Travel and tourism is the largest economic sector in the world, contributing 10.3% of global GDP and accounting 1 in 4 new jobs worldwide. However, it is also one of the most polluting industries, accounting for 8% of greenhouse gases.
As travel businesses grow and evolve, so does their technology needs. For a travel business to thrive, it’s crucial to understand the environmental impact of their business and how we can build sustainable solutions to drive transformative change.
There are several ways in which travel businesses can drive transformative change by building sustainable technology solutions:
- Reduce paper use and adopt digital solutions
- Invest in green technology
- Use data analytics to optimize operations
- Partner with suppliers that prioritize sustainability
- Connect travelers with local communities using technology
Before we deep dive, lets understand more about sustainable travel.
What is sustainable travel business?
A business that operates in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible is a sustainable travel business. This includes minimizing negative impacts on the local community and environment, promoting cultural exchange, and understanding, and supporting local economies. Sustainable travel businesses often focus on providing unique and authentic experiences that allow travelers to connect with the local culture and natural environment in a meaningful way. Examples of sustainable travel businesses include eco-lodges, responsible tour operators, and sustainable transportation companies.
“A responsible travel company is one that has a clear environmental strategy, a social action plan, and a governance structure that embeds sustainability across the core business.”— JESKO NEUENBURG, Global Travel and Aviation Sustainability Lead – Accenture
1. Reduce paper use and adopt digital solutions
One way to make a travel business more sustainable is to reduce paper use and adopt digital solutions wherever possible. It could include using electronic ticketing and e-vouchers, adopting digital communication and collaboration tools.
There are several ways in which travel businesses can adopt digital solutions for a sustainable future:
- Online booking systems: Travel businesses can implement online booking systems that allow customers to book and pay for their travel arrangements electronically, reducing the need for paper tickets and other physical documents.
- Virtual tours: Travel businesses can offer virtual tours of their destinations, allowing customers to explore and learn about the destination before they even leave their home.
- E-newsletters: Travel businesses can send out e-newsletters to their customers, providing information about new destinations, special offers, and other updates. It reduces the need for paper-based marketing materials.
- Social media marketing: Travel businesses can use social media platforms to reach and engage with their customers, providing updates, photos, and other content that promotes sustainable travel.
2. Invest in green technology
Travel businesses can invest in green technology such as renewable energy sources, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and water conservation systems.
There are several ways that travel businesses can invest in green technology:
Invest in energy-efficient transportation: Travel businesses can invest in electric or hybrid vehicles for their transportation needs. It will not only reduce their carbon footprint but also save on fuel costs in the long run.
Use renewable energy sources: Travel businesses can invest in solar panels or wind turbines to generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
Implement green initiatives in their operations: Travel businesses can invest in water conservation measures, recycling programs, and sustainable waste management systems to reduce their environmental impact.
Promote eco-tourism: Travel businesses can invest in eco-friendly accommodations and activities that promote sustainability and preserve natural habitats.
Invest in carbon offset programs: Travel businesses can invest in carbon offset programs to offset their carbon emissions by supporting projects that reduce greenhouse gases or increase carbon sinks.
Overall, investing in green technology can not only reduces environmental impact but also improve their reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers.
3. Use data analytics to optimize operations
Data analytics can help travel businesses to optimize their operations and make more informed decisions about how to reduce their environmental impact in several ways:
Identifying patterns and trends in travel demand: Data analytics can help travel businesses understand the patterns and trends in travel demand, which can help them optimize their operations and reduce their environmental impact. For example, if data shows a high demand for eco-tourism, travel businesses can focus on offering more eco-tourism options to meet this demand.
Analyzing the carbon footprint of travel: Data analytics can help travel businesses understand the carbon footprint of their operations and identify areas where they can reduce their environmental impact. For example, they can use data to identify the most fuel-efficient routes and modes of transportation, or to identify opportunities to reduce their energy consumption.
Identifying opportunities for sustainability: Data analytics can help travel businesses identify opportunities for sustainability by analyzing data on the environmental impact of different destinations and accommodations. It can help them make more informed decisions about where to offer travel packages and how to reduce their environmental impact.
Monitoring the success of sustainability initiatives: Data analytics can help travel businesses monitor the success of their sustainability initiatives and identify areas where they can improve. For example, they can use data to track the impact of their initiatives on their carbon footprint and identify areas where they can make further improvements.
4. Partner with suppliers that prioritize sustainability
Travel businesses can also drive transformative change by partnering with suppliers prioritizing sustainability in their operations. It could include hotels with eco-friendly policies and practices, or transportation providers that use fuel-efficient vehicles.
Now, you may be thinking how to partner with travel technology suppliers that prioritize sustainability?
Here are some steps you can take to partner with travel technology suppliers that prioritize sustainability:
Research potential partners: Look for travel technology suppliers with a track record of sustainability and environmental responsibility. It may involve reading partner company’s mission statement, checking for any sustainability certifications or awards they have received, and reading reviews or case studies from clients.
Identify your sustainability priorities: Determine the sustainability priorities that are most important to your business. It may include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving resources, supporting local communities, or reducing waste.
Communicate your sustainability priorities: When reaching out to potential partners, communicate your sustainability priorities clearly. It will help ensure that the supplier is a good fit for your business and can help you achieve your sustainability goals.
Negotiate sustainability terms: During the negotiation process, be sure to discuss sustainability terms and conditions with your potential partner. This may include things like reducing energy consumption, using eco-friendly materials, or supporting local communities.
Monitor and review your partnership: Once you have established a partnership, monitor, and review the sustainability impact of your partnership. It may involve setting sustainability targets and tracking progress towards achieving them, conducting regular reviews of your partner’s sustainability performance, and adjusting as needed.
By following these steps, you can ensure that you are partnering with travel technology suppliers that prioritize sustainability and are committed to supporting the long-term health and sustainability of the travel industry.
5. Connect travelers with local communities using technology
Technology can be used to connect travelers with local communities and support sustainable tourism initiatives. This can help preserve local cultures and provide economic benefits to the communities.
Let’s understand how technology can support sustainable travel initiatives:
Online platforms and apps: Online platforms and apps can be used to connect travelers with local communities, businesses, and organizations that are committed to sustainable tourism practices. For example, travelers can use these platforms to book accommodations, tours, and activities with local providers committed to sustainable practices, such as eco-friendly accommodations and conservation-focused tour operators.
Social media: Social media platforms can be used to connect travelers with local communities and organizations working on sustainable tourism initiatives. For example, travelers can follow local tourism boards and organizations on social media to learn about sustainable tourism initiatives in the area and get recommendations for sustainable places to stay, eat, and visit.
Virtual and augmented reality: Virtual and augmented reality technology can be used to provide travelers with immersive experiences that allow them to learn about local cultures and communities in a more engaging and interactive way. For example, travelers can use virtual reality to take a virtual tour of a local village or learn about the history and culture of a community from the perspective of a local guide.
Sustainable Travel tech initiatives: Technology can also be used to support sustainable tourism initiatives directly. For example, hotels and accommodations can use energy-efficient appliances and systems, such as smart thermostats and LED lighting, to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Similarly, tour operators can use technology to track and reduce their impact on the environment by using GPS tracking to minimize their carbon emissions or using apps to monitor their water usage.
Sustainability in the airline industry
The airline industry has a significant impact on the environment, as air travel is a major contributor to climate change. However, there are steps to make the industry more sustainable:
Use of more fuel-efficient aircraft: Airlines can reduce their carbon emissions by investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. These planes burn less fuel per passenger, which reduces the amount of carbon emissions per flight.
Offsetting carbon emissions: Many airlines offer customers the option to offset their carbon emissions through carbon offset programs. These programs allow customers to pay a fee to offset the carbon emissions from their flight by investing in clean energy projects or carbon reduction projects.
Reducing waste: Airlines can reduce waste by using more sustainable materials for in-flight amenities, such as biodegradable cutlery and recycled paper products.
Investing in renewable energy: Some airlines have begun investing in renewable energy sources to power their operations. This includes using biofuels or solar panels to generate electricity.
Promoting alternative modes of transportation: Airlines can also encourage customers to consider alternative modes of transportation, such as trains or buses, for shorter distance travel.
For instance, Google Flights allows you to see the emissions for your flight. On the flight search results page, you can click on the “Eco” filter on the left side of the page.
This will show you the flights that have the lowest carbon emissions. The emissions data includes both the direct emissions from the flight as well as the indirect emissions from ground operations.
Once you select a flight, you can see the emissions for that specific flight by clicking on the “Eco” tab on the flight details page. This will show you the total emissions for the flight in kilograms of CO2, as well as the emissions per passenger.
It can be a useful tool for comparing the emissions of different flights and making more environmentally conscious travel decisions.
Travel businesses can educate customers about sustainability and encourage eco-friendly choices while traveling. This could include offering information about local conservation efforts or promoting activities with a low environmental impact.
Whether you’re a travel agency, a tour operator, an airline, or a hotel chain — if you’re relying on travelers for revenue, it’s essential for business owners to know your travelers and their inclination towards sustainable travel practices.
But how do you truly understand what motivates these travelers? As a travel tech solution provider, we at Techspian understand your needs and deliver an intuitive app experience for your customers.