Want to see results? Engage your team and be amazed at what they come up with!
Empowering your team for sustainable tourism: discussion topics to get you started.
Read to the end as there is another important step you can take to increase your impact even further!
The world of tourism is abuzz with the topic of sustainability and if you want to go beyond lip service to actually implementation and impact, it’s vital to commit to taking action and doing more than just talking about it. I’ve seen with my own eyes over and over again, that engaging your team in discussions about sustainability is the first (and possibly most important) step toward building a culture that embodies eco-conscious practices. In this blog post, I’m sharing with you 20 topics you can use to spark meaningful conversations with your staff. These topics are ones that come up regularly with the tour companies, hotels, events, venues and festivals that I work with.
- Food Sustainability:
– Discuss food miles, the benefits of organic produce, the impact of processed foods, and the importance of responsible packaging. Explore the significance of geographical indications for preserving culinary traditions (more info https://www.fao.org/3/ca5693en/ca5693en.pdf).
– Delve into the origins of coffee, fair-trade and organic options, the concept of B Corp coffee brands, and the pros and cons of various coffee choices. Consider the impact of packaging and the merits of using reusable cups.
- Sustainable Travel (Commute):
– Encourage sustainable commuting options, from walking to carpooling and using public transportation. Explore hybrid approaches, like combining car travel with public transportation.
- Sustainable Travel (Business):
– Optimise business trips to serve multiple purposes. Discuss the benefits of extended stays and leveraging the same trip for both work and leisure. Consider the possibility of replacing flights with train or bus travel. *** see if i can find the dance troupe article that Sydney Festival shared back in September
- Travel Advice for Customers:
– Inform customers about low-carbon flight options, encourage them to bring their own drink bottles, and recommend eco-friendly accommodation options. Promote slow travel to immerse in local cultures. More about slow travel: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/what-does-slow-travel-mean
- Sustainability Policy:
– Review your company’s sustainability policy as a team. What’s in it?, Do we agree? What can be removed? What should be added? Discuss ways to embody these principles daily.
- Litter Cleanup Events:
– Organise a litter clean up event (without making more rubbish like plastic gloves, bottled water for participants, etc). Review the common items you pick up, see how much can you recycle from the clean up. Brainstorm ideas to reduce the use of these items.
- Use of IDs, Lanyards, and Nametags:
– Explore reusable options for ID and name tag materials. Consider eliminating date-specific branding to ensure future use. Encourage delegates to return tags or bring their workplace name tags. See how your staff can support this process during the event.
- Waste Separation:
Do a waste audit, organise bins into different categories, create a quiz for staff to test if they know which item goes in which bin, make things easy, use signage, discuss.
More info on how to conduct a waste audit https://www.dumpsters.com/blog/how-to-conduct-a-waste-audit
– Educate on the benefits of composting, explore workplace composting options, and find community programs for organic waste. Discuss possibilities like supporting local gardens. More about composting https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/composting/
- Carbon Offsets:
– Delve into the concept of carbon offsets. Examine their effectiveness and explore reputable providers of projects that make a real impact. Talk about whether to recommend this to your guests.
- Single-Use Plastics:
– Assess the use of single-use plastics at work and home, and with guests. Discuss the environmental consequences and brainstorm alternatives.
- Responsible Tourism:
– Define responsible tourism and discover ways to contribute to it. Explore potential partnerships, recommendations, and support for responsible tourism businesses. Watch https://thelasttouristfilm.com/
- Energy and Water Conservation:
– Discuss strategies for saving electricity and water, and the benefits these actions bring. Share ideas on reminding each other to conserve resources.
– Examine sustainability certifications, their principles, and why your company is pursuing them. Discuss how each team member plays a role in maintaining these standards.
- Guest Interaction:
– Equip staff to engage with guests about sustainability. Provide guidance on what guests need to know and how to handle questions they may not have immediate answers for.
- Reporting and Transparency:
– Stress the importance of transparency in sustainability reporting. Explain how the company manages data and how each employee can contribute. Educate on the concepts of greenwashing and greenhushing.
- Marketing Sustainability:
– Explore strategies for authentic sustainability marketing and effective internal communication. Emphasise the importance of sharing eco-friendly initiatives and continuous improvement.
- Customer Education and Engagement:
– Discuss techniques for guiding customers toward eco-friendly choices. Consider changes to layout, processes, and interactions that make sustainability the obvious and easy option.
These topics provide an excellent starting point for engaging your staff in conversations about sustainability in the tourism industry. By nurturing a culture of eco-consciousness, you’ll see them start to respond in a totally different way.
Now, I promised another step to gain even more commitment from your team. Take this list and talk with them about the whole list, ask what topics they want to discuss, whether anyone would be interested in leading a discussion, and what is the next topic they want to cover. Bring your evolving list to regular meetings and keep building on it. Some companies I know do a new topic every month. All the best!
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