The Greening of Traveler Choice

Travelers want more transparency into exactly who’s doing what about sustainability
As the emotional turmoil of COVID disruption fades into memory, the itch to travel is resurfacing in a big way – but this time, with a stronger sense of compassion for the planet we inhabit. In fact, according to Booking.com’s 2021 Sustainable Travel Report, a whopping 83 percent of global travelers now think sustainable travel is vital.

But there’s a catch: 49 percent feel there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available. And for those travelers who had not previously stayed in properties that offer sustainable practices, 36 percent said they didn’t even know such places exist, 32 percent said they couldn’t find any options where they were traveling and 31 percent said that they didn’t know how to find them. Furthermore, “while three out of four accommodation providers say they have implemented at least some kind of sustainability practices at their property, only a third actively communicate about their efforts proactively to potential guests, with this mostly happening at the time of check-in,” the report said.
Unfortunately, this reflects a fundamental divide between the efforts of suppliers offering sustainability options, and the travelers who are demanding such services. This has also caught the attention of travel businesses, who are listening closely to those who care about the wider impact of their trips.

Bridging the Disconnect
So how does the travel industry overcome this communication rift, and get better at informing travelers about sustainability choices? Multiple channels to shop for travel services is key. Fortunately, lots of tools are coming online to assist travelers in making decisions that are more environmentally conscious. From free resources such as Intrepid Travel’s open-source guide to decarbonizing travel businesses to multi-member coalitions such as Tourism Declares, more travelers are in the know.

All sorts of public directories are also popping up. For example, Rethink Travel helps travelers filter hotels based on 10 different sustainability practices; Green Pearls curates green experiences while promoting local culture; Regenerative Travel vets members based on the concept of “leaving a place better than you found it,” while Travalyst is a think tank led by Prince Harry in partnership with Booking.com, Google, Skyscanner, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor, and Visa. The options seem endless.

Categories: Special ReportManaging Travel Programs

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