The world is in a frantic rush to reduce its carbon emissions, but is our attention really focused on what is the most effective way to do so?
Since I was a little boy, I’ve been a big fan of traveling. I grew up with my parents, who are both avid travelers and they took me all over the world. I had a great childhood; we went to many beautiful places on an annual basis. I also learned a lot from traveling. I learned so much about different cultures and how to speak different languages. I got to know other cultures much better and realize just how diverse we all are.
Preferred Hotel Group’s newest independent luxury brand, Beyond Green, with a focus on sustainability, offers travelers the ultimate eco-tourism experience, as well as a commitment to social well-being and sustainability.
This new brand was officially launched in April with a selection of properties around the world.
Costas Crist, global sustainability expert and CEO of Beyond Green, and Rick Stiffler, senior vice president of global sales – leisure at Preferred Hotel Group, answered several questions about how travel advisors can begin to educate and promote sustainable travel to their clients, what advisors should know about the brand, and how to learn more.
(TA): Can you tell us a little bit about the Beyond Green brand for the advisors who don’t know it yet?
Costas Christos (CC): Although the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the travel industry, travelers are now accustomed to being able to reach almost every corner of our planet, from the most remote wilderness areas to famous cultural sites near and far.
We have more destinations and more ways to get there than ever before in human history. This brings with it an even greater responsibility to protect our beautiful but fragile planet and to ensure that tourism fulfils its promise to improve and promote living conditions on the ground in destinations around the world. This is also the heart of Beyond Green. We are a portfolio of iconic hotels, resorts and lodges – from Brando in French Polynesia to Borgo Pignano in Tuscany to the new Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana and many more – committed to making an impact as leaders in sustainability.
We believe that sustainable tourism is not about giving up something, but gaining something more – travel that delivers positive benefits for people and planet, combined with excellent customer service and inspiring experiences.
Borgo Pignano Pool overlooking Tuscany (Photo via Preferred Hotel Group)
TA : How can advisors start a conversation with their clients about responsible travel?
CC : Many travel advisors are already having similar conversations. Over the past decade, I have conducted dozens of trainings for tourism consultants on leadership and best practices in sustainable tourism. During these trainings, I kept hearing the travel consultants say: We understand this, and our customers tell us that they are increasingly interested in booking hotels and vacations that are environmentally friendly and respectful of local communities.
The problem is: how do you find an easy and reliable way to know who is doing well? Beyond Green was founded to answer this question.
As one of the experts involved in the creation of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria in 2005, now part of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and a rigorous verification process that includes sustainability inspections of properties, travel advisors can be sure that when they book with Beyond Green, they are at the forefront of transforming travel – for people and for the planet….. The best way to start a conversation about sustainable travel is to share it with customers.
It’s about taking the trip of a lifetime and knowing that your vacation is making the world a better place.
Bisate Lodge by Wilderness Safari, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. (Photo courtesy of Preferred Hotel Group, Inc.).
TA : What training opportunities are available for advisors to learn more about Beyond Green?
Rick Stiffler (RS): In the last two months, since Beyond Green’s official launch, the sales team has been actively hosting webinars with travel agency clients from around the world. These webinars were held in seven different languages and provided an in-depth presentation of the Beyond Green brand. A variety of information was presented during these educational sessions: Details on the new Beyond Green GDS code – LE, which stands for Love the Earth, how to book a room on the Beyond Breen website (www.staybeyondgreen.com), information on the Beyond Green VIP table and, of course, information on the many sustainability initiatives being implemented at Beyond Green member hotels around the world.
To ensure that travel advisors are up to date on all aspects of Beyond Green’s global portfolio, the sales team, which also manages the relationship with Preferred Hotels & Resorts, will continue to host these training seminars throughout the year to educate advisors on key aspects of sustainable tourism and how to sell Beyond Green’s unique properties.
Advisors seeking more information can consult the Beyond Green website. On the brand’s Good Stories blog, where new content, tips and advice are constantly being added, they’ll find top-quality visual content about each accommodation and the experiences on offer, as well as vivid stories about the world of sustainable travel.
TA : Are there any offers or incentives for consultants to book Beyond Green or visit any of the brand’s facilities?
RS: As part of the Preferred Hotel Group family of brands, advisors can enroll their clients in I Prefer to gain access to key benefits at more than 650 hotels worldwide.
In addition to the usual benefits of I Prefer, such as. Consultants who book stays at participating Beyond Green hotels, resorts and lodges will have access to exclusive bonus points for their clients, tied to participation in on-site activities, such as B. San Juan Capistrano’s eco-tour at Laguna Beach Ranch in California.
Three Camel Lodge, part of Beyond Green. (Photo via Beyond Green)
In addition, advisors can take advantage of the Journeyer’s Pick package, which is available at 15 participating locations when they book by September 30, 2021 for travel through September 31. December 2021 is available.
The Traveller’s Choice package, which includes the best available fare, a unique local experience or a meaningful souvenir only available as part of this special offer, and 5,000 I Prefer bonus points, also offers a 3% bonus on top of the standard 10% agency commission for all bookings made using the chain code LE in the GDS, the Beyond Green website or the call centre with the correct IATA/TIDS number.
TA : What Beyond Green hotels, resorts and lodges should advisors consider for their clients in the coming months and beyond?
CC : This is the perfect time to explore Beyond Green’s portfolio of hotels, resorts and lodges, as there is so much to see and do. Vermejo, New Mexico’s Ted Turner Preserve, for example, allows visitors to explore more than half a million acres of mountains, lakes, forests and fields where bison roam and deer and antelope play. It’s like having an entire American national park at your disposal, used by one person and a small group of friends.
Most people have never heard of Zagori in Northern Greece, but for the discerning traveler who loves to explore, I would take every opportunity to book a stay at the Aristi Mountain Resort, located in one of the most spectacular areas of these dramatic mountains, with dozens of hiking trails and ancient authentic Greek villages nestled among archaeological sites and ancient monuments.
For a quick trip to the tropics and snorkeling and diving in the world’s second largest coral reef, a less than two-hour flight from the U.S. mainland brings you to Belize and the Family Coppola Hideaways Turtle Inn in the sleepy village of Placencia. You can also make Beyond Green a grand slam through Central America by combining Belize with the Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Costa Rica, near Manuel Antonio National Park, and ending with a stay on Islas Secas in Panama, a private island that is a true gem of luxury and tropical nature.
Just talking about it makes me want to go there immediately, and I’m only just beginning to discover all the incredible Beyond Green sites united by the principle of respect for nature, culture and communities.
For more information about Beyond Green, click here.
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