How Can One Stay Go A Long Way?
It’s hard to quantify the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on the tourism sector. The World Economic Forum estimates that 120 million jobs worldwide are at risk and that the economic impact will exceed $1 trillion – just in 2020. Experts are saying this could put the “global tourism industry back by 20 years”.
World Tourism Day is a day to drive awareness of the significant contribution that tourism plays in driving economic development and also to “highlight the important role tourism plays in preserving and promoting culture and heritage all around the world”.
But, in the grips of the pandemic and with new restrictions being introduced almost daily, I felt at a loss as to what to write about this year. Over the course of my corporate career, I’ve worked in the tourism industry for over twenty years. The consequence of Covid-19 will be long and far-reaching. According to a recent Euromonitor report (gathering views from professionals working within the industry), 65% of respondents “have a pessimistic view of the travel industry in the next 12 months”.
As we discussed in the first blog of this series, sustainable brands are more resilient, they deliver better returns and they develop more genuine connections with employees and customers. However, they are not immune to the crisis.
How can we possibly predict what the future of tourism will look like? How might organisations re-build? The Euromonitor report gives us a clue. The travel industry is seen to be less sustainable than other industries and just over one-third of respondents felt their business was purpose-driven – a much lower figure than that recorded for other sectors. Given this evidence, isn’t it vital that the tourism industry incorporates climate change policies and social impact practices in any “build back” programmes?
One brand that puts purpose at its heart and is looking to the future is Charistay. Charistay is a social enterprise that partners with independent, sustainable hotels. Making use of the online booking platform means that a portion of the profits is donated directly to a local charity. Good Endeavours spoke to Heather Bain, Founder of Charistay, to find out more.
Brand purpose represents your reason for being – it is the north star. Clearly articulated it can encapsulate everything you mean to customers, employees, shareholders, partners and the community, and importantly, make you a more attractive proposition for them.
Heather believes that Charistay can build a “community for sustainable travel”.
“I’m lucky to have travelled extensively and became interested in sustainable tourism when I saw the negative impact the industry can have on our planet and local communities. After completing personal study to find out more about the issues I saw that there are hotels and local groups already working to combat these negative impacts and I wanted to promote them to a wider audience.”
Brands need to differentiate
They need to stand out from the crowd and connect with their audience in an emotional way. Charistay does this by collaborating with independently run accommodations working to protect their local environment and support local communities. Hotels that don’t meet this criteria will not be invited to partner. Thus, Heather has curated a very distinct offer for both partners and customers.
Doing good – how do you do it?
As Edelman’s research has shown us, brands that have a positive impact on society are more likely to build brand trust. Making bold commitments to people and planet and actively putting in place strategies to deliver the UN global goals can build trust with stakeholders.
Charistay – as a social enterprise – has a unique way of making a positive impact. Its community of hotels partner with charities in their local area so any donations have a direct impact on the community where they operate and where their employees (and their families) live. Visiting guests know they are contributing to the groups that support local environmental, wildlife or community causes.
Communicate authentically with the audience
Sometimes travel certifications and awards are not enough, as Heather tells us “sometimes actions appear to be very much on paper rather than in practice. Likewise, I know of a lot of hotels that are very sustainable but don’t have certifications due to the prohibitive cost or the overly-bureaucratic nature of the process. For me, a “good” hotel should not only be clear about what they do but be open and willing to constantly improve and invest in doing so.” Talking about the “why” and the “how” are important factors in storytelling.
Vision for the future
Focus on the short term can drive success…but it can be limited. Business leaders know they need strategies and plans to help them to deliver their future vision. Heather is also looking ahead. “I want to build our community and extend our platform to sustainable tour groups, experience travel and product companies; to build educational resources; and to support businesses to be more sustainable. Our vision is to be a one-stop community for all aspects of a sustainable trip.”
Interested to hear more?
Heather and I met through Pimp my Cause a platform that brings together charities and social enterprises with professional marketers.
If you want to hear “what a difference a stay makes” at Charistay you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to the mailing list at Charistay. Heather is keen to speak to any interested hotel partners.