Tourism businesses have two 'green' opportunities through marketing:
- Marketing your area as a 'green destination'.
- Marketing your business as 'green'.
Marketing your area as a green destination
There are opportunities to market your area as a 'green destination'. The likelihood of visitors being attracted to an area is heightened if each experience builds upon a central travel motivator, for example, if:
- the accommodation is environmentally sensitive;
- local attractions or services include interpretive information on the community/culture, the area, and activities;
- information is provided on regional conservation activities; and
- the regional partners work with each other to develop an environmental charter, or code, as a guide for tourism businesses in the area, to enhance environment and visitor experience.
Marketing your tourism business as green
Green marketing is a potentially dangerous area.
One of the greatest concerns of critics, namely tourism businesses (or destinations) is marketing a product as green but actually doing business as usual or a 'green-wash'.
Your business' credibility counts, so make the changes real before you publicise them – don't be accused of 'green-wash'.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published a guide to educate businesses about their obligations regarding environmental claims under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
It aims to assist manufacturers, suppliers, advertisers and others to assess the strength of any environmental claims they make and to improve the accuracy and usefulness to consumers of their labelling, packaging and advertising.
Basic principles for your green marketing program
Some of the basic principles for your green marketing program should include the following messages:
- Always be honest and substantiate any environmental claims.
- Identify any genuine environmental benefits about your product or service.
- Match your product/service to specific markets, and try to do regular/ongoing market research to identify green trends.
- Include details of the natural environment in which your business is located.
- Use recycled paper for all your promotional materials.
- Think about environmental promotions which you could run to increase occupancy/visitation.
Publicise your achievements
- Develop your branding to reflect the 'greenness' of your organisation and your products and services.
- Promote your green credentials through adverts, press releases or interviews.
- Write articles for green market-focused publications and give presentations at conferences.
- Make sure that key sustainability information is clearly visible on your company website, such as; your environmental policy; your targets for energy; carbon; waste; water and related achievements against these; compliance with any environmental management system; any awards won.
- Highlight your organisation's achievements so far – any improvements in emissions data; investment plans; and environmental features of your products and services that contribute to your unique selling points.
- Promote any recognised green/carbon accreditation's you've gained – many allow you to use their logos in your marketing materials.
Engage your clients
If you've taken steps to manage your business in an environmentally responsible way, tell your clients. It's important they understand you've taken steps as an investment in the environment, not simply because you wish to save money. Some clients may have chosen your establishment before others because of this.
Conduct client environmental education activities, including why you'd like them to share in the environmental experience. Marketing can be used to give clients messages about the environment, for example:
- promoting the use of public transport
- promoting regional conservation appeals
- understanding of particular environmental sensitivities (natural or cultural)
- understanding of environmental experiences, opportunities and constraints
- evoke expectations about the benefits of appropriate activities and behaviour within the area, from respect for wildlife to enjoying the local culture.
Bidding for work
Train your staff how to sell your sustainable business credentials with a well-rehearsed "elevator pitch" – a one-minute summary of the company's achievements, products and services and plans.
Develop two or three PowerPoint slides covering environmental commitments to be used in presentations if bidding for work, which should include a brief summary of your environmental policy, targets, achievements and future plans.
Consider putting information about your environmental achievements in your quotations and invoices, such as 'did you know we've successfully reduced our carbon emissions and have achieved EarthCheck certification?'