This study has surveyed which kind of communication influences consumers the most when it comes to communicating the concept of sustainability. Should travel brochures be created from an emotional perspective? Or would holidaymakers prefer a more matter-of-fact rational approach? Do graphics serve any useful purpose in explaining the sustainability of a product? And do they contribute to increased bookings?
The World Tourism Forum Lucerne commissioned the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts to survey at least 750 consumers in each of four leading travel markets – Switzerland, Germany, Britain and the United States.
The most important findings:
- Sustainability should be communicated emotionally. The "story-telling" approach, active formulation, direct communication and effective of use of adjectives have the greatest impact.
- Rational explanations are unconvincing. Graphics which try to portray a travel product's sustainability are generally ignored by the public and have virtually no influence on booking behaviour.
- Only clients who have already booked sustainable travel are more responsive to in-depth explanations, detailed data and graphics which inform objectively and more rationally.
The second part of the study dealt with how CO2 compensation can best be integrated into travel products. Survey participants were asked to choose from three possibilities – firstly, the automatic factoring-in of compensation when calculating the product price; secondly, a factoring-in of the compensation element, but offering the purchaser the option of rejecting the compensation and the surcharge (opt-out clause); and thirdly, offering the purchaser the more "active" opportunity of contributing the compensation surcharge (opt-in clause).
The main findings:
- Approximately two thirds of persons surveyed preferred the automatic factoring-in of the CO2 compensation for the flight element when purchasing their sustainable travel product (in Germany 71%, Switzerland 70%, Britain 69% and the USA 63%)
- A smaller majority also expressed support for the idea that purchasers should be offered the opportunity of rejecting the CO2 compensation (opt-out clause) – namely in Britain (58.5%), the USA (56%), Switzerland (53.9%) and Germany (49.2%).