Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Millennial Paradox: How to Save the Planet Without Giving Up Freedom to Travel – and Why Hoteliers Should Care

Millennials are more eco-conscious than previous generations. Why? Because some of those really scary scenarios related to climate change are more likely to happen on their watch. Even though Millennials are actively questioning today’s global consumption culture, at the same time they’re planning their next vacation somewhere far away, which means endless miles in the air and huge amounts of pollution. That’s why they’ve compromised: they keep traveling but they increasingly favor sustainable options.

I’m a stereotypical Millennial. On the one hand, we’re hopeless dreamers not ready to commit to anything. On the other hand, we’re critical thinkers solving complex problems earlier generations haven’t had to deal with.

Let me describe my Saturday morning to you: four ladies are sitting in the trendiest cafeteria, eating vegan avocado toasts and sipping green smoothies. The conversation flows fluidly from criticizing the government to new eco-friendly clothing brands, from food delivery services that prevent food waste to one’s vacation to Lisbon next weekend. To the latter, everyone sigh in awe and then share their own travel plans for the rest of the year.

It’s not that Millennials don’t recognize their controversial behavior; the most common subject we always end up discussing is the environment and how we’re slowly destroying it with our own actions. This is a paradox we encounter every day. Even though Millennials are very conscious, there’s no way they would give up their freedom to travel.

That’s why we pay more attention on how and where we travel. We continuously see research (E.g. The Green Lodging Report 2017) indicating that the majority of travelers prefer eco-friendly travel and are keen to make a positive environmental impact during their stays. According to research conducted by Intrepid Travel, 90 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds consider that a travel company’s commitment to ethical travel is important when booking a trip.

As our purchasing power just keeps on increasing and we prefer investing in experiences instead of material, I advise you, hotelier, to go green now. Start with simple things such as consuming less energy by installing occupancy sensors to control both lighting and temperature.  In addition to recycling in the kitchen, equip rooms and public areas with recycle bins too.

Skip environmentally harmful pesticides; today you can safeguard your hotel from bed bugs with new design preventatively (and get a higher return for your rooms at it!). Give your guests the option to decline daily cleaning services (we’re totally fine using the same towel for more than once!) and when you clean, use green products. Don’t forget to offer healthy vegetarian meals instead of serving just meat.

Emilia Jaakkola
Emilia Jaakkola
Emilia Jaakkola is Marketing Manager for Valpas. Valpas is the first and only company in the world that advances thoughtful travel by introducing travelers to hotels that will keep them safe from gnarly bed bugs. Valpas collaborates with the most caring hotels around the world to leave people, places and the planet better off than how they found it. The company was founded in 2013 and has offices in Helsinki, Finland and Dubai, UAE.

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