TripAdvisor scheme helps travellers select a sustainable bed for the night ¿?
Conscious consumers want more information about green hotels, but is peer-to-peer review the best way to validate good practice?
Will TripAdvisor’s new GreenLeaders scheme help?
Hanging a ‘do not disturb’ sign on a hotel door almost always assures your privacy when away on holiday or business. But does hanging a used towel back on its rack assure your green preferences? Does this simple action mean you’ve played your part in being a sustainable hotel guest, or will housekeeping wash your towel anyway?
GreenLeaders, TripAdvisor’s new sustainable hotel programme, aims to “gives consumers around the world a simple way to make greener travel choices, right at the point at which they are making that decision”. 8,000 hotels are already participating and earning green badges on the popular travel review site.
Linen and bath towel reuse is the very minimum effort a hotel must demonstrate to earn a green badge, though we owe a royal thank you to Prince Charles for persuading multinational hotel chains to start doing this many years ago. Hotels now implement thousands of green policies which might include guest experiences, such as an organic menu in the restaurant, or hidden efforts such as grey water recycling and smart lighting design.
What is GreenLeaders?
The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders programme allows hotels to self-report their work on sustainability. The information they provide is then validated by random or investigative audits, as well as by TripAdvisor’s network of reviewers who are asked to point out any discrepancies noticed during their stay.
By launching a programme to highlight green hotels however, TripAdvisor has launched itself into the spotlight and critics claim the programme lacks integrity. “The GreenLeaders programme falls a bit short in external review,” explains Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). “It does not adequately educate travellers about the differences between the hotels’ own claims and those confirmed by external audits or certification.”
The practice of asking customers to review sustainability efforts also faces short shrift. “Visitors cannot usually see and are generally not qualified to judge (sustainability efforts), such as washing materials, boilers, biomass energy, solar panels, heat source pumps, and waste processes,” says Valere Tjolle, editor of TravelMole’s sustainable tourism site.
TripAdvisor does use fraud algorithms and human reviewers to determine if investigative hotel audits are needed to verify claims. But Tjolle cautions that, because TripAdvisor’s green scheme does not include 100% third-party auditing or accreditation, it is “muddying the already muddy waters” of sustainable tourism.
There are already at least 150 sustainable hotel certification programmes, making it difficult for consumers or hoteliers to understand what’s credible and what’s not. The GSTC – which partners with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), accredits certification programmes and provides baseline sustainability criteria for hotels – is trying to refine this long list by devising a GTSC approved designation.
In this case GreenLeaders was developed without consultation of the GSTC, though TripAdvisor worked with UNEP as well as with organisations including the Carbon Trust and EnergyStar in designing its scheme.
Behind unmarked doors
“Transparency is at the heart of sustainability,” states Jenny Rushmore, director of marketing for TripAdvisor. So how much transparency do we, or should we, demand? According to Paul Snyder, vice president of corporate responsibility for the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), consumer demands are changing as travellers become more aware of their impact. “It used to just be that people would ask, are you green,” he explains. “Now some people want to know the hotel’s carbon footprint per one night stay, others per square metre.” IHG holds this data through its Green Engage programme, which features third-party auditing of its 4,700 hotels.
Will TripAdvisor revolutionise sustainable travel?
Despite its drawbacks GreenLeaders is nevertheless a “game changer”, according to Harold Goodwin, founder of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. “When TripAdvisor launched its GreenLeaders programme in Europe on Monday, March 19, there was so much interest that their site crashed,” he says. TripAdvisor also has a strong peer influence on consumer choice because the site links to Facebook allowing people to automatically share their reviews with their friends and contacts.
But though the InterContinental London hotel on Park Lane is recognised as a shining star of sustainability in the hotel sector, not one of its 1,477 TripAdvisor reviews mentions the words “green” or “sustainability” and the hotel does not currently participate in the GreenLeaders programme. For a hotel with rooftop beehives and free bicycle rental, it seems a missed opportunity, especially as GreenLeaders is designed to assist conscious consumers in choosing a hotel and raise awareness about sustainability in the tourism industry.
“We are not trying to change people’s behaviours radically, that’s a hard thing to do,” says Rushmore. “We just try to nudge them towards more environmentally friendly choices.” Her message to hoteliers? “Meet them where they already are.”
Fuente: The Guardian
Publicado el 12/01/2015 en NOTICIAS SOBRE TURISMO RESPONSABLE y etiquetado en ecoturismo, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, tourism, tourisme, tourisme durable, travel, turismo, TURISMO RESPONSABLE, turismo sostenible, vayage, viajar. Guarda el enlace permanente. Deja un comentario.