Applying behavioural sciences to tourism sustainability: how does that work in practice?
Read about practical case studies where behavioural insights have been applied to a topic of public interest. Some of these can be directly associated to tourism, some others come from different areas of policy, but can be inspiring for tourism-related challenges.
Encouraging bike sharing
Choices in modes of transport have important implications for public health and air quality. In this context, cities around the world are investing in bike share systems. While the growth in bike share journeys is impressive, globally, lots more needs to be done for cycling to take up a bigger share of journey modes.
In 2019, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and the Transportation Bureau of the city of Portland in the United States worked together to encourage new members to sign up to the city’s bike sharing scheme.
Encouraging plant-based food choices
What we eat has important impacts on the environment. In particular, livestock production for meat and dairy products is a disproportionate contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and fresh water use.
Shifting consumers’ diets to include more plant-based foods and less meat can help limit these impacts.
In 2018, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) worked with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to test the impact of different language on meat-eaters’ tendency to order a vegetarian dish.
Optimising Environmental Footprint of Hotel Operations
One of the ways to optimise environmental footprint of hotel operations is to switch default options for choices such as towel changing and room cleaning.
As part of its efforts to minimise unnecessary consumption of water, energy and detergents, Hotel Internazionale had transitioned to not changing towels on daily basis by default. However, the housekeeping team did not adjust their behavior and continued changing towels in every room.
The Hotel is currently testing an intervention to better understand this behaviour and to raise the staff’s awareness about the reasons for this change in the hotel’s policy.
Reducing single use plastic in camping sites
Campofelice camping complex is one of the largest camping sites in Ticino Region, Switzerland. Despite the fact that Swiss tap water is perfectly clean and tasty, and widely available throughout the complex, most guests drink bottled water contributing to a significant volume of single-use plastics waste.
The camping site of Campofelice in Switzerland is currently testing an intervention to make drinking tap water easier, more appealing and top of mind option.
Strengthening demand for locally produced products
The best way to increase the local economic impact of a traveller trip is to increase the consumption of locally produced foods and respectively, the share of their spend that stays in the local economy. Hotel Internazionale wanted to pursue this effect by encouraging hotel guests to consume more local products from the breakfast buffet and order more meals with local ingredients for lunch and dinner.
Increasing food waste recycling
Despite food waste being recyclable, many people do not sort their food waste from non-recyclables being sent to landfill. As a result, food waste is one of the most common recyclable waste being still sent to landfill.
In 2018, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) worked with Wigan Council, in the UK, to increase food waste recycling in Wigan through a series of actions that applied behavioural insights.