Four Ways to Jumpstart Your Destination's Sustainability Strategy

Share your destination's values to attract your ideal traveler.

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October 3, 2022

For destinations, implementing sustainability isn’t just the latest trend. It’s the difference between preserving the integrity of the environment and ensuring your destination’s stability for future generations. Travelers who care about sustainability want to spend their money in places that both share their values and provide positive experiences for them. By utilizing user-generated content (UGC) in your marketing plans, you can showcase your sustainability efforts and attract sustainable travelers through your channels.

Why User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is content gathered from social media that is created by those experiencing what your destination has to offer, whether it’s visitors or locals. We recently partnered with CrowdRiff who are experts with online visual storytelling for destinations to learn more about the ways destinations can take advantage of this content. By putting a focus on UGC in your marketing efforts, you can help build trust with your audiences and then guide their travel decisions. CrowdRiff’s research shows:

  • 4X higher click-through rate on UGC-based ads. 
  • 55% of consumers trust UGC over other kinds of marketing.
  • 28% higher engagement rate on UGC social posts.

When thinking about who influences peoples’ sustainable travel choices, feedback from friends and family plays a big factor. But social media and travel websites actually have the most significant impact, meaning that advertising online can be the difference between someone traveling to your destination over your competitors.

Tips for Highlighting Sustainability and DMOs Doing It Well

Making sustainability a focus means figuring out what’s most important to your destination, whether it’s environmental conservation, nature safety and resources, waste management, and more. Whatever initiative that may be, find what makes sense for your destination and ingrain it in all of your sustainability initiatives. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out these tips and tricks, and learn about DMOs working with CrowdRiff and succeeding in these areas every day.

Promote Lesser-known Areas. 

By diverting traffic from popular areas, you can show off hidden gems while dispersing people out across your destination. This allows you to spread your tourism budget across more of your region and bolster the economy in less populated areas. These travelers are looking for a rich, authentic experience, and by working with locals and the community, they can be exposed to your destination’s culture and history.

Visit Denmark is a DMO focusing on this initiative in its promotions. When you think of Denmark, you think of the classic colorful houses of Copenhagen, not necessarily the natural parks and deserts, or beaches. The organization created the Most Beautiful Places initiative and is actively inviting potential travelers to experience areas outside of the main cities and see the country more thoroughly.

Interview Local Experts About Sustainability.

You can also work with local environmental experts. For example, you can work with park rangers to develop signage to protect nature on hiking trails, or tell people to stop littering or stick to the path to support as little damage to the environment as possible. If you’re in a beach destination, you can work with local beach cleanup communities. It gives them exposure and when you see the amount of litter collected, you can understand the deeper need for sustainability through those cleanup efforts.

A DMO doing this well is Visit Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA. This organization has dedicated itself to promoting beach cleanups for a long time. Huntington Beach’s three beaches were all included in the top three cleanest beaches in California and were named among the top 12 cleanest beaches in the United States. The organization also created a volunteer initiative called Drains to Ocean–a grassroots, nonprofit organization working to keep pollution from flowing into rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Encourage Tourists to Use Sustainable Transportation

There are many ways to promote sustainable transportation in your destination. You can do city bike tours, talk about electric scooters, promote hiking routes in your area, improve the accessibility of public transportation, organize walking tours of your local areas, and more. You can share the stories of these local partners, stakeholders, and operators to create a richer narrative around it with UGC.

The Netherlands is a leading destination for promoting cycling. You can find multiple itineraries on the website for inspiring cycle routes. The DMO is also extremely active in pushing for sustainability initiatives overall in its marketing.

Promote Sustainable Stores & Restaurants

Enjoying a well-cooked meal is a big part of experiencing a destination. Travelers value having clean and tasty options. You can showcase vegan, vegetarian, farm-to-table restaurants, organic markets, bulk food stores, fair trade stores, and local shops.

Visit Stockton is a great example of a DMO doing this right. They have crafted content called How To Be a Healthy Traveler in Stockton, California. They promote farmer's markets and vegan eateries, and they show off images of the market in galleries on the website. Every year, they host a farm-to-table event called Feast at the Fox, which benefits the local culinary arts program.

As we learn more about these DMOs implementing and promoting sustainability, you can see that it has become ingrained in the culture of the destination. The locals and visitors alike are supportive and excited about the initiatives, which creates loyalty and makes travelers want to keep returning.

Next Steps for Promoting Your Sustainability Plan

Now that we’ve covered how to harness the power of sustainability and jumpstart your sustainability strategy, in our next blog we’ll cover the best ways for destinations to promote the new sustainability initiatives they’ve implemented. You’ll learn about the importance of using your channels, offering educational resources, partnering with local stakeholders, and more. Then, you’ll get an idea of destinations around the world that are doing these things well.

Until then, check out our sustainability webinar with Stephanie Dunford, sales director at Sojern, and Zoë Weldon, community growth lead at CrowdRiff to learn more.

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