The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility for small hotels and restaurants

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involves achieving business success in ways that honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the natural environment.

Society and business are depending on each other: businesses provide jobs, products, and taxes while society provides workers, consumers, and infrastructure. Neither can survive without the other so it makes sense for business and society to work together for the benefit of both.

Interestingly, various statistic sources show that companies with a strong focus on business ethics do better financially than other companies. Several hospitality and travel brands, which are implementing CSR policies, demonstrated a strong positive correlation between CSR and profitability.

Besides the positive economic impact the implementation of CSR seems to have for these organisations, the question whether an organisation acts ethically responsible or not, is becoming increasingly important for prospective employees. In order to attract top-level candidates, a good track record of CSR may be necessary, as people prefer working for companies that care not only for themselves, but also for their employees, customers and environment.

Also consumers are the more and more concerned with how companies make their money and are expecting businesses to be responsible for their social, ethical, and environmental impacts on society and the community. They preferably choose hotels and restaurants, which take concrete measures in this regard and communicate about them to existing and potential customers.

CSR related to the environment involves “Eco-tourism” on the one hand, with the intention to preserve nature and natural resources, and “socio-tourism” on the other hand, which focuses on the local culture. Both seek to reduce negative effects of tourism by being less intrusive and respecting the local people, culture, and environment. Responsible management of resources does not only help reducing the environmental impact of the organisations, but often results in a substantial reduction of operating costs e.g. through waste reduction and conservation.

Social problems caused by tourism, such as loss of traditional economies and culture, commercialization of arts and crafts, displacement of local people etc. can make destinations less appealing to tourists. For tourism to be sustainable and economically successful, negative social impacts cannot be ignored. Social and environmental problems created by businesses can be solved by businesses, but it requires a commitment to CSR. As Doherty wrote in 2007:

“Sustainability not only concerns the environment, but also has to do with the ability of a company to operate successfully in the present without compromising its ability to operate successfully in the future.”

Background and objectives of RESPONS Learning Space

RESPONS Learning Space was developed within a project, co-funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme (, which major objective was to improve the qualification of Managers of small- and medium-sized – mainly family owned – HORECA businesses. It supports lifelong learning that can be easily integrated into the daily routine, i.e. it facilitates non-formal and work based learning just in time, whenever it is needed.

The subjects addressed are all relating to CSR, which is increasingly becoming a decisive success factor in the HORECA sector. Corporate social responsibility stands for responsible economic activities with regard to own products and services (market), ecologically relevant aspects (environment), relations to own staff (workplace) and external stakeholders. Consequently, RESPONS Learning Space has the objective to qualify HORECA Managers/ Leading staff and Specialist staff for delivering innovative high quality products and services and at the same time…

  • Sustainably manage and develop their human resources;
  • Integrate social standards into the business strategy of the organization;
  • Strategically plan, organize and manage the ecologically friendly use of resources;
  • Systematically reduce the environmental impact/ ecological footprint of the business;
  • Preserve and promote the local cultural heritage

…and last but not least, increase the competitiveness of their own business within the HORECA sector.

Having accomplished a formal qualification in the field of hotel or restaurant management and/ or having acquired comparable knowledge and skills by professional experience on-the-job in this position is a helpful precondition to fully benefit from the information and learning contents provided within RESPONS Learning Space. Moreover, you should have a vested interest in introducing the principles of CSR into your relations with staff, business partners and the local community as well as in preserving the environment affected by the activities of their business.

How to use RESPONS Learning Space

RESPONS Learning space is highly modular web-based training which is accessible any time when needed and is intended to serve you as a support tool in your daily routine, answering key questions about CSR, which you might have or which might come up while you are working on these issues. As the single units are written in question and answer style, every chapter and unit is self-contained. So you are able look up only the information you need to have, right in the moment in which you need it.

RESPONS Learning Space is structured into four modules, which are subdivided further into units (= questions). These units contain theoretical information as well as practical examples. Moreover, every module concludes with some case studies of small hotels and restaurants, representing a good practice implementation of CSR policies around the subject of the respective module.

At the end of every module, you will also find a self-assessment test, by which you can check in a more interactive way what you have learned in the previous units.

In the end of module 4 you can find a Library with articles, e-books and videos related to RESPONSible Skills Alliance for Sustainable management of Small Hotels and Restaurants’ objectives.

Moreover, RESPONS Learning Space is complemented by an interactive learning map, the so-called “Managers’ guide to sustainable business”. This virtual guide perfectly illustrates good practice examples of CSR applied in hotels/ restaurants and also demonstrates the necessary skills and competences of hotel and restaurant staff by short movie clips. It is accessible free of charge at Please try it out!