During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses learned how valuable face-to-face interactions are to promote the development of business relationships.
The value of business travel for corporations is immeasurable and it is clear that travel is an essential business function. However, as we return to normal business operations and travel, corporations are reevaluating their corporate travel policies to include sustainable business travel.
While conversations about sustainability were being had before the pandemic, changes in work environments, operations, and HR practices put “green” corporate travel into sharper focus. As corporations shifted to remote work, the environment experienced the benefits of reduced congestion and emissions with less commuters on the road.
Conscious of the impact of travel on the environment, business travelers and their companies are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint. To create a sustainable business travel program, enlist a travel management company such as Christopherson Business Travel.
What does sustainable business travel mean?
Sustainable business travel is the conscious effort to travel in an environmentally friendly way that reduces impact on the environment. From selecting carbon-neutral travel options to purposeful business travel, sustainability requires the responsible consumption of resources.
For example, air travel is responsible for 12% of all CO2 emissions globally, and 80% of those emissions are emitted by flights over 1500 kilometers, for which there are no other viable means of transport according to the Air Transport Action Group.
In an active effort to reduce aviation-related CO2 emissions, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can reduce the carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80%. Choosing airline partners that are committed to reducing their carbon footprints is one way to support sustainable business travel.
Ways to implement sustainable business travel
There are various ways to implement sustainable business travel practices into your corporate travel program. Here are a few suggestions:
Implement Purposeful Travel Policies
Adopting a purposeful travel mindset encourages companies to look at travel as an investment rather than a cost. Identify the types of travel your company does and evaluate its importance. Can certain meetings or trips be combined to conserve resources and reduce carbon footprint? Could some business trips be shortened? Is there a way to identify objectives for each business trip to measure effectiveness? Asking these questions and others will help you keep conservation at the heart of your business travel program and make the most of your travelers’ time on the road.
Use apps and other digital options to reduce paper waste from printing tickets and itineraries. Christopherson’s integrated software platform AirPortal provides a central, digital source for booking business travel, managing trip plans, and keeping track of itineraries.
Use Sustainable Transportation Options
Encourage, and maybe even reward, travelers for selecting hybrid or electric rental cars. Require the booking of direct flights. Ask travelers to consider rail travel for shorter trips. While carpooling, public transportation, and rideshares may be the right options to meet your sustainability requirements, be sure to evaluate the impact of those services against your risk management plan and corporate culture.
Partner with Travel Vendors Committed to Sustainability
Book hotels that are LEEDS-certified and are conscious about water usage, plastics, and have environmentally-friendly practices, such as buying local soaps, lotions, and food. Request CO2 reporting from your preferred airlines and check their rankings on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Select rental car companies that offer hybrid and electric vehicles.
Educate Travelers on Sustainable Business Travel
Inform business travelers of your newly-adopted practices and teach them how to travel sustainably themselves. Organizations can even implement reward programs to encourage adoption of your company’s sustainable business travel practices.
While there are many ways to travel with an eco-friendly mindset, here are a few practical suggestions for business travelers:
- Pack lighter to lessen fuel burn and decrease emissions
- Use earth-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics like metal or silicone straws and wooden cutlery
- Bring your own water bottle
- Hang up hotel towels to use again the next day
- Forgo daily hotel cleaning services to reduce water usage
- Eat at locally-owned, locally-sourced restaurants rather than chains and/or select organic food options from local farm-to-table providers
- Avoid purchasing individually-wrapped products or travel-sized shampoos and soaps
Why is sustainable business travel important?
While business travel is often a key measurement of economic success, it’s important to remember that travel also has social and environmental impacts.
For the altruistic, sustainable business travel practices protect and preserve our natural resources for the future. For those more driven by bottom-lines, sustainability sells. Business Insider reports that today’s shoppers “want more than just quality, often looking for products and brands that align with their personal values. … Protecting the environment topped that list.”
While there are many additional reasons to adopt sustainable business travel practices, your team needs to understand why it’s something your company is advocating for. Getting your employees on board with what you are trying to accomplish is the best way to reach your goals of a more environmentally-friendly corporate travel program. Once educated, your business travelers will more aware of and make greener choices that benefit your company, their travel destination locales, and the environment at large.
How to make air travel more sustainable
While air travel does have an impact on the environment, sometimes it is the only choice for business travel. When this is the case, here are five things you can do to make your air travel more sustainable:
- Pack as light as possible to reduce the weight of your luggage and its impact on fuel use and emissions.
- Choose direct flights. Since take-off, taxiing, and landing a plane require the most fuel, reducing the number of times you take off and land can reduce your overall carbon footprint. In fact, choosing a direct route can reduce emissions by up to 50%.
- Select flights that will be flown by fuel-efficient aircrafts, such as the Airbus A350 XWB and Boeing 737 Dreamliner.
- Select flights that will be using biofuel blends. Nearly 170,000 flights from airlines such as Qantas Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Alaska Airlines use blends.
- Don’t print boarding passes, itineraries, or maps. Use digital apps and alternatives instead.
How can sustainable business travel save money?
Not only is sustainable business travel good for the environment, it can also be good for a company’s bottom line. Here are a few ways sustainable business travel policies save you money:
- While the cost to rent hybrid or electric vehicles may be higher, you will save on fuel expenses in the end.
- Ride-sharing options could be a cost-saving business travel practice but be sure it’s in line with your risk management plan.
- LEEDS-certified hotels can sometimes be less expensive than hotels that are not LEEDS-certified.
- Locally-sourced food is often cheaper as it cuts out long-distance distribution and transportation.
- Identifying yourself as an environmentally-friendly business can improve your company’s reputation as consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with organizations that align with their personal values.
How can a travel management company help your business implement a sustainable business travel policy?
Christopherson’s corporate travel experts can help you implement green corporate travel policies that encourage eco-friendly behaviors while traveling.
As your corporate travel management partner, we will collaborate, guide, and assist as you seek out vendor partners who meet your sustainable business travel goals.
Our experienced corporate travel agents and your integrated online booking tool can help travelers book sustainable hotels, flights, and ground transportation.
And our AirPortal technology digitally aligns your entire corporate travel program by integrating those policies and plans so you can succeed.
To learn more about Christopherson, contact us today.