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  • Writer's pictureAbi Geldard

How do you talk about sustainability without talking about sustainability…?

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in two webinars hosted by Xavier Font and Rachel Parsons from New Forest Escapes. The topic was Authentic Sustainable Communications and at the risk of sounding a little OTT, it was an enlightening experience. Having worked in PR and Marketing for many years, I’ve found that since working with Atkin Jones and our great brands, the past 18 months has turned a lot of my previous thinking on its head.

Having come from a big brand background with big brand thinking has often meant devising and delivering communications strategies that tended to be very profit-led. So working now with a triple bottom line approach and the idea of ‘Business for good’ is REFRESHING.

Listening to Xavier, a Professor in Sustainable Marketing at the University of Surrey, challenge us all on using key buzzwords (sustainability, eco, environmentally friendly etc) that we’re all familiar with, but potentially in danger of over-using or using in a way that immediately disengages the reader was a little uncomfortable. But being the expert that he is, Xavier very clearly showed that this is a real opportunity when it comes to making the travel industry a force for good.

Whilst most of the work we do here at Atkin Jones via Sanderson Phillips and tranquilico involves B2B comms, I found Xavier’s examples, and those of the highly engaged group on the call, to be hugely inspiring. As a firm believer in the fact that B2B comms should still be targeted at a person, applying customer and consumer-led principles made a lot of sense to me. Whether talking as a hotel and accommodation auditing company asking our clients to supply us with carbon footprinting information, or if you’re a small accommodation provider trying to encourage guests to recycle while they’re on holiday, we’re all asking people to change their behaviour in some way, for the greater good, but without it becoming a headache for them.

My key takeaways from the webinar that hopefully others might find useful…

  • Try to largely remove the word sustainability / sustainable from your messaging – break it down into exactly what you’re trying to say, or exactly what you’re asking people to do and this will give you 100+ more opportunities to engage with people and change their behaviour in a way that doesn’t make them roll their eyes

  • Put the client / customer at the very heart of everything you want to say. It should be about improving their experience without them necessarily even knowing that they’re acting in a way that’s better for the world

  • Showcase your clients and suppliers. They help to make your business great so let’s celebrate the brilliant things that those we work with are achieving – NOTE this means we might be asking our own wonderful clients for a few more guest blog posts and testimonials. Please raise your hand if you’re keen to be involved - we’d love to shout about your great work!

I could talk about this for hours but probably shouldn’t as you’re all busy people. Instead, I’ll say thanks if you’ve got this far. For further musings on these topics and more I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to join our community at Just, Good Travel.

I often find that by taking part in webinars and discussions like the above I find out more in 30 mins than I usually do in two hours of Googling. It’s a great way to share knowledge with others trying to do their bit to help our industry to be the best it possibly can be and help and support the most people it can. Because when we all do our bit, great things happen.

Abi Geldard

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