Travel executives sure like to talk the talk when it comes to eliminating plastics. TTC CEO Brett Tollman aims to be more than a talker.
Sustainability is a key area of focus for The Travel Corporation (TTC), with the eventual elimination of single-use plastics from the company’s 30 hospitality, tour, and cruise brands, CEO Brett Tollman said at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore on Monday.
“Plastic is the scourge of the Earth,” Tollman said. The company is “90 percent there,” toward its goal of eliminating single-use plastic water bottles from its river-cruise lines, he said. Even things like gloves used in food preparation are gradually being converted to non-plastic materials. When the brand completely bans plastic water bottles, it could remove as many as “couple of million” bottles from the environment, he said.
This ethos carries through to TTC’s organized tours as well, with the company creating experiences that educate customers on sustainability and conservation. “We all have to do our part,” Tollman said. “I don’t think we can rely on governments alone.”
TTC has completely “rebooted” its young-adult-focused Contiki tour brand. Contiki launched in the early 1960s and has had to reinvent itself over the years to reflect travelers’ changing tastes. By way of example, he noted that given that one-third of “Generation Y” does not drink, the brand has moved away from its former emphasis on “drinking and partying.” The company also is creating more inclusive experiences to reflect that generation’s interests, including tours that incorporate work with women’s charities.
In marketing its brands, TTC is moving toward “storytelling,” or “having our users and travelers tell our stories, rather than the brand telling our story,” Tollman said. These stories more authentically describe how travelers benefit the communities they visit, he said.
Tollman noted that the demand for tour group travel remains strong. TTC finds what he described as the “perfect group size” for each tour, or between 40–50 people, creates experiences that “resonate,” he said.
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Photo credit: The Travel Corporation CEO Brett Tollman speaking with SkiftX Editorial Strategist Paul Brady at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore on May 27, 2019. Tollman called plastics the "scourge of the Earth." Richard Lai / Skift