Willy Legrand speaker profile

Dr. Willy Legrand is Professor of Hospitality Management at the IUBH International University of Applied Sciences in Bad Honnef – Bonn, Germany since 2003. Prof. Legrand holds undergraduate and graduate courses as well as keynotes on sustainable development, business management and sustainable hospitality in Germany but also as a visiting professor in China, Dubai, France, India, Peru and the United States.

As an active panelist, Prof. Legrand participated at the International Hotel Investment & Design Conference (2019) in Vienna Austria in a session on “Sustainability Matters: To green or not to green? Establishing the economic value of green initiatives in hotel investments”.

He also was a panelist at the International Society of Hospitality Consultants yearly conference (2019), Vienna Austria on a session called “The “Plastic” Ages: Innovation in Sustainability”.

He is hosting the ITB 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Day, welcoming world-renown speakers and panelists and moderating sessions throughout the day at the world’s largest tourism trade fair.

As a corporate trainer, Prof. Legrand conducts seminars at small or large organizations (e.g. Trivago N.V.). He is a regular participant at the yearly Cornell University Sustainability Roundtable and an observer at the UN Climate Conferences, including COP21 in 2015, which led to the Paris Agreement.

Prof. Dr. Legrand is the lead author of Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Principles of Sustainable Operations, a leading textbook on sustainability principles, strategy and operations in hospitality now in its 3rd edition.

He is also the Guest Chief Editor of the Hotel Yearbook Sustainable Hospitality 2018 and 2020 Special Editions. Both editions are free-of-charge, downloadable publications featuring industry leaders, academic researchers and consultants sharing their views on a variety of key topics on sustainability in hospitality.

He recently launched the HospitalityNet World Panel on Sustainability in Hospitality. Since sustainability covers a wide range of topics, this panel is supported by more than 70 experts across many fields, including food, energy, water, waste, facilities, communication, social, and strategy. The aim is to get sustainability anchored more than ever into the hospitality conversation and decision-making.

Based in Bonn, Germany.


Book Willy as speaker if you are looking for someone who knows about:

  • best practices in sustainable hospitality
  • decarbonization of the hotel industry (of current supply and supply pipeline)
  • mitigation of environmental impacts
  • sustainability innovations
  • consumer involvement
  • communication and reputation management linked to sustainability

What Willy offers:

Keynote address (hospitality conference, tourism conference, sustainable development conference);

Half-day seminar (best practices, mitigation strategies, introduction to sustainable hospitality);

Full-course (undergraduate, graduate or professional; having developed over a dozen courses on topics linked to sustainable hospitality and tourism, an option is to tailor a course to the needs of the organization and audience);

Panelist (on sustainability and hospitality/tourism related topics);

Moderation/Host (of professionals and academic panels, debates, conferences, audience interaction).

Rate and conditions to be discussed.


Examples of talks and topics:

#1 Inspired by Sustainability Without Limits: Radical Innovations in the Hospitality Industry

-Welcome to your self-illuminated room that grows salad-

Many of the sustainability measures implemented in the hospitality industry are based on the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. However, in light of the greater challenges, from climate emergency to biodiversity collapse and the science-based targets set in the Paris Agreement, these measures are falling short of delivering the necessary changes in the industry.

The International Tourism Partnership calculated that the hotel industry must reduce its carbon emissions by 90% by 2050 (2010 baseline) to remain within the Paris agreement threshold. With 3000 new hotels opening their doors year-on-year, what should we expect in terms of the next generation of sustainability innovations in hospitality? From passive solar energy hotels to plus-energy hotels, from building-integrated agriculture to self-illuminating facades or self-healing materials – hotel buildings are bound to be more than a place to stay!

I have followed and researched the world of sustainability in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. From the first edition of my textbook “Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry: Principles of Sustainable Operations” over a decade ago (now available in its third edition) much in this industry has changed. In particular, the availability of technologies to tackle some of the challenges in this industry.

But what works and what doesn’t?  What are some of the cutting edge practices today which are bound to be ‘common practices’? And what do hoteliers, investors, developers, brand owners and consumers say about sustainability innovations? Find out more in this keynote.

#2 I pay for my room, thus I am entitled! But in the Age of Sustainability, what are we entitled to?

Many hospitality companies seek to bridge sustainability and luxury, often understood as two concepts at opposite ends of each other. Many of those hotels are located in pristine locations. A mandatory environmental levy may be added to the guests’ bills as a measure to raise funds to offset the travel emissions linked to reaching the destination. Some companies then involve themselves in re-forestation projects or renewable energy. Some may go even further by assessing and measuring  carbon emissions into three ‘scopes’ as classified by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

And if a price needs to be paid for all those emissions, how do we move forward in regards to the true costs of an overnight stay? Particularly if we consider climate emergency and biodiversity collapse. Arguably, Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions should be priced into the overnight stay and then the guest is entitled to book… or is it more complicated?

How about guests wanting to have red meat every day at a faraway island resort where no cattle are to be found? Can we expect those paying heavy rates to have rooms cleaned every second day? Similar principle of entitlement? Sustainability and travelling is not an easy marriage, but it may be even more complicated in the luxury segments.

#3 Unplugged Resorts: The Art and Science of Sustainably Managing Hotels & Resorts in Remote Destinations

In times of urban overtourism, remote destinations are sought-after. Desert-, Arctic/Northern-, Jungle-, Mountain- and Island destinations are all high on the list of tourists wanting to ‘get away from it all’. But what does this mean in terms of developing, constructing and operating hotels and resorts in those locations?

This is a review of best practices in how best to manage hotels/resorts which are not ‘hooked’ to any system (e.g. electric grid / water treatment, fresh water system / waste treatment / employee pool etc.), with a detailed description of the challenges and opportunities and an emphasis on recommendations to those investing in and operating those properties.


Willy mostly speaks in front of:

Industry professionals, undergraduate/graduate students, research community


What others say about Willy as speaker:

“I just wanted to convey my appreciation for your contribution to making the ‘Sustainability Matters – to green or not to green: Establishing the economic value of green initiatives in hotel investments’ panel session a success! A lot of positive feedback on the panel discussion was received from the delegates and that can only be taken as a positive indication.”

Roger A. Allen, Group CEO, Resources for Leisure Assets and Panel Moderator at the International Hotel Investment & Design Conference 2019, Vienna, Austria


How to book:

You would like to book Professor Dr Willy Legrand for your event or are interested in organizing a workshop or seminar with him? Please contact us here.