Climate change, environmental sustainability, and our changing world are always in the headlines as of late. Which means for your campers, sustainability is also top of mind. Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report proves just that and reveals how travelers are approaching their vacations with this in mind. According to the 2023 Sustainable Travel Report, “65% of Travelers would feel better about staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification or label.” On top of that, 74% also want travel companies to offer more sustainable travel choices (up from 66% in 2022). But where do you start? How do you communicate your sustainability efforts? Or where do you begin with implementing sustainable practices at your park? You’re in the right place.
It’s a tale of two wallets, but we can meet both customers.
“Over three quarters (76%) of travelers say they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months, while the same amount thinks the global energy crisis and rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. For some travelers, the two are mutually exclusive. With rising inflation, nearly half of travelers are stuck in the notion that they must make a choice between sustainability and spending, with 49% believing more sustainable travel options are too expensive (up 11% from Booking.com’s 2022 data). For these respondents, sustainability and travel combined can seem non-urgent when they are worried about affording bills and the energy crisis. On the flip side, with travel well and truly back for others and a more urgent focus on conscious choices, 43% of today’s travelers would be willing to pay more for travel options with a sustainable certification, dialing up their spending to feel reassured they are driving impact.”
Suffice it to say that when it comes to the Outdoor Hospitality Industry, we’re poised to offer a solution for both issues. For the 43% willing to pay more, consider them when you’re considering upgrades and amenities to add to your park. If it’s helping your park offer a more sustainable travel option, and you’re communicating that to your customers then they’ll likely be willing to pay the extra cost for accommodations to support those practices. For those who feel that sustainable travel is out of budget, remind them of the affordability and natural low-environmental impact that camping and glamping have.
Don’t humble brag. Just brag.
Businesses that promote sustainability are becoming more and more appealing. But, despite good intentions, 44% of travelers don’t know where to find sustainable travel options.” And that’s where you come in. It ain’t easy being green, so if you are then you need to tell the world. But be ready to back it up when visitors come to your park. “With one in four (39%) travelers today not trusting that the sustainable travel options labeled are truly more sustainable, there are huge strides for the […] industry to make in gaining the trust of consumers.”
Give visitors the opportunity to choose sustainability.
“While sightseeing, 43% of travelers plan to walk, bike, or take public transit—up by 10% from 2022.” If you don’t already, consider offering offer bike rentals or tips on the best walking routes. If you do already, consider encouraging guests to utilize these amenities to cut down on emissions from traditional vehicles. (Don’t forget National ARVC members get access to exclusive discounts on QuietKat e-bikes, which is a perfect alternative transportation.)
When traveling, 55% of people use their own reusable water bottles. And if they don’t bring it, they’ll likely be searching for one. So, make sure your store has a reusable bottle option and that you’ve got a way for visitors to refill those bottles.
But what if we don’t have any sustainability practices in place yet? Lucky for you, the National ARVC Plan-It Green program can help you do just that. You can become a Plan-It Green Friendly Park by meeting at least nine of 16 eco-friendly criteria that relate to conservation and recycling. (Check and see, you might already be doing these!)
Once you earn this designation, you can apply for the Plan-It Green Friendly Parks of the Year Awards of Excellence and add to your collection of sustainable certifications to tout.
While these might seem like small changes, together they can make a big difference. Having an Outdoor Hospitality industry that’s more sustainable means working together to preserve the great outdoors that we know and love. It means meeting the expectations of the growing number of more conscious consumers. If we all play our part, there will be plenty more Earth Days ahead to celebrate.