Sustainable Travel Initiatives in Corporate Travel Management
Corporate travel plays a significant role in today’s globalized business world. However, with the increasing concern for environmental sustainability, it has become imperative for organizations to adopt sustainable travel practices. By integrating sustainability into their travel management strategies, companies can reduce their carbon footprint, promote responsible travel, and contribute to a greener future.
In this blog, we will explore some of the key sustainable travel initiatives that organizations can implement in their corporate travel management.
Sustainable Travel Initiatives
Reducing the environmental impact of business travel while lowering costs is a top priority for any company. To meet this goal, companies are implementing a sustainable travel policy focusing on minimizing air travel and incentivizing more sustainable options. The key elements of the initiatives are:
1. Promote virtual meetings.
Reducing trips by using virtual meetings is the most impactful thing you can do to cut travel emissions. Whenever possible, replace in-person meetings with online tools. This limits air travel and lowers costs. Ask employees to think critically before planning any business trip. Encourage video or phone discussions as alternatives. For needed trips, select the option with the smallest carbon footprint. Simple switches like these can significantly decrease your company’s travel footprint and increase the efficiency of business travel management.
2. Set flight reduction targets.
For short trips under 500 km, consider setting a “go by ground” rule. This may require some travelers to take an extra train or bus, but it will reduce emissions compared to flying. Even short flights have a large carbon impact per passenger due to low load factors and plane taxiing. Setting a clear flight-free policy for trips under 500 km helps cut costs while training travelers to think sustainability. Make exceptions where needed but aim for 80% compliance to make a real difference in your company’s corporate travel management.
3. Offsetting Emissions
For unavoidable business trips, offsetting the carbon emissions helps make your travel carbon neutral. Choosing an accredited offset program lets you fund projects that reduce emissions by the same amount as your trips. Though it doesn’t cut actual travel emissions, offsetting allows you to neutralize the impact. Most providers offer simple calculator tools that estimate travel emissions. You then pay a fee per ton of CO2 to offset those emissions. While offsetting should supplement actual emission cuts, it can still play a role in reaching your company’s sustainability aims around travel.
4. Choosing Economy Flights
Economy flights help cut emissions. Premium cabins have much larger emissions per traveler. Business and first-class seats weigh more due to the wider design. They also create more drag during flight. All this needs extra fuel burn. So a single premium passenger may produce two to five times the emissions of someone in the economy. When booking flights for business trips, opt for economy seats. Explain to employees that cutting emissions requires sacrifices, like not flying business class. Traveling sustainably helps achieve your company’s goals around lower-carbon business travel.
5. Choosing Eco-certified Hotels
Looking for eco-certified hotels helps reduce the impacts of business travel. Accommodations with labels like LEED, Green Key and EarthCheck have more sustainable practices. When booking hotels for trips, search explicitly for properties with eco-labels. Ask your corporate travel management to filter for these options. Green certifications show that a hotel prioritizes sustainability through actual steps and investments. By choosing eco-certified hotels whenever feasible, you can substantially shrink the environmental footprint of your company’s accommodations.
6. Renting Electric Vehicles
Renting electric or hybrid vehicles for business trips can notably cut emissions from ground transportation. EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, while hybrids emit far less than gas-only cars. When renting a car, request an electric vehicle if available. Some rental companies now have large fleets of EVs and hybrids while others may only offer a couple of options. Shifting just a portion of your company’s rented vehicles to electric will quickly deliver sustainability gains. Over time, set goals to increase the percentage of EV and hybrid rentals to 100%. Simple switches like requesting electric vehicles demonstrate your commitment to lower-carbon business travel.
7. Reducing Printing on Trips
Creating a “no print” policy for business travel can limit paper waste. Printing flight itineraries, agendas and other travel documents produces a lot of waste. Instead, whenever possible, view digital versions on devices. For required printing, make double-sided the default setting. Printing on both sides of a sheet cuts paper usage in half. Instruct travelers to bring their documents from home. Only print materials at the hotel or client site if necessary. For handouts at meetings, consider reusing folders or swapping printed versions for digital ones. With no-print as the goal, your company can shrink the environmental footprint of printing on business travel Management.
8. Eliminating Single-use Plastics
Reducing single-use plastics is important for sustainable business travel. Empty hotels of plastic water bottles, straws, and amenity bags. Ask travel providers to avoid these excess items. Instead, provide reusable water bottles to employees when traveling. Explain that single-use plastic bottles create waste that ends up polluting the environment. Encourage travelers to refuse unnecessary plastic items like straws and cutlery. Choosing paper over plastic bags also helps. With a no-plastic policy when traveling, you can significantly reduce waste without sacrificing comfort.
9. Packing Lightly
Encouraging employees to “travel light” on business trips can reduce emissions and costs. Heavy luggage requires extra fuel to carry its weight on flights. The average traveler could pack 20-30% less without sacrificing comfort or function. Instruct workers to only bring essential items that will truly be used. Set an internal target to reduce the average amount of luggage per traveler by 10% within a year. Employees can use high-capacity, rolling carry-on bags that fit airline size limits. By coaching travelers to pack intentionally and minimally, your company can start shrinking the carbon footprint of business trips. The long-term impact of thousands of employees carrying less weight adds up – both for the planet and your corporate travel management.
10. Setting Travel Emissions Targets
Setting an annual emissions reduction target for your company’s business travel helps scale sustainability efforts over time. Common targets might be to shrink travel emissions by:
- 5-10% per year
- 10-20% by an end date 3-5 years away
- 1-2% for every 1% decrease in business travel budgets
Communicate the target throughout your organization and to travel providers. Explain that hitting the target will require changes and sacrifices in the short term but benefit the planet long term. Monitor progress using data from corporate travel management systems and flight/hotel records.
By implementing many of the initiatives discussed, you can greatly reduce the environmental impacts of your company’s business travel over time. While some changes require adjustments, most come at little to no cost. The key is persistence and consistency, and a willingness to evolve practices as new sustainable options emerge. Approaching corporate travel management with sustainability as a core value will benefit your company’s reputation, finances and future. Staying committed to improving the sustainability of business travel ensures you’re ready to meet the demands of an increasingly climate-conscious world and improves your business travel management process.