Eurostar encourages customers to ‘tread lightly’

Most businesses are getting to grips with the need to drive forward a sustainable agenda. The financial benefits are clear: using less energy costs less.

A simple message, but how does business get customers on board? For customers, green choices don’t necessarily mean savings to them, indeed, green choices often cost more.

It was this challenge that Eurostar’s environment and energy manager, Peter Bragg, spoke about at the Sustainable Business Conference today (January 27).

In 2006/7 Eurostar research found that there was considerable interest from their customers in climate change and sustainability and more were looking for this in their travel choices.

Eurostar had a competitive advantage over air travel, which is considerably more carbon hungry. Journeys to the core destinations of Paris and Brussels emit a tenth of the carbon of flying.

With this in mind, Eurostar launched their Tread Lightly programme. They made a commitment to cut carbon emissions by 25% per traveller journey by 2012, which has since been raised to 35% after reaching this target earlier than expected. Since November 2007, all Eurostar journeys have been ‘carbon neutral’ at no extra cost to passengers.

Their strategy to attract new customers on their green credentials involved engaging customers, employees and partners in sustainability.

Research showed that many customers chose Eurostar over flying for environmental reasons. They were keen to be educated more but did not want to be lectured to. While sustainability was found to interest customers they did not want to pay more to support it. Reinforcing green credentials, giving clear information and having knowledgeable staff all contributed in engaging customers.

Winning over customers is part of the battle but, Peter Bragg said, senior management and board buy-in is key to success. Linking to key business objectives and integrating sustainability in the company’s core values is essential to drive the sustainable agenda forward.

Alison Brown

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