If many of us in the industry are passionate about sustainable travel, it is still a concept that is relatively unknown and misunderstood by travellers. They may have heard of it and formulated a judgement on what that means and whether it’s for them. They may want to “travel better” but not really know how to go about doing it. They may actively try to educate themselves so they can make better decisions. Or they may be, like you, extremely passionate and knowledgeable about it.
But the reality is that, as many travel businesses shift to a more sustainable approach, their audience isn’t always composed of those passionate advocates ready to embrace these new ways of travelling and thinking about their impact. I was having a conversation a while back with a frustrated travel business who felt like their audience just didn’t care about sustainable travel and didn’t seem to engage with that kind of content or request sustainable accommodation and experiences.
If you feel the same way, here are 5 tips to help you rethink how you talk about sustainable travel with your followers and how you can get them to resonate with what you’re trying to do:
Tip #1: Avoid jargon
Sustainable travel means different things to different people and so does the myriad of other words that have appeared in our vocabulary and that we use interchangeably to talk about that same common desire of wanting our travels to have a positive impact on people + planet. When we think about it from the traveller’s perspective, if they associate “sustainable accommodation” with a hostel in the jungle with no electricity for example, one must wonder whether it even makes sense to use the word sustainable to describe these places or experiences? Likewise, we often hear “we offset your carbon emissions.”. But again, you as a passionate sustainable business owner may know what this means but if the travellers in your audience don’t, this will mean very little to them and is unlikely to make them engage with you when you talk about that.
Tip #2: Talk about your why
If you expect travellers to feel inspired and compelled to change the way they travel, you, as a business, should be sharing your sustainability story. Why do you care? What was the moment when everything changed for you? What did you realise? What is your mission as a business? Your story is far more powerful than any buzzword.
Tip #3: Avoid facts & numbers
Similarly, utilising facts and numbers, unless put in perspective in a way that your followers can immediately understand and relate to, will lead to little results in terms of engagement as it just isn’t landing. Yes, your sustainable claims need to be quantifiable and based on facts for your customers to trust you but there is also a way to deliver that information on social media specifically so that it resonates. What does it actually mean?
Tip #4: Share stories
If you’ve already shared why you’re passionate about sustainable travel, it’s time to also share other people’s stories, whether it is travellers who travelled with you and had an aha moment, your partners on the ground or your team’s. Likewise, you may also want to look into ways you can share stories about the impact your business is having on a local community, on the environment…etc. Show some behind the scenes that show how each trip genuinely has an impact and what that impact is. Stories are more memorable than facts, numbers and claims.
Tip #5: Think about it from your audience’s perspective
Think about what your target audience cares about when they book a hotel, a trip or an experience and lead with that as you know this will get their attention, but infuse in that content how that particular property, tour or experience will also have a positive impact. To go back to our example of a luxury traveller who may think an eco-friendly property is a hostel in the jungle with no electricity, show them it does not have to be. Showcase properties doing great things that you know they will love and explain how they also get to have a positive impact when staying there. You are still providing the same information but in a way that is tailored to what you know your audience ultimately wants all the while slowly educating them about sustainable travel.
I would love to hear from you! Which of these tips do you find the most helpful? Do you have any you would like to add for tourism businesses who may be struggling with getting engagement on their sustainable initiatives on social media?
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