Putting the Eco in Ecotourism
By Rick Yoder, Consultant, UNO Business Development Center
The meaning of the term ecobusiness is subjective, but most people know it when they see it. The discerning eco-traveler knows what they expect from ecobusinesses; local businesses can compete for these traveling dollars if they know the expectations of this market segment.
Those experienced in backwoods camping and trekking through wilderness know Leave No Trace principles like “if you pack it in, pack it out” as surely as a range hand knows to leave the gate the way it was found (open or shut). With some planning, a little bit of research, and a willingness to compare practices with others, a business can gain advantages through pursuing ecobusiness practices, typically by saving money and improving their brand.
New, free energy and water bill analysis programs let businesses check their utility use against similar businesses around the country – giving them the ability to gauge their consumption against peers. Waste creeps into every process over time and even small savings can add up. Changes in technology offer energy and water savings by using less, and new chemical/cleaning formulations offer safer work materials.
Many industry groups offer special marketing opportunities for those who show they can walk the walk. Earn the certificate, then show it proudly. Talk about it often. Communities respond to businesses who care and employees appreciate investments in training and providing a safe workplace.
Ecobusiness comes down to this: Evaluate your business, check your performance against your peers, implement money saving changes, and sound your horn. If you need help, the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) is working with the Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition as a pathfinder for ecotourism businesses. Get in touch with the Coalition with questions.