Communicating Sustainability: What We Learnt From Further East 2019

Earlier this month, Mangoes Cynthia Lai, Jen Dembitz and Andrea Seifert headed to Bali to participate in the luxury travel trade show, Further East – as the official communications partner. From panel discussions to workshops on some of the biggest trending topics in luxury travel, we’ll be rounding up everything we learnt in our four-part blog series.

Green Is The New Black: The Shift To Sustainable Tourism

Whether you are on the beginning of your sustainability journey or have a fully-fledged programme complete with certifications; building strategies that effectively communicate this important topic and avoid any whiff of greenwashing is critical.

Mango’s very own, Andrea Seifart helps break down the key steps to getting it right…

1. Talk about it

In order to talk about what you are doing, you first need to benchmark where you are starting from. If you don’t have a dedicated CSR team, make a list of what your business does for the environment and local communities; from energy consumption and waste management to local employment. Keep that list up to date and look for things your guests would like to hear about. Track and measure your efforts; be humble and be clear that there is always more that can be done.

2. Build a framework

The first step in creating a compelling narrative is to develop a communication framework. It ensures consistent messaging, which is essential in building brand trust. Sustainability initiatives should link with your brand pillars and strengthen your brand.

3. Start from the ground up

In addition to your guests and digital audience, your line-staff and front of house should know the basics of what you are doing and why.  Build it into your training so that it’s easy for your team to understand and echo to themselves internally and externally.

4. Use simple language

  • Speak authentically, thoughtfully and aim to educate the 7-year-old guest
  • Quantify and track – back it up
  • Be specific

5. Keep guests informed via your website

Guests can smell a cost-cutting veiled as an eco-friendly practice a mile away! This is why it’s extremely important to be crystal clear about your future plans. For example, a resort may already be green in construction, waste and food sourcing, and their plan is leading them to solar energy. This should be highlighted on the website with a statement about the upcoming plan and a timeline for shifting towards this renewable source of energy. By offering complete transparency and a timeline, trust is built.

Additionally, look to dedicate a specific tab on your website to highlighting these key sustainability efforts, or if there isn’t enough to justify a dedicated section, add the information to your relevant tabs. This could be a few sentences in your dining section about your sustainable seafood practices, or a description of your new in-room glass water bottles.   

6. Use social media to amplify your brand narrative

Look for entertaining, informative and authentic ways to connect with people – using attention grabbing visuals to help communicate a clear story.

  • Showcase the unique landscapes and people where you operate and how you support them. Invite visitors to step into your sustainability world before, during and after their trip; whether that be through an experiential guest activity like planting herbs in the organic garden or upcycling coconuts into cups or planters. Use this as an opportunity to explain WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • If you work with influencers, move away from the ubiquitous bikini shots and invite them to engage in a more meaningful way by capturing content that is related to your sustainability pillars.
  • Tell Stories… in Instagram Stories. It doesn’t need to be 100% about your own initiatives, you can also leverage guest-generated content that relates back to your content pillars or nature themes.
  • Make use of your Highlights with a dedicated sustainability section – IF there is enough to warrant it.

In an (organic) nut shell

Sustainability is not just a trend. It’s becoming a priority for all hospitality leaders and therefore it’s important to assess your initiatives honestly and with a critical eye:

  • Be consistent
  • Have a roadmap
  • Train your people
  • Keep it simple