Nudging Hotel Guests for Reducing Food Waste: A Field Experiment

Amina-Roxana Petrea & Elena Maria Toporcea

Student thesis: Master thesis


Given the considerable negative impact food waste has upon the environment and the tourism industry (Gössling et al. 2011) alongside the lack of research attributed to this topic (Gössling and Peeters 2015), the present study aims at making use of behavioural economics principles to address this matter. Our Master thesis will be searching to understand how the business impact of service firms can be maximized by making use of behavioural economics principles and integrating them within the service design mechanisms. Even though there is ongoing research that emphasizes the benefits of incorporating behavioural economics within a business, this still does not represent a mainstream practice within the service industry. Hence, this paper introduces the concept of “nudging” as a strategy to correct guests’ behaviour when it comes to generating food waste. “Nudging” incorporates a multitude of behaviour change tools created for suggesting choices of action by simplifying the decisionmaking process. This is achieved by taking into consideration the behavioural flaws known for influencing individuals’ capacity to make decisions. By considering successful applications of nudge interventions to guide human behaviour in other previous studies, the present paper aims at underlining how similar strategies can be applied for reducing food waste in the hospitality industry. Thus, we present two non-intrusive nudges (reducing plate size and implementing a tax on leftovers) that achieve a decrease in food waste by approximately 30%. The results of our research prove to be statistically significant and environmentally sustainable since food waste is considered as an extensive contributor to climate change and degradation. In addition, the two nudge interventions do not affect customer satisfaction and decrease the quantity of food to be purchased, resulting in increased profits for the business. Hence, the measures proposed in the present research constitute potential advantages for both, the hotel applying it and the environment.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages97
SupervisorsTore Kristensen