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Green Travel and B&Bs

April 1, 2007

by Kit Cassingham

Environmentally friendly hotels have avenues for promoting their environmental stewardship and attracting the environmental travelers who are seeking green lodging. Whether your guests, who have environmental issues on their mind when they travel, travel Europe, Mexico, or other parts of the world, sustainable tourism is on their mind. Team up with companies that specialize in promoting green travel to both of your benefits.

There is so much going on with the greening of the hospitality these days I am both energized and overwhelmed. It's great! Take a look at Green Lodging News this week to see me profiled -- it's always a kick to see your name in "print". This is a great weekly ezine promoting the greening of the hotel industry. Subscribe if you have any interest in expanding your environmental or hospitality knowledge.

So along those lines, I thought I'd present yet another reason you should consider operating a green B&B -- co-marketing with green travel groups to expand your marketing campaign. Be green and tell the world about it in as many ways as you can.

As you may know, I've been promoting environmentally sensitive operations in lodging, especially B&Bs, properties for years now. Two years ago I started a website listing environmentally friendly hotels, or green hotels. The site lists B&Bs, hotels, lodges, and the like, that take at least one significant green action. It's been a fun site to build, introducing me to a wide range of wonderful properties around the world.

There have been other benefits to me, benefits I want to share with you. The benefit is an educational and marketing tool for you. It seems to me that these benefits represent possibly untapped markets in the eco-tourism industry for you. They represent new partners for me in encouraging environmental action and stewardship by travelers, not just innkeepers.

I have known about two sites that promote and encourage eco-tourism and green travel for several years. And when I met the owner of a third site that advance the notion of environmental action in travel I decided it was past time to introduce you to them. My hope is that you will partner with them to further both your business and sustainable travel.

Better World Club (BWC) is the U.S.'s only environmentally friendly auto club. It's like the AAA of eco-travel. It's membership includes auto maintenance discounts, bicycle roadside assistance, discounts on hybrid car rentals, eco-travel services, free maps, and insurance services. Furthermore they donate one percent of its annual revenues toward environmental cleanup and advocacy, especially donating to carbon offsetting programs. BWC provides nationwide roadside assistance that focus on more than just being out to change tires. This is a good group to be associated with, from both a marketing and greening-of-the-hospitality-industry aspect.

Green Vacation Hub (The Hub) is good for businesses, travelers, and the planet. It works to link travelers with environmentally friendly hotels, especially accommodations that emphasize good health and green practices. The goal of Green Vacation Hub is to be the center of sustainable travel. They feel green travel demonstrates a real commitment to healthy living — for both businesses and travelers. You can live better, show your values, as well as conserve and preserve natural resources. Green travel reduces the environmental impacts of travelers and the growing travel and hospitality industry. This is a new site so isn't as populated with green hotels as other sites, but it's off to a good start, one you can further by joining. The Hub launched in March 2007, and they are steadily building membership. Green hotels that join now means can take advantage of the introductory rate, and can get in before their big summer marketing push to tourists.

Sustainable Travel International (STI) provides programs that help travelers and tourism businesses protect the cultures and environments of the planet, promotes eco-tourism and responsible travel, and supports sustainable development. Membership with this non-profit group helps them forward their cause of sustainable travel around the world. STI also offers a high quality carbon offset program, custom education and training programs, a certification initiative and much more. Make a difference in your business and the environment and join today.

Caveat: Guests coming to you from these sources are going to have high expectations of what environmental actions you take. Be sure to have your environmental plan as rounded and complete as possible. Promote your environmental policy on your website too. At the very least, if you take only one or two green actions, be sure you do those to your best ability. Feel free to use the checklist of green actions we track on my Environmentally Friendly Hotels site to help guide your choice of environmental steps to adopt, or to augment the steps you already take. Trying to slip into any of these as a marketing tool without being sincere, meaning you are green washing your inn, will create ire among faithful and vocal green travelers. That ire will cause backlash and your business will suffer. Be at least as green and environmentally sensitive as you say you are.

Working together, innkeepers and travelers can make the world a healthier place, and the guest experience will be a better one too. Be part of the green travel trend for a greener bottom line.




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