Sustainability is becoming a top priority in not just leisure travel but business travel as well. For organizations that have never maybe considered sustainability when planning business travel, it’s important to think sustainably across your travel from start to finish.
More and more employees and consumers are demanding that brands take action against climate change. In addition, in some parts of the world, government regulations are being implemented that will require you to take a closer look at how your overall business impacts the environment. This means you’ll need to do more than just try to find a sustainable, eco-friendly flight. When you think sustainably across your travel as a whole, you must also consider your choices regarding rental cars and other transportation, hotel stays and similar factors.
Is Sustainable Business Travel Really That Important?
Yes. Reports show that sustainability is increasingly in demand in the business travel space. Not only that, but some organizations will also need to take efforts to remain compliant with European Union directives regarding sustainability. This is not a trend you can ignore.
A recent report from the Global Business Travel Association found that nearly three-fourths of Travel Managers are currently communicating or planning to communicate with employees about sustainable travel choices, with the majority also wanting or already implementing sustainability features in their online booking tools. Travel Managers are actively tracking emissions as well.
So, what steps can you as a Travel Manager take to think sustainably across your travel on all fronts? While tracking emissions is a good place to start, you can do so much more.
1. Book Low-Emission Flights
Look for low-emission flight options when your team needs to fly somewhere. This is often the starting point for many Travel Managers hoping to make their teams’ business travel more environmentally friendly, and it’s a good one. Thanks to the wealth of tools at your disposal (like Goodwings), you can now easily find eco-friendly flights that produce fewer emissions.
Even beyond choosing low-emissions flights, you can also simply choose for your business Travelers to fly direct, which is not only convenient but also produces lower emissions than connecting flights.
2. Choose Better-for-the-Environment Ground Transportation
Will your team members be traveling further once their flight arrives at their destination? Encourage them to use better-for-the-environment ground transportation, including public transportation and electric vehicles. While not always an option, sometimes cycling is suitable as well, depending on the destination.
3. Learn How to Recognize Green Hotels (and Book Them!)
Not all hotels are green, even if they claim it, so do your research to find the truly green hotels in your destination.
Beyond looking for green hotels that have obtained sustainability certifications, look for hotels that strive to lessen their impact overall. They might have on-site recycling facilities. Green hotels certainly won’t have single-use toiletries in guest rooms or plastic water bottles. They might offer seasonal, local foods or donate uneaten food to local pantries rather than throwing it away. They might specifically cut down on waste and chemical use by offering limited laundry services.
4. Think About Your Destinations
While you might not always get a choice in destination, such as when business Travelers are headed to client meetings or conferences when you do get a choice in destination, choose wisely.
Which of the potential destinations your business Travelers could travel to offer the most in the way of sustainable options?
The Global Destination Sustainability Index, originally created for the MICE industry, ranks destinations in part by the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Looking at the index and its top-rated destinations for sustainability can help you pick more sustainable cities to host your next meeting, incentive trip, conference or other event. Currently, the index’s top destinations include Gothenburg, Sweden; Bergen, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Aalborg, Denmark; and Bordeaux, France.
Additionally, when thinking of your destinations, consider the locals as well. Certain destinations worldwide are feeling severe negative impacts due to over-tourism (like Venice, Italy, and Hawai’i). Will your team’s trip add to those negative impacts? Choose to spend your business travel dollars in ways that will best benefit the local communities and local workers.
5. Encourage Compliance by Implementing Sustainable Travel Policies
As a Travel Manager, your efforts to think sustainably across your travel will make little impact if your company’s entire team isn’t on board. Encourage sustainable actions and compliance by implementing sustainable travel policies.
In some cases, this will require you to take a greater look at your existing travel policies. For example, sometimes traveling sustainably does cost more. Do your existing travel policies allow for such costs?
What about your current hotel partners — are they green, or do you possibly need to make a switch? Even if they are sustainable, are their properties located in areas that make green travel possible for your Travelers (staying at a green hotel might not make too much of a positive impact if your Travelers need to excessively drive in order to get to them).
6. Employ Sustainability-Focused Tools to Help You Reach Your Goals
Lastly, consider employing sustainability-focused tools that can help make thinking sustainably across your travel easier.
JTB Business Travel recognizes the importance of making sustainability-focused Travel Management tools accessible to small and mid-size Travel Management companies, which is why we recently invested and partnered with Goodwings. Goodwings’ software auto-calculates your emissions from travel booked, showing you data such as emissions by department or booking type. It also then reports, reduces and offsets those emissions on your behalf. Goodwings will also be a part of JTB Business Travel’s newly launched FlexConnectSM Global Affiliate Partner Program.
If you can find tools that will automate your sustainable travel booking, you — as well as your business Travelers — will find the entire process that much easier and sustainability that much easier to adhere to.