Corporate Social Responsibility & The Travel Industry: Current Trends

travel csr
Credit: C. Cagnin, Pexels

Sustainable travel is talked about more and more as the impacts of climate change become more evident. Being ecologically friendly is no longer just for a fringe group of businesses. Today, consumers demand it, and if they don’t find it in one place, they’ll surely find it elsewhere. Responsible businesses have a leg up in terms of standing out in a sea of endless options.

Today there are expectations for corporate responsibility in the travel industry. Hotels and resorts must be truly eco-friendly — not just market themselves that way without delivering. Responsible sourcing, sustainable supply chain management, and integration into local communities should all be considered.

Truly sustainable businesses should live up to their ecological promises, have a long-term sustainability goal and a plan for achieving it, and give back to the communities in which they exist. The lack of even one of these things could put a business behind and detract from its competitiveness on the market.

Meeting Sustainability Standards

Today’s sustainability standards have surpassed simply recycling and planting a tree once a year. Consumers today are demanding local food, responsible sourcing of materials and services, ethical employment and hiring practices, and more. The best practices for pursuing an eco-friendly lifestyle — like turning off electronics when not in use, minimizing the use of heat and air conditioning, and going paperless — should be bare minimums for eco-resorts and sustainable hotels today.

The Hilton Hotel chain, for example, created and met their own sustainability standards that helped them move toward green energy and reduce water consumption by 10% and waste by 20%.

As more and more people seek out sustainable travel options, it’s important for businesses to practice corporate social responsibility and be both transparent and high-achieving in their goals and practices. The last thing a business wants is a scandal highlighting how its practices don’t line up with how it presents itself to the public.

A socially and environmentally responsible business should employ local people, source local food and materials whenever possible, limit waste, use non-toxic cleaning supplies, have a composting system, and do away with single-use plastics.

Achieving Long-Term Sustainability

Writing, developing, and implementing a long-term sustainability plan is one of the most important parts of carrying out corporate social responsibility in the travel industry. It’s great to choose reusable cups today, but knowing how to respond to tomorrow’s challenges is imperative if businesses want to truly be a part of positive change.

Whether pledging to raise awareness about an environmental issue, reaching a long-term goal of reducing waste, or something else entirely, sustainable schemes, such as those used in the coffee industry today, can really help a business live up to its ecological promises. It’s one thing for a business to say it is socially responsible; it’s another for it to actually be socially responsible.

Alaska Airlines is a great example of a business that takes sustainability to heart. By running a composting system for onboard coffee cups and having a long-term plan to move toward sustainable aviation biofuel, Alaska Airlines shows that it’s committed to the future of a healthy, green planet.

When it comes to evaluating long-term sustainability, a business should examine its treatment and care for employees, environmentally friendly practices, energy-efficient technology use, and adaptability for future needs. A hotel, for example, can demonstrate its dedication to a cause by consulting with experts in the field of sustainability when it doesn’t know how to deal with specific environmental issues.

Looking ahead to the future is key. Because the environment is always changing, both socially and ecologically, businesses must be willing to adapt in order to stay abreast of current trends and demands of the market.

Making a Positive Impact on Local Communities

Getting involved in a positive way in the local community is extremely important for a socially and environmentally friendly business. If a business can give back to its local community, then it clearly has long-term sustainability in mind.

A sustainable business will work with its local community instead of against it. It will work to integrate itself into the culture and customs of a place rather than stomp all over it. Cultivating positive relationships with local people is one of the most important things a business can do.

Working on outreach in a local community and gathering feedback is a surefire way to get a clear picture of how a business is viewed by those who live in the place the business inhabits. Gathering employee feedback is another great way to judge the effectiveness of social responsibility efforts.

It’s clear that corporate social responsibility goes far beyond providing safe working conditions and asking people to recycle. Sustainable travel is becoming more and more important to consumers. Businesses must rise to the challenge.

By meeting and surpassing sustainability standards, having a long-term plan for sustainability (both social and environmental), and fostering a positive relationship with local communities, businesses can achieve corporate social responsibility. The more businesses that do this, the more lesser-motivated businesses will be forced to adapt and keep up with the current demands.