What do hatching a turtle egg and the business of tourism have in common?
Both have precarious futures if we don’t nurture their environments and help them thrive. Turtle eggs require specific environmental conditions to successfully hatch, including the ideal temperature and location. Finding that perfect spot requires careful planning and attention to detail. The same applies to creating the ideal environment for your tourism business to thrive.
New trends come and go, and you need to have your finger on the pulse at all times. If there is one trend you simply cannot ignore anymore, it’s sustainability. At Wetu, we found that the search volume for ‘sustainability’ has increased significantly over the past five years.
As travellers become more conscious of their impact on the environment and local communities, all eyes will be on businesses in the travel industry to live up to these changing expectations.
Of course, reducing your environmental impact is one of the most important reasons to run a sustainable travel business. We all know that travel and tourism are significant contributors to climate change. In fact, tourism is responsible for an estimated 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this figure is set to double by 2050. By implementing sustainable practices like reducing energy consumption, using eco-friendly products, and encouraging responsible travel behaviour from clients, you can help minimise the industry’s negative impact on the planet.
But there’s another – less selfless – reason why tourism businesses should focus on sustainability: the company’s bottom line. By offering sustainable tours and activities, you can appeal to a growing market of travellers who prioritise environmentally and socially responsible travel. As many as 60% of consumers confirm that sustainability is an important criterion informing their buying decisions. A third are willing to pay extra, while 28% have stopped buying products because of ethical or environmental concerns.
As travellers become more conscious of their impact on the environment and local communities, sustainability has become crucial in their decision-making process. By running a sustainable travel business, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and appeal to a growing market of environmentally and socially conscious travellers.
Nearly 60% of global consumers have indicated their readiness to switch from their typical travel provider to another provider offering sustainable products like low carbon-emission travel and energy-efficient hotels and resorts, for example. In South Africa, the trend is no different. “When it comes to confirming travel, sustainability efforts and initiatives are often a huge deciding factor for many customers,” Association of Southern African Travel Agents CEO Otto de Vries has been quoted as saying. “It is important for agents to develop an understanding for, and deliver on, the sustainability drivers of leisure travel.”
How can you get started?
Whether you are a small DMC or a large tour operator, you need to scrutinise how you work and what you offer and identify where you can level up. Here are some ways in which you can incorporate sustainability into your strategy to improve your competitive advantage:
- Promote local travel in your destination marketing campaigns;
- Partner with greener airlines that have sustainability programmes in place;
- Recommend non-stop flights (take-offs and landings cause more carbon emissions);
- Encourage clients to fly economy (flying business class has a greater carbon footprint because the seats take up more room and many are usually empty, a World Bank study points out.);
- Partner with hotels that are reducing their carbon footprint and other green accommodation (hotels are among the biggest users of resources from laundry and plastic for toiletries, water bottles etc., to electricity, refuse and water);
- Focus on content – make sure your marketing collateral includes content about sustainability, whether in the form of blogs, digital handbooks or directories;
- Share information about best practice with trade partners to make a collective difference.
How tech has enabled sustainability in the customer buying journey ?
Highlighting sustainability from the moment the traveller enters the sales funnel is essential, so make sure your sustainability efforts are apparent in each stage of the buying journey. Wetu is the ideal platform to do this as, by its very nature, the platform facilitates connection, communication, and knowledge exchange.
There’s a time and place for digitisation. When you need technical support, nothing beats human interaction. If the transaction is repetitive and simple from a self-service perspective, automate it, e.g., checking the status of something.
Through the Wetu platform, you can share exciting digital marketing assets that focus on sustainability, and that can be used to engage with and convert your travel customer. This cloud-based repository allows you to store all these assets in one place, with access 24/7 (because travel never sleeps!), while making it easy to keep information up to date.
Take the opportunity to look for the “quiet quitting” signs – when your customers have abandoned their buying journey. Look at their behaviour, from that first interaction to the post-purchase engagement. You’ll see exactly where the friction is and be better equipped to step into the gap.
Better still, the platform simplifies digital content creation, such as itineraries, and from there, travel businesses can easily share their sustainability collateral with trade partners. The hospitality trade can equally benefit through quick access to product information and using the platform to showcase their green accommodation.
As sustainability continues to gain momentum, there is no time to waste when it comes to future-proofing your travel business. After all, running a sustainable travel business is not only good for the planet and the people who live in the places you visit, but it can also be good for your bottom line. By reducing your environmental impact, supporting local communities, creating a positive reputation, and increasing cost savings, you can create a more sustainable and successful business.
Keeping authenticity at the heart of all you do, staying informed and working together will ensure that you and the industry continue to thrive.