When we buy a holiday we are a buying a dream, when it goes wrong we lose something important to us. It is a big item purchase when it fails us we lose the experience and the memories, for most of us it is a long time until the next holiday. We go without and save for the week or two away, if it goes wrong it is a big loss. We are buying a dream, a promise, an intangible…. We need to be able to trust the people we are buying it from.
The industry realised this long ago – ABTA has rules which ensure that members sell travel experiences backed by the guarantee of repatriation if there is an ash cloud or the operator goes bust, that the hotel will be built and located where it says in the brochure it is, that the food and the pool will be safe.
The industry has a gone a long way to ensure that the consumer can trust the supplier – backed by a complaints procedure to ABTA which underpins the trust essential to the purchase of a holiday months and hundreds of miles away in a country where the consumer probably does not speak the language and knows little of the destination.
The tour operator’s trust agenda is broadening. Peter Long on his introduction to TUI Travel’s recently published Sustainable Holidays Report recognises that
“Customers increasingly trust us to live up to our sustainability ambitions of minimising environmental impact, respecting culture and people, and bringing economic benefit to communities. In doing so, we improve the quality of their holidays, and help preserve the destinations we all love to visit.”
Johan Lundgren, the Deputy Chief Executive and the PLC Board sponsor for sustainable development reports that TUI’s own customer research wants
“the reassurance of knowing that their holiday’s impact on the environment and destination communities is being actively managed by us, their tour operator. We strive to do so in a way that involves our customers, reinforcing their expectations of a high commitment to sustainability from our brands.”
As for so many consumer brands taking responsibility for the sustainability for the goods and services they sell is part of the consumer proposition – consumers increasingly expect it. TUI have consumer facing sites for Thomson and First Choice which present their commitments and the progress they have made, with their suppliers, to achieving those targets.
For TUI taking responsibility for sustainability makes business sense:
- In 2012 they cut their costs by £16m, €18,6m, $25m, through environmental efficiencies – good for the bottom line and for the environment.
- 89% of TUI Travel’s aircraft are now fitted with fuel saving winglets. Across TUI Travel airlines CO2 emissions per revenue passenger kmwere cut by 73g making their fleet one of the most fuel efficient – good for the bottom line and for the environment.
- 2 million of TUI tourist’s stayed in hotels with sustainability certificates.
Responsibility is indivisible, taking responsibility for environmental, social and economic costs and communicating this to customers builds confidence in the brand.
They are engaging consumers:
“We will have more than 50% of our customers rating us as ‘excellent’ on our approach to the environment and local communities. We will do this by engaging with them more on sustainability while they are on holiday. In 2011, 43% of our customers rated our approach as ‘excellent’.” read more
It is good for business. As TUI explains in its report
“We want our holidays to benefit local livelihoods and protect the environment, and in doing so maintain the quality, viability and desirability of our products for years to come. We’re working with stakeholders in destinations around the world to make this a reality.”
and they point out that “our most sustainably-managed hotels are also those which are delivering higher quality and customer satisfaction.”
There we have it: trust and responsibility go together like a horse and carriage ……