Guest Post: How to keep step with changing perceptions of sustainability

Guest Post: How to keep step with changing perceptions of sustainability

Scott Falconer, executive vice president, media solutions, hospitality, at Amadeus explains how hotels and destinations can use data to respond to growing demand for more environmentally friendly trips

This year has seen the travel industry rebound, with Amadeus’ business intelligence data revealing that worldwide hotel occupancy rates surged above pre-pandemic levels for the first time since 2019.

Similarly, Amadeus’ Agency360 data demonstrates that hotel room nights booked on global distribution systems (GDSs) for corporate travel have also increased during 2022 and are rapidly closing in on pre-pandemic rates. 

This welcome resurgence of travel should not just be looked at in isolation.  

For example, sustainability is rapidly gaining consumer focus, so as hoteliers and Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) look to the future, there is a clear need for the travel sector to understand related guest expectations.  

To capture some of the most pressing trends in travel, Amadeus commissioned its 2022 Global Travel Agent Report with MarketCast, which garnered responses from over 1,000 travel agents in more than 60 countries about the current GDS landscape.   

Harness data to inform sustainability strategy

The Amadeus study revealed that only 7% of travel agents claim that the travellers they serve are unconcerned by the sustainability efforts of the travel companies with whom they’re booking.

This is supported by an investigation into the priorities of the travellers themselves, with sustainability moving up from sixth place in 2019 to fifth place in 2022.

Unsurprisingly, price and health and safety remain the highest priorities, but this steady movement of sustainability up the ranks suggests that now is the optimal time for hotels and DMOs to keep on working on this.

Another study from IHG Hotels & Resorts in 2021 adds further informative nuance to this landscape in uncovering the demographic most likely to prioritize sustainability during travels; whereas one third of 2,000 surveyed adults wanted to be more environmentally and socially conscious while traveling, this number rose to 41% for 18-24 year olds, with three quarters of the Gen Z demographic emphasizing the importance of staying somewhere eco-friendly.

With this data in mind, hoteliers and DMOs can begin to scale up their sustainability strategy by solidifying their own plans to target carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and by considering key target demographics when advertising on GDS platforms and on other direct channels.

Also, by understanding the correlation between demand and conversions, including lead time, DMOs are able to overcome seasonality. In this way, they can use air and accommodation data to promote the destination and target their campaigns during off-peak seasons.

Investigate innovative technologies

Data also provides hoteliers and DMOs with recommendations as to which technological innovations may be worth scaling up in the interest of achieving sustainable travel.

According to an Amadeus white paper on sustainable business travel, 78% of respondents said that technology would be effective in helping travel providers meet their sustainability goals. This survey also offered valuable insight into the types of technology that business travel leaders saw as key to enhancing their sustainability offering:

  • 55% said that implementing carbon emission dashboards is a priority sustainability measure
  • 46% said that introducing technology tools that measure sustainability is a priority sustainability measure
  • 28% of business travel providers rated their current ability to measure the sustainability of their travel as not very effective, with 57% labelling it only somewhat effective

Travel organizations are already beginning to introduce technology that can aid corporations in identifying their carbon footprint and actions that can be taken to reduce it. 

For example, Amadeus recently signed a deal with climate tech company CHOOOSE to implement an emissions calculations tool that can provide both corporate and consumer customers with accurate emissions figures for their travel, as well as ways in which they can mitigate their own carbon footprint.

By introducing technology that can help with a transition to sustainable travel, hoteliers, DMOs and other travel organizations can fill a gap within the business travel market by enabling them to measure and improve their sustainability efforts.

Identify opportunities to advance your sustainability offering

For hoteliers and DMOs, it is useful to understand where they fit within a travel landscape that is advancing its sustainability agenda. 

Business travel, for example, is an area in which sustainability efforts must be ramped up - as of 2021, just 35% of organizations had a sustainability policy that included business travel. 

This is despite business travel accounting for a considerable volume of a company’s carbon footprint; PwC identified business travel as its single largest source of emissions in spite of significant carbon footprint reduction efforts from the company. 

Catering to business travellers as well as leisure travlelers could therefore be an impactful segment of a travel organizer’s sustainability strategy. 

In the same IHG survey that identified 18-24 year olds as the demographic most interested in pursuing environmentally conscious travel opportunities, the typical adult in this demographic was also willing to spend up to 25% more on an eco-friendly holiday. 

Considering incentivization measures such as rewards schemes to go alongside sustainability tools may help hotels and DMOs to stand out within their competitive set while simultaneously prioritising sustainability. Finally, hoteliers could expand their partnership with mobility providers to allow travellers to recharge their electric cars at the hotel, maintaining this sustainability throughout the entire trip.

The interest in sustainability is likely to grow as global green agendas progress, and the increasing interest in sustainability by travel agents suggests that now is the time for hoteliers and DMOs to keep on adjusting their sustainability strategies to meet changing traveller expectations.