La pequeña empresa turística no maximiza las posibilidades de marketing de sus acciones de sustentabilidad, porque hasta ahora no ha entendido que ser sustentable y comercial pueden ser simbióticas. En esta presentación (powerpoint y voz de 40 minutos) presento cinco elementos de marketing básicos y explico que está ocurriendo en mercados internacionales y como la PYME puede actuar, con inversiones de tiempo y fondos mínimas. Esta presentación fue dada en Valparaíso, Chile, el 14 de Junio de 2012 en el marco del XVI Encuentro Empresarial.


Paso 1. ¿A quién se lo voy a decir? No entendemos el impacto que la sostenibilidad de los productos y prácticas empresariales responsables y pueden hacer sobre la demanda, porque estamos haciendo las preguntas equivocadas y análisis miopes.

Paso 2. ¿Por qué se lo estoy diciendo? Debe tener claro qué respuesta o cambio de comportamiento está esperando de sus clientes.

Paso 3. ¿Qué digo? Sea claro acerca de la impresión de que desea crear

Paso 4. ¿Dónde puedo decir? Integre la sostenibilidad como parte de la calidad a través de los canales en los que ya utilizan.

Paso 5. ¿Cuándo le digo? Se hace marketing todo el tiempo. Ayude a los clientes a tomar decisiones informadas.

The Green Marketing Toolkit with Welsh examples is now available. This document collects the experiences of a number of companies in marketing and communicating their green credentials, usually with small budgets and tentatively, to see what impact it will have. We aimed to capture what small firms can do when they get inventive and share their passion for sustainability.

All too often we have found that companies are scared of telling customers about their sustainability work, thinking it will be seen as greenwashing. This report provides many easy to follow examples to show there are opportunities for every company, regardless of their size or practices, to engage its customers.

DOWNLOAD THE WALES REPORT commissioned by VisitWales

DOWNLOAD THE ENGLAND VERSION the original 2010 report commissioned by VisitEngland and its Regional Tourism Partners

What motivates firms to adopt environmental management practices is one of the most significant aspects in the contemporary academic debate in which the review of the existing literature yields, with an obvious contextual bias towards developed world, contested theories and inconclusive findings.

Providing a unique model that brings together the individual and organizational levels of analysis on firms’ adoption of environmental management practices, this study aims to provide a new insight from the context of developing world. 

Data from 158 Red Sea hotels reveal two identifiable dimensions of environmental management- planning and organization, and operations- that can be explained as originating from different values. While organizational altruism is a powerful predictor of both two dimensions, managers’ personal values and organizational competitive orientation are only relevant to environmental operations. The evidence also indicates that contextual variables such as chain affiliation, hotel star rating and size are important to explain hotels’ environmental management behaviors.

The article was just published this month, as: El Dief, M. & Font, X (2012)  Determinants of environmental management in the Red Sea Hotels: personal and organizational values and contextual variables, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 36 (1) 115-137


The Royal Continental Hotel in Naples (Italy) has been working to be more sustainable between 2008 and 2010. When they had achieved a certain number of results, they decided to promote these through a comic, in English and Italian, called “Mr Royal- respect and save the environment”. It is the first time I have seen a hotel do this, and well worth getting it.  READ IT ONLINE

They chose this format to make what is operational information, usually communicated as unappealing text in management speak, more attractive to users. While their audience was not clearly defined, they still went ahead with contracting a cartoonist. They explain one action per two page spread, cleverly promoting 10 suppliers, who in turn contributed EUR3,000 each to get this endorsement and financed the whole project. 10,000 copies have been printed, distributed through the hotel, in tourism fairs and in the hotel association. Management believes this has improved the reputation of the hotel amongst its peers, has gained corporate clients’ appreciation, and while it has not attracted first time customers, it has helped to gain loyalty.

None of this has however been measured, and it is an isolated marketing effort. It is interesting to see how the fantastic booklet is at odds with the rest of the image the hotel gives, proving once more that most sustainability communications are tangential, as we can see from the hotel’s website. Any ideas on how to help this hotel make better use of their comic? What can we learn from their experience?


Tour operators requesting their contracted overseas accommodation providers to apply, measure and report their sustainability actions are facing a number of barriers when trying to ensure the effective implementation of environmental sustainability criteria in particular.

Sustainability systems are being challenged by organizational habit and perceptions rather than analytical decision making, with respect to the relationship between health and safety, quality and sustainability. Environmental indicators are identified as the most conflictive; the key findings demonstrate that most challenges require a change in human behavior rather than a technical solution. 

The data suggests that tour operators need to develop sustainability auditing tools that consider the impacts upon health, safety and quality within the accommodation.  The Travelife sustainability auditing system provides a useful case study to demonstrate the necessary requirement for a complementary approach when conducting accommodation audits.

The article has just been published as: Baddeley, J. & Font, X.  (2011) Barriers to Tour Operator Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Tourism and Recreation Research, 36 (3) 205-214.



As increased stakeholder pressure requires companies to be transparent about their CSR practices, it is essential to know how reliable corporate disclosure mechanisms are. This study benchmarks CSR policies and practices of ten international hotel groups of importance to the European leisure market.

We found that corporate systems are not reflected on operations, environmental performance is eco-savings driven, labour policies aim to comply with local legislation, socio-economic policies are inward looking with little acceptance of impacts on the destination, and customer engagement is limited. Generally larger hotel groups have more comprehensive policies but also greater gaps in implementation, while the smaller hotel groups focus only on environmental management and deliver what they promised.

Why was Accor top and Hilton so low down, and what are the consequences of tour operator suppliers (Riu, Barceló, Iberostar) being at the bottom?  DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE

Oulanka National Park, FinlandSustainability and business performance are related, and they both have a positive impact on each other, according to this survey of nearly 900 tourism and hospitality businesses from 59 European protected areas, conducted on behalf of the EUROPARC Federation with funding from DG Enterprise. The report is now available in English and Spanish

The green lifestyle group of businesses is dominant- for most businesses, sustainability actions are taken for altruistic reasons as part of lifestyle choices. The green entrepreneur group is smaller, with less than 20% of businesses having a profile of reasons and actions that suggest sustainability is seen as a business asset or a vehicle for competitive advantage.

We find primarily small and vulnerable businesses in European protected areas, that  claim to be sustainable in general terms but find it harder to show concrete examples. Larger businesses report more sustainability practices, and regardless of size, sustainability and financial health are related. However the lifestyle approach to sustainability means there is limited use for commercial advantages, as shown in the limited use for marketing and communications.

The implications for protected area managers are:

  1. Promoting the business case of sustainability to businesses is not likely to work as much as focusing on the altruistic reasons.
  2. If many of the businesses undertaking sustainability actions do it for lifestyle reasons, it will be difficult to promote any change of behaviour specially more formalised sustainability management (even if it increases profits).
  3. Savings from energy, water and waste management should be promoted first, to help these businesses make savings. Help them identify the savings to then use these as a budget for other sustainability actions that will inevitably increase costs.
  4. All businesses need help to understand which sustainability actions can be presented as part of quality, and to learn how and when to communicate these.

 Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has commissioned my team to manage a three year study into the importance and value of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the meeting and event industry.

This study, the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken, intends to bring new insights into how the meeting and event industry can build a sustainable future through best practices. As part of this study, we will be surveying 37,000 meetings, conference and congress organisers, promoters, buyers and clients- the largest CSR survey of its kind.  The overall goal is to produce a detailed report against three core areas defined as external environment, industry engagement and consumer demand.

For a long time I have been saying that we place to much emphasis on leisure tourism, and we ought to focus on business travel- the conference, conventions, meetings and more broadly events industry are well placed to test whether sustainability certification and requirements for corporate disclosure on CSR are now a well established requirement to trade, and how this trend is evolving globally- studying all of MPI’s membership base, over three years, provides a wealth of data never compiled under one study before. Continue Reading »

The  article from Lluis Garay and Xavier Font  in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, soon to be published, shows that:

  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for eco-savings reasons perform best financially,
  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for moral reasons are happy with their financial performance, but don’t perform as well as the first group, and
  • Businesses that take the least sustainability actions also have the lowest financial results.

The data was collected from 400 accommodation suppliers in Catalonia, Spain. We are now testing with 900 businesses in Europarc destinations across Europe, and I will share the results from this research in the near future.

I’ve been working with Fáilte Ireland now for nine months to prepare their Green Marketing toolkit, which I am proud to see come out today.  The main text already existed for the VisitEngland original document (who has licensed Fáilte Ireland  and VisitWales to have their own versions created).  The Wales version willl come out shortly.

The main effort in Ireland has been identifying case studies. You might think this would be an easy task. Oh, no. Companies in England were shy to talk about their sustainability credentials, and in most cases we found poor examples of management speak in their websites. But finding companies in Ireland was much harder. For a start, our remit was to work with primarily environmentally certified firms- Green Tourism Business Scheme, Green Hospitality Awards, EU Flower, Greenbox primarily. What we found is that most certification programmes pretty much ignore the green communication requirements, focusing almost exclusively on ecosavings management. These should be the firms that can confidently communicate their credentials, but weren’t.

The work for Fáilte Ireland has included face to face group training, writing over 50 individual reviews of accommodation businesses websites on their sustainability communications, and the interviews with businesses that led to this last report. To select the 30 case studies in this document, more than 60 interviews took place, trying to find an angle on how those businesses did something relatively easy for others to learn from and copy, with a small budget.

View the interactive pdf online or Download the pdf.

I am now now completing the VisitWales version of this same document, these two new versions (Ireland and Wales) are licensed by VisitEngland.