Last year The Seaview Hotel launched an electric bike sightseeing package for their guests. The offer was part of an initiative to promote non-car tourism to the Isle of Wight. The results were electrifying! By Tracy Mikich

Tourism is incredibly important to the Isle of Wight but now, more than ever, it’s interconnected with long-term environmental goals including stemming climate change, reducing pollution, valuing your community, preserving heritage, appreciating culture and natural assets.

Sustainable tourism is fast becoming a movement with more holiday-makers considering environmental factors when making a purchase. The Global Sustainable Travel Report by in 2018 found:

  • 87% of global travellers stated they wanted to travel sustainably
  • 39% of those confirmed that they often found ways to travel sustainably

However, 48% of people found that they rarely managed to travel sustainably because the tourism industry isn’t doing enough to make green changes.

Last year, with the help of a sustainable travel grant, we leased 6 electric bikes and put together an electric bike holiday package. ‘Wight Coasting’ was a two-night stay including Wightlink FastCat travel to the Island and use of electric bikes. The deal was marketed as a package with the tag line “Enjoy a wonderful world of cycling on the Isle of Wight….and you don’t even need to take your bike!”.

Adverts were placed in cycling magazines and a leaflet was distributed on and off the Island. In order to make sure that guests had the best possible experience, we worked with Cycle Wight to produce a set of itineraries that included the hotel. By the end of 2018 we had sold 70 e-bike holidays and secured 50 e-bike rental hires when the bikes were not being used. Interestingly the 70 bookings represented not only new visitors to the hotel but many had never visited the Island either!

The success of the campaign illustrated a demand for non-car and greener tourism to the Island. Financially, factoring out the grant, we turned a profit plus the package was featured in The Times’ round-up of best things to do in autumn. Our guest feedback was also overwhelmingly positive. The e-bike package built upon our caring core values and positioned the Seaview Hotel as a greener choice for a holiday.

It was a green business win. We reached out and connected to a new market, adding to our bottom line in the process. In addition to the electric bike holiday we have made several improvements to our green offering – ditching plastic straws, installing electric car charging points, removing a lot of single-use plastics in favour of refillables in the housekeeping department, as well as encouraging guests to use public transport in collaboration with Southern Vectis and Visit Isle of Wight. We’re also working with local businesses to deliver events out of season, in a spirit of collaboration not competition. Our menu features a multitude of local suppliers and the bars support local producers. Goals for this year include more recycling, looking for a solution to replace crisp packets, reducing paperwork and working with partners to raise awareness about local conservation.

The Travel Trends 2019 report by UK travel trade association ABTA states 45% of people say the sustainability credentials of their travel provider are important when booking a holiday, compared to only 24% in 2014. So if environmental considerations are now triggering purchases then as a business you need to communicate what you are doing. Doing the right thing is important but your guest or potential customer needs to see and hear it too. For the guest who has already booked a stay, seeing messages about supporting the local economy and treading lightly impart a feel-good factor about their choice. For the potential guest, it can motivate a purchase too.

There is a global movement toward sustainable travel and we need to meet the customer demand for greener, sustainable tourism – not only is it good business sense but in doing so we can work together towards an eco-friendly future.

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