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Published October 11, 2007 02:37 PM

Survey: Travelers Choosing Green, But Not At Any Cost


WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than half of all U.S. adults say they would be more likely to select an airline, rental car or hotel that uses more environmentally friendly products and processes, according to the results of the latest travelhorizons survey by the Travel Industry Association (TIA) and Ypartnership.

But while more than half of U.S. adults may be advocates of environmental responsibility, only 14 percent of respondents said their actual selection of a travel service supplier would be influenced by that supplier’s efforts to preserve and protect the environment. Just 13 percent would be willing to pay higher rates or fares to use suppliers who demonstrate environmental responsibility (although fully 56 percent said they might).

The amount of the rate or fare premium appears to be the source of their hesitation: 76 percent would pay less than 10 percent more per usage (e.g., room night, airline flight, car rental, etc.); with the majority of respondents indicating they would pay less than 5 percent more.

“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,” according to 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.”

More Than Half Favor Green Hotels

Specifically, 50 percent say they would be more likely to use an airline if they knew it took the initiative to offset carbon emissions, used newer, more fuel efficient jets, or implemented recycling programs. Almost six out of ten (56 percent) stated the same thing for car rental companies (those offering more fuel efficient and hybrid cars). And fully 54 percent stated they would be more likely to patronize hotels or resorts they knew practiced environmental responsibility.

According to the survey, consumers would favor properties that actively tried to prevent beach erosion (oceanfront hotels), allowed guests the option to reuse towels and sheets, reduced their energy consumption by using energy efficient lighting/low flow toilets and showers, and supported community environmental causes.

And, not surprisingly, Americans’ sense of environmental responsibility manifests itself in many other ways: eight out of ten (78 percent) U.S. adults consider themselves “environmentally conscious,” according to the survey. In fact, more than half:

• Turn out the lights when they leave a room (85 percent);
• Practice energy efficiency by regulating air conditioning and heating when not at home (67 percent);
• Recycle trash (60 percent);
• Shut off water while brushing teeth or shaving (60 percent);
• Try to use more energy efficient light bulbs (59 percent); and
• Keep showers short (53 percent).

The study, travelhorizons, is a bi-monthly survey of U.S. adults who are active travelers and is co-authored by the Travel Industry Association and Ypartnership. The national survey of 2,296 travelers was conducted in August 2007, and the estimated margin of error is +/-2.05 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

Go to travelhorizons.

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