Eric Ricaurte graduated in 2011 with a Masters in Tourism and Travel Management from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. Eric is Founder & CEO of Greenview, a company he started while pursuing his degree at NYU.
Greenview is the world’s leading provider of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), corporate responsibility, and sustainability programs and data management for the hospitality and tourism sectors. Greenview supports companies to design, implement, and monitor their corporate responsibility and sustainability platforms to drive profitability, streamline data, keep ahead of trends, and provide effective communication for stakeholders. Headquartered in Singapore, with a global team of experts located in 7 countries, Greenview manages the hospitality’s largest collaborative sustainability initiatives and leverages the power of this network to synergize value to the wider industry.
What has your journey been like after graduating NYU?
It hasn’t slowed down. Looking back, in the last summer semester of the program in 2011, I landed a big opportunity as the consultant to help develop the first full methodology for what would eventually become the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative. We worked with several big hotel chains and industry bodies to standardize the way the industry calculates the carbon footprint of a room night and meeting space usage. At the time I was doing research for Associate Dean Bjorn Hanson as the Dean’s assistant, and mentioned to him that I was really busy but things should slow down. His reply: “it never slows down.” Those words hit home over the years as sustainability and eventually ESG became mainstream requirements across all types of companies. Working full time and studying conditioned me to be busier than I had ever been, and it turns out that was going to be needed for the decade to come. On top of that, the journey took me from New York to a split between Seoul and Washington, DC, and eventually Singapore where we have fixed our base. Getting that global mindset at NYU was also key to starting the journey.
What are you passionate about in the work that you do?
It sounds lame, but the most rewarding part of my job really is mainstreaming the topic of sustainability in our industry. In the early days, it was all about ecotourism as an experience and a self-identity of those who got into sustainability and corporate responsibility. But now it’s much different, and every time we go into a company and help them start their journey, convening management and now c-suite who have made their careers in everything but sustainability, we witness them become more aware, and make better decisions. It’s a great time as the issues are pressing, and the past two years have been the real tipping point for awareness and action for the planet.
In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career and shaped who you are today?
First, the ability to approach this industry from all angles. My undergraduate degree was in hotel management and I had some years of experience in hotels and operations, but especially back then, hotel roles were all about the four walls and what goes on inside of them. Sustainability is a discipline which requires holistic thinking about things like “where did this come from, and where is it going?” and understanding impacts and interrelationships. I chose the MS in Tourism and Travel Management to focus more on what goes on outside the 4 walls of a hotel but in relation to it, and it proved to be key to setting up Greenview, being able to advise clients across the value chain and relating environmental and social issues to it. For example, we advise several hotel owners and operators, and immediately make sound recommendations because we are hotel people. But we also landed projects such as advising the UNWTO on sustainable cruise tourism development strategies in Southeast Asia, and are currently working with the ASEAN nations on a post-pandemic recovery plan that incorporates gender equality and sustainable development. And now that the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are becoming the predominant framework and standard that hotels will need to adhere to, we’re able to incorporate the wider tourism aspects of local culture, heritage preservation, economies, and biodiversity that hotels need to address.
Second, understanding the value of research in our industry. Many of the services and methods of marketing and building a reputation we created as a small company can be traced back to the research emphasis and opportunities at NYU. I saw the opportunities to pursue research, benchmarking, and data intelligence common in the industry and apply it to sustainability, for strategic business purposes. Over the years we developed several research, benchmarking, and data products that we keep evolving to complement our consulting and program work. Some examples:
- The Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index which Greenview manages, the industry’s largest global platform for benchmarking energy, water, and carbon emissions by hotel and segment. This year we will release results with a data set of over 20,000 hotels and 600 geographies worldwide, and the partnerships and use of the data among various distribution, academic, and internal company channels keeps growing.
- The biennial Green Lodging Trends Report which benchmarks and provides competitive analysis reports of best practices in over 100 sustainability criteria for thousands of hotels.
- The Greenview Portal, our software as a service platform that enables hotel portfolio owners, operators, and affiliations to track and monitor sustainability performance and progress, obtain guidance, aggregate data in real time, and roll out programs while giving tools and guidance to property teams.
- The Benchmarking, Risks & Opportunities (BRO) Assessment that we offer in the instance of feasibility and other market or repositioning studies in partnership with Horwath HTL as well as directly for our corporate portfolio clients. This assessment adds aspects of due diligence and analysis required in today’s landscape of water risk, climate risk, regulatory policy risk, biodiversity proximity, and socio-economic impact factors.
What career advice would you give to NYU students?
Get to know your cohort, classmates, and teachers. This industry is tight-knit and many like myself, my wife & business partner, and my best friends, are in it for life. The bonds you can make while a student will bear some amazing fruit personally and professionally.
Also, attend as much of the NYU Hotel Investment Conference as possible. The caliber of attendees and conversations on and off stage are nearly unparalleled, and a great learning and network experiences that other students simply don’t have access to.