Connect Your Guests With Your Sustainable Initiatives
Travelers receive a memorable experience, and by doing so helps preserve the destination
By Rauni Kew Public Relations & Green Program Manager, Inn by the Sea | April 27, 2014
Sustainability is a prerequisite for the continued growth and profitability of the hospitality industry. Most hotel companies today have integrated operational practices to reduce their carbon footprint, realizing economic and marketing benefits. Efforts to reduce water, waste, energy and chemicals are now an industry standard. However, for long and short term financial success the industry needs to go beyond these reductions and create sustainable initiatives and programs that support and preserve local communities and traditions, and regional icons as well as the natural environment.
Lodging properties committed to sustainability on all levels can provide today's guests with the unique, localized travel experiences they want, while supporting local economies, now and in the future. Surveys show travelers today prefer green businesses. To be truly sustainable a business must support their surrounding communities and celebrate and preserve the uniqueness or heritage of the destination as well as the environment. Vendors who collaborate with hotels to offer guests an authentic local travel experience and benefit economically and are more likely to also take an interest in preserving regional icons or cultural traditions for future generations.
Travelers are more informed about green travel alternatives and there has been a consumer shift toward making what is understood as the responsible choice. According to Travelocity, in 2010, in the first quarter after the launch of their green hotel website, bookings for green hotels were 65% higher than for their non green counterparts.
Trip-advisor's 2012 eco-friendly travel survey of more than 700 U.S. travelers stated 71% of travelers plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months, and 41% percent would believe a hotel's claim to be eco-friendly if they experienced or witnessed green practices first hand.
"Green initiatives are an increasing priority for hospitality businesses that are trying to reduce their environmental footprint," said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel for TripAdvisor. "Our survey shows that TripAdvisor travelers are interested in eco-friendly practices, but hungry for more information about which green plans and policies are actually in place."
Green Certifications can help inform guests about properties' green policies if they choose to research them. However, with the proliferation of global certifications very few are recognized by travelers. With over 350 different certifications available to travel and tourism operators it is no wonder that knowledge of a properties' third party verification rarely educates or creates an emotional connection between the guest and the location. Why not inform a guest of your commitment to sustainability by immersing the traveler in a sustainable hotel program that adds value to their visit and exposes them to insights only that very location can share. By exposing a guest to the soul of the region with rich, memorable experiences that are unique to that destination, the traveler can also gain an understanding of that property's support for their community and regional heritage.
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