“Every industry player needs to be thinking about how to put the local community first. If we do that, we’re going to see some progress toward long-term sustainability.”

Peter DeBrine

Destination Advisor and UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Expert

What to listen for

Did you know nearly two-thirds* of travelers say they’re willing to spend more to make a trip sustainable?

In this episode, Brandon and Sally sit down with Peter DeBrine, destination advisor and UNESCO sustainable tourism expert. Listen in to learn what other travel companies are doing to minimize their environmental impact, and get tips to help attract the increasing number of travelers looking for eco-friendly accommodations. 

Plus, hear Peter’s take on the latest sustainable strategies for hospitality leaders, travelers, and sustainable tourism, and the next big trends in sustainable travel.

Tourist on destination vacation sticking her head out over the Great Wall of China.

Read the transcript

Sally [00:00:04] The travel experience is powered by all of you. Welcome to Powering Travel. Brought to you by Expedia Group. I'm Sally Smith.  


Brandon [00:00:11] And I'm Brandon Ehrhardt. Together, we'll explore how experts are evolving the industry and discover the latest trends in hospitality. So bypass that rental car counter. Your convertible is waiting. Powering Travel is next.  


Sally [00:00:25] You know, when we talk about sustainability, it's not just ticking off the box. It's really taking those steps that are going to make a difference not only with our environment, but when we talk about sustaining, sustaining our history, sustaining our culture, sustaining our world, sustaining our relationships and humanity, and our moral and ethical sustainability. The voice you just heard was Anthe Angelides, a vacation rental partner with several properties in Greece. We just spent a few days with our partners at our annual Explorer conference and we had a ton of fun meeting many of you. So thank you all for coming by the studio at the Aria Resort and Casino. One thing I noticed was that sustainability was a huge focus among a lot of the conversations throughout the event. 

Brandon [00:01:14] Yes. And it transcended to the entertainers of the Explorer event as well. I had a chance to introduce Wyclef Jean. Yes. Three-time Grammy Award-winning Wyclef Jean, and he was talking about sustainability specific to Turtle Island and Haiti. And it was great to hear his perspective.  


Sally [00:01:31] That's quite a brush with fame, Brandon, and I love that.  


Brandon [00:01:33] [I] was very proud of myself for not posting it on Instagram. Sally, I've got to tell you, I really wanted to, but I was like, maybe not.  


Sally [00:01:41] Well, we are so lucky to be able to continue the conversation with one of the most experienced experts in the space today, Peter DeBrine. Peter is a destination advisor and sustainable tourism expert. For the past ten years, he coordinated the UNESCO's World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Program. Previously, he was the director of the World Heritage Alliance at the United Nations Foundation. His dedication to sustainable travel spans his career, working with various organizations such as the United Nations, the World Wildlife Fund, and get this, Brandon, and even the Prince of Wales. So to really kick it off, Peter, I would love to have you tell us a little bit about UNESCO and its mission and your role within the organization.  


Peter [00:02:27] Great. Thanks a lot, Sally. And well UNSECO is considered what we call a technical agency of the United Nations. We work on culture, science, education and communication. We designate sites to be concluded on the World Heritage list. We also have other conventions. One is the intangible cultural heritage or living heritage, as we refer to it. And these things obviously intersect with travel and tourism. For the past ten years, I managed the World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Program for UNESCO. And we were really trying to promote a more sustainable approach to the way tourism is managed, that World Heritage Destinations really focusing on the community.  


Sally [00:03:08] So let's talk about the travel today and we talk about sustainability a little bit. So we did some research from Expedia Group on our Traveler Value Index and we found that 59% of travelers are willing to increase their spend to make a trip more sustainable, and 49% would consider visiting a less crowded destination to help with overtourism. So I think the numbers are powerful because it shows there is an awareness, there is a growing awareness around sustainability in travel. But I'd love to get your take. How do you continue to build that awareness and impact around sustainability?  


Peter [00:03:43] Honestly, it's all about information, how we get information when we get that information. There's a concept called the travel funnel, so it's like pre-trip, where you're trying to get inspired to go to a destination while you're actually traveling to the destination, while you're in the destination. And then obviously when you return, those are the points where you can really provide that, you know, that really clear idea for people in terms of how they can travel more sustainably and providing that information. I think what we're seeing now is in with the pandemic was because we couldn't travel, there was a lot of inspiration. So we were looking at, well, where can we go once we can travel? And so it's really important for those for technology and everything to come and help us in that sense, too. If you go to a website where you're trying to find more information about a destination, and that's something that UNESCO's really concerned about in that that we see that as a key thing and how we provide that information. This is also very important because that's how you get somebody to stay longer. One of the main pillars for sustainability for UNESCO is really trying to encourage people to stay longer in the destination because of course when they stay longer, they spend more money and that money goes into the community. And obviously the tourism industry itself is key in that because they have the touch points for a lot of tourists if you're booking through Expedia, for instance. So Expedia has a role. The hotel you stay at has a role. The concierge in that hotel has a role and then everybody else that's managing that, that value chain once you're in the destination.  


Brandon [00:05:15] Excellent. We've talked to the traveler. Turn the page and talk about the other side of the marketplace. As you were just mentioning with supply partners, you know, in the past few years, we've seen a number of let's choose air carriers come out with carbon-neutral pledges to have a carbon-neutral footprint by a period of time, some within next ten years, some all the way out to 2050. I want to get a sense from you, what do you think the responsibility is of the supply partner to promote sustainability and supply partner? I want to define so the person that's providing the inventory to the traveler, what's their role to promote sustainability?  


Peter [00:05:50] Well, I really think it's critical because again, as I was mentioning before, how they're a provider of this kind of information, which, you know, probably, you know, we have an initiative with Expedia called the UNESCO Sustainable Travel Pledge. And this is really intended to really encourage, primarily at this point, hospitality companies, hotel companies to make that very important commitment. And I mean, we purposefully made it's not very restrictive. So if you want to reduce single-use plastics, that's what you can do. If you want to give back to the community, that's what you can do. And UNESCO is recognizing those commitments and actually trying to make them stronger. What Expedia is doing, they're indicating that that hotel is taking the pledge. So as a consumer, you say, oh, okay, now that that's interesting. I want to book a more sustainable hotel experience. UNESCO's telling me this hotel is doing good things, So automatically you're reinforcing that that message and raising that awareness. So again, the industry's critical to that. And we're very happy and proud of that, our partnership with Expedia on the Sustainable Travel Pledge.  


Brandon [00:06:54] I saw something over the weekend that really surprised me. I’d love to get your take on it. The largest single day sporting event, the world's Indianapolis 500, 300,000 fans. Motor sports is not an industry where I think sustainability is the first thing that comes to mind if the past is any indicator, but as they extend into the future. One of the things that really struck me was Friday night the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar announced that they will be offering a chance or the ability or capability for the traveler to actually have a carbon-neutral footprint to attend their event so that the next running of the Indianapolis 500 is the most sustainable in history. What do you think is the role between the traveler, the supply partner, and like the event promoter? How do we move from individual improvements in these three areas to really unified support for sustainability? What's in your opinion, what's the most optimized way to set up these three different groups to be most successful at promoting sustainability?  


Peter [00:07:47] So obviously policy really underpins these things and that's why with climate change, for instance, there is the Paris Agreement and most countries of the world have signed on to that and there are commitments within that. Those commitments then trickle down. So, you know, it goes down to from a national level to a state level in the U.S. to a regional level and to a municipal level like the Indianapolis 500. So that city probably has to cut its emissions. And this is a gesture to do that, you know, to signify that they're taking this issue seriously and this is what they're doing. I think one of the things we sort of have to overcome is the fact that we all have to work together in this, in this situation. So we're not going to, as travelers, we're not going to solve the huge climate crisis that's facing the world. We have to look at that and put in place those innovations and those ideas that could help the different major stakeholders in that supply chain do that.  


Sally [00:08:43] I think that's great. And I love that example because you can love a sport, love a destination, have that passion and be able to make it sustainable for future generations and really understand your impact. And playing off that question because I know technology does a lot to unlock, you know, sustainable options as well. I know for me, if I'm going to travel, a lot of times I do like to do some research on whether it's going to be less crowded. When do I not have to wait in lines? I have two kids waiting in line for 5 minutes. Feels like 5 hours. So I'm curious for you when it comes to protecting against overtourism or helping consumers find sustainable options, where do you think technology comes in? Have you seen anything in companies, DMOs, heritage professionals that are developing or embracing technology to help with some of those challenges?

Peter [00:09:31] No, absolutely. I mean, I think technology has the potential and it is actually transforming the industry without a doubt. And we see this in different ways. I mean, I think just if you go to hotels nowadays, they have smart hotels. Everything's almost keyless. You can almost walk into a hotel and not have contact with the front desk or things like this. I think a lot of things that have come out of the pandemic that enable travel and tourism to continue are some of these measures where perhaps we can keep them, because there again and there are a lot of them are technology driven in that sense. We are seen in World Heritage sites, for instance, that they're now really shifting to booking online or booking in advance. So to sort of counteract that, the overtourism that was. Happening before the pandemic. From their understanding that they have, they can control it through ticketing and this is probably going to be in the future is that you may have to book your attraction before you book your hotel because there's only so many tickets that are sold during the day. And if you think you're going to show up on a Tuesday, you may not be able to get in. So I think that is certainly the future for a lot of these spaces, especially where you can do that. You know, that's a smaller area, I think. I think for cities and city tourism, it's a bit more challenging. But again, where we're seeing this happening and we're seeing, I think, the ripple effect of that. So it's really causing people to really look and plan in advance because this is something else that's really important for travel. We're seeing all of these types of innovations happening, which I think is very encouraging.  


Sally [00:11:00] That's great. And I think planning and advances is good. And I think making sure you have that great experience because yeah, no one wants to be super crowded when they've spent a lot of time and energy to get to a destination and they feel like they're not having that unique experience. So I think it's actually good to spread out that demand to your some of your points earlier, maybe travel at a different time or a different time of day to preserve the site, but also enjoy your experience so much better. So I think that's really great.  


Peter [00:11:27] And I think we're seeing that. And again, it gets back to information and how we get this information. It's in a lot of these destinations in Venice or Dubrovnik, where you have a lot of people coming on cruises and you know, when the cruises come every day. So, you know, you don't want to be in the city center of Dubrovnik when you have two or three cruise lines coming in because it's going to be very crowded. So give me that information. I'll make another decision. I'll see something else. And these types of things that I think are really important. And we can provide incentives to get people to travel, you know, off peak and take your holiday in February. Take your holiday in November. Not in August like a lot of us do.  


Brandon [00:12:09] I think it's interesting, Peter brought up technology and information sharing and of course, the role that that plays in the booking experience. That's certainly resonated with me. Just looking at the data, I know in our recent sustainable travel study, seven in ten consumers felt overwhelmed by starting the process of becoming more sustainable. So I think finding a way through technology to share this type of information clearly and easily, that's, you know, a way for the travelers to feel less overwhelmed but keen to hear your opinion now.  


Sally [00:12:40] Absolutely. Brandon. And I know that we are working as a company to find more ways for travelers to easily identify properties that have signed the UNESCO's pledge to support them in their journey in booking travel that is sustainable and meets their needs.  


Brandon [00:12:56] I don't know. This is like my personal problem, but I keep trying to find, like the silver lining in COVID. And I think it was that some of the stuff like being having a fixed capacity for events has made the technology so much more important. And I think what we've seen coming out of COVID is that a lot of that technology can now persist to this new world. We're hopeful that it does. Thinking about some of the other partnerships that UNESCO has, you know, Green Key International is one that joined recently. How does UNESCO think about scale and you know, getting more people involved so that we can make some of these technologies a reality. So maybe you can first touch on the Green Key International piece joining the pledge. And then maybe secondly is how do we continue to involve new partners who can maybe make that sharing of technology more accessible to all different types of destinations?  


Peter [00:13:44] The Green key is a great example because that is more of what we call a certification system. I mean, our pledge that we have is not that, and it's important to say it's not we're not accrediting these properties. And so Green Key and they're in and through that whole system, again, it really provides that consumer awareness of these properties that they have gone through a rigorous process that has been audited by a third party. So we're building on that and understanding that we need to work with organizations like Green Key to really sort of scale things up. And that's why we purposely put the barrier of entry very low. So all of those hotels that are accredited will of course have been committing to sustainability. So automatically they're part of that. And so we're really trying to branch out. And the other piece of that is working with destination management organizations. They're key in terms of communications, they’re key in terms of how these destinations are being managed. And they also bring the different stakeholders together. So I think they're also going to be very key. And in terms of making sure that, you know, some of these positive trends, as we've talked about from the pandemic on technology, on there's people want to be outside more.  


Sally [00:14:53] I like how you approach that, though, because I think sustainability in some ways can feel a little overwhelming if you're an operator, especially a smaller operator. So I like this the Sustainable Travel pledge, because you can start in one area and you can start to make an impact and grow that over time. And then there's Green Key as well, which is a little bit more of a certification. So I think it's important to just have that diversity in how you make sustainability approachable and ultimately you're trying to drive impact anyway. I'm curious, we've talked about a couple of different things with you already today, but is there anything you've been working on recently or that we haven't talked about yet that's top of mind or really important for you in the future?  


Peter [00:15:30] We've been talking a lot about that over the past few years, that when tourism comes back, it needs to come back more sustainable. And I think it's really more about more conscientious tourism in that sense. And I think those destinations that really utilized creativity, for instance, as we talked before, how you enrich the visitor experience in a way that's meaningful, that's authentic, that's not, you know, something just manufactured for tourists and even the stuff that you buy. I think the hard thing for sustainability is that when people are on holiday, you want to feel good. We don't want to be told we're being bad. So I think again, how we give that information, how we encourage them as travelers to be more responsible, you have to give them choices. So it's the industry in that sense that's providing those experiences. You know, you can take a cooking class, you can go see how some of these spices are grown. I mean, there's a lot of great stuff you can do in terms of a really bringing that to life.  


Brandon [00:16:29] It just seems like there's so much synergy with like sustainability in an open world and really encouraging travel, right? Like just to your spice example, isn't it so fun when you get to, like, bring something home from a trip and then have like friends over for dinner and cook and then you get to explain, you know, potentially where it came from or why it's important to that region or destination. I just think that's a great part of the travel experience. It's something that you can do and enjoy while you're there, but also you get to take it home with you, whether it's a memory or something that you brought in your trip. And so I think it's just really eye opening to me as we touch more on sustainability in the past couple of years. Just it really is an overlap with being a better traveler and being a better citizen of the world.  


Peter [00:17:06] Absolutely. And, you know, our senses react that way. You know, when we see something, that's probably the first thing you forget. But a smell you remember now, and I always remember when I was you, I was a kid, my grandmother's perfume. And I swear to God, you know, now I'm not a kid anymore. But when I smell that perfume, it reminds me of my grandmother and it takes me back. And these things stick with us for a long time. And how we excite the senses through tourism. I think, again, it's kind of that the future, this is where we need to keep going.  


Brandon [00:17:38] Agreed. And there's a smell that I had when I walked into a pizza place in Ho Chi Minh City, which is like the last thing you'd expect to do in city. But it was literally the best pizza I've ever had. And I'm from Chicago, so I'm probably gonna get some hate mail for that. But it was this just intense and beautiful smell of like pizza baking in the oven. And yeah, it's something I'll never forget about that trip one because it was so spectacular but two because it was so unexpected.  


Peter [00:18:03] Mhm. No, absolutely. Yeah. You'll, you may forget the church you just went in but the smell or the you know, that taste or something like that, it stays with you.  


Brandon [00:18:13] Yeah, absolutely. The smell of the pizza did stay with me and sort of recall the name. It was for pizza in Ho Chi Minh City. If you’re ever there, I guarantee you it is the best pizza that you will have in all of Asia. Peter, I want to I want to look into the crystal ball. If we were to look back years from now, how do we know what we're doing has been successful?

Peter [00:18:34] That is the point. The million dollar question for all of us.  


Brandon [00:18:38] Probably the billion dollar question.  


Peter [00:18:41] Exactly. Obviously, we start to have to measure these things. We have to take metrics. We have to do these assessments to see where we are today. So in ten year’s time, we know we're starting to accomplish some of these goals. And I think clearly, to have to transform the industry into a net zero for climate change, that is absolutely in ten years. If we don't, then it's we're literally in travel has it has a huge potential to help us turn that around. And you're seeing it with the industry. You're seeing, you know, big investments. I mean, if you're going to build a hotel, I mean, you'd have to be absolutely nuts to not consider that that hotel is going to be there 50, 60 years and need to make it the most energy efficient thing you can do right now. It's a good investment. It's good for the environment and the consumers are going to be demanding it. So in ten year’s time, there should be no hotels built that are that are using outdated technology or outdated energy systems or anything like that. You know, most hotels are sustainable. You know, this is one of the things we we're really trying to focus on with the pledges, you know, the big hotel chains. I mean, they're way ahead of the curve in many ways. I mean, they've been engaged on sustainability issues for many years. They've made a lot of progress. But maybe the small and medium sized businesses, independent owners, they probably need a lot more help. So I think, again, focusing on that and focusing on how we can reach those, those independent operators, I think is going to be critical because then in ten years we will have achieved what we set out to achieve today.  


Sally [00:20:08] When you talk about the future and I can't help but think about the next generation of travelers, so my kids are young, young folks that are out there traveling right now. I think with my kids in particular, I have a love for travel, of course, but I want to make sure that they see it in a certain way. So we do a lot of reading about history before we travel. We recently went to Hawaii. We did a lot of history about Hawaiian culture or Polynesian culture, and then we made sure that that experience for them was very immersive about everything, right? Not just being at the pool, but really teaching them history and whatnot. So, you know, I really want to do my part to, of course, be sustainable in the choices that I make, but also teach that to my children. How do you see that in within UNESCO and the next generation, young people, children, to make sure that we're setting up for even greater success?  


Peter [00:20:54] I think it's you know, obviously it's critical to reach young people and in formal education we have the tools at our fingertips to do that. And obviously it takes parents to take that initiative and to say exactly what you did. You know, like I want to help you to have a different experience because what happens when you do that, then their travel experience at a young age is very immersive. It's very meaningful. And so they want that going forward. Last summer I was in Venice, for instance. I mean, it was it was too crowded. I mean, there's just no other way to say it. It was too many people, you know, I don't need to go to Venice again. I mean, you know, perhaps I'd like to go to Venice again, but I don't necessarily need to. But there's a baby born every minute that needs to see that. Everybody needs to see that at least once. It's that kind of a place. So how we deal with that and how we manage that and why somebody wants to go to Venice, it's not, you know, just to see the gondolier or eat the delicious food there. But it's that history and that rich history.  


Brandon [00:21:52] Let people understand where they're going and why they'd be going there before they booked. One of the things that we are developing right now is just curated editorial content specifically for destinations. And I so I think one avenue is let people understand the history. I mean, Sally, it sounds like you do a great job parenting out of the trip. I think you've got some things to learn, but at the same time, like it is just really interesting to see like there is this desire for people to understand why they're going to where they're going and let's make it easier for them using the Internet, using things where we can share it not only with like maybe the primary book or like one of us, but also so that, you know, we can take that to bedtime that night and tell a story about, you know, in Sally's example, you know, some of the history within the Polynesian culture, Hawaii or some of the things that led to the development of Venice. So it becomes very interesting for the child or the person you're explaining it to. So when they're there, instead of it being like the boring stuff in a museum, they want to run it and it's like, oh, they're captivated. They've seen this in a book prior to going. They seen this on a on an iPad screen or a computer screen prior to going. So these are just a lot of very creative ways that we can help the industry be more sustainable by really advocating and evangelizing for it via content. And I think that's an area of opportunity that we see here at Expedia Group and definitely excited that we'll be getting more into that space as we roll out our new loyalty program.  


Peter [00:23:11] Now that sounds wonderful. I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about storytelling, because this is what we're talking about, telling stories and how we tell those stories and who's telling those stories and what stories they're telling and making them interesting. Everything could be seen through that lens. And I think again, sort of the future and how we do that, if we concentrate on that, I think we're going to be successful. And you see that happening all over the place. You know, organizations like National Geographic, it's all about storytelling. It's all about exploring. It's all about trying to to see something you haven't seen or experienced, something perhaps you haven't seen or experienced before. So that's something obviously in scope. We love to tell stories. You probably like stories more than we like our lists, perhaps, but that storytelling is it's so powerful. And, you know, especially kids, they really you know, they respond really well to it. And because you can do it in different ways.  


Sally [00:24:02] Everything for everyone, that's what it's all about, traveling as a family in particular. So we're going to shift gears a little bit and we have a few fun questions for you. Just say whatever comes to mind first. And the first question is what do you see as the next big trend powering travel? 


Peter [00:24:18] Really that conscientious traveler. I mean, we really need to get into that. We need to advocate for that. I think one of the trends is we want to travel to distant destinations, but we want to stay longer. Right, too. So this prolonged stay, I think is very, very important. I think green travel, I think we started off with those numbers. There is a demand for this type of travel and I think that's only going to grow, you know, because people don't want you know, you don't like I said before, you do want to feel bad about traveling. You want to feel good about it.  


Sally [00:24:48] So the second question is, what's the most memorable trip you've ever taken? Which I have a feeling from you might be a hard one to answer.  


Peter [00:24:55] One of the amazing places I've been is actually in China. Again, it's these fourth century Buddhist cave paintings that have that are amazingly preserved, that they've lasted this long. It's just a wonder. And you go to this place, it's called the Mogao Grottoes. It's on the edge of the Gobi Desert, sort of really kind of very, very remote. And because of that remoteness is probably why they've been, you know, they're in such great condition. And another place near and dear to my heart is Luang Prabang in Laos. I don't know if you've ever been there, but again, it's another a Buddhist related site, but it's just incredible how these communities have lived for centuries like that. It's just it's just well, it's like one of those places where you go it's just like, Wow.  


Brandon [00:25:40] Peter, you've left the house. You're headed to the airport. You realize you forgot something. What's the one thing that you go back for? What's the one thing that you can't travel without?  


Peter [00:25:51] Well, this is going to be very, very basic. But I really nowadays, I cannot travel without my smartphone.  


Brandon [00:25:58] Hey, I you I was talking with someone yesterday who had gone to Europe when they were in like high school. And we were just reminiscing and like, how do we do that? You couldn't look up anything on your phone. Like, you literally had to use a map or know the language well enough to ask someone. So, so interesting how smartphones even have changed travel. Imagine what it was like before having one.  


Peter [00:26:18] Incredible. I also have a very favorite suitcase that I is.  


Brandon [00:26:22] Oh. Tell us more.  


Peter [00:26:24] Because I love it. A lot of what I do is that it is business travel. So and because I work for UNESCO, we often wear suits. It's one of the few industries where men still wear suits. And it's kind of a required thing anyway. So I think take suits but I have this folding garment bag. Well it's a Tumi bag and it, it, it folds, it's a carry on but it's a garment bag carry on and it folds differently. So when you look at it, when I'm pulling it along, it's more horizontal than like a vertical thing. But if you put it vertically, it's more or less the same size as most conventional carry on bags. But this thing holds two suits, you know, several days of casual wear, an extra pair of shoes, and I can go to a week in Vietnam on a carry on.

Brandon [00:27:17] Peter, we covered a lot today. My hope is that that seven out of ten number we shared earlier, where seven out of ten people feel overwhelmed now, have a starting place to be less overwhelmed and we get that number to zero. But I wanted to leave the final word to you. We've covered a lot today. So what are your few last words of wisdom for the listeners as we wrap up?  


Peter [00:27:38] Well, I think that, you know, if we all sort of looked at how we can put the local community first, I think that's really key. I think if we do that, I mean, every industry player needs to be thinking about that because I think if you do that, then again, in terms of longer-term sustainability, you're going to see some progress. I think it's been something that we've..., there needs to be a lot more focus on that. And if we aren't doing that, I think we're going to fail in the long run. So again, that's my call to action is really, really trying to put the community front and center.  


Brandon [00:28:13] It's exciting to hear that sustainability continues to be such a focus area from travelers and across the industry. We heard it from Anthe and Wyclef at Explore. We heard it from Peter today in this episode. And Sally, we got to be part of the solution too. So I want to put you on the spot and I'll go first to give you a second to think. But let's commit to one action that each of us are going to take coming out of this podcast that we will include in our normal travel planning or travel stay repertoires. So I'm not sure if that word plural, but it is now and we can include it and we'll check back at the end of the season. I know we have a couple more topics that we're going to touch on and sustainability with, So I'm going to go first just to reset or Sally and I are both going to commit to one action to be more sustainable when we travel. Mine is going to be looking for shoulder seasons and places off the beaten path so that I'm not contributing to overtourism.  


Sally [00:29:09] That's great, Brandon. That's certainly where we want to do the same there as well. I think for me, I travel a lot. I check in to a lot of hotels and for me I want to make sure I'm embracing all of the sustainability programs that are at each hotel I go to. So when I check in, make sure that I'm using my towels, I'm not doing daily housekeeping service. I'm using a reusable water bottle, whatever it is that they're promoting. I want to make sure that I'm supporting it.  


Brandon [00:29:34] Yeah, and usually a good way where you can earn a couple of extra loyalty points. I know that there's been campaigns in the past where if you don't have housekeeping or you're not having the sheets change, they'll give you a, you know, a couple hundred loyalty points. So something in it for us all when it comes to sustainability, because, you know, the overarching principle of all of this is this is the world we live on and we need to make it sustainable. So it's here is to visit these great sites for many, many years to come. Great episode, great insights. Looking forward to what's next for this podcast. Sally, do you want to tell them how they can learn more about the unique skill pledge?  


Sally [00:30:08] Absolutely. If you want to hear more about the UNESCO's Travel pledge, visit UNESCO Sustainable  Travel. We hope you enjoy this episode of Powering Travel. We want to hear from you. So connect with us at Powering Travel at ExpediaGroup.com. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are live and be sure to rate and review the show. A huge thank you to everyone Powering Travel. Thanks for listening.

Meet your hosts

Sally and Brandon love keeping up with the latest news in travel. They're on a mission to interview experts across the industry about what's trending — and they can't wait to share what they learn with you. 

Sally Smith

Expedia Group Senior Director of Market Management

Sally launched her career in 2005 with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and joined Expedia in 2012, where she’s earned a decade of experience in hotel revenue management and sales strategy. Sally’s passionate about travel — and about technology’s potential to benefit the industry. She lives in Lake Tahoe, CA, with her husband and their two young children.

Brandon Ehrhardt

Expedia Group Senior Director of Partner Programs

Brandon spent the early days of his career designing revenue management strategies for United Airlines and currently heads up our platform loyalty program. While with Expedia Group, Brandon has played an integral role in scaling our loyalty program, launching research projects, and leading strategic initiatives. Brandon currently resides in Chicago, IL, with his wife and a rambunctious toddler.

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