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Expedia Group’s Sustainable Tourism Research

May 7, 2022

Sustainable Tourism Research

Travelers are increasingly seeking out meaningful and conscientious travel experiences, according to sustainable tourism research conducted by Expedia Group in February and March of 2022.The travel and tourism marketing research presents new findings on consumer attitudes toward incorporating sustainability into their travel planning. Not only are travelers searching for and booking more sustainable options, they’re also identifying opportunities to improve their impact on the destinations and communities they visit.

Sustainable Travel is More Than Tree Hugging

It’s important to note that Expedia Group’s sustainable travel survey uses a nuanced definition of “sustainable travel.” 

Historically, sustainable travel has focused on ecological impacts. Whether it’s protecting natural resources or empowering travelers to recycle, sustainable travel has largely been a synonym for ecotourism.

In recent years, however, travelers have sought more authentic experiences. For example: learning to make pasta from scratch with a Nona in Tuscany, or taking a voodoo tour of New Orleans led by a Mardi Gras Indian. 

These experiences can certainly be memorable and fun, but more importantly, they’re respectful and supportive of the local culture. Travel and tourism marketing that highlights these experiences can help communities prosper, as money is more likely to stay local instead of flowing out through multinational brands and chains.  

Questions and responses related to these conscientious cultural choices are expressed in the survey questions and responses.

Expedia Group’s Sustainable Tourism Research Findings

Expedia Group’s sustainable tourism research was conducted by Wakefield Research in February and March 2022. 11,000 representative consumers from 11 countries participated in the survey. A recent post from Expedia Group focused on key findings for travel marketers from participants on past and future attitudes, behaviors, and values around sustainability in travel.

Finding #1: Consumers Are Looking for Sustainable Travel Options and Turning to Trusted Resources for Guidance

Being a sustainable traveler can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Nine in 10 of those surveyed said they want to travel sustainably, though 70% reported feeling overwhelmed in starting the process of sustainable travel. Many people turn to trusted travel resources, including DMO websites, for inspiration, guidance, and clarity to inform their decisions. 

Finding #2: The Price of Sustainable Travel  

Shifting the value proposition mindset is an opportunity for travel brands. Most participants, 74%, said sustainable travel practices were too costly. Also, half of participants said they would be willing to pay more for transportation, activities, and lodging if the option was more sustainable. Consumers were most willing to spend more on food, activities & experiences, and transportation .

Participants also indicated that they are willing to make tradeoffs to lessen their environmental impact. Nearly 70% of participants said they would be willing to sacrifice convenience to be a more sustainable traveler.  

Finding #3: Opportunities in Sustainable Travel  

Communicating the right information to travelers interested in sustainable travel is an opportunity for tourism brands. Content like recommendations for locally owned businesses and restaurants at or near a destination, and options for transportation options that lower environmental impact (45%) resonated with those surveyed. 

The data also showed opportunities for an integrated sustainable travel content marketing strategy. As mentioned above, 7 out of 10 consumers feel overwhelmed during the planning process. Listings or information pages on travel sites were the leading content formats, as identified by 54% of participants. Travel shows, video content, reviews from other travelers, and advertisements were also preferred.

Sustainable Travel Research Key Takeaways

The survey concludes with three primary takeaways from Expedia Group:

  • Clarity: “Sustainable travel information can be overwhelming and confusing. Make it easy to understand, leverage visual formats, and show clear impact.”
  • Authenticity: “Consumers want to know (and see) that travel brands are committed to sustainability, not just checking a box. Back up messaging with proof points and data.”
  • Value: “Consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable travel options. Illustrate the value and positive impact of making more conscientious choices.”

Destination Marketing Should Go Deeper and Differently

With nine in 10 participants saying they look for sustainable options when traveling, destination marketing for DMOs and other travel brands have an opportunity to capture the attention of travelers in the planning stages of their trips. 

Travel and tourism content marketing that features the sustainable tourism elements of the destination can help travelers feel less overwhelmed and more empowered. 

Need help navigating sustainable tourism for your destination? Contact us.

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