I believe that for a business being environmentally sustainable is vital. But I also think that many business people believe that environmental sustainability is another task that you do when everything else in your business plan is sorted, when you have time or, perhaps, just if it fits in with your existing branding. Often when I talk with people they see being eco-friendly as all give with no real benefits for the business — wrong! I am certain that building environmental sustainability into your business is both the right thing to do for your community and the planet but also can have tangible measurable benefits for your business.
In this article I want to break this down into three factors — the shifting market, the benefits of being more eco-friendly and finally some simple steps that you can take.
The Shifting Market
The report found that almost three quarters of travelers (72%) believe people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations, and over half (55%) were more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago.
73% of travellers said that they intend to stay at least once in an eco-friendly or green accommodation in the year ahead. This figure has increased year on year, the number was 62% in 2016.
Additionally, 70% of global travellers say they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.
So what does this tell us? Well each year for the five years that this survey has been completed (based on several markets across the world) the numbers have been rising. This reflects a growing awareness amongst travelers that the climate crisis is real and that tourism is a contributory factor. A massive 8% of global greenhouse gasses relate to tourism.
Additionally travelers are now regularly seeing articles and blogs in the media discussing the impact of tourism on the climate crisis, advice on how to be a green traveller and crucially what people can look out for when finding an eco-friendly accommodation. Here is a typical article that your potential guests might be reading. What does it say to you?
So our audiences have a growing awareness and understanding of the issues and they are beginning to connect the dots that link travel and tourism and the climate crisis. Understandably as people make this connection they want to limit their impact on the problem. They are starting to make choices about their vacations which reflect this growing awareness. This includes where they stay.
Do you want to continue to grow your business? Do you want to tap into a growing market that you currently don’t have access to? The data shows that the eco-friendly group of travelers is a fast growing sector, so why not tap into it?
Start by taking some simple initiatives that are easy to implement and that will likely save you money — why make it hard for yourself! Begin to reflect these initiatives in your branding — on your website, in your communication with guests, on your marketing platforms, in social media etc. Look at one of the specialist eco-friendly OTAs like Ecobnb to give you some additional exposure. These acts will get you noticed with the travelers alert to the greener places to stay.
Your efforts will be rewarded in new eco-conscious guests who might comment on your commitment via a review, by visiting again or by recommending you to others. These steps build to improve your return on investment and enhance your reputation.
As you progress you begin to see a virtuous circle where each step that you take has an increasing impact on the next step and this is how you can build and develop the business benefits of becoming more environmentally sustainable.
Three steps to get you started
Of course there is a lot to being an environmentally sustainable business, but we all have to start somewhere. Here are my three tips to get you started. Each one is easy, some will certainly save you money and they will all give you a chance to start to talk about your green credentials. Trust me, once you start you will begin to see the benefits for your business and before you know it you have created a whole new aspect to your brand and be attractive to a new audience who appreciate your efforts.
Most energy tariffs are based on fossil fuels which pollute our environment and heat up our atmosphere. Switching to a green tariff is easy, often cheaper, great for the planet and makes your business more environmentally sustainable.
Convert to a green energy tariff
Simply contact your supplier and ask about their renewables energy tariff. Don’t be put off by claims that it is complicated or costly. If your current supplier doesn’t have a green tariff, switch suppliers. Then talk about what you have done — green energy shouts out that you care about the environment.
Install energy efficient lighting
Switch out your light bulbs to LED. These modern bulbs are vastly more energy efficient than other older designs — they use a tiny fraction of the power and they last much much longer. The average home in the US has 40 light bulbs. Replacing them with LED could save up to $300 a year in energy costs. LED light bulbs shine out ‘I am green’.
Planting trees is a beautiful action that has massive benefits for the planet. Trees are superb at sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it.
If you have the space, plant trees. If you don’t, finance tree planting through one of the many organizations set up for this purpose. Guests love to hear about tree planting, it’s one of those feel good factors. The tree is the iconic environmental symbol.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now Chinese Proverb
I always say that taking the first steps to being an environmentally sustainable business is the beginning of an addiction. You make some small green changes, you get some positive feedback, a guest says it was a factor in their decision to book with you, you get a nice review mentioning what you do, you lower your costs in a certain area, you start to get some press interest or even win an award. BAM you are hooked and ready for the next fix — taking a few more steps and feeling the virtuous circle of action and positive business results.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect at the beginning. Make a couple of small changes, get yourself listed somewhere and start to see the results from action to a better business. Need any help? Just ask me.