and drop-down menu in the Knowledge Panel of the hotel.

Historically, hotels have experienced a limitation to Google Business Profile functionalities, well documented by Hotel SEO expert Tim Capper, including editing the hotel’s description, Google Posts, social media favicons, etc

Below you can see the “sustainability” icon in the K.P. of the hotel on the left, and what it looks like when expanded.

2. “Eco-certified” icon in the hotel’s place sheet. 

Another advantage is that it includes the “eco-certified” icon next to the hotel’s most important information in the hotel’s place card in Google Hotels.

3. “Eco-certified” filter in Google Hotel’s search

Finally and possibly most importantly, Google introduced a “sustainability” filter in the Google Hotels search options. Once the filter is applied, Google will only show hotels that are “eco-certified”. The other filters are: price range, accommodation type, offers, guest rating, hotel class, amenities and brands.

Google Hotels search filters

About the changes

In early December 20023, I became aware that Google made some changes to its documentation on the Google Travel support page “Sustainability in hotels”. 

We documented the changes in Google Sheets which you can access here.

The screenshots below show the changes and additions to the text. Highlighted in red are changes/modifications Google has made to the original text while in green you see the new text Google has added. 

The first thing one wants to do after reading the updated text is find out who Travalyst is, and how to obtain these certifications. 

But before further research on Travelyst, I exported the changes to a csv, uploaded it to ChatGPT, added the url of the page and wrote a prompt to analyse the changes in the text and draw conclusions.

ChatGPT’s conclusions

“Based on the comparison of the CSV file you provided and the content from the Google support page on “Sustainability in hotels,” here are the key changes in Google’s documentation:

1. Sustainability Information Source

The new text emphasizes Google’s partnership with the Travalyst coalition for eco-certifications, whereas the previous version did not specify this collaboration.

2. Verification of Eco-Certifications

The updated documentation clearly states that Google doesn’t verify the certification status of each hotel, which wasn’t explicitly mentioned before.

3. Eco-Certification Criteria

The criteria for eco-certifications have been refined, with a new emphasis on the evaluation focusing on environmental impact across specific categories like energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainable sourcing. The previous text had a broader approach without these specific categories.

4. Self-Reported Information by Hotel Owners

Both versions mention that hotel owners self-report sustainability practices, but the new text adds that Google does not independently verify these claims.

These changes reflect a more detailed and transparent approach by Google in showcasing sustainability practices and certifications of hotels. “

About Travalyst

In their own words, “Travalyst is a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to catalyse sustainability within the tourism industry.

Founded by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, in 2019, our growing global Coalition includes some of the biggest brands in travel: Amadeus,, Expedia Group, Google, Skyscanner, Travelport, Group, Tripadvisor and Visa.

Travalyst provides supportive, independent and neutral governance, empowering our Coalition of some of the biggest – and occasionally competing – travel companies and service providers to share data and accelerate change. The goal is to bring credible, consistent sustainability information to the mainstream, helping both travellers and travel companies make better, greener choices.

As far as I know, there has been no press release or publication detailing the new changes published in Google Travel Support. The information I found about Google and Travalyst partnership was mostly related to Google Flights and CO2 emissions and not hotels. 

Google advises hotels to visit this page on Travalysts’ web Home>Work>Industry>Accommodation for more detailed information. I won’t go into much detail except to mention that seems to be the leading player, supporting and promoting sustainability with its own A Travel Sustainable Handbook which is the basis for their awards, in the form of 3 different badges. 

You can read about it here: Launches First-of-its-Kind Travel Sustainable Badge to Lead Industry in Showcasing a Wider Variety of Sustainable Stays

Also, there seems to be an error when you click the “get in touch” link to contact them.

About Sustainability in Hotels

ChatGPT’s summary of the current page “Sustainability in hotels” 

Google’s “Sustainability in Hotels” page details how they display sustainability practices and eco-certifications for hotels. For SEO specialists in the hotel industry, it’s vital to note that Google sources sustainability information from hotels and trusted organizations. However, Google doesn’t independently verify these claims. This makes it crucial for hotels to accurately self-report their sustainability practices. The page also outlines the criteria for eco-certifications, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accuracy in these claims. For hotels looking to enhance their online presence, aligning with these guidelines can boost visibility and appeal to environmentally conscious travellers.

For a detailed understanding, visit [Google’s Sustainability in Hotels]( page.

What is to come?

· An announcement from Google and/or Travalyst announcing the partnership and further documentation on the eco certificate validation process. More corporations and government involvement should be expected, as well as a large international travel fair/event. 

· Maybe new hotel attributes will be added to represent a growing number of “sustainable” amenities, services and lifestyles. If introduced, “local products” and “Km 0 produce” icons would only reinforce the company message of the recent “vegetarian” and “vegan” dishes icons in GBP.

· An (artificial) increase for eco-certified hotels

Eco-certified popularity

If you research the popularity of “eco” related searches in travel, they seem to be in decline since their peak in November 2021. “Sustainable” searches seem to be on the rise. 

Monthly search volume, for the USA, since 2004 for query “eco-hotel”

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