According to a study conducted by Mandala Research, 60 percent of US leisure travelers consider themselves “sustainable travelers”. These travelers say they are concerned with how their travel impacts everything from a destination’s local economy to the environment.
But, the study also found that 64% of survey respondents were unsure of what sustainability means when unaided by any definitions; another 68% feel “skeptical” about organization’s claims to sustainable practices.
So, how do we deal with this very interesting information at the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, where our brand promise is highly focused on sustainability?
We are excited that so many people seem to care about sustainability. Those numbers are probably significantly up from 1995 when the founders of Cayuga started our first sustainability program in Costa Rica.
Realizing that people don’t understand what sustainability means, we need to work harder on educating them before and during their stay with us. We found that, especially in the US, most people think of sustainability in terms of energy savings but don’t necessarily take the human factor into account. Two ways how we educate guests:
- Detailed information on our websites about our sustainability practices. For example here.
- At all of our hotels and lodges we offer a complimentary back of the house tour where explain all our sustainable efforts and practices.
We need to help people understand how to identify the “real thing” in terms of sustainable hospitality operations. Unfortunately, there is just far too much green washing going on.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- When you see a certification, ask about it. How long ago were they certified? How often do they have to reapply? Do they have to pay to get this certification? We have our doubts about some of the certifications out there.
- Ask a couple of front line employees about their interpretation of sustainability at the hotel and how they contribute directly to being more sustainable.
- Speak to the manager. See if there is passion for sustainability. Ask about “tough decisions” that they had to make in order to be more sustainable. Ask about use of plastic water bottles, wastewater treatment and irrigation, employment of local staff, etc.
Sustainable travelers spend more and are therefore attractive to companies. These travelers tend to be more educated and earn more; they also put more value into their travel experiences. At the Cayuga Collection, we are looking to attract these guests by walking the talk and showing every guest that we are making our best possible effort to be more sustainable.
We look forward to your visit and your honest and constructive feedback on our operations and how we can continue to improve in terms of sustainability.
We were inspired to write this blog due to a publication by Dan Peltier in Skift Magazine in May 2016. “U.S. Travelers Like Sustainable Tourism But Love Transparency From Brands”