Going green touches the bottom line.
For a small company like Jersey Kayak Adventures meeting Green Tourism and Eco standards in Jersey may seem like yet another distraction from the daily task of running a business. It can all look like a load of hassle at a time when holding down costs is more important. Some suggest that Eco credentials during a recession is considered less important by consumers.
Yet, when I looked at customer responses I noticed our Green awards were giving us a competitive edge. Many customers reported that Eco awards were a positive factor which encouraged them to book a guided kayak or walking tour.
It is not just clients who have spotted the importance of Green standards.Many travel and leisure industry guide books now include separate Eco friendly sections. A listing can help give a business an extra competitive edge and catch media attention.
Becoming more environmentally conscious saves money. Whether it is the installation low energy light bulbs, using a different font style to save printer ink, reassessing the need to print single/double sided or not at all, or better scheduling of vehicle journeys, all can impact on your balance sheet. Meeting Eco standards also makes you look closely at costs and work practice.
By switching to online and advance bookings we see both environmental and cost benefits. By employing office staff we improved the booking process and get better group numbers on tours. We also manage to schedule events better. This improve profitability and helps us reduce costs. Using the EcoActive and Green Tourism business scheme standards are a good focus.
Over time little actions can make larger impacts. By changing our brochure design we extended their life span so they do not go out of date at the end of each year. The next challenge is to try and locally source more environmentally friendly printing and paper. At the moment we often get “it’s the first tie we’ve been asked this question” response.
Customers often respond positively to environmental initiatives. On walking tours both staff and clients are encouraged to pick up discarded and old bits of fishing gear from beaches. The use of use tap water in reusable cycle bottles instead of bottled water is encouraged and on overnight stays at Seymour tower clients are asked to remove excess packaging on packed food. This has the added advantage of lightening their baggage and encourages people to buy locally produced fresh produce. Clients who arrive by bus or cycle are offered an Eco discount when booking with us.
If staff are knowledgeable and enthused they are more likely to work well and customers appreciate staff knowledge. Our staff are often the first “locals” visitors have a chance to talk with. In 2012 four of our staff were trained to the Jersey Tourism Bronze badge guide standard. Each is an ambassador for Jersey at a time when customer service is a key factor in getting repeat business.
The Eco credentials of a business are becoming more important. We’ve started to get asked -especially from UK organisations- about our Green, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and supplier screening policies. Locally, our supplier screening questionnaire gets a mixed response. This ranges from panic to considerable interest. The non returns are also quite surprising especially when they are coming from firms that make lots of ‘Green’ statements.
At some stage the big local firms that deal with large contracts are going to start asking their smaller contractors and suppliers about their CSR. this. It’s better to be up to speed before this starts becoming the norm.
At least for us at Jersey Kayak Adventures adopting more Green approaches can have a positive impact on the bottom line on the balance sheet.