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Sustainable Business Travel: The Complete Guide

It is no secret anymore that our environment needs to be preserved. About two decades ago, “sustainability” would have been just a buzzword. However, in this day and age, it is a necessity. With several significant conferences scheduled this year, UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) is already considering the environment in emergency mode. 

Guide to sustainable business travel

While everyone is making an effort to preserve the environment, the corporate world is too mending its way of functioning to include the element of environmental sustainability into the mix. 

One of the major aspects of corporate sustainability initiatives is sustainable business travel. Sustainable business travel is an amalgamation of policies, procedures, and best practices aimed at minimizing carbon emissions due to any activity performed by the employees for business purposes.

Why is sustainable business travel necessary? 

Employees frequently travel for client meetings, seminars, training, sales conferences, etc. Statista reported around 463 million domestic business trips and 5 million international trips a year before the pandemic. 

These business trips can be local, somewhere within the country, or international. The sum total of carbon emissions caused by the business traveler on that business trip adds to the company’s carbon footprint. 

Air travel is the most significant cause of business travel carbon emissions, which constitute 2 percent of the total greenhouse emissions. However, there are other factors, such as local transport and hotel stays, that contribute to it. 

Here are some factors that make business travel harmful to the environment. 

  • As most business travel is time-bound, travelers prefer faster modes of transportation like flights and cars over eco-friendly options like railways.
  • The business class seats take up more space in an aircraft. Consequently, fewer travelers can be accommodated in an aircraft.
  • Business travel makes up 12% of the entire airline travel.

How to achieve sustainable business travel

Here are some practices that can help you achieve sustainable business travel. 

1. Analyze the company’s carbon emissions 

The first step toward ensuring sustainable business travel is to analyze the company’s current carbon footprint. You can do so by hiring an external travel agency that keeps track of all your trips and measures your carbon footprint accordingly. 

However, a better way is to adopt business travel management software that generates carbon footprint reports in real-time to help you identify which airlines to avoid. 

2. Train your employees

Employees are the ones that go on business travel. Hence, they should be aware of all the environment-friendly practices to follow during booking or on the trip. For instance, you can encourage employees to opt for more sustainable modes of transportation, such as railways. Moreover, they should also prefer hotels that have been certified for following green standards.

3. Planning Smartly

A business traveler needs to attend different events throughout the year. These events sometimes occur in the same location, roughly 2-4 days apart. Companies can club all these events in one business trip to ensure that the employee takes as fewer flights as possible.  

Moreover, there are situations where multiple employees travel for a business trip, even though it is not essential for some to travel. Companies can also prioritize the employees that go on a business trip on the basis of criticality. 

4. Reward Employees

Rewards and recognition can be a great motivator for business travelers. You can offer employees rewards for booking the most eco-friendly travel options, following best practices to reduce carbon emissions, etc. Once the employees get into the habit of eco-friendly travel, the company’s carbon footprint will reduce significantly.

5. Prioritize meetings 

Business trips are essential. However, there are various conferencing solutions available that can easily substitute some meetings. Hence, as a decision-maker, you need to prioritize which business trips are essential for your business. For instance, it’s better to attend a client meeting in person than do it over Skype. 

6. Take direct flights

A large quantity of fuel is expended when a flight takes off and lands as compared to when it is in the air. Hence, when you take multi-stop flights, more fuel is consumed on average as compared to direct flights. 

You should always prefer booking direct flights and encourage employees to do the same. 

7. Choose the right TMC 

If you are using the services of a travel management company (TMC), it is essential to enquire whether the vendors they deal with follow eco-friendly practices. You should also ask whether the travel management company follows a sustainable business travel program.

Why do businesses hesitate to adopt sustainable business travel

Adopting a sustainable business travel model can be challenging in the beginning due to multiple reasons. Firstly, the entire business travel needs to be analyzed, including the vendors, travel policies, and employee preferences, which takes time and effort from your end. 

Secondly, the entire employee behavior needs to be revamped according to the eco-friendly practices of the company. 

Finally, a sustainable business travel program needs to be financially feasible and efficient for the companies to adopt. Otherwise, there is always a tendency to find a cost-effective option.

Benefits of Sustainable Business Travel

Once the companies have moved past all their reservation, they realize that sustainable business travel is a lucrative solution in many aspects. 

1. Enhance Brand reputation

Running a sustainable business travel program implies that you care about the environment. Customers, as well as companies worldwide, want to associate themselves with a company that has a “do-good” attitude. If you can think above the company’s finances and make an effort to sustain the environment, it speaks volumes about the company.

2. Fulfill CSR 

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is a management concept where companies are obliged to fulfill their social and environmental responsibility. By integrating the sustainable business travel program into their process, the companies can fulfill their CSR. 

3. Save Money 

Sustainable business travel helps you save revenue in the long run as you encourage employees to opt for cheaper modes of transport, such as buses or railways. 

Moreover, with sustainability practices, such as prioritizing meetings, consolidating multiple events in one trip, and using video conferencing software whenever possible, you significantly cut travel costs.

Sustainable business travel is the way forward.

Most new-age companies have started realizing the negative impact that their current business travel process has on the environment. This has led to the increased adoption of sustainable business travel programs. 

If you want to implement sustainable business travel in your company, you need to evaluate the company’s carbon footprint per trip. ITILITE travel management software offers advanced reports to measure your company’s carbon footprint so that you make informed decisions. 

To check out the feature, just click on the link below.

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