5 steps towards a sustainable business travel programme

Posted: 25 February 2020
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Business travel is essential, opening minds and helping people build trust and do business together. Travel helps companies serve their clients, build relationships, and foster personal interactions. Corporate travel can deliver tremendous benefits and yield new business opportunities.

Business travel also contributes to an organization’s carbon footprint — and with more and more companies looking at ways to become carbon neutral, it’s an obvious place for management to focus on. Travel managers are now exploring how they can help their company and travelers make conscious choices about business travel. This works best when everyone — travel managers, employees and senior executives — is provided with visibility into relevant travel and environmental impact information. At Egencia, we’ve embraced this challenge to help our clients build their business while supporting more sustainable travel management programs.

How to implement travel programs that support a sustainable future

Having worked with a number of Egencia customers on sustainable business travel initiatives, our business travel consulting team has identified three primary paths to more sustainable travel programs. The first is to define sustainability goals and objectives in order to measure progress. Then, it’s a matter of building more environmentally friendly processes and practices. From there, your goal should be to create a culture in your organization where employees have the ability to make sustainable travel choices. In our experience, translating these three paths into a corporate travel program involves five steps.

  1. Build your internal sustainability squad

Any successful strategy needs a strong project team. Assemble representatives from different departments like travel, procurement, human resources, marketing, communications, and sales to create a core working committee to lay out the roadmap of your sustainable travel program.

Sustainability is a broad topic and it’s important to align people or functions across the organization for far-reaching impact. Schedule meetings to create an action plan with short- and long-term objectives. The most important benefit of having a core team is that over time it will help create a culture where everyone involved feels a sense of responsibility.

  1. Choose your goals

At Egencia we support 8 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and we encourage our customers to do the same. Take a look at all of the 17 goals and choose those most important to your company, goals that closely align with your company’s values.

Some of the goals could guide actions taken pre-trip such as climate action or supporting businesses with progressive work policies like inclusivity and equal pay. Others could help drive travelers to embrace more eco-conscious behaviors while they’re traveling like responsible consumption or good health and well-being. Other goals could involve post-trip reporting and communication like quality education or partnerships to achieve goals. Having a set of defined objectives will ensure every decision made and every action taken gets your company closer to its sustainability target. It will also help you to communicate about your initiatives internally and externally.

Everything from your travel policy and choice of travel partners to communication with your travelers will help you ensure you’re making the right choices. Opportunities to achieve your goals are endless as every step of a business trip offers the chance to meet your sustainability goals.

  1. Get your baseline and improve every time

In the travel industry, CO2 emission is an obvious indicator. You might have already tried to measure your travel carbon footprint and were defeated by the complexity of it. There’s no reason to become overwhelmed. Egencia is here to support you. Our travel consultants are committed to helping customers track and understand their carbon footprint, which is why we have built a visualized Carbon Emissions reporting dashboard for air and hotel in the Egencia Analytics Studio.

You don’t need to limit yourself to CO2 emission indicators. Once you’ve selected your sustainable goals, we can help you understand how to measure them to drive results in each area. There are multiple ways to create a scorecard and demonstrate the impact of your actions through booking data, features in the booking platform, and reporting dashboards.

  1. Offsetting your impact

Expedia Group has been carbon neutral since 2017, and we’re very proud of it. Offsetting carbon footprint is acknowledging that we have an impact and are doing what it takes to compensate. By following the above tips, you’ve already taken steps to lessen your organization’s impact on the environment. Offsetting can further support your efforts for a more sustainable future. The choices available for offsetting your carbon emissions is very specific to each business. We’ll work with you to identify organizations to help you determine which carbon offset programs are the most beneficial for your business. With the right information, you’ll have an easier time deciding which projects fit best with your values.

  1. Communicate to collaborate

Let your travelers know about the actions you’re taking around sustainability and the attendant results. Inform them how your preferred hotel, airline, car rental, and other partners that work with Egencia are contributing to the sustainable travel movement. Empower them to follow your travel program’s guidelines of sustainable travel through visual cues integrated in the booking platform and acknowledge their efforts. Onboarding your business travelers is critical as they are the people who will help you create and maintain a sustainable travel program.

Putting sustainable choices into action

At Egencia, we’re extremely positive about what the next few years will bring. We want to enable our customers and travel partners to create an ecosystem where they can make environmentally conscious travel choices. We’re innovating every day to achieve the goals our customers have told us matter most to them. To find out how you can incorporate sustainable policies and practices into your travel program, schedule a meeting with one of our travel experts.

 

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with our team.