CWT and GBTA have published today ‘The Big Idea: How Can We Make Business Travel More Sustainable?’. The report’s findings stem from a large-scale brainstorm session on this topic, hosted during the GBTA Conference 2019 Munich and attended by senior industry professionals representing the travel management companies (TMCs), hotel, air, car and ancillary services, as well as the corporate buyer community from across Europe.
When asked how confident they were on the industry’s ability to make the future of business travel more sustainable, 65% of delegates were either broadly confident or very confident. The percentage grew to 71% when asked about the willingness of the industry.
“At CWT we are seriously committed to being a positive force for change in the world, which is why we did not hesitate to sponsor this important session at GBTA in order to gain first-hand industry feedback around both demand and drivers for sustainable business travel,” said Françoise Grumberg, CWT’s Vice President Global Responsible Business and Diversity & Inclusion. “Our planet is under critical environmental strain and CWT is committed to driving and contributing to industry debate and forums such as this to drive as much positive action as possible.”
Drivers for change, opportunities, and constraints
Four senior leaders from different segments of the travel industry – including Directors and VPs from CWT, Oakwood Worldwide, The LEGO Group and United Airlines – formed the panel who led the debate. Delegates were asked what they believed were the critical drivers for change, key opportunities to improve sustainability, constraints preventing their implementation and what role travelers, buyers, TMCs, airlines and accommodation suppliers play in bringing their ideas to life.
The growing social conscience, especially among millennials and centennials, is putting pressure on companies. Traveling employees are demanding a more sustainable travel program. Organizations will need to act if they want to maintain their reputation. Suppliers, on their side, will also need to adapt their offer if they want to remain relevant for a traveler audience who is choosing to book with more environmentally conscious providers.
This mentality change will open the door to more ecofriendly alternatives – biofuel, improved recycling at airports, better waste reduction, eradicating single use plastics, fewer empty flights, modernized aircraft fleets, more ecofriendly cleaning products – that will ultimately lead to a reduction in carbon emissions.
By adopting a proactive approach, combined with state of the art technology and data capacities, TMCs can play a key role in making business travel more sustainable. They can assist companies to create a greener travel program by helping them to choose the best suppliers, by offering carbon reports and by crafting travel policies around gamification and reward systems for those employees who are more conscious.
The identified constraints ranged from employer apathy to a perceived lack of alternative options. The implementation cost of more sustainable air and accommodation options as well as a lack of reporting or measurement were also identified as impediments.
“In the end, pressure from the traveler will translate into positive action. Advancements in technology will be required to help solve the more complex environmental issues such as the guest accommodation experience and carbon neutrality in the aviation industry but opportunities are aplenty to work with supply chains who already implement and track sustainable practices across the customer journey,” said Scott Solombrino, GBTA’s COO and Executive Director. “As an industry, we need to work together to find some solutions to help corporate travelers to make the right decisions when traveling on business.”
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