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Sustainable Travel Survey Highlights Need for Better Communication, Wise Investments

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Glenn Hasek

Passport Photo Online recently released the results of its “Is Sustainable Travel Trending Up” study. The purpose of the survey of more than 1,000 Americans was to determine if sustainability is still a priority among travelers.

Previous similar studies have shown that sustainable travel has indeed become more of a priority in recent years. The following are some tidbits from the survey that stood out for me:

Communication

Most employers don’t communicate if they are acting on sustainability with about seven in 10 employees unaware of their organization’s green policies regarding business travel. Is your company among those failing to communicate your green travel policy? How can you better communicate it? On the flipside, what is your organization doing to make sure potential guests don’t miss your policies around sustainability? For employers, certainly including it during training and in your published work policies is a start but employees should be reminded each time they travel as well.

For hotels, you can certainly make it easier for your guests or meeting planners to know your green programs by publishing them online—prominently and not burying them. Other touch points include the front desk and multiple points within the guestroom. The good news here, according to the survey, is that six out of 10 people say they have stayed at a hotel with sustainable practices at least once over the last two years.

Willingness to Pay More

As has been found in previous studies, the survey found that seven in 10 tourists are willing to spend more on accommodation to make their trip more sustainable, with 16 to 20 percent more being the most common answer. My question for you is, “Are you charging more for a stay because you have implemented a specific sustainability policy or policies?” I have not seen that question asked of hoteliers.

An Opportunity Waiting for You

In the survey travelers were asked if they will travel more sustainably in the next 24 months. A total of 89 percent said “yes.” What are you doing or planning to do to capture that business? Telling your green story in as many places as possible is key and certifying what your doing will certainly help—especially if that certification is done by a well-respected organization such as the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Seal, Green Key Global, etc. Please note: 25 percent of those surveyed did not know how to find a sustainable property.

Are You EV Ready?

Interestingly, while the penetration of electric vehicles is not that high in the U.S., a total of 11 percent indicated they typically use EVs when traveling. Is your property EV ready?

Guest Decisions Within Your Property

Interestingly, the survey included questions pertaining to guest behavior within the hotel property. Here is what the survey found:

  • 61 percent of Americans typically make a conscious decision to turn off the thermostat in their travel accommodation when they aren’t there.
  • 65 percent switch off the lights when they aren’t using them.
  • 60 percent turn off the tap when brushing their teeth at a hotel.
  • 38 percent opt out of daily room cleaning to lower water usage.
  • 54 percent use a reusable water bottle to avoid buying bottled water while traveling.
  • 43 percent reuse the same hotel towel(s) to reduce water usage.

Do these findings match the behavior of your guests? The bottled water question certainly supports the elimination of single-use plastic bottled water at your property.

Travel Guilt?

I have to say I never saw this question asked before, but the survey found that 83 percent of travelers are experiencing “travel guilt” about their past trips they now worry may not have been sustainable. A good reason for giving guests the option of offsetting the carbon impact of their travel?

Want to share your opinion on any of this survey’s findings? I can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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