31 Oct

New ABTA guide helps agents and operators identify and sell more sustainable holidays

As research reveals consumers are willing to pay more for a holiday that benefits the environment

ABTA – The Travel Association today launches a new guide: “How to Sell Better Places” to help frontline staff of ABTA Members sell and talk about sustainability.

The guide explains what makes a holiday more sustainable and helps ABTA Members identify holidays within their existing range that may have sustainability benefits. It profiles different types of customers and holidays and what is most likely to motivate them with regards to sustainability. It also includes tips on how to sell the benefits of sustainability to consumers in a manner that is appealing and engaging as well as explaining the business benefits of selling more sustainable holidays.

There is a strong business case for travel agents and tour operators to sell holidays that benefit local environments and communities. Not only is it critical to preserving destinations and the industry’s long term future but selling more sustainable holidays can also benefit the bottom line and give customers a better experience.

Research from ABTA* shows that one in five (21%) consumers are prepared to pay more for a holiday with a company that has a better environmental and social record. This has increased from 17% in 2010, suggesting there is a growing opportunity for travel businesses.  The reason that some consumers are willing to pay more is that they may recognise that a more sustainable holiday is often also a better holiday. Research** also suggests that customers who stay in a hotel with good sustainability credentials or go on an excursion that benefits the local community often rank their experience more highly than customers that don’t. Selling more sustainable holidays may therefore help build customer loyalty and increase positive reviews.

For tour operators that own hotels, encouraging consumers to stay in their more energy efficient properties also helps keep costs down.

Many travel professionals may be unsure as to what exactly what makes one holiday more sustainable than another and how to sell the benefits to a consumer who just wants to relax.

Nikki White, ABTA Head of Destinations and Sustainability said: “Holidays that are more sustainable are often associated with camping or staying in an eco-lodge. But this guide is not about selling niche product; it’s about identifying the sustainability benefits within your existing range of holidays. Hotels that promote local excursions to really see the destination or which encourage visitors to try local restaurants and produce can show a commitment to sustainability. This guide highlights what frontline staff should look for in the products they sell and how they can sell the benefits of more authentic and sustainable holidays to their customers. For example rather than making a holidaymaker feel guilty by talking about a hotel’s energy usage, talk to them about how the hotel sources all of its food locally to make sure its fresh and tastes better.”

The guide is available for ABTA Members to download in the Member Zone.

*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2013. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2013.

** TUI Travel PLC research shows that 85% of customers who stayed in a Travelife-awarded hotel rated it more highly than the average hotels. More information here: http://www.tuitravelplc.com/sustainability/in-focus/business-case-sustainable-tourism