Do you have a green tourism story to tell? Evidence shows that you better, or you could be missing out on new customers. In this article, you will find 5 steps to building and sharing your authentic green business story.
Our research has shown that the majority of your customers want to protect the natural environment, and want to support businesses that are also taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. According to Green Marketing expert Jacquelyn Ottman, 83% of consumers are choosing to support companies that share their personal social and environmental values.
There is overwhelming evidence proving that every business should be marketing themselves as a green business to attract more customers and align with their customers’ values.
What can you do to cultivate and weave an authentic green story into your brand and company culture?
Follow these five steps to gather everything you need to communicate your green story to your staff and your guests. (Remember, you will need to be transparent and authentic to avoid being accused of Greenwashing).
- Take a Business Sustainability Inventory
Have you ever made a list of all the social and environmentally responsible actions that your business has taken? You might be surprised that you’re already doing several things that your guests would love to know about! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Energy efficiency – Have you switched to LED lights or upgraded equipment to high-efficiency options? Do you have a green building?
- Water conservation – Does your business have low flow toilets and low flow showerheads?
- Waste reduction – Do you recycle and compost? Have you switched suppliers to support local food and zero waste organizations?
Write everything down and make a list of the categories that are relevant to your business.
- Measure your impact
Have you measured any of the impacts of these green actions? Your guests might enjoy learning about the difference you’ve made in addition to the actions you’ve taken. If you haven’t been tracking your energy, water and waste consumption, now’s the time to start. Take a look at your utility bills and see how your consumption has changed year over year. If you want to go further, track and measure your carbon footprint. You can access a low-cost carbon calculator like ecobase for as little as $249 per year.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
What’s on your wish list for future green projects? Engage your staff and create a green team if you don’t already have one. Think long term and set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused and Time-Bound (S.M.A.R.T.). A good goal might sound like this: “We will reduce our carbon footprint by 30% by 2020, based on 2014 emissions”. Then brainstorm all the actions you will take to get there and don’t forget to prioritize and assign them.
- Define your journey
Now that you’ve identified where you’re at and where you plan to go on your green journey, it’s time to put all the puzzle pieces together. Create a few short documents that summarize what you’ve done and what you plan to do. Then create your sustainability policy.
- Communicate your story
If a customer asked a staff member what your business is doing to be green, would they be able to accurately communicate it? First, you will need to ensure your staff understands your green story. Keep things simple and reiterate the message, then build on it every staff meeting and through all communication channels. Publish a webpage within your site where the outside world can learn about your green journey. For a great example, see Sustainable Tourism Gold member Bluewater Adventures.
And don’t be shy when it comes to telling guests how they can contribute to improving their environmental impact while visiting you. See Sustainable Tourism Silver member Pointhouse on Sargeant Bay’s Responsible Visitors Charter.
You now have the ingredients to communicate a great green story. And don’t forget to add your own branding, language and personality into it. Part of being transparent is saying you are open to continually improve your sustainability performance so always ask for feedback.