The Prince Harry-founded coalition and partners Google and booking.com joined slow travel start-up Byway on stage at the conference in Amsterdam
Phocuswright Europe: 'We're bringing sustainability to the mass market', says Travalyst boss
The Travalyst collation is bringing sustainability to the mass market by providing a platform to the industry that everyone can use for free, the group’s chief told Phocuswright Europe.
Sally Davey, chief executive of the initiative founded by Prince Harry three years ago this September, said what it is trying to do is a first for the sector.
Travalysts’s founding partners included Skyscanner, Booking.com, Ctrip and TripAdvisor, alongside credit card giant Visa.
Following its official launch in Amsterdam in 2019, it has brought Expedia and Google, and the search giant and Skyscanner have announced they will display its flight emissions data.
Davey said non-competitive collaboration is crucial to provide reliable information to the mass market so they can make more environmentally friendly choices.
“We are bringing together for the first time some of the biggest names in the industry to work on a non-competitive coalition. To bring sustainability to the mainstream of travel requires collaboration. This is a first for the sector.
“We have to find ways to compromise and find that middle ground to achieve our goals for the resilience of the sector. There have been thousands of initiatives that have tried to scale, define and report what sustainability means.
“Our partners are working on reporting that information to millions, if not billions, of customers.” Davey said Travalyst is continuing to talk to Iata as well as many other travel associations in the aviation sector.
“Everyone has the same ambition to create full alignment. Everyone knows it does not help consumers to have tonnes of different ways to collect data.
“There are existing initiatives and roadmaps and we are working actively to align with those. We are making this model free and open to everybody. There is real opportunity for engagement with everybody.”
Sebnem Erzan, head of travel sustainability at Google, said: “The most important thing is sustainability is not a challenge we can tackle alone. That’s why we are part of the coalition.
“We are trying to change consumers’ behaviour towards more sustainable choices. Just providing more information does not make sense for the users.
“We are exploring ways to make it more human in terms of what we can say. The most important thing is it should be realty consistent across platforms where they plan trips.”
Booking.com already has 120,000 properties that display sustainability badges having been verified by the OTA.
Danielle D’Silva, Booking’s head of sustainability, said the firm is working with hotel and destination partners to help them understand the most impactful measures they can take.
And she said they can then communicate that to consumers. “What we can do is to show that back to consumers in a way that’s trustworthy so our partners get recognition for it.”
Cat Jones, founder and chief executive of non-flight OTA Byway, said standardisation of messaging on carbon footprints is important.
But she said the industry must take responsibility for highlighting more than that for people looking for travelling experiences that are more connected to destinations and sustainable.
“It’s challenging to do that when you are a really big company. What I would love to see is experimental storytelling that brings to life some of these things.”
Jones added: “There’s a groundswell of consumer sentiment. It was coming before the pandemic but it has been accelerated by the pandemic.
“There is a real desire there for people to travel in a connected way, a slower way and in short-haul to fly less.
“This is not just niche, it’s your normal, average mainstream person looking for this kind of stuff.
“If we can tap into these big platforms we can as an industry do more to put this under their noses.”
Davey said the travel sector must be “rowing in the same direction” in terms of investing in ambitious decarbonisation lans, but she said the agenda is broader than that.
“Sustainability is ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance], it’s not just environmental. A lot of natural eco-systems are protected by local communities.
“We should not lose sight of that when we pick a particular project to invest in. I have not seen anything like this before.
“There has been tonnes of effort, but nothing that’s truly cut through to the mainstream. It all starts with the underlying data piece. Without that nothing else can happen.
“This is not just a fly by night initiative, it’s a fundamental change of these businesses and how their platforms work.”
Travalyst was founded for an initial three-year period. Davey said it is looking to bring in more partners, including travel technology companies as it prepares to renew its charter.