What inspired you to be one of the pioneers of CO2 offsetting ten years ago?
Travelling by plane or ship is not very sustainable. All the more reason to give customers the chance to make their holidays sustainable anyway. A solution for the compensation of CO2 emissions from flights or voyages forms part of this. The former CEO of Hotelplan Suisse was impressed by the myclimate concept and he immediately supported the myclimate initiative.
How do you explain this steady increase in CO2 offsetting since then? Have you really seen a trend towards climate-neutral holidays and climate-conscious travellers?
Travellers have become increasingly aware that flying has an impact on the environment, and the level of recognition enjoyed by myclimate as a provider of CO2 compensation solutions has increased simultaneously. Our travel consultants in our individual branches proactively inform our customers about myclimate’s work and recommend that they off-set their emissions. The result is that Hotelplan Suisse customers are becoming more and more environmentally aware. In 2016 they off-set 13,024.6 tonnes of CO2, which is 17 percent more than in the previous year.
Why is offsetting such a success model for you and your customers, but is not it so widely accepted by other industries and suppliers?
A great deal of our success is certainly due to the fact that, as mentioned, our travel consultants consistently address the issue. However, it is also important that compensation is possible both in the branches and also when booking online. The subject of climate compensation is directly connected with the travel industry, as people often fly to their holiday destination and this is when CO2 emissions are at their greatest. So it is clear to customers why we, as a travel agent, offer compensation schemes.
The traditional travel agency business appeared to be in decline a few years ago, yet Hotelplan doesn't seem to be affected by this development. How do you rate the prospects for the future?
Getting advice in an agency continues to be very important, particularly when the geopolitical situation is unstable and when acts of terrorism or natural disasters occur. In such cases, as a travel agent we offer customers a degree of security. Particularly when it comes to individual trips, customers trust in expert knowledge and want active advice. The Internet is used predominantly to book simple package holidays in the sun. It is, however, important that our branches keep their finger on the pulse of the times. For example, some Hotelplan and Travelhouse branches as well as Globus Reisen lounges will soon be equipped with virtual reality glasses.
A family of four asks you for a personal tip for an exciting and sustainable summer holiday. What would you recommend from your range of offers?
Holidays around the home are definitely the most environmentally friendly. Yet while it is true that long journeys are bad for the climate, it is also important to consider the positive aspects: travelling broadens your horizons and helps you to understand other cultures better – a key aspect in a global world. Tourism also supports the local economy and ensures that places of interest are preserved. The ratio of flight distance to journey time is crucial: the further away you fly, the longer you should stay there, as this makes the long journey worthwhile. We therefore recommend that our environmentally aware customers off-set the CO2 emissions from their journey with myclimate.
Offers from socially and environmentally aware hotels that have been awarded the Travelife sustainability label are also available to our customers. These establishments focus on subjects like avoiding food waste, reducing energy and water consumption, issuing staff with written employment contracts and taking into account local trade and industry. Hotelplan customers can find such offers using the “leaf and earth” symbol; at Travelhouse they are denoted by means of the “ecology” mark.