In Need of Detailed Guidelines On How To Make A Sustainable Recovery?

Frida Kops   ● 8 min read
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When W. Clement Stone said, “big doors swing on little hinges”, he was referring to the premise that a culmination of small actions can trigger big change. 

I appreciate that your business priorities right now may be to generate cash flow and implement health and safety protocols… 

…However, I invite you to read Intrepid Travel’s “10-Step Quick Start Guide to Decarbonise Your Travel Business” and commit to taking one small action towards rebuilding the travel industry in a sustainable way.

“While the pandemic has crippled our industry, it has also provided us with the opportunity to reassess our actions and commit to being better. To use this time to challenge ourselves to emerge from this crisis better than we were before – more sustainable, more ethical and more responsible.” – James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel

The below is only a summary of the guidelines which I encourage you to read in full here.

Step 1: Understand how climate change is impacting your business.

  • Work with your stakeholders, employees and customers to evaluate what impact your tour operator business and value chain is having on climate change.
  • Watch the 2016 documentary with Al Gore,  An Inconvenient Truth, if you want to get a better understanding of what climate change is doing to the planet.

“A survey that Intrepid Travel carried out of several thousand global travellers revealed that  91% of travellers wanted them to take definitive action on climate change.”

Step 2: Build internal support.

  • In order to act on the data you’ve collected, it’s crucial that you get the buy-in, commitment and work of everyone in your travel company. 
  • Ways to engage employees across your tour operator business are:

– Holding educational webinars (these could be presented by external parties)

– Develop online learning resources.

Step 3: Define your project team.

  • If you have the resources, creating a dedicated team to pioneer decarbonisation and reduction strategies will ensure action is taken and it remains a priority.
  • If this isn’t possible, a third party could assist you with collecting environmental data and then over time you can build capacity internally. 
  • For example, Intrepid Travel used Australian based Ndevr Environmental to improve the monitoring and management of their environmental data.

Step 4: Declare a climate emergency.

  • Visit the Tourism Declares website to discover more about its initiative. So far, 109 travel organisations and professionals have pledged to come together to find solutions to the climate change emergency. 
  • The website has resources and information on what action your travel business can take to join.

Step 5: Develop a carbon management strategy (CMS).

  • Your strategy should encompass three parts:

1. Measure: Annual company emissions

2. Reduce: Opportunities to reduce your emissions

3. Offset: Ways to offset the unavoidable emissions.

Step 6: Measure your emissions (part 1 of your CMS).

  • Audit where your emissions are coming from, such as energy usage, waste and transport. Once you have clarity on the source, then you can determine how to limit them.
  • Intrepid Travel measures its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory in accordance with the global GHG Protocol.

Step 7: Reduce your carbon emissions (part 2 of your CMS).

  • Some examples that Intrepid Travel do are:

– Changing tour itineraries so travellers opt for buses or trains rather than flights.

– Encouraging travellers to choose accommodation that has fans instead of air conditioning.  

– Recycling office waste

– Choosing green energy power providers

– Limiting paper usage at every opportunity.

Step 8: Offset your carbon emissions (part 3 of your CMS).

  • Now that you’ve cut back carbon emissions as much as you can, become carbon neutral by buying carbon offsets. 
  • At 10x Tourism, we partner with the environmental charity, One Tree Planted.

Step 9: Report your emissions.

  • Not only is it important to be transparent about your efforts to decarbonise your tour operator business, but by reporting your results publicly, the accountability will help you improve your environmental performance.
  • Follow international guidelines to help you progress towards your targets. For example, the UN Global Compact.

Step 10: Set emission reduction targets

  • Intrepid Travel believes that having science-based GHG targets is fundamental for every business to become low-carbon. To find out more, the Science Based Targets initiative champions this.

“Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”

Considering the above, what stage do you feel your tour operator business is at and in what areas do you feel needs improvement?

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Here’s last week’s…

The pandemic has created threats to the environment and sustainability. Namely, from single-use plastic (masks, hand sanitisers etc.), the temporary closure of waste management systems and the suffering of local communities whose livelihood depends on tourism. I’ll take a closer look at best practices and case studies that encourage safe and sustainable travel. 

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

The Importance of Gen Z to Travel’s Recovery

This article gives an insight into Gen Z travel preferences and how these translate to opportunities for tour operators. 

Solo travel, awareness of environmental issues and the impact of their carbon footprint are most important for this generation. 

Tour operators can appeal to Gen Z in three ways: 

1. Connect them with local communities

2. Demonstrate your sustainable practices; and 

3. Ensure your website and booking platforms are mobile responsive. 

It’s worth noting that Gen Z are heavily influenced by the travel experiences of their friends on social media so seek to connect with tour operators on platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. 

How present is your tour operator business on these platforms?

Fuel Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Study Volume 8: Safety Still Top Concern

Source: Fuel Travel

This study takes a closer look at those who have taken a trip during covid-19 and their buying behaviour. 

Flexibility to change dates without penalty remains the top factor that would persuade those surveyed to book a future vacation during the pandemic.

Destinations with open spaces will be visited first, over densely populated areas or high-touch locations.


Which Of The Following Would Most Likely Persuade You To Book A Future Vacation During The Coronavirus Outbreak? (Check All That Apply)

Image Courtesy of Fuel

[CASE STUDY] Discover Africa Group Adapts to Domestic Tourism & Supports Local Communities

Source: YouTube

A couple of weeks ago, I put forward Why Now Is the Time for Travel Companies to Turn to Their Domestic Market so I wanted to share with you a case study of one of our 10x Tourism tour operator partners, Discover Africa, who are doing just that. 

Discover Africa believes very much in our approach to marketing: user-centric, adaptive, analytical, creative. And by taking this attitude, they have adapted during covid-19 whilst also helping the local community and domestic market. 

This South African travel company started their pandemic survival strategy four months ago by launching a side-stream digital agency – composed of their in-house team of digital marketers and web developers. 

Proving successful, they’ve now taken the opportunity to create a new platform, Deals 2 Discover, that compliments their core sites Drive South Africa and Discover Africa. 

But this time, pivoting their business model to exclusively help domestic tourism and their local community. 

Deals 2 Discover offers up to 70% discounted deals to South Africans only.

By doing so, it creates fresh opportunities for South Africans to explore and experience lodges which usually target foreign travellers due to their high price points – at a fraction of the cost.

Andre Van Kets, co-founder of Discover Africa says the main aim behind Deals 2 Discover is to get South African’s exploring once again, which will in turn give South Africa’s tourism industry a welcome boost.

“We really want to get all of you out there experiencing nature again and get all of these lodges operating again. Staff are desperate to earn an income, provide for their families and this is the chance for us to do it, and do it responsibly.”Andre Van Kets

Granted, it may not be possible for your travel business to discount its tours and experiences to attract a local market.  Yet, the key takeaway from this case study is this: by prioritising ways to creatively support local sustainable communities, Discover Africa stimulated cash flow for their own business and boosted domestic tourism. 

In what ways has your tour operator business had to be adaptive and creative? Please share your stories.

Here are my top-tip articles:

Recommendations For The Tourism Sector to Continue Taking Action on Plastic Pollution During Covid-19 Recovery

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have compiled this 12 page PDF as part of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative

It identifies two areas of concern stemming from the crisis: 

1. Increased demand for disposable, single use plastic; and

2. Many waste management systems yet to be fully operational again.

These combined have led to plastics being found in nature, posing a serious threat to the environment.

In this document, the UNWTO have outlined in detail 5 recommendations to fight against plastic pollution during the COVID-19 recovery. It also includes a helpful summary of the main takeaways for the members of the travel industry to digest and action. 

The 5 recommendations are:

1. Remove unnecessary plastic packaging and items to reduce cross -contamination touch points;

2. Develop robust cleaning and sanitization procedures that encourage the adoption of reuse models;

3. Evaluate the use of unavoidable plastic packaging and items, enquire about their recyclability and reassess needs on a regular basis; 

4. Engage suppliers, waste management providers and local governments to improve the effectiveness of actions, coordination and resilience;

5. Ensure open and transparent communication with staff and clients.

How to Use Instagram Tagging for More Exposure

Choosing the right hashtags can make a huge difference to your engagement and reach. This article discusses whether your tour operator business should use branded hashtags and location hashtags to build awareness. 

Ultimately, the key to success with hashtags is to continuously experiment and track the results. Does your tour operator business have a hashtag strategy?

The 5 Critical Elements for Local Marketing Success

If my previous 10xpress article on local marketing piqued your interest, then this article will help you break down how to make your website and tour operator business ready for domestic tourism. 

The five campaign elements are:

1. Listing management

2. Local SEO

3. Local landing pages

4. Travel business reputation management in terms of rating and reviews

5. Local advertising including social media and paid search. 

Read the full article to understand them in depth.

A statistic I found interesting:

In order to prevent global catastrophe and irreversible climate change by 2030, we must cut global greenhouse gas emissions 45% from 2010 levels. By 2050, we must reach net zero emissions to prevent a global warming increase of 1.5°C. (Intrepid Travel)

A question for you:

Are you finding that you need to create new landing pages or rebuild your website as a result of adapting to a covid-19 recovery?

Share your thoughts and comments on our Facebook and Linkedin page or drop me an email at [email protected] – I’d love to hear from you.

Did you enjoy reading the above?

The 10xpress is a weekly series curated exclusively for travel companies like you

Every week, I provide you with:

  • Reports, opinion, case studies and key findings that directly impact the tours and activities sector.
  • Educational articles to guide you through the changing world of online sales and marketing from industry leaders.
  • Tips and tools on how to improve your tour operator business, generate more sales and make your life easier.
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