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How Travel and Hospitality Advertisers Can Respond to Climate Change

Emerging from a late season snow here in the northeast and looking towards the summer vacation season, travel and hospitality advertisers are taking note of climate changes that are impacting consumer travel decisions. Unusual weather patterns and changing consumer perceptions around the environmental impact of travel are influencing decisions on where to go and when1. For travel destinations and local service and retail businesses that thrive on these consumers, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the environment in your digital advertising strategy by addressing perceptions and providing timely travel tips to help your customers adapt to change.

Climate change is creating a new type of traveler

Climate change is creating a more-savvy traveler who is sensitive to the environment and the economic impact of their trip. This eco-traveler may seek less impactful forms of transportation, such as by high-speed train – a popular alternative to the damaging environmental effects of fuel used by jets and ocean liners2. They may seek hotels that run on alternative fuels such as wind or solar and provide locally produced foods, farm-to-table restaurants and low-impact development in forests and beaches where hotels can often clutter the landscape. Digital advertising campaigns directed at these travelers should be skewed to their interests and may require destinations to retrofit their services to accommodate them, such as installing solar panels or featuring organic foods on menus.

Communicate your environmental status to travelers

Rising sea levels may impact islands and coastal areas, snowfall across winter destinations will be unpredictable, air turbulence created by warm air may discourage flying, and weather oddities can become the new normal in some areas1. With so much strange weather impacting the world, it is crucial for destinations and travel services to communicate frequently with customers on social media, in digital advertising, and in their public relations efforts. Siting a recent example, Cyclone Winston – a category 5 storm – recently struck Fiji. Perceptions were that the island was decimated and could not accommodate guests. As a result, the United Nations moved to to issue a travel warning for vacationers to avoid the area – potentially disastrous for Fiji’s economy3. Peter Thomson, Fiji’s United Nations Representative attributed the ferociousness of the storm to global warming but stressed that the island was open for business with many hotels and restaurants minimally effected. Crucial here is to provide status updates on social media and throughout the island’s digital strategy.

Seasonal shifts in advertising

It’s time to shake up the seasonality drivers of your advertising calendar. Global warming continues to produce “seasonal creep” by pushing summer into winter and spring into summer, which will have tremendous impact on climate-dependent travelers seeking snowfall for winter sports or warm ocean waters for undersea adventures. Digital advertisers that become nimble and reactionary to these new trends will win a larger piece of the travel dollar. Campaigns may need to launch more quickly to capture weather trends, such as a campaign reacting to a late season snowfall targeting skiers.

 

  1. Suarez, Celine. How the Tourism Industry Can Prepare for Climate Change GreenBiz.com August 8, 2011
  1. Gebicki, Michael What is the environmental impact of Wanderlust? March 1, 2016 IN the Black.com
  1. Rokosuka, Elizabeth Thomson Urge UN members not to issue travel advisories against Fiji fijivillage.com February 2016