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Corporate Social Responsibilty and the Affluent Traveler

What do affluent travelers want from airlines, hotels, resorts, tour operators and cruise lines when it comes to corporate social responsibility?

Conde Nast Traveler, whose magazine has about 810,000 affluent subscribers asked its readers some of those very questions and more and published the results in September 2011.

Here are responses to select Conde Nast Traveler questions:

Ninety-three percent said travel companies should be responsible for 'protecting the environment.'

What might protecting the environment look like according to Traveler readers:?
  • 63 percent said building energy-efficient buildings.
  • 76 percent said using solar power
  • 69 percent said reuse towel (there’s the low-handing fruit for any hotel or resort)
  • 63 percent said install low-flow toilets and showers
  • 54 percent said use less air conditioning
  • 51 percent said reuse wastewater
  • 12 percent said provide carbon offsets through fees
The long-hanging fruit there is plainly reusing towels.

Likewise, 82 percent said that it’s fine if sheets get changed twice-weekly instead of daily, so as to conserve water.

Fifty-eight percent said that their choice of hotel is influenced by the support it gives to the local community.

When asked what the ideal length of time to do volunteer service during a luxury resort stay 44 percent said half a day, 39 percent said one day, 11 percent said two days, and 6 percent said more than 2 days.

Many of these issues are about communications, in some cases communicating what resorts, hotels, airlines, cruise lines and other travel companies are already doing. Eighty-six percent said they’d like hotels to explain how their contributing to their communities and the environment. Eighty percent asked the same thing of airlines.

What all this suggests to me is that companies in the travel business need to put their environmental, corporate social responsibility and cause marketing bona fides closer to the decision point. That section on corporate websites that talks about corporate social responsibility is just too far removed from where someone books their flights or rooms.

This is tricky business given that there are so many places to book a flight or a room these days that are acting only as agents.

In short, I see the need for some kind of a seal from a trusted third-party that asserts that the company displaying the seal meets some kind threshold for corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship.  

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