Three years into the pandemic, travel has returned in a big way, and more and more people are planning “revenge” trips, making up for lost time. Issues like overcrowding, fragile infrastructure and dissatisfied local residents with anti-tourist mindsets are real life problems for popular destinations. This means it’s time to consider how to both educate and promote sustainable practices in your community, so travelers can reduce their carbon footprint while vacationing.
With eco-friendly tourism top of mind, sustainable travel is an opportunity to showcase the actions and protocols your destination has in place to support the planet. Now is the time to be transparent about the topic of sustainability in your destination. Get started with these four earth-friendly tips and insights:
- Market ‘green’ activities in your destination
Visitors and those in the trip planning process have become more conscious of traveling “better” and are looking for environmentally-friendly opportunities during their vacations. According to the Global Sustainability Study 2021, conducted by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, 85% of consumers have become more aware of a brand’s commitment to sustainability when making purchasing decisions. To create awareness of sustainable practices in your destination, use your owned channels to spread the word. Verdin worked with destination marketing organization Visit Camarillo to create a “5 Ways to Travel Sustainably in Camarillo” blog, which included tips on using public transportation while on vacation, shopping local and getting outdoors to hike, bike, and volunteer with organizations that support sustainable practices. Promoting sustainable opportunities in your destination attracts like-minded travelers and gives a transparent view of how your community is being proactive in tackling these issues.
2. Provide resources for local volunteer opportunities
Volunteering while on vacation is one of the fastest growing travel trends. From beach clean-ups to adopt-a-highway programs, local preservation activities are regularly offered in most communities to both locals and travelers alike. Visit California created a “Voluntourism Vacations in California” blog to encourage travelers to add volunteer activities to their next trip itinerary.
- Consider creating your own itineraries for travelers and a landing page on your website with resources and links to local organizations, fun facts, local “green” initiatives and eco-friendly opportunities within your destination.
- Include Visit California’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. travel code to encourage visitors to be conscientious and respectful about keeping California clean and green.
3. Use the power of social media
Have you ever picked a vacation spot based on a post or story you saw on social media? Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Tik Tok are increasingly used by consumers to make travel decisions. These channels also provide a means for marketers and travelers to speak to the authenticity of the destination by sharing their own travel experiences. Here are some examples of using social media to create a positive impact:
- Create a unique hashtag and encourage followers and destination partners (ex. hotels, tour operators) to use it on their own channels to show off the natural beauty of your location, “green” or “eco-friendly” activities.
- Partner with eco-conscious influencers to reach a targeted audience
- Identify local “green” businesses and organizations then partner for social giveaways or highlight them in your content
- Use Pinterest boards to showcase “green” activities and practices
- Create shareable reels and stories speaking to the natural environment and beauty of your location
4. Create a sustainability challenge
Another way to encourage “green tourism” is with a sustainability challenge, putting together a scavenger-hunt type adventure for visitors.
- Design a custom map or virtual checklist that includes an eco-friendly, step-by-step adventure in your destination. Have visitors start off their journey on public transportation (ex. a train ride along the coast), followed by activities like a visit to a local farm or farmers market
- Include local restaurants and shops that source products locally.
- Partner with local hotels, businesses and tour operators to offer discounts. Consider a special discount code to use with bookings (Ex. Sustainable wineries, whale watching tours, bike rental companies, rideshare companies, etc.).
- Sprinkle in outdoor activities like a scenic hike or tour of a botanical garden.
- Encourage social media posts with a dedicated hashtag for engagement and to source user-generated content
Verdin is here to help you perfect your marketing strategy! If you need more information or have any questions about sustainability marketing, feel free to email [email protected].