Responsible travel: How do we make booking sustainable hotels easier?
— 22 experts shared their view
Evidence shows that spending time in nature helps reducing anxiety, improving mental health and well-being, let alone boosting physical health. Nature is good for us; can we be good to nature too? It's no wonder that one recent large-scale survey conducted by Booking.com (2020) identified 'Impact Awakening: The Rise of Responsible Travel' as one of the nine predictions on the future of travel. Half of the global travelers surveyed expressed the desire to travel more sustainably in the future with over two-thirds of respondents expecting more sustainable travel options from suppliers. Demand is (and expectations are) building up and post-pandemic will see a surge in travel with purpose. But do travelers easily have access to all information needed to make wise decisions on sustainable travel and hotels? Where are the gaps in the search and booking stages? And which company manages to fill those gaps well? What are some best practices in showcasing hotel sustainability online?
Booking.com (20 Oct 2020). Smarter, Kinder, Safer: Booking.com Reveals Nine Predictions For The Future of Travel. https://www.booking.com/articles/category/future-of-travel.html.
Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility at InterContinental Hotels Group
There are many questions yet to be answered about the future of travel in a post-pandemic world, but one thing that seems quite clear is the growing consumer focus on sustainability and responsibility. The UN global climate poll – the biggest ever on the matter - published earlier this month confirms it; two-thirds of the global population say the climate crisis is a global emergency, meaning it's a factor high on the agenda for people when they choose to travel and stay, too.
Our leisure guests tell us how important sustainability matters are to them and that they are more likely to choose brands that operate responsibly – and are even willing to pay more for ones that do so. And, as a rapidly growing number of organizations make external commitments for environmental and social change, our business customers are in turn requesting information about sustainable accommodation and meeting options with growing frequency to help make progress against their own targets.
This momentum for sustainable options needs to be met with transparent and accurate information right across the guest journey. Creating approachable, digestible content to inform and inspire guests and customers, and an interwoven storytelling approach is key to increasingly bring sustainability initiatives to the mainstream as a core part of the hospitality offering – rather than a niche.
Driving awareness at the outset with compelling content across our own platforms is important. Informing booking decisions with information about hotel-specific features; reinforcing how guests can get involved and play a part; demonstrating the bigger picture to show what is being led at group-level; capturing data and feedback, including via platforms such as our own IHG Green Engage™, will all allow for further improvement.
To be most effective, we'll also need this to be a true collaboration across the ecosystem – brands, operators, OTAs, TMCs, and other industry organizations. While the stories we tell as individual companies and even as individual hotels will invariably differ, we should continue efforts to align these to a common “language” or context of what sustainability means at an industry-level, and that should also consider how to simplify the multitude of different certifications available in this space to enable consumer understanding. This way, our guests and customers are truly able to make informed decisions on traveling more responsibly.