Many companies are discovering that they can better maximize their return on investment when pursuing sustainable business travel best practices.
Travel is still essential to the day-to-day operations of many organizations. But there are two relatively new dynamics that companies are addressing in 2022 and beyond. First, there’s a growing emphasis on sustainable business travel. And second, many companies are looking for ways to maintain some of the savings they enjoyed while the pandemic curtailed their travel programs.
These two dynamics go hand-in-hand, thankfully. Many are discovering that sustainable business travel can also be a method for finding savings within a program.
Here’s more on companies pledging to follow sustainable business practices, as well as different strategies being used in pursuit of sustainability.
Companies Worldwide Pledge Sustainability
Deloitte’s 2021 Travel Survey indicates that most companies are either working to reduce emissions or planning to reduce emissions in the near future. Specifically, the survey found that:
- 31% of respondents have pledged to reduce emissions by a set amount within a specific time period.
- 21% of respondents have a timeline in place but quantifying emission reductions is a work in progress.
- 11% of respondents have quantified emission reductions but are working on developing a timeline for implementation.
- 17% of respondents have pledged to reduce emissions but have not quantified those reductions or committed to a time.
- 21% of respondents have made no sustainability commitment at all.
The companies that have pledged to reduce emissions also indicated that they would pursue a wide range of strategies to achieve their goals.
8 Approaches to Sustainable Business Travel
What approaches are companies planning to use in their efforts to reduce emissions? There are four approaches that enjoy widespread popularity among sustainability-minded organizations, as well as four other approaches that have more niche support. Here’s a look at those eight total approaches and the percentage of survey respondents that will pursue each one.
1. Transition More Internal Meetings Online
The runaway favorite approach to more sustainable business travel is transitioning to more internal meetings. A substantial 76% of respondents indicated that this would be a primary method for reducing emissions.
During the pandemic, companies learned a lot about how to host virtual meetings, including the introduction of technologies needed to facilitate effective online meetings. It’s only natural that this would be the leading approach for addressing sustainability.
2. Optimize Meeting Agendas to Reduce the Need to Fly
Given that air travel generates more emissions than other forms of travel, it’s only natural that 67% of organizations will seek to optimize meeting agendas to reduce the need to fly. This reduction might include hosting meetings that are accessible by train, bus or through multiple team members carpooling together.
3. Restrict the Frequency of Business Travel
According to the survey, 58% of respondents will simply restrict the frequency of business travel in an effort to reduce emissions. This approach definitely goes hand-in-hand with reducing over travel spending.
During the pandemic, companies raised the threshold for essential travel. That is, only the most important trips were approved. Today, some companies continue to operate with that threshold in place, partly to limit spending and partly to travel more sustainably.
4. Reduce International or Long-Distance Travel
Among respondents, 55% are planning to reduce international or long-distance travel in an effort to limit emissions. Even short-haul flights create significant emissions, as the bulk of emissions occurs closest to taking off and landing. But there may be some incremental gains to accompany choosing shorter flights over longer ones.
5. Seek Guidance From a Travel Management Company
Travel management companies, or TMCs, will play a role in the pursuit of sustainable business travel, according to 26% of survey respondents. In addition to cost-savgting and spend management programs, JTB Business Travel can connect organizations with tools that help them estimate their environmental impact — and find ways to reduce it.
6. Prioritize Travel Suppliers Investing in Sustainability
Some business travel vendors and suppliers are more focused on sustainability than others, and 24% of respondents will prioritize those vendors and suppliers in an effort to promote greater sustainability. For example, airlines like United are now exploring and using sustainable aviation fuel to help limit flight-related emissions.
7. Encourage Alternative Transportation Over Air
About 21% of respondents will prioritize alternative transportation over air travel. Again, this could include train travel in areas where it’s viable, as well as travel by car for regional trips where that would be feasible.
8. Purchase Sustainable Fuel
According to the survey, only 3% of respondents will consider purchasing sustainable fuel to facilitate greater sustainability. Presumably, this portion of respondents owns their own fleets and can manage that fleet in a way that makes the use of sustainable fuel possible.
Which Sustainable Business Travel Strategy is Best for Your Business?
Sustainable business travel and lower spending are an effective match, and JTB Business Travel can help you pursue the strategies for sustainable, spend-conscious travel — no matter what strategies are best for your organization.
Get in touch to learn more about what JTB Business Travel can offer as your TMC.