Africa Travel Week

Three ways to promote sustainable travel

Nick Ball offers insights into how your travel brand can promote sustainability in different ways to match your customers’ personal values.

As the sustainable travel sector continues to grow, more and more travellers are seeking out holiday experiences that align with their own values on sustainability. For some travellers, this could be as simple as reducing their use of plastics on holiday, while others choose to take a more holistic approach to all areas of their holidaying experiences – from what they take to where they stay – so ensuring you’re well-prepared to accommodate this will help future-proof your travel business both this year and beyond.

Relevant to restaurants, hoteliers and even private property owners, looking to source your food, furniture and other amenities locally will undoubtedly reduce the negative environmental effects that the transporting of such goods creates. By ensuring you look to work with local suppliers – whether this is in regards to food or furnishings – you’ll work to reduce the distance your items need to travel to get to you, eliminating transport costs and CO2 emissions in the process. As an added by-product, using local suppliers could also help to build a better rapport with those in the immediate area, bolstering your business’ reputation and brand awareness.

Be sure to let your guests know where such goods have come from and their relation to where they’re staying – making travellers feel more welcome and at one with their holiday environment. By locally sourcing items close to where you offer your services, you’ll be investing in the area and future-proofing both it and your business (indirectly) as a result – all while doing your bit to promote an eco-friendly ethos to visitors and residents alike.

Where possible, try to actively reduce your consumption of single-use plastic within your business. For example, if you’re a tour operator regularly taking groups of tourists for long scenic walks in the wilderness, be sure to prompt them to bring their own, reusable water bottle ahead of the trek. Conversely, for those who didn’t get the memo, start your trip off at a local shop that sells such items – encouraging your tour members to buy a reusable water bottle while giving back to the local community.

For hoteliers on the other hand, instead of leaving complimentary toiletries in your guests’ room which they’re likely to throw away once used up, provide visitors with reusable bottles which they can ask you to refill when in need of a top up. By buying toiletries in this wholesale nature, not only are you likely to save money, but you’ll be reducing your plastic waste and encouraging travellers to think about their own waste output, too.

While providing fully catered services might make your accommodation stand out as the ultimate holiday getaway to prospective travellers, making the move to self-catered accommodation will encourage your guests to be more sustainably conscious during their trip away. So, whether you’re renting out a luxury Lanzarote villa or your guest house has a self-service kitchen area that your guests can make the most of out, by allowing your visitors to choose how they use water, local ingredients, heating and air conditioning you’ll be taking an active part in helping to reduce theirs (and your business’) environmental impacts.

In addition to this, for those of you offering a self-catered accommodation, that’s not to say that you can’t offer a transportation service to ensure your visitors are well looked after and content with your overall services. By working with other hotels and independent accommodation providers in the area, you’ll be able to offer group airport transfers that reduce carbon emissions compared to multiple taxi journeys while retaining customer satisfaction value too.

Still considered a niche market, sustainable travel is a rising trend worth investing time, money and effort into to attract a new generation of consumers that are likely to become the norm in coming years. So, wherever possible, it’s important to adapt your travel business to suit their needs and those of the wider planet – helping you to build your brand for longevity while doing your bit to reduce your business’ carbon footprint in the process.

Nick Ball

Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas, who specialise in the rental of luxury holiday villas in Lanzarote’s southern resort, Playa Blanca – offering affordable luxury accommodation in one of the island’s fastest growing resorts.