The importance of the "ethical" traveler

Today’s traveler is looking for more than a great travel experience. Sure, younger travelers such as those highly-coveted millennials not only crave doing things rather than collecting stuff, they’re increasingly desiring to deal only with companies following a similar set of values.

Customers, especially younger ones, more frequently support only businesses sharing a similar set of values. It’s an interesting wrinkle getting smart corporate executives to think more about how their respective companies affect the word in which we live.

Rise of the Ethical Traveler

It’s a trend that’s going way beyond simple programs that say they’re a ‘green’ business. In the hotel industry, we see it playing out in a way where more and more lodging companies are finding focus by paying close attention to sustainability issues. But it must to be done in a genuine way. No longer is not washing sheets or towels good enough, customers want companies they support to have genuine strategies in place showing they care about the world around them, and not just the bottom line.

It's really more of a 360-degree approach to being ethical; a well-rounded examination of the processes the companies employs to operate, as well as how the company gives back to communities in which the business is located.

You see inklings of this with some of the major hotel brands, such as when they hold days of giving immediately prior to their annual conference, for example.

Corporations are doing these things not just because they know it’s the right thing to do, but because of the rise of what’s been dubbed the ethical travel, people highly aware of the impact on the planet when they travel. They’re reframing their purchasing decisions from nearby airport hotels to exotic locations visited and its upending the relationship between brands and customers.

The Proof Is Real

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, this younger generation is more likely than last year to agree that businesses “behave in an ethical manner” (58 percent versus 52 percent), and that “their leaders are committed to helping improve society” (57 percent versus 53 percent). There is still much to be done, though, as a majority (54 percent) believe businesses around the world have “no ambition beyond making money.”

“Millennials are less impressed by the sheer scale of a business, its age, or the general buzz that surrounds it. Based on a stereotypical view of Millennials, the profile or ‘positive energy’ around a business might be thought of as being highly important to them,” the survey states.

So, while the industry has been worried about whether their hotel lobbies are “active” enough to attract millennials, the industry is missing out on this highly critical component. If your hotel is not engaged in policies and behaviors to make the world a better place, then the fastest internet connections, giant-sized televisions and locally inspired craft beer assortments are red herrings distracting you from what guests are looking for most: to reflect your customer’s values.

The question now is, are you ethical? And if you don’t measure up, what are you going to do about it?

Do you have an ethical business? If so, share with me your strategy. Let me know with an email at [email protected], or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and share your opinions with me.