Innovation Award Finalist
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Despite only launching in 2013, TripAdvisor's GreenLeaders sustainable hotel program has been the most disruptive influence on the sector yet. In less than two years it has become the largest such scheme in the world, and successfully addressed two of the biggest issues confronting similar initiatives.
The first problem many confront is lack of consumer awareness. There is such a plethora of differing bodies, some national, some regional, each applying their own criteria that they struggle to break into the travellers' consciousness at a large scale. With TripAdvisor already running the best known brand when it comes to choosing a hotel, its entrance into the market can change all this.
The second is access. Most schemes are relatively onerous and expensive to join, which means it is far easier for a large chain to apply than it is for a small independent hotel. GreenLeaders is free to join, and the sign up is comparatively simple. Rather than engaging in a time-consuming and costly auditing process to verify any claims, TripAdvisor relies on its millions strong army of travellers to highlight any greenwash. In addition it is working with the most trusted local certification schemes, so that, for example, when it launched in Australia in late 2014, it automatically granted membership to any property certified by Ecotourism Australia.
Such scale and a business model based on big data have already enabled it to present some pretty attractive statistics in favour of greening accommodation. Research conducted by Harvard and Cornell Universities found that offering sustainable food options drove on average a +0.4 point increase in a hotel’s five point TripAdvisor rating. Furthermore, properties score on average 20% higher in their TripAdvisor rating than non-GreenLeaders hotels. With nearly 8,000 properties already signed up in 21 countries, and more coming on stream all the time, GreenLeaders may soon be one of the biggest drivers for sustainable tourism truly hitting the mainstream