Small and medium-sized enterprises are perhaps best positioned to pursue sustainability in business travel right now.
There’s a misconception that only large companies can address sustainability in business travel. On the contrary, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are uniquely positioned to take immediate action that makes their travel programs more environmentally friendly.
At JTB Business Travel, we recently hosted a webinar focused on sustainability for SMEs. Watch the full webinar using this video player and continue reading to learn some of the key takeaways as shared by our guests.
1. Know Where You Can Make a Difference
Yes, SMEs can make a difference through sustainable travel programs. It’s important, though, to identify exactly where your company can make the most impact (while also controlling costs).
The actions your company and its Travelers can take range from big things (paying to offset emissions, flying with airlines using sustainable aviation fuel, etc.) and little things (asking Travelers to fly with a reusable water bottle, choosing direct flights whenever possible, etc.).
Focusing on the little things can go a long way when you get buy-in from your Travelers. Start doing those little things now to create a culture of sustainability across your travel program, and your company will be better positioned to adopt new sustainable practices as they become available in the future.
2. Create a Sustainability-Focused Travel Policy
As you and your Travel Managers identify where your company can make a difference, make updates to your travel policy that encourage your Travelers to follow through on those activities.
As noted in the webinar, it’s the person clicking the button and booking travel that can make a difference. But that person clicking the button can only book travel successfully if travel policies allow them to.
3. Educate Your Travelers
No matter how large or small your organization, it’s essential that you communicate sustainability information to your Travelers. It’s the job of leadership to ensure that Travelers know sustainable options exist. For example, provide updates on routes that are predictably flying on sustainable aviation fuel.
Travelers don’t need to know the ins and outs of every plane that Boeing and Airbus manufacture and they don’t need to memorize the scheduling tables of every major airline. But the goal should be to arm them with enough information to make sustainable decisions whenever possible.
The same is true of hotels and ground transportation. What properties are LEED certified? What is the most environmentally friendly vehicle for rent? Answers to those questions can help Travelers make sustainable decisions day in and day out.
4. Capture the Right Data
Even SMEs can measure their travel related footprint in the modern age. But, without a focus on capturing reliable data, it will be impossible to monitor the progress and sustainability of your company’s travel program. Use this 3-step process to capture and leverage data for sustainability:
- Find a reliable source of data: Many travel technologies can provide estimates of emissions related to your travel program.
- Calculate your footprint: What is your company’s travel-related footprint? Is it acceptable? Does it need to be minimized?
- Take action: You can choose to either offset or minimize your footprint once it’s calculated. For example, buy carbon credits to offset your emissions or look for areas to reduce emissions. Your Travelers may be flying from New York to London weekly. Can those weekly trips be concentrated into longer monthly trips?
And remember that you don’t have to do everything on your own. Look at your vendors and your travel management company (TMC) as partners to work with on capturing data and using that data to make sustainable decisions.
5. Use Size to Your Advantage
Size works to SMEs’ advantage. They are more nimble and better able to make fast decisions and implement new policies and technologies.
We saw this during the pandemic. Smaller companies were the first to return to business travel because they had less red tape to deal with in completing that return. Whereas it might take a large company years to fully create and approve a sustainable travel program, smaller organizations can start taking action in just weeks or even days.
6. Make Sustainability a Selling Point
Sustainable business travel can be a selling point for your customers and your prospective employees.
Today, younger buyers are putting pressure on companies to be more sustainable. And younger people are looking to work for companies that place an emphasis on sustainability. By taking action to travel in an environmentally friendly manner, you help build a narrative that both your customers and prospective employers will buy into.
Get a Partner for Your Sustainability Efforts
As companies start to make more responsible and sustainable travel decisions, they need partners that can help them maximize the sustainability of their travel programs. That’s exactly what we do at JTB Business Travel. We work with organizations of all sizes to ensure that their travel programs fulfill objectives, including goals related to sustainability.
Get in touch to learn more about what we can offer as your travel management company.