Wellington-based company, Tourwriter, is in the planning stages of eventually incorporating a carbon calculator into the itineraries that travel agents build on its software.
Tourwriter’s head of growth, Lisa Gardiner, explained to TTG Asia on the sidelines of TRENZ 2023 that the company aims to help travellers and agents “take action by understanding how their choices on different itineraries will have different carbon impacts”.
“For example, slow tourism or cycling tourism, where travellers stay longer in one destination, instead of a different place every night, (will have a better carbon impact) compared to a 10-night itinerary where the traveller is in a different location or hotel every night. (Transport options) such as cycling or taking the train will also bring down one’s carbon impact,” she elaborated.
Travel agents who currently use Tourwriter’s software build itineraries with their clients, before sending booking requests to their suppliers without needing to call to confirm availability. Everything can be seen easily on the dashboard, except for the way to calculate a traveller’s carbon footprint.
When asked if this calculator is similar to what is already offered by corporate travel management companies – where carbon is immediately calculated during booking – Tourwriter’s CEO, Glenn Campbell, agreed, stating that this is something the leisure travel market needs.
At this point, the carbon calculator project is currently in its “discovery phase”, where Tourwriter is working on hypotheses and speaking with both its customers and operators. It helps that this project recently received a boost in funding from New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery.
Tourwriter is one of only six recipients of the coveted Stream One funding. The software company plans to apply for a second round of MBIE funding, which Campbell is “confident” of obtaining eventually, stating that stakeholders across the board are in support of the idea of a carbon calculator for itineraries.
“We are understanding the problem first, and having conversations with customers, before we embark on the building phase. In fact, estimating a traveller’s carbon footprint is just the very top layer (of what we want to eventually offer),” he shared.
Once the second round of funding is approved, Campbell estimates it will take another six to 12 months to get the concept out and that is when the actual coding begins.
On the software end, Campbell plans to expand into Asian markets – like Vietnam, Japan, and China – which currently have “low penetration”, targeting “travellers who are used to working with someone to build an itinerary”.
Tourwriter is also working to integrate live pricing onto its platform.