Worldwide: Expedia Group has announced the rollout of a new global social impact and sustainability strategy to further develop a travel ecosystem that is “responsible, open and accessible to all”.
It builds on the company’s announcement at its Explore event earlier this year in Las Vegas that it was combining its mission, purpose and values to forge an Open World technology platform. The platform will allow partners to leverage and configure products and services in the travel ecosystem that enhance the overall traveller experience and community engagement and reduce the environmental impact of moving from place to place.
The Open World social impact and sustainability strategy will be underpinned by three key pillars – increasing access for under-served traveller demographics, democratising the travel economy and innovating sustainable solutions for the future of the industry. Furthermore, it is designed to tackle inequalities in travel, accelerate meaningful change for the travellers and communities that power the sector, and ensure a healthier planet moving forward.
Peter Kern, vice chairman and CEO of Expedia Group, said: “Travel is transformative. It broadens horizons, strengthens connections and changes perspectives. With our new Open World social impact and sustainability forward-looking plans, we will further our mission to power travel for everyone, everywhere.
“Travel needs to lighten its footprint on the planet, and everyone should be able to experience it and receive the associated benefits. Now is the time to innovate the existing model. We have a responsibility to enable a stronger, more sustainable industry,” he added.
Expedia Group’s social impact and sustainability strategic framework includes:
- Inclusive pathways for under-served travellers
Building on Expedia Group Media Solutions’ 2022 Inclusive Travel Insights Report, Expedia Group says that it has made improvements to accessibility filters to include options for lifts / elevators, service animal accommodations, roll-in showers, sign language staff availability and expanded search features for travellers seeking properties that welcome their demographics, such as LGBTQIA+ guests. To achieve this, the group is pledging to provide grants to organisations that are set up to remove barriers for travel to under-served communities around the world.
Last year, Expedia Group played a key role in ensuring the US State Department issued the first non-binary US passport and other inclusive passport designations are also being introduced.
- Economic advancement for communities under-represented in travel
Expedia Group wants to support small and local businesses that focus on improving the representation and experience of under-represented travellers in order to allow more people and communities to take advantages of economic opportunities afforded by the travel market. The group will soon launch a programme aimed at startups and medium-sized travel businesses to further develop its mission.
- Prosperous planet for generations to come
In a bid to innovate more sustainable business models and empower travellers to make more responsible travel choices, Expedia Group has joined the Travalyst Coalition and signed the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism, while committing to support the global goals of cutting emissions by 50 per cent in the next decade and ensuring the travel industry reaches net zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050, under the Glasgow Declaration.
The Travalyst Coalition, which was created after the launch of Travalyst in 2019, enables these goals by allowing travel firms such as Expedia Group to deliver “unified sustainability frameworks and methodologies” to travellers worldwide.
In addition, Expedia Group is partnering with the Travel Foundation to offer training and practical guidance to destination marketing organisations [DMOs] so that they can lead the way on climate action in tourism and engender more significant change at a local level.
Aditi Mohapatra, vice president of social impact and sustainability at Expedia Group, told Phocuswire that the enhanced strategy would make travel “more responsible, open and accessible to all” and that travel can be “an engine of economic growth”.
She said: “We believe travel can be an engine of economic growth. With a mass global network of partners, we strive to empower small businesses and support those focused on diversifying the industry.
“We partner closely with organisations across our supply chain through strategic partnerships and programmes like the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism and Rent Responsibly to promote cultural preservation and strengthen local economies around the world.
“The travel industry faces a variety of challenges, from the need to drive change across highly diverse actors globally, from multi-national brands to many small businesses and local entrepreneurs, to a lack of market-ready zero-carbon technologies for certain key sectors like aviation, to traveller confusion around what ‘sustainability’ really means.
“We are excited for the positive impact ahead and the steps toward a more responsible industry. This is a long-term journey with this being step one. Together with our partners, our travellers and our communities, we will accelerate positive change and advance a more open travel ecosystem by increasing access, equity and sustainability,” she added.
Expedia Group’s brand portfolio includes Expedia, Vrbo, Hotels.com, Expedia Partner Solutions, trivago, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire, Wotif, ebookers, CheapTickets, Expedia Group Media Solutions, CarRentals.com and Expedia Cruises.
STRz will be exploring “The new era of smarter, sustainable, responsible tourism” in the next RockSTRz webinar on Tuesday 27 September [4pm BST] – sign up for the no-cost session at this link.