Encourage your guests to make responsible transport choices

Help your guests choose responsible transport options and consider your own business travel too 

The way your guests choose to travel to your properties and the transport they use during their stay has an impact. Different travel choices have significant variations in carbon emissions.

Transport overall accounts for around 24% of carbon emissions globally according to the most recent statistics. Of that, around 45% are generated by road transport for private use and around 30% for freight. Aviation counts for just over 11% (81% of that is passengers). The remainder is made up of shipping at nearly 11%, rail at 1% and pipeline transport for oil, gas, water etc.

If you are committed to climate action, you will want to look at ways to reduce your carbon emissions. This will include your indirect carbon emissions via your guests (called Scope 3). You can do this by making it easy for your guests to opt for less polluting transport. But, of course, as the saying goes, it is important to “get your own house in order” first.

In this article we will share our advice for helping guests to travel more with less environmental impact. In addition, we will share ways that you can lower your own carbon emissions as a business.


1. Travel to your property

As you can see from the statistics above, road transport accounts for the largest amount of carbon emissions. However, for frequent flyers, air travel will still be a significant part of their personal carbon footprint. Furthermore, you may be interested to know that domestic flights have the highest carbon footprint followed by short-haul flights and lastly long-haul.

So what does this all mean for your guests?

If your guests are travelling from the same country as your destination or very close, you can help them make the best choice. Taking the train will be the least polluting transport option, followed by driving in an electric car. In fact, in some countries like France, short domestic flights have been banned if there is a train journey alternative.

Therefore, you can make it easier for guests by highlighting available train routes as well as the ease of charging for EV drivers. In many countries, taking a train journey becomes part of the overall holiday experience. Furthermore, there are many train routes which cover some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Lastly, many airline booking platforms and comparison sites show the carbon emissions  generated by different flights, allowing travellers to make an informed choice.


2. Responsible transport during the stay

So, now you have helped your guests choose the lowest impact transport to reach your property. Subsequently, you will want to think about their travel during their stay.

Obviously, if your properties are in a city location, it will be much easier for your guests to travel by train and use public transport options. Consequently, make sure that you provide useful information in the guest guidebook about buses, underground and local trains. In addition, many cities offer bicycles and electric scooters, which provide an emission-free and convenient way to get around.

Furthermore, it is inspiring to see that many cities are moving towards an entirely electric public transport network. Obviously, this results in lower carbon emissions but also dramatically reduced air pollution. As most travellers on city breaks spend a lot of time walking outside, this makes it a much more pleasant experience.

If your guests drive in an electric vehicle, they are likely to need to charge it during their stay. You can demonstrate that you are encouraging EVs by installing an EV charger if possible at your property. The initial investment can be quickly recouped by charging your guests or it becomes a differentiator when compared with other properties.

However, if it is not feasible to install your own EV charger, you can provide a list of nearby chargers in your guest guidebook. This simple approach removes the “range anxiety” that some EV drivers suffer from.


DID YOU KNOW? – Providing an EV charging facility or list of local EV charging stations can get you up to 1.64% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? Providing access to EV chargers can help increase the adoption of electric vehicles, which are a more energy-efficient and low pollution form of transportation.


3. Car-free days out

As already mentioned, if you are in a city location, it is much easier for your guests to make responsible transport choices. However, if you are in a more rural or remote location, there are still things you can do to encourage car-free days.

If you are in the countryside, you could provide bicycles for guests or partner with a local bike rental shop. Make sure you also add local bike trails to your guest guide, maybe with recommendations for cafés/restaurants and any attraction’s en route.

If your properties are in the mountains, think about electric bikes which are increasingly popular. You could install a charger at your property or provide a list of e-bike charging points. Of course, do not forget our own legs as the lowest impact transport! Consequently, it is a good idea to partner with local hiking guides, who will be insured to take your guests on mountain walks that they might not discover on their own. It also shows that you are working closely with the local community and helping other tourism businesses to thrive.


DID YOU KNOW? – Providing a list of off-the-beaten-path sites can get you up to 2.50% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria? Travellers are looking for lesser-known experiences away from the usual tourist trail. Highlighting these off-the-beaten-path places also helps to spread out tourists within an area and have a positive impact on overtourism.


When you are in a coastal location, there are so many ways you can encourage your guests to stay out of the car. In all likelihood, they will have chosen your property specifically for its seaside location. Consequently, you have the opportunity to recommend activities which are less carbon intensive. These could include partnering with a company who offer excursions on a sailing boat rather than a diesel-powered motorboat. Alternatively, you could partner with a company who offer water-sport lessons like sailing, windsurfing, and paddleboarding.

Encouraging your guests to enjoy car-free days will create exhilarating, close-to-nature and memorable experiences for them.


4. Carbon offsetting options

You have probably heard and read about carbon offsetting but maybe wondered how it could be relevant to your business. Above all, it is clear that reducing carbon emissions, particularly from transport, or not creating them in the first place, should be the first point of action.

However, it is virtually impossible for any business not to generate any carbon emissions. Either directly from their own operations or indirectly through their suppliers and guests. You may have noticed businesses who claim to be carbon-neutral, but this probably means that they have offset their carbon emissions.

The world of carbon offsetting is still quite complex and largely unregulated, but it can be part of your sustainability strategy. However, it is important to undertake due diligence when choosing how to offset. Many businesses have jumped on the “planting trees” bandwagon. But it is still better to incorporate steps in your rentals which do not contribute to deforestation. This could be as simple as highlighting vegetarian restaurants to reduce meat consumption or only providing recycled paper products.


DID YOU KNOW? – Providing recycled paper products can get you up to 2.75% on the Sustonica criteria! Check out our standard.

Why is it part of the criteria?  While paper products generally have a small carbon footprint, collectively they are contributing to deforestation, global warming, and an ever increasing waste problem.


When you select a carbon offsetting partner, you want to look at the projects that they are funding. If they are planting trees, see if they are properly managed forests with a diverse collection of native tree varieties. You can find companies with projects which have both an environmental and social impact, such as funding the installation of renewable energy in poorer countries. You can also consider projects that would appeal to your guests and even involve them in donating.

Carbon capture is another aspect of carbon offsetting, which is still in the development stage. Carbon capture technology projects are looking to find ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Furthermore, the only projects which have a true and proven impact really need funding to allow them to scale with the resulting reduction in price. These companies include:

There is a note of caution here for businesses operating in the EU. A greenwashing law has just been approved that will introduce a ban on green claims involving carbon offsetting and removal. An organisation can only use these in their marketing campaigns if they can also demonstrate reasonable carbon emission reductions. Furthermore, they must be able to prove that they have only used certified and high integrity carbon credits.

In addition, this incoming regulation includes claims about sustainable practices of every type. This means that any sustainability certification you choose must be third-party audited.


5. Your own business travel impact

When we think of transport carbon emissions within tourism, we tend to think about people taking flights to get to their destinations. Of course, this does have an impact but you will also want to consider the emissions generated by your own team.

As such, use the data you already have about business travel. Look at travel to vacation rental conferences, team meetings or destination visits. Here are some questions to ask. Can flights be avoided if your staff opted for the train instead, particularly within your own country? Could you hold some meetings remotely as we all did during the pandemic? Is it possible to combine a number of meetings into the same trip?

Furthermore, if you have offices, you could support your staff to use less polluting transport. This would involve offering EV chargers or using salary sacrifice schemes to provide regular or electric bikes. Encouraging team members to cycle has health benefits as well as carbon reduction!


Helping your guests make responsible transport choices will reduce your own indirect carbon emissions. This approach will show them (and your team) that you care about the environment.

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