World Travel Market 2022 proved that sustainability in tourism really does matter to consumers and employees. In fact, it clearly matters to all stakeholders and continues to be a priority for business owners regardless of size or location.
Dr Christopher Warren, founder of My Green Butler, looked out across a full and engaged audience from the Future Stage at WTM London this year. Speaking on the topic of Growing Consumer Demand for Responsible Tourism as part of WTM’s Responsible Tourism programme, Christopher joined other influential industry leaders to champion not just why sustainability matters as a critical consumer trend, but also to share unequivocal data that demonstrates the shift towards more consciously minded travel.
The Head of Sustainability at Booking.com, Danielle D’Silva, quoted from their Sustainable Travel Report 2022 that 71% of travellers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, up 10% from 2021 ¹, while Eva Stewart, Global Sector Head of Travel and Tourism at YouGov, shared that almost half of all consumers across 43 countries (46%) like it when brands get involved in social issues, while more than two in five consumers worldwide (44%) say they try to buy only from socially and environmentally responsible companies. ²
It is clear that the sustainability consumer trend is showing strong signs of acceleration as we move forward. It is also clear that the winners will be those who are first in building more sustainable organisational cultures and those who see the process as being a non-finite journey that reacts and develops as demand and curiosity continue to increase.
Additional industry data complements the thoughts of the speakers at WTM in confirming that consumers are looking to make more responsible decisions when it comes to travel. Skyscanner stats show that 68 million customers have selected lower emissions flight on their site since 2019 ³, and Expedia Group’s Sustainable Travel Study 2022 stated that 7 in 10 consumers feel overwhelmed by starting the process of being a more sustainable traveller ⁴. It is of interest to add that traveller reviews data from Expedia corroborated that terms related to sustainability and eco-friendliness were being mentioned twice as often in January 2022 as they were in January 2021. ⁵
There is also inspirational action from key players in the industry that backs up the sustainability commitment. The Accor Group for example, commits to striving to act for “positive hospitality” by setting ambitious objectives focusing on teams, clients, partners, and local communities. ⁶ Their Deputy CEO & CFO, Jean-Jacques Morin, states that “carbon emissions reduction is the number one subject in terms of ESG worldwide” ⁷, while the Chief Sustainability Officer, Brune Poirson, concluded that this move towards sustainability requires “a deep transformation of the company, of its very business model” and that they are focused on “building a company that contributes, and that gives back more than it takes”. ⁷
In this context it would be remiss not to mention the outstanding endeavours of the 2022 Responsible Tourism Winner – Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge – that was awarded at WTM ⁸. Located in the northern Drakensburg mountains in South Africa, this community-owned property has mandated a buy-local policy, and, where services did not exist, support was provided to upskill and capacitate local businesses. 96% of Witsieshoek’s staff are local with the average salary supporting seven people.
The positive experience and reactions of guests at Witsieshoek embody this trend towards making choices that allow us to feel good while on holiday. It also shows that you don’t have to be a global corporate to positively influence lives in destinations and succeed at generating change where it matters.
As Dr Christopher Warren discussed on stage, it is our job to educate the public through experiential messaging pre- , during, and post-stay. There are many ways to do this, and it is important to integrate all sustainability actions into overall marketing communications. However, one innovative strategy is particularly powerful, that of using guest persuasion techniques to enlist them as participants in your mission. Encouraging customers to feel part of something rather than just an observer means enlisting their help when saving resources or treading lighter. This does not mean their comfort will be compromised. Quite the opposite in fact. How you do this takes many forms and is greatly influenced by where you are located and the services you offer, not to mention where your passion and skills set lie.
By employing this holistic combination of guest persuasion techniques with progressive staff onboarding, as well as continuous monitoring and measuring directed by goal based KPIs, fully integrating sustainability into operations and offer has proven to successfully improve staff productivity, increase guest satisfaction, attract more corporate clients, and reduce costs while increasing margins.
To find out how My Green Butler can help your business achieve the typical 20-38% resource savings experienced by their clients, apply for a demo here.
There is no escaping that fact that sustainability matters, and the words of Eva Stewart summaries this accelerating trend:
“I believe we are at a tipping point with the financial risk to businesses of not following a path to sustainability now much greater than the immediate rewards of doing it”. ²
#sustainabilitymatters #sustainabilityconsumertrends #sustainable tourism #responsibletourism #responsibletourismawards
¹ Booking.com Sustainable Travel Report 2022
⁴ Expedia Group Sustainable Travel Study 2022
⁵ Expedia Group, traveler reviews data, January 2021-January 2022 – Expedia Group 2023 Traveler Value Index