Roughly half of all Americans are more likely to choose airlines, hotels, and rental car companies that are environmentally responsible, but not if the price tag is too high.
According to the Travel Industry Association’s recently released Travelhorizons survey, just 14 percent of the survey’s 2,296 respondents said they choose airlines, hotels, and car rental companies based primarily on those companies’ green initiatives. Only 13 percent would be willing to pay higher rates to use suppliers who demonstrate environmental responsibility, although an additional 56 percent said they “might” spend more—it all depends on how much more. About three quarters of those in the “might” column said they wouldn’t pay more than 10 percent extra per usage (room night, flight, car rental).
Specifically, 50 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to use an airline if it offset carbon emissions, used more fuel-efficient jets, or implemented recycling programs. About 56 percent said they’d be more likely to use car rental companies that used fuel-efficient and hybrid cars, while 54 percent would be more likely to patronize hotels or resorts they knew practiced environmental responsibility. According to the survey, consumers would favor properties that tried to prevent beach erosion; allowed guests to reuse towels and sheets; used energy-efficient lighting, toilets, and showers; and supported environmental causes.
“The results of the survey suggest that awareness of a travel service supplier’s efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible manner may be sufficient to attract additional patronage, but not at a significantly higher fare or rate,” stated Suzanne Cook, TIA’s senior vice president of research. “The ‘value assessment’ consumers ascribe to any travel service transaction appears to remain the primary determinant of their actual purchase behavior.”