The Gift of Giving

The gift of giving as a luxury rental brand

The mindset of millennial HNW/UHNW travellers is changing in relation to their wealth.

Millennials are interested in impact investing, ie investing into businesses that will have a positive impact on the environment and society. These new-style investors see impact investing as a key way to create change. We see this trend with many organisations divesting from fossil fuels and investors demanding ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) policies as part of their risk assessment. They want to use their wealth for a greater purpose.

These discerning travellers want to make these responsible decisions in all aspects of their lives. And this includes travel.

This article looks at ways that luxury villa rental professionals can demonstrate the gift of giving by contributing to local communities and creating meaningful experiences for their guests.

Invest in your local community

Water efficiency - QALIA conscious luxury responsible tourism luxury villa

Water efficiency – Freepick

Give back to the destination you are promoting by adopting policies which have a positive impact on the local community and its people. Luxury villa rentals are part of the destination which hosts them. As such, you may feel a responsibility to be part of protecting it as this also affords you an opportunity to enhance the guest experience. Through various initiatives aligned with QALIA Framework, you can contribute significantly to the well-being of both the community and the environment. 

Firstly, biodiversity preservation means safeguarding the variety of life on earth. It is of crucial importance for a healthy ecosystem that provides the necessities people rely on to live. Villa establishments will form an integral part of ecosystems, so it is important to undertake measures to safeguard species living in it. This can be achieved through specific actions such as implementing pesticide-free gardening practices within the property. Therfore, it will avoid the jeopardization of pollinators. This approach of respecting the natural world will be beneficial for both the ecosystem and the villa premises.

Secondly, contributing and being part of local environmental and social projects is an impactful way to invest in your destination. In this way, you can truly incorporate the gift of giving by supporting charities and initiatives in areas such as education, health or infrastructure development. Consequently, you are simultaneously positively impacting quality of life for local people and the destination. 

Thirdly,  water efficiency is also a crucial aspect as water shortages are rising across the globe. Some practices are: smart irrigation system, rainwater harvesting for garden irritation, and less frequent linen changes. Applying such practices demonstrates commitment to responsible resource management while contributing to guaranteeing enough water for local’s daily needs. 

Lastly, social responsibility, fair salaries and employee health & safety policies, leads to high employee satisfaction and increased commitment. Not to mention the fact that having a sustainability plan in place as a purpose-led business will be appealing.

Create value and meaning for your guests

Local Art - QALI conscious luxury responsible tourism luxury villa

Local Art

Many of the ways mentioned above will also indirectly enhance the guest experience. They will engender a warm welcome for your guests by the in-villa staff and the local community at large.

There are even more ways you can show that you care about your guests and want to use the gift of giving to make their stay in your villa special and memorable.

Conscious luxury subtly creates an elevated guest experience with small touches and attention to detail.

Providing your guests with experiences that connect them with the locals and the destination adds a unique dimension to their stay. This approach conveys  a sense of responsibility and respect towards local people and biodiversity conservation. Promoting low-footprint activities such as visiting nearby parks and nature conservations areas, encourages the guests to explore the destination sustainably. By encouraging these activities you can also provide services like bicycle hire, partnerships with local shops or restaurants.This can be easily extended to sourcing locally-produced amenities or organic ingredients which reinforce the villa’s commitment to sustainability. 

Instilling staff engagement and loyalty

Another rewarding way to experience the gift of giving is to involve your team. This approach is known to attract the best talent and engender their loyalty. It is a way to empower  employees and involve them at a deeper level in the company mission and ethos.

By involving your employees you tap into their creativity and  stimulate their interest in protecting nature or the local communities. Moreover, consider creating a ‘Conscious Luxury’ team to facilitate new ideas and bring a sense of belonging, ownership and purpose.  Additionally, donating to local projects, you actively support by allowing your staff to volunteer or invite your guests to participate. Examples of this would be taking part in a beach clean-up or participating in a conservation project.

Lastly, consider allowing your staff some dedicated time off to volunteer in local projects you partner with. This will support their personal development and fulfilment whilst improving the sense of community.  This approach to staff involvement in sustainability practices was discussed at the vacation rentals conference, SCALE Spain in February 2024.

The gift of giving has a resounding effect at all levels of a hospitality business, as its essence is about people and creating connections and emotions with them.

Personal benefits from the gift of giving

local workers - QALIA conscious luxury responsible tourism luxury villa

Local team at Mia Beach Villas & Events, Koh Samui Thailand

You can see from the ideas above that there are so many ways you can contribute to the local community in your destination. Whilst showing care and attention to your guests and enhancing their experience.

However, as an owner, property manager or specialist agency, you will also experience benefits from the gift of giving. On a business level, your eco-conscious guests will recognise the effort you put to create a positive impact. As such, they will give those all-important good reviews. Also, if you ask the right questions, they can share the responsible tourism initiatives you have implemented. Your staff will feel that they are working for a responsible and caring business, engendering loyalty and commitment. 

But more than that, you will experience the personal benefits that come with the gift of giving. Scientists can now confirm that there is a neurological link between generosity and happiness. When focusing on creating positive impact for locals and guests, you will gain personal benefits as the owner or operator. Knowing that you have given guests an unforgettable experience is immensely rewarding. Being part of the local community is also a fulfilling achievement as you can see the effect on people’s lives.

QALIA certification rewards the gift of giving

The QALIA certification framework covers the four pillars of conscious luxury: environmental stewardship, community & cultural heritage, ethical business practices, and guest wellbeing and experiences. In turn, these four pillars cover all the aspects of the gift of giving as discussed above. For instance one criteria in the framework is named ‘Supporting local artists’ and entails using local artwork as decoration or displaying it temporarily. Another example is ‘Supporting locally owned and operated business’, which consists in providing guests with tours and activities organised by local guides or businesses. With small actions is it possible to create important changes both in the environment and in the quality of the stay. Therefore, QALIA supports its members throughout their action plan and guides them to assure an easy path.

If you want to be recognised for your responsible tourism practices, we invite you to try our free no-obligation assessment to see how well your property is demonstrating responsible tourism practices. We will share with you a report on your current state of affairs with some suggestions. 

If you are a property management company or specialist agency, contact us for more information on our bespoke responsible tourism coaching and certification service.

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