The family run agency, which markets more than 700 properties across the south west, has spent the past year championing green tourism initiatives, both within their own business and the self catering properties they market.
“We have taken a very businesslike approach to the development of our environmental ethos”, says Simon Tregoning, Managing Director of Classic Cottages.
“The two central strands of our approach have been to commit our resources in the way in which we think they will have maximum effect and to walk-the-walk before we talk-the-talk.”
In order to receive a gold award, businesses have to achieve more than 80% in their assessment. The audit is carried out by a qualified GTBS assessor and the audit report provides a statement on the performance of the business as a sustainable tourism operation.
The GTBS audit report for Classic Cottages states “Classic Cottages is taking great steps to reduce the environmental impact that the corporate office has, they are also deeply involved with raising money for social projects in the south west. The organisation is also taking steps to encourage the cottage owners to manage their business in a greener manner.”
At the start of the year Classic Cottages launched a free ‘Green Guide’ for holiday property owners. The guide offers practical advice for holiday home owners on how to make their properties more eco-friendly. The tone of the guide is much more about what people can do, rather than what they should do. At the same time considering the most important person in the equation, the guest. “The aim of the guide is give property owners all the information they require in one place,” says Simon Tregoning.
There are case studies from owners who have placed the environment at the centre of their business with windmills, biomass boilers and solar panels, but Classic Cottages also identifies that the smaller things can make a real difference.
Simon said: “There are so many small things that can be done easily, like cutting air miles by buying local flowers to greet the guests, turning down the thermostat, bulk buying to cut down on packaging, putting foil behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room and leaving recycled toilet roll and kitchen towels for guests to use.
“Solutions also don’t need to be difficult or expensive – you could simply encourage guests to ‘think local’ and buy from the local market or farm shop.”
The guide is available to anyone with a self catering holiday cottage by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and is reproduced on-line at www.classicgreeen.co.uk
However efficient their environmental practices, Classic Cottages recognise that their business will have an environmental impact and they have their own take on carbon offsetting. They have embarked on a four year programme of contributing towards a dedicated acre of woodland under the control of the Woodland Trust in each of the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. The first is an acre of woodland at Newton Wood, outside the village of Newton Ferrers in Devon.
As well as its local commitment, the company is also working with Cool Earth and has now sponsored the preservation of fifteen acres of mature rainforest in Ashanika, Peru. This sponsorship is protecting 660 mature trees, 1,850 saplings, 6 endangered species of animal, 322 types of plant, over 11,000 species of insect and worm and has kept 3,900 tonnes of carbon where it belongs. The location of the preserved area is also helping to protect the wider rainforest as it blocks loggers’ access.
The team at Classic Cottages is pleased to have achieved the highest award for the dedication to their green business practises, Simon Tregoning said: “Seeking accreditation is a helpful discipline because it forces you to prepare an action plan including things like improving your recycling, installing low-energy light bulbs, composting waste food or buying more eco-friendly cleaning materials.
“Our experience of the GTBS process was that the checklist seemed to be never-ending, but it focused our minds and helped to ensure that our action plan was comprehensive – getting the gold award was the icing on the cake.”
Simon concluded “Owning and running a holiday cottage is a business, just like any other – it is there to make a profit in exactly the same way as an engineering or transport company. So the trick is to adopt green practices without damaging profitability or alienating your customers – never forget that you are running a business and not embarking on a personal crusade. If you get the balance right, it should add to your guests’ holiday experiences, which could lead to more bookings and a greater return on your money. “
For a free copy of Classic Cottages Green guide please email email@example.com or call 01326 555500.
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