How TMC sustainability tech can offer an instant fix for leisure sellers looking to catch-up

Posted 06/06/2024 by James Hinton

TMCs have absorbed the hefty initial development costs, enabling many providers to offer these tools as standard features to their TMC clients. Tech that’s proven, reliable and able to drive profits for leisure sellers says Martin Eade, CCO of Vibe


When speaking with both leisure and corporate travel companies about their tech needs the topic of sustainability tools comes up in more conversations than ever. 


However, there's a catch: the actual adoption of such tools is not as widespread as one might expect. Particularly in the leisure sector, there's a noticeable gap between talk and walk, which is much smaller than in the corporate realm.


We all know about the moral case for implanting tools that help push travelers towards more sustainable travel options. But until relatively recently such tools were either expensive or not very effective in the leisure space. That is now no longer the case. At the same time there’s now a significant upside in driving potential incremental revenues and profits in offering these tools to environmentally conscious leisure consumers.


Unfortunately, there’s a lot of mistaken – or perhaps simply just out-of-date – perceptions about the challenges of implementing technology that can integrate sustainability awareness choices into the travel search and booking experience. 


It’s a big topic, but does the consumer care?


In our experience, one of the top misconceptions from the leisure space would firstly be that conversion rates don’t go up (so why bother?) and secondly that you risk alienating your existing audience (i.e. you end up losing out all round). Perhaps this was true a long time ago, but neither of those are the reality any longer. We can confidently say that these tools do lead to incremental bookings. Consumers appreciate having options and, more importantly, they value being well-informed before making their decisions.


Where’s the hidden cost?


Next up, there are often concerns about the costs and significant development resources typically required for such complex technology. However, the landscape has shifted. TMCs have absorbed the hefty initial development costs, enabling many providers to offer these tools as standard features to their TMC clients. So, why shouldn't they be available to leisure clients as well? This change has made these technologies more accessible and affordable for leisure platforms than ever before.


It’s made for TMCs, so why should leisure care?


Another common question we encounter is whether these tools are solely for corporate use. As you might guess, we don't agree with that perspective. There's a genuine demand for these tools, and there's even the possibility that future legislation could mandate their use. Our advice? Don't fall behind the curve. This is no longer just nice-to-have for the conscious consumer: it is basic hygiene.


So what should leisure travel online sellers do to overcome this gap and get up to speed? Well basically take a leaf out of the corporate travel space’s technology book. Corporate travel is a very good example because the reporting requirements of corporate buyers mean they have to log C02 and other sustainability impact measures for reporting to shareholders and government.


That’s why features such as CO2 measurement – and the ability to filter flights and even hotels according to their consumption – along with clear labelling for sustainability certification (not just for flights and hotels, but car rental or rail) are often standard for corporate travellers using their corporate booking tool or TMC. They can also frequently encourage travelers to choose more sustainable travel routes by presenting rail options when suitable.


Almost all of these tools work just as well for leisure travel as they do for corporate, in fact I can’t think of any that wouldn’t be of some use.


In short, there’s a lot of quick wins that leisure travel sellers can gain simply by taking advantage of the sustainability technology that TMCs already have in place. This is tech that’s proven, reliable, environmentally conscious and able to drive profits. 


What’s not to like about that? 


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