Sustainability is a key consideration that every industry is now having to consider, and the travel Industry is no exception. When you think about sustainable travel, you may immediately think of lowering the carbon footprint, or reducing energy consumption at hotels – and both of these are indeed examples of how sustainability is affecting travel and tourism, but there is a lot more to it than that.
Over the last 10 years, the number of businesses pivoting their focus towards sustainability, and the number of customers making it clear that they prefer more sustainable options has continued to grow – which shows that this is no flash in the pan fad, but rather a trend that continues to grow and is most definitely here to stay.
An indication of this growth can be seen with the ecotourism market size, in 2019 it was estimated to be worth $181.1 billion, by 2027 it is forecast to reach $333.8 billion – a CAGR of 14.3%.
Is Sustainable Travel of Interest to Consumers?
71% of global travellers now say that they want to travel more sustainably in the coming 12 months, 81% say that sustainable travel is important to them – with 50% going on to say that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices.
There is definitely work that can be done on promoting sustainable travel and highlighting the options – at present an estimated 1% of travellers are paying for sustainable travel, yet 73% say they are prepared to.
This disconnect highlights keenly how travel companies, hotels, and other tourism businesses need to evaluate their existing marketing strategies and align them with their efforts to make their business more sustainable.
What Can be Done to Improve Take-Up of Sustainable Travel Options?
Customers need to know what their options are, and that the company providing them is genuinely making an effort to be sustainable. If a promotion is seen as just that – something to increase profits, customers are going to disenchanted by the offering, and likely dismiss the brand from further consideration.
Sustainability is a hot topic, and it’s something that impacts everyone; but customers don’t want to be talked down to or treated like idiots – getting the right balance between insightful, educational, and accessible is going to be key.
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Areas that could be promoted when marketing a sustainable approach could include:
- Efforts to Conserve Energy and Lower Resource Usage
This might include highlighting the use of low energy bulbs, timers on taps and lights in common areas, or the ability to adjust lighting levels in hotel rooms, for example.
- Leaving a Place Better than You Found It
Almost every public facing business is going to have to spend time and money on keeping their premises clean and functional, but very few use this requirement as a marketing tool. If you’re doing upgrades, or preserving a specific area, this can be a powerful tool for brand building and highlighting responsible practices.
If you’re going a step further and making sustainable improvements, or helping the local area with development, the marketing potential (when handled in a way that doesn’t come across as self-serving) is huge.
- Reducing Food and Plastic Waste
Encouraging customers to recycle, or offering sustainable options in common areas, restaurants, or gift shops on premises, will allow your customers to be sustainable during their travels – it both promotes the seriousness your company takes towards sustainability, and allows passionate consumers to shop according to their personal beliefs.
- Offering Different Transportation Options
Depending on where your business is situated, how customers get to and from you can vary wildly. You could consider different transportation options – from putting on a shuttle bus from the airport, to partnering with local, green-powered transportation businesses (such as bicycle hires), the more options you give your customers, the easier you make it for them to decide that you align with their beliefs.
- Supporting Local Economies and Industries
There has been a marked increase in the number of people looking for local options, specifically to lower their carbon footprint (2023 is set to see the trend of ‘localvores’ increasing ).
By supporting local business, you can improve your standards (especially with freshness), encourage economic growth in your area, and lower your carbon emissions in one action.
As we said, there’s a lot to be done to bring travel and hospitality up to the standards that consumers are now expecting to see. It might start with small changes, but little actions now can make huge changes, and improvement in your bottom line for years to come.