Skift Take

Gen Zers don't care what tourism businesses say about their sustainability efforts. They just want to see it in their day-to-day experience.

Tourism businesses that talk about how sustainable they are won’t win points with Generation Z travelers. In fact, they run the risk of pushing them away, said Etienne Matichard, director of sales at Ennismore, a collective of 14 brands owned by Accor, during a panel this week at ITB Berlin titled “GenZ and the Transformation of Travel.”

Younger travelers are looking at what businesses do at even the smallest business practices, said Matichard. He noted one example of a group of German guests that were dissatisfied with plastic cups used in their breakfasts at a hotel near one of Ennismore’s hostels.  “If there’s something they hate, it’s not being taken seriously,” Matichard said. Ennismore is trying to remove plastic from its hotels.

This emerging behavior of Gen Z emphasizes a 2023 Skift Megatrend that travelers want to see real operational changes and less marketing when it comes to sustainability.

Marketing how sustainable you are runs the risk of turning off skeptical Gen Z travelers. Travelers don’t want to see a marketing campaign or a poster telling them what a business is doing to be more environmentally friendly.

“We try not to brag too much about it because if people have the feeling you are greenwashing your business, they are going to flee right away,” Matichard said. “We are trying to do it discreetly.”

Mama Shelter, for example, one of its hotel brands, replaced its liquid soap with solid soap and only has a small card to explain what it’s done, instead of a marketing campaign or a poster.

Ennismore hotel brands have found it more difficult to build new hotels that take into account energy savings and waste management rules, but they understand Gen Z travelers don’t care. “When people enter a hotel, they don’t care about that. They want to see there are no plastic forks in the restaurant,” Matichard said.


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Tags: climate change, generation z, hotels, sustainability

Photo credit: CELITECH CMO Lauren Koenig, Ennismore Director of Sales Etienne Matichard and WeTravel Head of Partnerships Shayna Zand in conversation with WYSE Travel Confederation General Director David Chapman at ITB Berlin Dawit Habtemariam

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