This Booking Platform Will Tell You If Your Accommodation Is Actually Sustainable

Sustainable hotels Australia

I recently stayed at a hotel in Hobart that claimed to be sustainable. The adjective was listed on its site. In my room, I found a plastic water bottle.

There were two possible explanations. One theory is that the hotel might’ve already bought thousands of water bottles to distribute in rooms before it decided to be more sustainable and needed to use them, so they didn’t go to waste.

But the other theory gives less benefit of the doubt. It’s that the hotel was greenwashing its guests — claiming to be sustainable when, in fact, it wasn’t even doing the bare minimum. It wasn’t encouraging guests to drink the tap water or having them call the front desk if they needed a water bottle to take outside the hotel.

Determining if a hotel is greenwashing its guests or not isn’t easy. The above example illustrates that. Not to mention, guests aren’t privy to the hotel’s backstage. They don’t know how the recycling or uneaten food is disposed of, or how the property is powered.

Sustainable hotels australia
Image: Getty Images

There are booking platforms and aggregator sites focusing on sustainable accommodation like Green Getaways and ETIC Hotels, but their listings aren’t extensive and the sites aren’t heavily marketed, meaning many travellers aren’t aware they exist.

All this led my interest to be piqued when I saw a LinkedIn post talking about an accommodation booking platform set to launch later this year in New Zealand and Australia. Called Heartful, it will focus on sustainability and inclusion, with all listings heavily vetted.

“Greenwashing is rife in the short-term accommodation sector,” says Jen Clark, founder and CEO of Heartful, host of the podcast ‘Hosting With Heart’ and former owner of short-term accommodation management business Ranges Escapes (now closed).

“Examples I’ve seen are hosts or accommodation owners embellishing their ‘green’ credentials, but failing to employ even the smallest measures that benefit the environment, like providing ample recycling, food waste or composting facilities, buying amenities from local businesses and suppliers and eliminating single-use plastics.”

One particular example, Clark says, was a tiny house company that used non-renewable materials to build its tiny houses and equipped them with gas-powered stoves. Their marketing material had touted how sustainable they were.

“Something absolutely needs to be done to host hosts to account and ensure they are as transparent as possible about their property’s eco-credentials,” she says.


In 2022, Clark launched a simple online directory of properties that committed to being sustainable and accessible. Without virtually any marketing, the directory grew, eventually becoming difficult for Clark to manage and fund on her own.

She set out to raise more funds, and, in September 2023, secured $132k via crowdfunding to build the first version of Heartful. With the branding process now complete, Clark and her team are working on the platform build, with the beta version set to launch mid 2024.

“Hosts who list on the Heartful platform will mandatorily need to sign a Code of Ethics as part of the listing creation process, which includes rigorous standards around transparency and accuracy of listing information,” she says.

Heartful’s pricing model was designed to find the sweet spot between booking on a major platform like Airbnb or Booking.com and through a host directly. The introductory commission rate is 4% plus transaction fees.

Clark also plans to use the platform to give back to organisations that champion key environmental and social challenges, like long-term housing, homelessness, gender inequality and climate breakdown.

Her goal with Heartful is also to educate and inform hosts and guests on how to make more responsible, accessible choices that focus on supporting local communities. She says she believes the travelling public is now looking to put their travel dollars where their values are and are keen to help build and nourish local communities.

“I see this as the perfect time to launch a platform like Heartful, so we can cater to this rapidly growing market,” she says. “And do so in a way that’s hugely competitive.”

Related: 8 Luxury Sydney Hotels With Rooms For Under $300 a Night

Related: Australia’s Hotel Restaurants Are Becoming Dining Hot Spots

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