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ITB Berlin News Preview Edition

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28 SPECIAL FEATURE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM Putting Your Greenest Foot Forward The ITB CSR day defines solid bases for avoiding “greenwashing” Hall 25 Stand 135 Jenny Rushmore Director, Responsible Travel TripAdvisor For the past few years, it has become a headache to properly define how “green” or “sustainable” a hotel can be. Sustainability-oriented marketing communication is often interpreted as “green-washing” and customers can’t keep up with the countless sustainability seals anymore. So customer reviews addressing sustainability are often are often regarded as more credible. TripAdvisor’s Green Leaders program evaluates those comments. The analysis of these customer reviews, supplemented by studies of Harvard University, will be presented to the public for the first time in the CSR Day at ITB Berlin. With a hefty background in corporate sustainability, Jenny Rushmore was brought in to TripAdvisor by CEO Steven Kaufer in March 2012, charged with making environmentally responsible travel more accessible to the environmentally conscious consumer, and in April 2013, she launched the TripAdvisor Green Leaders’ Program. We asked her how the program works. It is a program that makes it easier for TripAdvisor users to identify hotels that have green practices, and it also encourages hotels to do more because of the transparency of TripAdvisor. It’s totally free for hotels and at this point we have over 3,600 properties in the US, which makes this, by quite a wide margin, the largest green hotel Program of its kind in the US and one of the largest in the world at this point. We will be expanding into Europe in the near future. What does responsible travel really mean? Responsible travel can encompass many different areas. We have only just started in our journey at TripAdvisor, so our first step is focussing mostly on the environment. The Green Leaders’ Program is primarily environmental. The idea of having environmentally responsible practices in the hotel is certainly becoming increasingly common. Properties that receive the highest scores range from luxurious, expensive hotels through to budget chain properties, small B&B’s and motels. It’s clear that a lot of people have the basic messages and are starting to do the right thing, but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. We are highlighting properties WE ARE HOPING TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC, AND ENCOURAGE OTHER HOTELS TO LOOK TOWARDS THE ROLE MODELS, THINKING ‘IF THEY CAN DO IT, SO CAN I’ that are doing all the best practices, explaining exactly why a hotel is in the program and what they do. We are hoping to educate the public, and encourage other hotels to look towards the role models, thinking ‘if they can do it, so can I’. Which are the most inspiring examples of hotels that are moving towards responsible tourism? One is the Los Poblanos Historic Inn in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They actually have an entire working organic farm on their property. We also have a Super 8 hotel in Ukiah, California. It is a small budget hotel, however they have an amazing environmental Program, and are one of the highlights of the Wyndham Chain, including ideas like an electric car charging station and biodegradable toiletries. We have found that on average, hotels that are in the Green Leaders’ Program have a 20% higher TripAdvisor rating than those that aren’t. I’m not going to say they have the higher rating because of the Green Leaders’ Program, as at the moment we don’t have enough data to prove that, but what I do think is interesting is that quite a lot of people still had this assumption that staying in a “green” hotel meant you had to sacrifice something. And what’s clear from the fact they have higher TripAdvisor ratings is that this is not the case at all. What will your key messages be at ITB Berlin during CSR Day? That it’s possible for any hotel to improve its environmental footprint. We have a massive diversity of hotels that have joined the program, and sometimes we hear from one who says, ‘we can’t do this because we are luxury; or we are budget; or because of the part of the country we are in…” And we have seen, with around 4,000 hotels in the program, that virtually anybody can do it. There are ways for all types of properties, all sizes, and at all levels of the market, to really improve their footprint, and that’s been a great realisation we have had running this program. DON’T MISS Jenny Rushmore’s speech at CSR Day – “Overcoming Green Fatigue: How To Talk To Guests About Sustainability”, > Friday, 7 th March, 3.15 - 4.00 pm ITB BERLIN NEWS • Friday 28 th February 2014

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SPECIAL FEATURE 29 Stopping Child Abuse in Tourism One hundred and twenty-five thousand strong tourism defence force trained to protect children At ITB Berlin, The Code will be sharing interactive demonstrations of its online training programme - over one hundred and twenty-five thousand tourism professionals have been trained through over the past year to help protect children from sexual exploitation in contexts of travel and tourism. Around the world, an estimated 2 million children are sexually exploited every year in contexts of travel and tourism. Offenders use services and the infrastructure of the industry in order to travel to developing countries where poverty, lack of enforcement of laws, low awareness of the crime at the destination leave children more vulnerable. Fighting this, The Code, a voluntary code of conduct for the protection of children in travel and tourism, will be present at ITB Berlin to provide awareness, tools and support to tourism companies to help end the sexual exploitation of children in contexts of travel and tourism. A special spotlight will be placed this year on Thailand. Member companies signing The Code agree to take six concrete actions that will help to keep children safe, including implementing child protection policies and procedures, and training staff how to recognize and report suspected abuse. The Code’s presence at ITB Berlin is sponsored as part of a development partnership with Code member companies Kuoni Travel Holdings, Accor Hotels, TUI Travel, and ITB Berlin Messe as part of the programme that Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Matthias Leisinger, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Kuoni Group, Switzerland’s largest travel company and Top Member of The Code and Chairman of The Code’s Board of Directors, explains, “It is important that staff learn how to recognise abuse and also that they feel empowered to speak up when they see something untoward.” On Wednesday 5 March, The Code will host a panel discussion entitled “Is there a place for child protection in tourism?” All companies looking to extend the breadth of their responsible tourism programs are invited to attend. Some of The Code’s member companies will also be presenting their work at a Business Talk session on Thursday 6 March hosted by The Code’s local partner, ECPAT Germany. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT STAFF LEARN HOW TO RECOGNISE ABUSE AND ALSO THAT THEY FEEL EMPOWERED TO SPEAK UP WHEN THEY SEE SOMETHING UNTOWARD. ITB BERLIN NEWS • Friday 28 th February 2014

ITB Berlin News