Though current events are challenging the travel industry as we know it, it’s key that we keep an eye on the long-term outlook. Travel is fundamental to who we are. While it may take some time to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, the crisis will eventually end and people will travel once again – perhaps in a more meaningful way than ever before.
Travel has a profound ability to broaden our horizons, cultivate understanding, and open opportunities to connect, but it also has an impact on the destinations we travel to. We believe we have a responsibility to our planet and to make sure that impact helps protect those destinations, keeping them thriving for generations to come. Simply put, we want to make sustainable travel a choice everyone can make.
Committing to sustainable travel
Our approach to sustainability is holistic in that we recognize the importance of addressing environmental, social, and economic factors across the travel experience. Through responsible travel, we can conserve and celebrate the natural environment and biodiversity, strengthen local communities by ensuring the benefits of tourism are fairly spread across the communities of our destinations, preserve cultural heritage, and celebrate our intercultural differences. These pillars are far reaching, but can also be applied at the local level to address the niches and nuances that may be impacting a destination’s sustainability.
Sustainable travel has been high on our agenda for many years now, and brought to life through initiatives like the Booking Booster program. In the past three years, we’ve supported over 450 organizations that are focused on sustainability with funding, mentoring, through the Booking Cares volunteer program, and with our start-up and non-profit accelerators. Our animal welfare framework and collaborations with local governments have helped trigger positive action.
But in that time, we’ve also learned that sustainable travel means different things to different people, and the abundance of definitions and standards can be overwhelming for the industry and consumers alike. So that’s where we’re trying to help in 2021.
One way we’re spearheading this work is through embarking on new industry partnerships and initiatives like Travalyst, which we co-founded with the Duke of Sussex and Trip.com, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, and Visa. Collectively, our goal is to mobilize the travel industry as a catalyst for good, aiming to transform the future of travel for everyone.
Sustainability in accommodations
Data shows that our customers want more info and options for sustainable accommodations. In fact, 70% of global travelers would choose a specific accommodation if they knew it implemented sustainable practices. That’s why in 2020 we made a commitment to support you—our partners—to increase the positive impact of your operations, and by doing so making it easier for our customers to make sustainable choices. In addition to providing tools to help you improve your sustainability, we want to make it easier for you to share the measures you’re taking with customers.
After many months of research and experiments, we recently rolled out 32 new sustainability practices you can add to your property page. These practices are divided into five categories—waste, water, energy and greenhouse gases, supporting local communities, and protecting nature—that establish a solid foundation from which you can start engaging with sustainable practices while highlighting your current measures to guests. You can indicate the practices you carry out in the Extranet’s Facilities & Services section. The absence of any practices won’t be displayed to guests so you won’t be negatively impacted for not having all practices in place. Knowing this info will help us better understand where all of our partners are on their sustainability journeys.
For eco-certified partners who have already made great progress, we now display sustainability certification info for properties accredited or recognized by Green Tourism, EU Ecolabel, and GSTC. It’s also possible for eligible chains to highlight their sustainability programs.
Along with these developments, we recently launched Sustainability – A Hospitality Handbook, a comprehensive resource designed to guide you through initiatives like how to reduce your water or energy consumption. The guide will evolve as we continue on our path toward more sustainable travel experiences. Throughout, we’ll continue to collaborate with industry experts, sustainability specialists, and you—our partners—to help deliver the right info and opportunities for learning.
Whether your property has had sustainability best practices at its core since day one or you’re just taking your first steps toward introducing new initiatives, there’s plenty of ideas and initiatives that will help make our vision for sustainable travel a reality. Even the smallest steps can make a difference to the environmental and social impacts of travel. This is a crucial moment for the industry to work together toward the systemic changes that will help make sustainable travel available to everyone.
- Our research shows that 70% of global travelers would choose a specific accommodation if they knew it implemented sustainable practices.
- We’re continuing to support sustainable travel by embarking on new industry partnerships and initiatives like Travalyst
- We recently rolled out 32 new sustainability practices that partners can add to their property page
- We also created the Sustainability – A Hospitality Handbook, a comprehensive resource designed to guide partners through sustainability initiatives