Sustainability hasn’t Translated into Travel Policies, but is an Important Topic for Travel Managers

Global anxieties around sustainability continue to dominate the headlines, however despite this it seems corporate travel programmes are not converting this into tangible employee education and  T&E practices. While individual contributions to choosing sustainable and eco-conscious options around travel and consumerism is great and shows willing, it’s corporations that are capable of steering us toward a more sustainable future. But there’s much work to be done.

Despite the media outburst in recent years, a survey we have recently conducted in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has revealed that very little action has been taken when it comes to applying sustainable thinking to business travel practice. Working with sustainable suppliers will increasingly come into focus in the coming years, however as it stands less than one-third (31%) of travel managers are currently working this into overall travel policy by mandating (4%) travellers to select suppliers using sustainable practices. What’s more, only 27% of travel managers surveyed reported encouraging travellers to book with sustainable suppliers – a clear sign that more could be done in this area.

Climate change and the impact our business trips have on the environment is being recognised more generally, though. According to the survey results, across Europe over 70% of travel managers believe it is important to empower travellers to make sustainable travel choices, those choices including:

  • Providing travellers with sustainable options in the booking process (72%)
  • Encouraging travellers to make sustainable choices (78%)
  • Receiving reports to calculate carbon emissions (85%)

Even more promising is the fact that 62% plan to mandate or encourage travellers to book with suppliers using sustainable practices in the next 1-2 years. This is double the figure of those doing it currently, highlighting the fact that this is quickly becoming a pressing issue and will continue to surface in travel policy conversations moving forward.

The power to make real, tangible changes lies with big businesses, so it’s really encouraging to see this thinking is shared by travel managers across Europe. Really, what we need to see is this positivity translated into employee education and T&E business practices, and the survey seems to be nodding in the right direction, which is fantastic. Business travel is a core part of all global business, so it’s crucial we find a way to mitigate the damage it causes the environment. Global travel has now reached $1.6 trillion and produces 1 in 7 jobs throughout the world, so it’s incredibly important. We’re very fortunate to be in a position where technological developments are helping us solve problems like these, so it’s about how we use and apply this tech to help reduce the damage done.

Key Research Highlights:

  • Travel managers are receiving pressure to implement sustainable practices with a majority of travel managers saying that in the past year they have received requests from travellers (57%) and senior leadership (57%) to implement more sustainable travel practices.
  • Opportunities exist in working with suppliers to implement and track sustainable practices, while 80% of travel managers say their TMC provides service options to help measure and track sustainability, three in five (63%) say the same about their travel suppliers, and two in five (39%) say the same about their online booking tool or engine.
  • While the power to make sustainable choices currently lies with the traveller, travel managers might start taking sustainability into their own hands with three-quarters of travel mangers saying that in the next 1-2 years, sourcing with suppliers who implement sustainable practices (74%) and mandating travellers to make sustainable choices (74%) are expected to become more important to travel programs.

 

More Information

To illustrate the findings, you can download an infographic here featuring key highlights from the research. The full report is available exclusively to GBTA members on the GBTA Hub.

 

Methodology

An online survey was conducted of corporate travel buyers in Europe.  The survey fielded between October 17 and October 22, 2019.  Respondents qualified if they self-identified as a travel or meetings mangers/buyer or a procurement/sourcing professional. 

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