So the UN has declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism for development. Tourism is responsible for 10% of the world’s GDP and has huge developmental potential for countries with limited exports but are rich in cultural and environmental experiences. 2015 saw 1.2 billion international travellers, it is time to take this growth seriously, ensuring it has positive rather than negative impacts.
The UN suggests that well designed and well-managed tourism can contribute to sustainable development and job creation. To make the year of sustainable tourism a success and make a profit while making a difference, responsible tourism needs to be engaging. So how do we do this?
Firstly, as a company, you need to be sure that responsible tourism makes business sense, that by including responsible policies you will make more money. The Harvard Business School found that companies that voluntarily invested in sustainable policies significantly outperformed companies that didn’t.
So now we have that out of the way, how do you tap into this market?
- Know your customer – Learn to listen to consumers. Social media enables consumers to talk directly to marketers. This helps demonstrate a meaningful wider purpose by determining what’s important to them.
- Discover that sense of purpose – People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
- Value proposition – This new sense of purpose must reflect what matters to your business.
- Developing stories – Creating experiences over products helps build communities around your company. Patagonia does this fantastically.
- Provide interesting content – If your stories are good and you have an interesting product you can spend less on messaging and media, your product will spread itself. Unilever is fantastic at developing content with a purpose.
- Don’t sell responsibility and sustainability – Work out how to make a responsible holiday a lot more appealing to customers. Tesla has made sustainability cool and better.
- Be transparent – Travellers are all too used to green washing.
- Don’t worry about getting it wrong sometimes – We are not perfect, welcome comments and discussion rather than fighting them. You can learn a lot, engage with your customers on a deeper level and improve your positioning.
This is just a basic overview and I welcome any further ideas that you may have…