Achieving a more sustainable approach to travel was a goal of many organisations at the start of 2020 and sat within a widespread effort to take better care of the planet. However, the global outbreak of Covid-19 shifted everyone's focus and travel took a backseat.
More than a year later, with the world starting to stabilise after the Covid-19 pandemic, corporates are starting to make tentative plans to return to travel.
After seeing the effects that less travel has had on the environment, many are keen to make that return in a more sustainable way.
Developing a corporate travel strategy that cares for the environment while advancing your organisation towards achieving its goals might feel like an impossible task, but in reality bringing sustainability to your corporate travel programme is all about identifying what practical things you can change and adjusting behaviours accordingly.
Here’s what to consider as you make those initial first steps towards a more sustainable approach to corporate travel:
Your travel policy is the foundation of your organisation’s corporate travel programme. It guides the behaviours of your travellers as they’re booking and is a way to make your organisation’s overall travel goals and reality. So if you’re looking to become more sustainable, then you can drive this through your travel policy.
Reviewing your travel policy is essential when trying to create a more sustainable approach to corporate travel. Look to see which suppliers you encourage travellers to book with and then research what those suppliers are doing to be more environmentally-friendly.
Things to look out for include checking to see whether your preferred hotel chains use renewable energy, whether your preferred airlines are using a newer fleet (these generally produce less carbon emissions) and whether your preferred car hire supplier are offering hybrid vehicles.
A robust travel approval process is most commonly used to control spend or as a duty of care measure, but it can also be used as part of your overall sustainability strategy.
If you are looking to make an immediate reduction in your organisation’s carbon footprint then it is worth including guidance around when and when not to travel in your corporate travel policy, providing advice on the following:
The right travel approval system can then help to enforce this guidance, with senior management able to approve or deny travel requests based on whether the trip is strictly necessary or whether it can be replaced with an online meeting.
Although offsetting your carbon footprint remains a quick fix rather than offering a long term solution, it’s still an important part of limiting our impact on the planet. Being able to easily view the carbon emissions of different travel options is important in enabling your travellers to make more sustainable travel choices.
Does your chosen online booking tool clearly display the carbon emissions for different flights? If booking offline, can your TMC share the same information? Alongside this it’s also important to add guidance about carbon emissions and preferred levels to your travel policy.
A powerful tool in your journey to implementing a more sustainable approach to corporate travel is your TMC. As travel experts, they should have a confirmed stance on sustainability and also be in communication with suppliers about what they are doing to make their products more environmentally friendly.
Working as closely as possible with your TMC throughout the project will deliver the best results – they should understand your organisation’s culture, your travel habits, wider business goals and be able to predict and monitor the success of the project by analysing your travel data.
They can share best practices and advice on what your industry peers are doing, ensuring that your plans get off to the best possible start.