Page content

Back to list

ESG certification makes sense – but must be credible

Two speakers discussing on stage.

ESG certifications are more than just a PR stunt

How can a company prove its ESG commitment is serious? How important are the numbers and certification, and what role does storytelling play? Is greenwashing always deliberate, or are companies often just unaware of it? On Thursday afternoon at the ITB Berlin Convention, Xenia zu Hohenlohe and Dr. Willy Legard discussed these questions with tourism professionals and experts from various countries, who in some cases had differing views.

Hazel McGuire of the tour operator Intrepid Travel said her company was happy with its B Corp certification. “It was the right certification for our company. It takes the environment into account as well as the impact on society, the supply chain and the question as to who profits“, McGuire said. At the same time she conceded that in many cases certification and sustainability did not decide holidaymakers’ booking choices. However, the tour operator also found that whenever tour guides mentioned sustainability on a trip and gave visitors the chance to experience it, customer satisfaction increased significantly.

For Victoria Kanauer of the GreenSign Institute in Berlin it was important for certification to be credible and awarded in accordance with transparency guidelines and international standards. “Consumers want to be sure certification has not been bought, but earned by fulfilling high standards“, Kanauer said.

Rob Holmes of GLP Films said that in his work he focused on the power of storytelling. Whenever he shot a film about sustainability he checked the customer’s credentials beforehand. He also believed it was important not to talk to the managers, but with the workers who embodied the firm’s philosophy on the ground. Holmes had found that greenwashing was rarely deliberate. Many companies were unaware of it. In those cases it was important not to criticise the destination or provider, but to help them improve.