Making sustainability fun, engaging for employees

Elif Yazoglu

Bringing over 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including 20 with the Hilton group, Elif Yazoglu is not only a highly regarded hospitality expert but also a passionate advocate for sustainability.

As General Manager of Doubletree by Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach, the beachfront hotel by Dubai’s JBR boardwalk, Elif is a committed supporter of the UAE government’s aims of protecting the planet and becoming a more sustainable nation.

Below, Elif discusses with TTN some of her most successful sustainability initiatives, and how she motivates her team to become actively involved with preserving the environment.


Is sustainability an area you are passionate about?

Absolutely. It is incredibly important; I do all I can to educate guests and my team and get them actively involved with sustainability initiatives. It’s vital that we all do our bit to raise environmental awareness and I deeply admire the UAE’s leadership for prioritizing it so prominently. 


How do you make your sustainability initiatives engaging?

I like to continually think of new ways to encourage my team to look after the environment and promote sustainability. Some examples of my initiatives include appointing a dedicated ‘energy champion’ for the hotel who leads the property’s efforts to reduce energy consumption. For example, we have installed motion sensors across most of our lighting, while also providing recycling facilities for glass, paper, batteries, textiles, and electrical devices. Perhaps most importantly, I make sure that all my team members visit the city’s recycling plants to see where their waste goes and gain a greater understanding about why recycling is so important.


If your staff believe in what they are doing and enjoy their jobs, they are guaranteed to be successful in the hospitality business. After all, it’s the service that matters
– Elif Yazoglu



In addition, I organise annual activities for Earth Day and Water Day, and we collaborate with the Dubai Municipality to run up to four clean-ups per year. Some of these clean-ups are open to the public, and others we do in partnership with other local Hilton hotels. These events are a great chance for my team members to have fun outdoors together and feel the satisfaction of giving back to the community and protecting wildlife.

During Ramadan, my team also enjoyed organising donations to give to the Dubai Food Bank. This year, we contributed hundreds of meals to the organization. By mobilizing our resources, we were able to extend a helping hand to those in need.


What else is the hotel doing to reduce its carbon footprint? 

With the COP28 summit set to take place in Dubai’s Expo City this November, the UAE government is committed to adopting green practices and lowering the country’s carbon footprint, aligned with the UAE’s Green Agenda – 2030, and is an area that I become more passionate about with each passing month.

I strongly support the UAE government’s goals of providing more clean energy and homegrown produce and promoting healthy environmental systems and efficient use of resources. In order to make an impact and preserve the planet for future generations, I believe we all have to make sustainable changes. If we all do our bit to protect the environment, we can really make a difference in the big picture.

All the initiatives I have implemented at the hotel are underpinned by the wider Hilton Group’s commitment toward a net-zero future through climate action and sustainable practices. Since 2009, we have been using the LightStay system to measure and improve our environmental impact and are proud to be the first major hotel group to set science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This includes actively reducing our environmental footprint through initiatives such as the 1) Watts, 2) Water, and 3) Waste programs with respective pledges to 1) reduce carbon intensity by 61%, 2) reduce our water use intensity by 50% and 3) reduce our waste by 50%, all by 2030.

For instance, our new water filtering system installed at Gastro Kitchen enables us to create our own clean, high-quality water and dispense it into glass bottles for guests. This is alongside glass water bottles provided in all rooms and meeting rooms that has allowed the hotel to remove plastic bottles in these areas from the hotel.

Our kitchens are also driven by a goal of achieving zero-waste. We’ve installed an AI food waste measurement system in Gastro Kitchen, allowing the hotel to automatically track food waste, cut costs and save time. Our next key target is to reduce water consumption across the hotel, including in the rooms, public areas, kitchens and the outdoor pool. 


How would you describe your relationship with your team? 

I am very close to my team and make a point of ensuring I visit every sector of the hotel to hear from personnel one-to-one.  I believe in transparency and approachability. In hospitality, we work for people and with people. Therefore, my team is my first priority.


Why is it important to create a fun working environment? 

If your staff believe in what they are doing and enjoy their jobs, they are guaranteed to be successful in the hospitality business.   

After all, it’s the service that matters. People come to hotels to enjoy themselves, whether they are on holiday or there for a business trip. After travelling for a long time, they don’t want to see a sad face, they want to see someone smiling.  


What do you do to support your team?

I am very approachable, and I have an open-door policy. I have my lunches with my team members in the cafeteria and have also implemented a monthly coffee roundtable as a forum for them to share their ideas and feedback.

I believe that the strong bond I have with my team is the reason why I have been so successful in inspiring them to care for the environment and make sustainable changes. My team is the foundation of our hotel. It is because of them that we can serve our guests to the highest possible standard. I always listen to them and the insights they provide me with is priceless.