This handbook is about social responsibility (SR) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). What can you do as an entrepreneur to do business in a sustainable way? Is it feasible or only possible for large corporations?

Company type: Hotel

Heerenveen, Netherlands

Short description of the company size and business

Hotel Golden Tulip Tjaarda Oranjewoud is a hotel, conference centre and wellness centre. It is beautifully located in the woods of Oranjewoud, near Heerenveen. It employs 75 people. Tjaarda was active on the sustainability front long before it came into contact with ISO 26000. A lot is done in the areas of water/energy saving and garbage dividing, it mostly uses biological and local products, herbs and spices are grown in its own garden and it has several vegetarian options on the menu. Recently, Tjaarda even achieved the Gold level in the international eco-hallmark for businesses in the tourism and recreation sector, Green Key Label.

Explanation by the CEO 'why social responsibility and the use of ISO 26000 is important

Director, Tjitte de Wolff: We came into contact with ISO 26000 via the Frontrunner project sustainability. We saw this project as a chance to broaden our SR policy and profile ourselves as a more sustainable business. Our SR performance has been mapped , based on ISO 26000. That was very useful, because I lack the time to read through the entire directive. Because ISO 26000 is broader, more analytical and more in accordance with policy, it was a great addition to Green Key, which is predominantly aimed at checking boxes of practical measures.

Benefits of operating social responsible

Real Bespoke Work
Through the ISO 26000 ‘coat rack’, we’ve obtained a better grasp of what exactly SR means for our organisation. The ISO 26000 DuOn-Scan visualises the results in clear graphs. That is very useful. It also gives a variety of practical suggestions. Real bespoke work – It’s brilliantly applicable and easy to explain to people. In two years, we’ll do it again to see how we fare then.
Formulating SR policy
The result got us started to formulate our SR policy and better document our actions. As a result, we communicate better with our employees, suppliers and guests. We used to do a lot in the past, but we did not communicate enough. We do it a lot more now, among others via our website and newsletters for employees and guests. We have also recently started a green business meeting arrangement.
We have benefitted from it a lot. In a short time, we’ve saved approximately 9% energy. In addition, all the attention around the Frontrunner project has directly resulted in EUR 27,000 in extra profits.
Staying ahead
We have become increasingly convinced that we’re on the right path. We want to keep staying ahead in terms of sustainability and distinguish ourselves through it. To achieve that, we structurally reserve a part of the investment budget. We also want to realise further cost savings. Our goal is an energy neutral organisation that is also very sustainable on other fronts, and ensure this is also clearly visible for guests.

Quote of CEO

‘Sustainability goes hand in hand with quality, comfort, luxury and profitability’

Quote of stakeholder


Tips in general

- Take your time to create a foundation within your organisation. Don’t just do it alone. Appoint a commission or workgroup at the start of the project that does the work. It shouldn’t be just the CEOs story, but the story of the whole organisation.
- Document everything you collect. For example, all suppliers are required to send me information about delivered goods, disposed garbage, and amount of laundry kilos etcetera in the third week of January. Then we can process it all properly.

Tips for branche / sector

- Obtain your Green Key certificate. This is an internationally accredited label. Use ISO 26000 if you want to go further than checking boxes and really want to get into the topic.
- Incorporate as many biological ingredients from local suppliers or grow them yourself, for example in a herb garden. Customers appreciate local produce. It tastes better and it usually costs less, too. Pay attention to fair trade with products that come from afar. Take good care of vegetarians.
- Show your customers that your attention to sustainability isn’t just idealism, but most importantly leads to higher quality (taste, comfort, good feeling) for the customer. Explain why you make certain sustainable choices without coming across as preachy.
- In hospitality, it is possible to save a lot on water, garbage and energy with relatively small investments. Combine this with increased awareness of your staff and guests.

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