| Green Travel News |
Eight of ten U.S. travelers are interested in green travel, but only two out of those ten made deliberate eco-friendly travel choices in the past year. So what’s the hangup? Why didn’t the other “interested” travelers go green? “They just didn’t have the information to do it,” concluded Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel at TripAdvisor, in a recent interview.
That’s why, she was quick to add, the world’s largest travel site is expanding its GreenLeaders program into Canada and Europe.
Hotels and B&Bs in 19 markets, including Canada, U.K., Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are now able to apply for TripAdvisor GreenLeaders status, adding to the more than 3,700 U.S. accommodations already named GreenLeaders based on their eco-practices. Properties are tiered at bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels.
As part of the expansion, TripAdvisor is also making thousands of eco-friendly traveler comments available on the site to give hotel shoppers the benefit of feedback from other eco-conscious travelers.
Rushmore oversaw creation of the GreenLeaders program, she said, “to make it much easier for travelers to book a green trip.” With justification, she feels her team at TripAdvisor, working in conjunction with well-credentialed green travel advisers such as the U.S. Green Building Council and the UN Environment Programme, has accomplished a great deal since launch in April, 2013. TripAdvisor users made 200,000 searches for green hotels in the first year.
“It’s really old news that you have to be uncomfortable to go green,” she added. “In fact, we’re finding in traveler reviews that many say they will return to a hotel because it’s green. And increasingly, certain green practices, like linen reuse and energy efficiencies, are becoming basic expectations. GreenLeader hotels also enjoy 20 percent higher rankings compared to non-green hotels, which reflects the fact that hotels that are involved in the environment also care a lot about their overall customer experience. The two go hand in hand.”
To join the GreenLeaders program, hoteliers must complete an extensive questionnaire about their practices. Based on this information, qualifying properties are admitted into the program and assigned a tier. To guard against greenwashing, participating hotels are subject to an audit by a consultant retained by TripAdvisor. Although Rushmore would not disclose what percentage of accommodations are actually audited, she described the process: “All applicants go through a formal algorithm based on their questionnaire answers, then are manually reviewed. We also monitor user comments. If a property is suspicious, we order an audit.”
TripAdvisor has gone so far as to threaten to flag properties caught gaming its application questionnaire. Because TripAdvisor rankings are thought to carry considerable weight in accommodations decisions, this threat alone may deter cheating.
Rushmore promised more of the world will come under the GreenLeader umbrella in the future, although she declined to talk timing. “We’ve always intended to be worldwide,” she said.