Some 60% of leisure travellers in the US say they are “sustainable travellers” – those concerned with how their travel impacts everything from a destination’s local economy to the environment.
The findings come from a January 2016 poll of nearly 2,300 US adult travellers, conducted by US market research firm Mandala Research. According to the research, respondents who self-identify as sustainable travellers are between 38 and 57% more likely to book travel with brands based on their sustainable practices, compared to 11 to 21% of those who did not identify as sustainable travellers.
However, nearly two-thirds (64%) of travellers were unsure of what “sustainability” meant when unaided by definitions. Potential meanings for the term ranged from ideas about brands “helping to conserve national areas and wildlife and minimise damage to them”, to travel companies “respecting and enhancing the heritage, culture, traditions and distinctiveness of communities”.
While consumer demand for sustainable travel is strong, 65% of “sustainable travellers" and 72% of “non-sustainable travellers”, respectively, said they are sceptical of a brand’s sustainability claims.
For mainstream travel companies, it can be difficult to connect with conscious consumers, define sustainability and stay true to claims without ‘greenwashing’ – while honouring existing brand narratives.
To learn how corporate social responsibility has evolved from a badge of honour for companies to a basic consumer expectation, read Doing Good. For brands seeking to resonate with sustainable consumers without undergoing a brand overhaul, read Marketing Sustainability.