We ended our last section with concern from conservationists about tourism in Antarctica and therein lies a dilemma for the leisure industry. 1% of the world’s carbon emissions are created by the hotel industry. Sustainability is a genuine concern but the reality is many travellers care a lot more about other features hotels offer that really determine their booking preference. Research is equally paradoxical. A recent survey suggests that 52% of global travellers are now likely to choose a hotel and destination based on its social or environmental impact. The survey of 32,000 travellers from Booking.com also indicated they are three times more likely to book ‘green’ or environmentally-friendly accommodations in 2015 than they were in 2014. There is also a clear connection with the high end traveller and sustainability, with 50% more likely to book luxury in 2015 than they did last year.
However as hotels look to improve their green credentials any direct correlation between environmentally friendly accommodation and increased bookings isn’t clear. A new research paper by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research shows that booking revenues neither increased nor decreased for green-certified hotels. The study examined data from Sabre’s Travelocity site, using flags on hotels that have been awarded any of a dozen environmental certifications. So while there certainly seems to be an appetite from guests for environmentally friendly hotels, price certainly still seems to be an important factor in whether or not a booking is made.
If you are interested in finding out whether a hotel is environmentally friendly, GreenHotelWorld has a Green Rating algorithm that helps travellers select from 130,000 hotels based in 107 countries on their certified green practices. If a certified hotel can’t be found the site will suggest an ‘ordinary’ hotel and compensate by donating the equivalent amount of euros to the CO2 spent per night to a climate protection charity.
The Cruise industry is drawing on the social conscience of a particular demographic of customer by marketing cruises as a way to volunteer. Carnival Corp. are marketing cruises in 2016 for young people to volunteer rather than purely for leisure. The cruise company using a new brand, fathom, hope to encourage a different age spectrum of guests – the current average age of cruise passengers is 49 – and those who have never been on a cruise before. The first cruise will be a seven-day journey from Miami to the Dominican Republic. The 700 passengers on the dedicated ship will get basic Spanish lessons and other training en route and can choose activities on arrival that include teaching English and building water filters.
The non-profit Magdas Hotel in Vienna meanwhile is helping guests focus on positive implications around a social issue, namely refugees. Guests share their stay with young refugees who have fled their homes from hunger, war or terrorism. The hotel also employs refugees from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and 11 other countries who speak 25 languages. Magdas acknowledges that it is not uncommon for hotels to employ housekeepers from different parts of the world but it’s less common for hotels to encourage guests to get to know them. Guests are encouraged to develop a real feel for the social impact. Two suites at the hotel house asylum-seekers under 18 who have no family in Austria. Interest in the approach is being shown in other European cities such as Berlin and Amsterdam.
A coffee roastery in London adopts similar principles. Old Spike Roastery produces great coffee and prides itself on its social enterprise values. It focuses on helping the local homeless population in their neighbourhood in London by providing them with high quality jobs. Interestingly, the shop’s socially oriented spirit has roots in its name and location. Old Spike is located in what used to be a local workhouse stemming from the 1800s which provided jobs and housing for homeless people. It was known locally as ‘The Spike’ – named after the tool that workers would use to crush rocks.
It’s probably about time you got ‘on your bike’. Worry not though if you don’t have one, you can just jump on the back of someone else’s. Yellow Backie is an initiative based in Amsterdam that encourages visitors to adopt the Dutch custom of ‘Backie’ – i.e. getting a ride on a fellow cyclist’s luggage rack. You just need to look out for Backie Drivers who have bikes with bright yellow luggage racks. If you spot one – you shout ‘Backie!’ and jump on. Hope you enjoyed the read. See you again soon. Right, BACKIE!
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