According to a recent national survey we conducted with the Travel Industry Association, almost nine out of ten American adults profess to be "environmentally conscious." The majority manifest their environmental concern by turning off the lights when leaving a room, being energy efficient by regulating air conditioning/heating temperatures when not at home and recycling and/or composting trash. These activities are mentioned by more than eight in ten Americans who claim to be "green." Not surprisingly, however, there are significant gender differences in the behaviors exhibited by men versus women, with the latter generally more committed to environmentally safe practices. These are revealed in the table below:
The question for most travel marketers, however, is whether or not concern about the environment represents a market opportunity. The answer is yes, although primarily with respect to market share, not incremental rates or yields. Specially, four out of ten leisure travelers "probably/definitely" would select an environmentally friendly travel supplier if they knew about the supplier's commitment to the environment (not surprisingly, significantly more women than men agree with this statement). And although nearly one-half state they're willing to pay higher fares/rates for the services provided by such suppliers, the majority (53%) state they are not. Among those willing to pay more, the overwhelming majority (six in ten) report they would pay only up to 9% more.
The conclusion is therefore clear: a travel service supplier's commitment to and communication of environmental responsibility may be sufficient to shift market share. Consumers' reluctance to pay more to support "green causes" suggests that most, however, view the demonstration of this responsibility as an obligation of businesses that should, arguably, be good stewards of the environment anyway.