The rise of sustainable travel, the conscious traveler and what your brand needs to know
The growing demand for sustainability in travel
The mindset of travelers is changing, and sustainable travel has become a growing trend, as travelers hope to reduce the environmental impact of tourism (or overtourism, in some cases). The pandemic appears to have accelerated this trend, with people seeking ways to travel more responsibly, to make meaningful changes to help preserve our planet – especially as demand for travel increases. At the same time, our partners in the travel industry are also increasingly aware of the impact of travel on the environment. To stay relevant, travel industry players must understand the meaning of sustainable travel and adapt to meet the changing expectations of these conscious travellers.
What is a sustainable trip?
Most people care about the planet and want to do their part in sustainable tourism, but the movement isn’t always easy to define. You may also have heard of the terms “green travel”, “green tourism”, “ecotourism”, “responsible travel”, “ethical tourism”, and others. All of these ideas mean more than just reusing your hotel towels for an extra day or opting for a reusable water bottle instead of single-use plastic bottles.
According to National Geographic, sustainable tourism is a “Framework to engage travelers and the travel industry as a whole in supporting goals such as protecting the environment, combating climate change, reducing plastic consumption and expanding economic development in communities affected by tourism.” The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) defines it as: “an aspiration to recognize all of the impacts of tourism, both positive and negative…to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positives.”
To find out how consumers answer this question, we recently conducted a study on sustainable travel based on a survey of 11,000 consumers in 11 global markets. Respondents were asked about their attitudes, values and motivations for making conscious travel choices. According to the results, the majority of respondents equate sustainable travel with reducing environmental impact; supporting local economies, cultures and communities; and visit lesser-known destinations.
Who is the eco-responsible traveler?
The sustainable traveler, or the eco-conscious traveler, is therefore the tourist who supports these objectives, who makes individual choices according to sustainable tourism practices. This brings us to the next question: What are sustainable tourism practices?
For hotels, this can mean finding ways to save energy and water, serving local and seasonal food, or managing waste more responsibly. For tourists, this may mean researching accommodation providers and tour operators to ensure they do these things and meet sustainable tourism standards. It can also mean taking the train rather than the plane; or buy locally made souvenirs, which support the local economy.
Green initiatives, sustainable practices and your brand’s commitment to sustainability
The trick, however, is to identify companies that are truly sustainable. This is the information that conscious travelers want to know. According to our study, 90% look for sustainable options when traveling. In fact, 2 out of 5 respondents said they had avoid a travel destination or transportation option due to skepticism about the reality of commitment to sustainable practices.
Obviously, companies need to be truthful and transparent to build trust with consumers. For example, if you are in the hotel industry but your hotel is not yet a green hotel, you can still communicate what you are doing today: if you have signed the UNESCO commitment for a trip sustainability, any green initiatives you already have in place, steps you are taking to adhere to GSTC criteria, or any plans you may have to become certified as sustainable.
How Media Solutions can help you target the eco-conscious traveler
Some of our partners have already demonstrated their commitment to sustainability and have leveraged Expedia Group’s media solutions to help them communicate it through marketing campaigns. One of these partners is the Iberostar group, which has for some time been a leader in green tourism, especially when it comes to the oceans and support for local communities. The brand launched its Wave of Change movement in 2017, which is based on three pillars of action: commitment to a circular economy, responsible seafood consumption and coastal health. The brand has also joined the Expedia Group in signing the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge.
To highlight these efforts, Media Solutions designed a custom landing page that promotes the brand’s luxury, eco-friendly hotels and commitment to making a positive impact. To learn more about its efforts, as well as tips on how travel brands can achieve more, read this Q&A with Dr. Megan Morikawa, Global Director of Iberostar’s Office of Sustainability .
Another partner that has prioritized sustainability is VisitScotland, which has also signed UNESCO’s Sustainable Travel Pledge, as well as the Glasgow Declaration. The tourist board is committed to respecting Scotland’s natural landscapes and uses its promotional homepage on Expedia sites to encourage travelers to leave no trace and get to know the locals.
And then there is Visit Panama, whose “Live for more” aims to connect conscious travelers to the cultural roots of Panama. The campaign aligns with the country’s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism, which has been recognized by UNESCO as an example of innovation and sustainability. To promote its commitment to sustainability, we designed a Travel Spotlight page for the tourism board that showcases Panama’s diverse experiences, hoping to entice environmentally conscious travel buyers to visit.
We anticipate that sustainable tourism will only remain top of mind with environmentally conscious and conscientious travellers. So if you’re a hotel, tourist board or other travel brand that aspires to make a positive impact and want to share your vision through a Media Solutions marketing campaign, get in touch with our team of experts in digital media. In the meantime, learn more about consumer attitudes towards responsible travel by downloading our research on sustainable travel.
Download the study.
About Expedia Group Media Solutions
Expedia Group™ Media Solutions, the advertising organization of Expedia Group, offers industry expertise and digital marketing solutions that enable brands to reach, engage and influence its qualified audience of travelers around the world . Through its extensive network of leading travel brands and global outlets, Expedia Group Media Solutions provides marketing partners with exclusive, data-driven insights into traveler behaviors at every stage of the purchase journey, as well as solutions dynamic advertising, to offer strategic and measurable campaigns. results. For more information, visit www.advertising.expedia.com.
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