Travindy: Find Essential Responsible Tourism Industry News
What does it take for travel and tourism to become climate positive?
A whole lot. We need rapid decarbonization of the sector, and achieve radical transformation while ensuring that the transition is fair and equitable.
Is carbon offsetting a part of the steps towards becoming climate positive? Is it a valid solution or just greenwashing? We will address these questions - and more - to better understand offsetting.
Let’s dive in!
What Does It Mean? Understanding Carbon Footprints and Offsets
Simply put, carbon offsets are credits that can be purchased to reduce emissions elsewhere, thus enabling organizations and individuals to "neutralize" their emissions. As explained by UNCCC here, investing in emission reductions elsewhere is a temporary and partial solution to contribute to the global efforts to become climate positive, and it should be considered as a way to address unavoidable emissions after all steps have been taken to reduce individuals' and organization's own emissions.
The Gold Standard, explains the carbon credits as:
"A carbon credit is a financial unit of measurement that allows organisations and individuals to support the transition to a low carbon future. Each carbon credit represents the removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) from the atmosphere - roughly the monthly energy consumption of an average American household. After having reduced your emissions as much as you can, purchasing carbon credits is another way to take climate action beyond your own area of influence."
Here is a quick and clear explanation of what "net zero" should mean, and how what is generally referred to as "carbon offsetting" should be understood and approached.
The goal of "net" zero emissions comes from science. To stop the planet from warming, we need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, some sources may be impossible to fully eliminate, like methane from rice cultivation or carbon dioxide from concrete (1/3)— Simon Donner (@simondonner) October 25, 2021
That's where the "net" comes in. We need uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, via tree planting or direct air capture or other means, to account for the sources which can't be eliminated. Given that, we should aim for emissions - uptake = 0 at the global level (2/3)— Simon Donner (@simondonner) October 25, 2021
Does It Work? Questions around Offsetting
With the impacts of the climate crisis intensifying every year, it’s important to embrace and promote solutions that can support our transition to a low carbon future. It’s equally important that such solutions are credible and effective.
And when it comes to the credibility and effectiveness of carbon offsetting schemes, many have voiced concerns and criticisms.
Some worry that offsetting is a way of justifying polluting behavior, and ask, is offsetting making people feel they can “assuage guilt and to make yourself feel better about high-carbon activities”? (See some of these - and other - arguments here).
These are, of course, valid concerns, and reflect some - but not all - of the realities surrounding carbon offsetting schemes. While some may be misinterpreting the purpose of carbon offsetting and abusing it as a “licensing to pollute”, many businesses and individuals who invest in carbon offsets take their climate commitments (and their responsibilities to reduce their own emissions) seriously.
Others criticize the nature of the “billion dollar carbon offsetting industry” where the promise of actually offsetting someone’s carbon emissions (i.e. the removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere, for every carbon credit purchased) isn’t always being kept, and there are many reported irregularities in this industry, where “middlemen” continue to profit from selling the promise of offsetting, although the actual projects that are supposed to be reducing emissions are not producing the intended results.
Related to these legitimate concerns, one positive way the “carbon offsetting industry” has developed in recent years is that the systems to verify carbon offsetting projects have significantly improved, providing opportunities for businesses and individuals to invest in credible and valuable projects.
So What Should We Do? How Best to Approach Offsetting
In the presentation hosted by Impact Travel Alliance in April 2021 (“Demystifying Carbon Offsetting”), Sustainable Travel International provided the following guidance on what to look for when choosing a carbon offset provider, to invest in projects that are legitimate and impactful:
- Look for projects that have been third-party verified and validated. Examples of standard keepers include Gold Standard, Verra - Verified Carbon Standards (VCS), and Verra - Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards.
- Look into the organizations and programs providing carbon offset projects, and their practices, to ensure their transparency, quality assurance, and expertise. Credible projects should have their methodologies made publicly available, and have wide reaching benefits to communities involved.
- Support those organizations that are proactively communicating about the need for reducing emissions as the first priority, rather than simply promoting offsetting. Education and knowledge sharing is key to achieving the overall objective of transitioning to a low carbon future.
As noted earlier, becoming “carbon neutral” or achieving “net zero”, is first of all about reducing your own emissions. As such, paying for carbon offsetting projects should not be your first step in your climate journey. If you are not doing anything to reduce your own emissions but are talking about offsetting as your climate action, your claims will be (rightly) considered greenwashing.
In addition, to make sure that offsetting is a meaningful part of your overall climate journey, communicate honestly and openly about which projects you support and why, and what benefits they provide. Avoid misleading claims such as “add a small fee to enjoy your travel guilt-free”, or “reduce your carbon emissions by supporting our tree planting projects” - remembering that offsetting is investing in emission reductions elsewhere (to take responsibility for emissions that you haven’t been able to avoid), and not a way to reduce your own emissions.
What Are Tourism Businesses Doing about Offsetting?
Here are some examples of tourism businesses that demonstrate the above points.
- Arcadia Expeditions communicate clearly about which carbon offsetting projects they support and why; “Arcadia carbon compensate only through projects that are Gold Standard approved, which are seen by many NGO’s … to be the most stringent standard for carbon offsetting. We have chosen projects that target renewable energy as we believe that this addresses the central structural issues that cause climate change – that is, the world’s reliance on using fossil fuels for energy. We support projects that are based in two of the destinations we travel to.”
- The hotel chain Accor Group has an alternative approach to its climate commitments, with the concept of “insetting”, which focuses on supporting projects that benefit ecosystems and communities that are directly affected by the company’s operations, for example, empowering local producers to implement restorative and sustainable agroforestry practices, which in turn leads to those producers supplying local and ecological produce to Accor hotels in the region.
- Much Better Adventures provides another great example, although they emphasize focusing on “conservation and rewilding projects that have the highest potential for carbon removal”, rather than offsetting per se. To achieve this goal, they channel 5% of their revenue to reforestation and rewilding projects, and share a long list of questions to be asked when evaluating reforestation and rewilding projects (e.g. “Is the project plan focussed on native species and species diversity, not mono-planting?”, “Is the project supported and led by the local community?”, and “Do they provide transparent monitoring and reporting on progress?”).
One key lesson from these examples and from some of the resources shared above is that offsetting is one piece of the big-picture aim of decarbonizing tourism. It’s not about “keeping your conscience clean” by paying for carbon reductions elsewhere while continuing to pollute. By making informed decisions on third-party verified projects, and by investing in solutions that deliver social and economic benefits beyond carbon credits, you will be able to incorporate carbon offsetting into your climate action in a meaningful way.
And, lastly, these are consistent with the framework set forth by the recently-published Glasgow Declaration: a Commitment to a Decade of Tourism Climate Action, which outlines the pathways to “cut tourism emissions in half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050”: Measure, Decarbonise, Regenerate, Collaborate and Finance.
Additional Resources Related to Carbon Offsetting
- University of Oxford - "Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting" (2020)
- World Economic Forum - “Why we can’t afford to dismiss carbon offsetting in a climate crisis” (2021)
- Sustainable Travel International - “Does planting trees actually fight climate change?”
- Anthesis Group - “How to create a Carbon Offsetting strategy”
Resilience: What do we know?
The concept of resilience - defined as "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens" - is often associated with mental health, physical health, healing power of nature, knowledge and wisdom. It's what enables us, as individuals, to better respond to and bounce back from external shocks.
For organizations (such as tourism businesses), the concept of resilience is a key part of what makes them stronger, and better prepared to respond to and recover from shocks (including - but NOT limited to - the COVID19 pandemic).
In short, organizational resilience refers to an organization’s ability to:
- Persist and withstand external environmental changes (Preparation)
- Mitigate and cope with negative effects caused by the changes (Response)
- Bounce forward to a new state for better future performance (Recovery)
Source: Jiang, Ritchie & Vereynne, 2019
Key Factors for Business Resilience
To become resilient, businesses need both good planning and operational approaches ("hard factors"), and good people and relationship management approaches ("soft factors").
The hard factors are those influencing business practices in a direct and fundamental way, and can be identified, measured, and analyzed:
- Understanding available resources
- Planning and processes
The soft factors are those elements that may be more complicated to define, because they involve people. These are what make an organization stronger in the long term, and better prepared to react to / recover from an external shock.
- Culture and leadership
- Human capital
- Consistent information and communication
- Flexibility in processes and resource use
Ideas and Solutions for Tourism Businesses
Related to some of the key resilience factors, here are a few lessons for tourism businesses. For more real-life examples and related resources, see the webinar recording (from around 14 minute mark).
Culture and Leadership
The culture of your organization is built through your efforts on a daily basis. It's your leadership during the normal times that enables your team to be resilient in times of crisis.
- Take care of your people! (Not just when there is a crisis)
- Work with your team to find suitable solutions and empower your team members to innovate
- Be a good leader during normal times; not just in crisis
Ensuring the people who work in tourism are healthy and happy is a key part of a healthy recovery of our industry, and of making tourism more resilient.
- Acknowledge challenges, show compassion
- Help normalize talking about mental health
- Add to the list of “things to keep post-pandemic”; If the shared experience of COVID19 made it possible for many organizations to be more proactive in addressing mental health, let's make sure we keep this awareness post-pandemic.
Cultivating positive relationships with your community members and industry colleagues is a key part of working on the resilience "soft factors".
- Be a good partner to others (during good and bad times)
- Reimagine collaboration
- Be creative about how partnerships can help support and enhance community values
Resilience and Sustainability
Resilience, in addition to immediate responses to particular crises, requires long-term commitment to a more sustainable way of doing business.
The resilience factors that are key to organizations effectively preparing for, responding to and recovering from crises are also part of good sustainability management.
Having good management practices in place is critical to tourism businesses being sustainable and competitive - and - if you're interested in implementing such management practices at your own organization - that's what we are addressing in more depth in our upcoming course "Sustainability Management for Tourism Businesses"!
Voluntourism: Examples, Stories and Lessons Learned
Think, reflect, ask questions, learn and share.
These are some of the key lessons you will learn about (and learn how to do) from the examples, stories and expert observations in the free e-book "Adventures Less Ordinary: How to Travel and Do Good" (Horizon Travel Press, January 2015), which offers in-depth insights into the issues and challenges surrounding volunteer travel and philanthropic adventures.
As the growth of the voluntourism sector in recent years has brought to light some critical questions about the ethics, benefits and impacts of travelers seeking to do good and give back, travelers, as well as providers of volunteer travel experiences, today are faced with the important responsibility of addressing often-difficult issues around our motivations and the long-term consequences of our well-intentioned actions.
Packed with well-researched facts supported by trusted voices on responsible volunteer and philanthropic travel, "Adventures Less Ordinary" is a valuable resource helping us navigate through the evolving state of voluntourism and travel-inspired service experiences around the world, and helping us find ideas and inspirations for how we can continue to advocate for travelers making a difference while becoming better at finding effective and sustainable solutions (in other words, #MendNotEnd voluntourism).
Critical View: Are We Asking the Right Questions?
In addition to raising important questions about why and how we do things as travelers wishing to make a difference - why do we want to volunteer? how are we really making a difference? - the eBook offers some guidance to help us find answers to key questions about voluntourism:
- Why is it important to consider certain conditions and requirements when evaluating volunteer projects?
- Why are skilled volunteers and well-matched opportunities critical to some types of programs and activities?
- How can we distinguish responsible volunteer organizations from those who are just in it for the money?
- How can we ask the right questions about responsible volunteer travel experiences and find the right kind of answers that really address critical concerns?
The "Adventures Less Ordinary" expert contributors share examples - some based on their own experiences and some focused on industry case studies - that help travelers gain valuable insights into how to approach specific types of activities and projects and how best to choose and work with volunteer programs. These examples and stories also encourage volunteer travelers to think about their impact beyond the claims about "doing good", “changing lives" and "giving back".
Community Leadership Is Key to Lasting Impact
Volunteer and service travel experiences are a natural part of today’s adventurers and explorers who are increasingly seeking opportunities to interact with and be part of the local communities they visit. For volunteer travel programs and travel-inspired service experiences to continue to be viable options for responsible travelers, they need knowledge based on best practices and resources to help develop and manage them in a more responsible and sustainable manner.
The key to achieving the desired outcome of truly meaningful volunteer travel experiences - both for the traveler and for the local community - is, as illustrated in the e-book, community leadership, which goes beyond "involving" local communities in discussions about the purpose and impact of a volunteer program, and focuses on commitment to local empowerment and creating positive benefits based on the needs and desires of the community members.
Our goal, as we explore the world seeking responsible and meaningful experiences and hoping to make a difference through travel, therefore, is to support those volunteer and service programs that take community leadership seriously and are dedicated to ensuring tangible and lasting benefits for local communities and destinations.
"...anyone engaging with sustainable infrastructure development through charitable and service-learning organizations should place [a value] on community leadership. Any form of support shared with a community – whether it be money or muscle – should have been invited by that community." - Ethan Gelber
Moving Conversations Forward
"Adventures Less Ordinary" constitutes an important piece of ongoing discussions around voluntourism and philanthropic travel, their impacts and their future directions, and of the efforts to continue moving these conversations forward.
While asking critical questions about the consequences of irresponsible and unsustainable voluntourism practices is an essential part of these conversations, so is sharing positive examples and celebrating excellence.
Along with cautionary tales and advice on how to avoid unintended negative consequences of our good intentions, the e-book presents inspiring examples of those who are doing great work making a difference for local communities and destinations, which is a great way of engaging more people in constructive conversations about how to be responsible, respectful and well-informed volunteer travelers.
The good news is we can all play a role in this important work of moving the conversations about voluntourism forward - by staying connected with the global community of conscious and ethical volunteer travel advocates and travelers interested in responsible volunteering, and by actively sharing your own ideas, lessons, inspirations and recommendations.
One great way to do this is joining the Outbounding.org discussion forum and group on good practice, constructive discussion and coverage of voluntourism done well. Another is following and sharing the hashtag #MendNotEnd on social media.
A Challenge for Voluntourism Leaders?
One of the "Adventures Less Ordinary" contributors, Jorge Sandoval (Volunteers Coordinator, Fundación Bolivar Education), writes:
"… if we had the chance to speak to leaders in the field of voluntourism, we would request one thing: help creating a platform through which we can be reached by communities and local organizations that need help and would benefit from the placement of volunteers with them, but can’t find us." - Jorge Sandoval
Could voluntourism organizations come together to create a platform for local communities and organizations that would benefit from volunteer contributions? Could this be a viable solution to help address some of the current issues and challenges facing the volunteer and philanthropic travel sector?
What do YOU think? Get inspired by volunteer travel stories and examples from around the world, and share your own ideas, questions and suggestions for voluntourism leaders with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or send us a mail!
Part 1: Taking Sustainable Luxury to the Next Level
Recorded on: Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
How can luxury brands embrace sustainability and play an active role in creating sustainability solutions for the tourism industry? Learn from the internationally recognized sustainable luxury leaders who are redefining what it means to offer authentic luxury travel experiences, and demonstrating that socially and environmentally sound practices can - and should - be a key part of successful hospitality brands.
Part 2: Maximizing Community Benefits Through Social Innovation and Responsible Volunteer Travel
Recorded on: Thursday, August 4th, 2016
How can responsible tourism operators successfully adopt the social enterprise model? In this free Live Session, we’ll hear from responsible tourism leaders - PEPY Tours (Cambodia) and The Blue Yonder (India) - who have successfully implemented the social business approach, achieving growth both in terms of business success and positive community impact.
Part 3: How to Scale Up Sustainable Tourism Sales
Recorded on: Thursday, August 11th, 2016
What does it take to scale up the sales of sustainable tourism products? Sustainable tourism - empowering communities, valuing local natural and cultural heritage and providing unique and memorable experiences for travelers - offers exciting opportunities for tourism businesses, destinations and travelers. So what are the secrets to creating and marketing successful sustainable tourism products?
Wild Asia Responsbile Tourism Awards 10th Anniversary
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, which has recognized numerous inspirational projects and businesses from around the region in the past decade. To celebrate this milestone, in 2016 Wild Asia and partners are focusing on documenting and sharing best practice examples and lessons learned from Asia’s top responsible tourism leaders who have been engaged in the award program.
Collaborating with past winners and finalists, the 10 year anniversary initiative will capture diverse stories of successes, challenges, impacts and insights across the program to date.
Live Session Series: Responsible Tourism Lessons & Best Practices
As part of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards 10-year anniversary initiatives this year, TrainingAid is working with Wild Asia to offer a series of free Live Sessions covering key responsible tourism topics - community-based tourism, sustainable luxury, social enterprise business models for responsible travel, and sustainability initiatives engaging travelers and communities.
These Live Sessions will feature stories of Asia’s responsible tourism leaders, sharing both lessons learned from past experiences and inspirations for positively impacting the future of tourism in the region. Featuring some of the past award recipients’ best practice stories, these sessions will offer valuable opportunities to gain practical insights for travel brands, tourism destinations and other organizations involved in responsible tourism from across Asia and beyond.
About Wild Asia
Wild Asia believes that an understanding of social and environmental issues is fundamental to sustainable developments. With the mission of inspiring businesses to improve their social and environmental practices and to meet and exceed global standards, Wild Asia works to promote change from within the industry.
Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its Responsible Tourism Awards, Wild Asia will showcase lessons learned and best practice stories at ITB Asia (19-21 October 2016) in Singapore.
Social media is all about people. To make the most of social media as a marketing tool for your tourism business, don't overlook the power of people both within and outside your organization.
Don't think of social media only as a platform for promoting your tours and travel experiences. By sharing interesting and engaging stories about your brand, take advantage of the opportunity to spotlight "people behind the logo" through social media.
The personal connections that your team members build - within your organization, with others from partner organizations, with your customers - are great assets to making social media marketing a success for your business.
Here are some ideas and tips on using social media effectively for professional networking and for finding opportunities for connecting and collaborating with people in your field.
Collaborate, Connect, Find and Be Found
John Heaven, who previously has worked with us on a Social Media Marketing course, uses Facebook Group and Google+ Community to stay in touch with colleagues and collaborate on projects.
"For the Social Media Week we used a Facebook Group, and in fact there is a global Facebook group for all the organisers from across the world. For the Social Media Surgery we use a Google Community, which is similar to a Facebook Group."
Having worked on many projects with virtual/international groups, he finds these social media groups and communities a helpful tool to keep up with tasks and to keep track of progress. Social media connections have also led to new projects and opportunities for John.
In addition to offers and requests that he receives on social sites focused on professional networking (e.g. Xing, which is similar to LinkedIn for the German speaking world), personal introductions by Twitter acquaintances have also led him to collaborating with like-minded professionals to develop new projects and events, including some hosted through the Social Media Week.
Social Media Collaboration and Networking Tips
Collaborate Within Your Organization
Make a habit of connecting and exchanging ideas with people from different departments of your company to find fresh perspectives and new ideas, and use social media (groups and communities to make it easy to engage those who would otherwise be unengaged).
Collaborating with your colleagues beyond your department or team is a great way to find unexpected stories about your business and increase opportunities for social conversations. For example, get your frontline staff (e.g. sales team, tour guides and others who come in direct contact with your customers) to create social media content by taking photos of their teams in action, or encourage staff members who are attending events to share live updates on social media.
Collaborate With Others in Your Field
Use social media to share your knowledge and expertise, so that your social contacts will know who to ask or introduce when there are relevant opportunities. Share articles, blog posts, presentations, etc. that offer useful industry insights into your particular areas of expertise. Join forums and other platforms for tourism industry professionals to discuss relevant issues and exchange ideas.
Being active on social media to stay in touch with your industry colleagues will be a great way to stay in the loop and be on top of exciting developments in your field - or sometimes be part of creating ideas even before they are developed.
Social media can also help you do a quick scan of people who may be able to help with your initiative or be involved in your event as partners, as you will have access to valuable information such as: Who are they connected to? Do we have relevant shared contacts? What have they done in the past that's related to my project? How do they interact with their followers?
Ask these questions as you search for possible new partners to reach out to, and think outside the box of your own industry fields or destinations. You may find brilliant content creators who can help enhance your efforts who are involved in areas typically not associated with your particular field, or even tourism. Be open and be creative, so you can make the most of those valuable networking and collaboration opportunities.
What do you think? Do you use social media to collaborate with others and find new opportunities? What has and hasn't worked for you? Please share your thoughts, ideas, and tips with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or send us a mail!
Our Tourism Training Live session last month focused on digital marketing strategies for tourism businesses, including search performance, website techniques and social media marketing, all in the context of effective content marketing approaches.
One of the questions addressed during the above session was "Should I blog?" - a question that came from a small tourism business owner whose website currently does not include a blog section.
For a travel website with relatively small reach, can adding a blog be a helpful way to increase visibility and boost search performance? Are the efforts and resources needed to run and maintain a blog worth it? And when a tourism business chooses to blog, what's the best way to create content for and promote the blog?
With these questions in mind, the following are some thoughts on blogging and its roles and (possible) benefits for travel brands, as well as tips on how to make blogging an effective part of content marketing efforts.
Benefits of Blogging: How Can Blogging Help Your Tourism Business?
It's important to realize that there is no single "right" answer to the question, "Should I blog?". Each business and each website needs to address this question based on the company's specific situation.
Having said that, here are some key benefits of blogging that are relevant to tourism businesses of any size, and that are important to know regardless of whether you currently have a company blog or not.
SEO & Search Traffic
Blogging - regularly publishing fresh content - can mean that your website gets more opportunities to have your content indexed by search engines, and thus more opportunities to appear on search results pages. According to this post by Omnicore, "websites with 300+ indexed pages in Google drives 236% more leads", which is relevant to blogging because "each new indexed page opens up an opportunity for you to show up in search".
Links, particularly those coming from relevant and trusted sites, are another key factors that determine the value and authority of your website in the eyes of search engine algorithms. According to this infographic by Quicksprout, "websites that blog typically have 97% more inbound links" than websites that don’t blog.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s not just the fact that you have a blog that attracts links; it's the quality of content that you're pushing through your blog that will make a difference in your link performance. Having a blog, which means you're sharing more content more often, just increases the chance of your content being found.
Establish Authority and Build Trust
Blogging is an excellent way to showcase your knowledge in your niche, and to show that you're a trustworthy brand. Building trust through quality content is a more effective way of convincing prospective customers to book with you than advertising. The Omnicore piece mentioned above also notes that "70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog rather than ads."
Building trust takes time. You will need to monitor your performance patiently over several months or even years, adjusting and improving your approach along the way, to really see the tangible benefits of blogging.
How To Blog: How to Effectively Share Your Stories
If you are going to blog for your business, do so because you can make blogging an important part of your content marketing efforts, and NOT because you think a blog is another section of your website you need to have.
As you develop your blogging strategies and plan your blog content, remember these key points.
Solve Your Customers' Problems
Use your blog as a tool not to promote yourself, but to answer your customers’ questions and to address their needs. Being helpful is an extremely important way for your company to build trust. As described in this piece by content expert Jay Acunzo: "Content marketing is just solving the same problems that your product solves through media you create and promote."
The best way to make your blog post shareable is to offer useful information. "Remember," says Andy Karuza, "most people share not to help you so much as to help themselves. So, how can you make people share your video in their own best interests? Make it informative and helpful. If the video has good insights and information, and the person can help their followers by sharing, they’re likely to 'be the hero' and share it with others."
Blogging will be worth it for your business if you can do it well, and - importantly - do it consistently. Consistency is important because having regularly updated blog posts is one of the key factors that will attract more readers to your site. Also, from the analytics perspective, it's important that you blog consistently and track blog-related traffic data on a regular basis over time.
Use Your Blog to Earn Leads
Blogging can also be a great way to strengthen your relationships with customers. By consistently providing interesting and relevant content, your company blog can serve as an effective tool to support your conversion goals (the goals you set for what you want your site visitors to do on your website). Create content to strengthen different points of customer interactions, and help connect the dots for your customers by being the go-to place for finding what they want to find.
Travel & Tourism Blog Examples and Lessons Learned
When you invest time and effort into crafting blog posts, you of course want your readers to engage with your content, and many other sites to talk about and link to your posts.
Here are some blog examples by travel and tourism businesses, and key takeaways for those seeking effective blogging ideas.
One good way to make your blog content more attractive is to write informative and thoughtful pieces about topics that are on many people’s minds - for example, important current events in the industry, exciting new developments in your field, and new trends that are getting everyone excited. Think about popular or "trending" topics that are relevant to your field, and develop content by contributing to the discussions around those topics.
This post by Intrepid Travel ("Why we no longer ride elephants"), which is among the most shared articles on their website, has gained a lot of views, shares and comments - including some "mainstream" buzz like this example. The topic resonated with many readers, and generated meaningful conversations both on and off the blog platform.
Another good example of covering a timely topic by offering informative and thoughtful content is this post by WTM Responsible Tourism Blog ("Why I think the DearTripadvisor Campaign is wrong"). Instead of simply sharing facts about the campaign in question, the author shares informed and insightful opinions, as well as engaging readers in the topic.
Note, though, that successfully engaging readers in meaningful conversations is not just about a single post on an interesting topic; it’s also about brand awareness and reputation that you build over time by consistently sharing quality content focused on relevant topics (in this case, topics relevant to responsible tourism communities).
Write Scan-able and Share-able Posts
In addition to being trustworthy and sharing newsworthy content, you can also help increase the chance of your blog posts getting more views by making it more eye-catching. It's a well-known fact, for example, that list posts are good at attracting clicks because they are easy to scan even for readers with short attention span. They are also highly shareable because the headline makes a very specific promise to the reader about what they can expect - as long as the content actually delivers on that promise.
Here are a couple of great travel blog content examples taking advantage of this format. This article by Country Walkers ("The 11 Best Reasons to Visit Provence") offers a comprehensive list of exciting destination highlights, helping travelers visualize what it's like to visit Provence.
There are many possible variations of this approach that travel brands and destinations around the world can copy to highlight some of the most exciting reasons why the travel experiences you offer are special: e.g. "7 reasons why you shouldn't miss ...", "10 reasons to add ... to your travel list this year".
This article by SEEtheWILD on conservation vacations ("5 Things to Consider About Conservation Vacations") also uses the scan-able list format to share helpful tips for travelers in a digestible manner. Listing these points summarized around five key questions travelers should ask helps make the article easier to follow and the advice more memorable.
Offering tips for travelers in a list post format is another idea that many travel blogs can copy, from how-to guides to "do's and dont's" advice.
Share Stories of Real People
The people on your team - from the passionate managers to the knowledgeable guides - are among the most important “assets” your company has, and this is also true when it comes to content marketing. Your customers want to connect with real people, not logos or brands. Sharing your stories from the perspectives of your team members, therefore, can be a great way of engaging your readers.
This post by Ecoventura ("Celebrating our Naturalist Guides: Ivan Lopez") features one of their local expert naturalist guides, who play a key role in creating a memorable, educational experience for their guests. The article also encourages readers to get to know the important roles of naturalist guides, which is a great way to inform prospective customers about what they can expect when visiting the Galapagos and what makes Ecoventura special.
In addition to featuring people on your team, creating a series of articles based on the personal perspectives of someone who is the face of your company can also be a good approach to sharing real and relatable stories that showcase who you are as a company and as a brand.
Natural Habitat Adventures' blog section, for example, includes a series titled "Ben's Musings", which shares articles (written as if they are letters) by the company founder Ben Bressler.
Your company's founder, director, or team leader most likely has lots of exciting experiences. Why not turn their thoughts and perspectives into engaging stories to share with your community?
What do YOU think? Is blogging an important part of your company's content marketing efforts? Have you tried any of these tips and approaches? Share YOUR ideas and stories with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or send us a mail!
We often hear about and talk about innovation, but what does it mean, why is it important, and how can it be a meaningful part of social development and business solutions? Is it about problem solving? Staying current? Disruption? Breaking rules? Making a difference?
Innovation in Tourism: What Does It Mean?
The term "innovation" in recent years has become somewhat of a buzzword, often describing tech startups that come up with a new app to “disrupt the industry” by mainstreaming new ways of doing things - from online shopping to fundraising. But innovation in business, in any field, is not a new concept, nor is it something reserved only for Silicon Valley start-ups.
When we think about companies, organizations or initiatives that have created innovative solutions in the tourism industry, which ones come to mind, and what do they have in common? What makes them innovative?
While our ideas of innovation in tourism may include a wide range of approaches and outcomes - from grassroots community business ideas to the latest travel apps - at the core, innovation in tourism is about addressing existing problems and finding and creating new and effective ways of solving those problems.
"Innovation always starts with identifying a problem. Even the best teams will churn out rubbish ideas if they are not clear on the problem that they must solve." - Lucy Gower, Innovation Director, Clayton Burnett
The Roles of Innovation in Sustainable Tourism
Not all the innovative solutions in tourism are earth-shuttering. Some may revolutionize a market and completely change the status quo. Some may bring about slow changes that in the long-term prove to be revolutionary.
When it comes to the tourism industry's efforts to make tourism more sustainable, innovation - of all kinds - plays an important role in bringing about the necessary change.
To promoting more sustainable models of tourism businesses, we need a paradigm shift: recognizing that the "business as usual" is not only unsustainable but also counter-productive in the long term; and shifting our views of sustainable and responsible approaches - from something that's only for a small number of players with truly altruistic motives to something that should be a part of any business that wishes to successfully compete in the increasingly globalized and connected world of travel and tourism.
"Green innovation in tourism can improve existing business models, leading to positive results to companies, customers, public authorities and local communities" - Arab Hoballah, UNEP Chief of Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch
Who's Pushing for Innovation in Travel and Tourism?
The Airbnb's of the world - those businesses and platforms in what is often called the sharing economy or the P2P (peer-to-peer) travel sector - are no doubt part of what many will picture when thinking about innovative business models in travel and tourism.
From accommodations to transpiration, to local meals to peer-sourced travel activity guides, the loosely defined and growing field of the travel sharing economy is helping many travelers rethink the way they travel, and bringing attention to areas previously largely overlooked by the industry’s policies and regulations.
Posing questions that are by nature difficult to address - because the industry had not previously faced the need to address them - these peer-to-peer travel companies are bringing about changes in the way both travelers and the tourism industry think about and approach how the world travels.
And they may also be able to bring about much-needed innovative solutions to make travel more sustainable, by questioning the status quo in our industry, and by rewriting the norms of "the way things have been done".
So How Can We Create Innovative Solutions?
The sources of innovation - by definition - lie in unexpected places. The key to being innovative and creating innovative solution, therefore, is to develop the skills for looking critically at what we currently do in the tourism industry, and being open to new possibilities for addressing problems that currently lack solutions.
And when you think about it - these skills that businesses need to come up with innoative ideas and to successfully innovate in their fields are the same types of skills and practices that they need to stay competitive in today's fast-changing travel and tourism markets: paying attention to customers' needs, listening to and learning from them through various forums, and finding ways to effectively and efficiently address existing problems by turning good ideas into meaningful solutions.
Thoughts on Innovation: Business, Creativity and More
Here are some comments, inspirations, trends, and ideas related to thinking about, talking about innovation, and better yet, the right kind of innovation. What are some of your favorite examples of innovative ideas and innovators?
It is safe to say that in the development world human capital development (HCD) is generally considered important for achieving sustained growth and sustainable results. What does it really mean to invest in people, and how can such an “investment” make a measurable impact? Human capital refers to the skills, ability, and efficiency of individuals (thus also of companies and organizations) that contribute to their productivity and improves their competitiveness.
Why Invest in Human Capital Development?
“Achieving the [Millennium Development Goals] is about making core investments in infrastructure and human capital that enable poor people to join the global economy and … to make full use of infrastructure and human capital.” – Millennium Project, Investing in Development
HCD is considered both an integral part of the Millennium Development Goals (particularly those addressing education and community well-being) and an effective approach to achieving those goals. That’s why investment in human capital is seen as just as important as investing in physical infrastructure.
*See various reports on the Millennium Development Goals here.
Measuring the Impact of HCD Investment
While the importance of human capital development, particularly in the context of international development (but also for ensuring social well-being of countries and communities in general) is well recognized and forms a critical piece of global development approaches and strategies, measuring the ROI of investing in HCD is far from simple.
“Although the conceptual definition of human capital is clear, its measurement is difficult because it is practically impossible to observe individual skill, and even harder to design a metric that is comparable across individuals and countries.” – Hyun H. Son, ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 225
With the understanding that finding an effective method for measuring human capital development is an important challenge within the field of international development today, there is a possible role that e-learning technologies and online training tools can play in assisting with this important challenge.
Benefits of Online Training for Human Capital Development
In addition to increased flexibility, one of the most exciting benefits of e-learning and online training is the enhanced ability for both trainers and trainees to gather, monitor, and analyze data, follow progress, and diagnose problems. By saving the time and resources that would otherwise be required to gather data on trainees’ knowledge retention and skills development, online training tools empower trainers and training providers to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs in a more concrete and consistent manner. A possible long-term and global outcome of this is a better way for the international aid and development community to track, measure, and improve on the ROI of their investment in human capital.
Of course, online tools will never replace the benefits of in-person learning for some of the critical areas of HCD, such as primary education for children, but when effectively utilized to support and complement existing capacity building efforts in international development, online training can unlock the immense potential of HCD, as it provides an important mechanism to justify – and therefore further encourage – investment in HCD.
Are there existing examples of online training program in the field of international development that support this idea? If you have any best practices to share, or if you have any thoughts related to HCD, online training, and capacity building in the development field, please post your comments!