Photo of Rosanna Caira
Photo by Nick Wong

Sustainability has taken on a greater importance in recent years, while also assuming a broader definition. The pandemic may have forced companies to put greening initiatives on the back burner but environmental stewardship is now back on the front burner. According to a recent report commissioned by the Alexandria, Va.-based GBTA Foundation, with business travel at a critical juncture following the pandemic, there’s no better time to implement meaningful changes on the greening front.

One of the key findings of the report is the industry’s willingness to rise to the challenge. According to the report, 92 per cent of respondents say sustainability is a priority for their organization (up from 89 per cent the year earlier). Based on survey responses, Europe (98 per cent) along with Asia Pacific and Latin America (both 100 per cent) lead in saying it’s a priority, with North America (86 per cent) slightly lagging the other regions.

Here are a few of the report’s key findings:

  • Companies are investing in sustainability teams: 71 per cent of travel buyers and suppliers say they have a sustainability team, an increase from last year (66 per cent). While 90 per cent of airlines have dedicated sustainability resources, this drops to 59 per cent for the hospitality sector, 58 per cent for travel management companies (TMCs), 55 per cent for ground transportation and 50 per cent for online booking technologies.
  • Reputation management (84 per cent) and a willingness to drive a positive impact for the planet (82 per cent) are the biggest drivers to sustainability uptake.
  • Travel managers are being tasked with reducing emissions for their programs. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents say their company has set either internal or public targets to reduce Scope 3 emissions. Another 23 per cent are planning to set such reduction targets.
  • Combining trips is seen as a tactic to maximize travel’s return on emissions: 74 per cent of travel managers are encouraging (55 per cent) or mandating (19 per cent) their employees to combine multiple business trips into one.
  • Travel managers are not always directly acting on the purpose of travel in their policies: 38 per cent report they currently ask for justification for same-day business trips based on return on investment (ROI) and available alternatives.
  • Developing consistent industry-wide standards is a priority for travel buyers. Asked to pick a few ways in which the industry should accelerate sustainable change (out of 10 possible), a large majority of buyers point to harmonized standards on emissions measurement, accounting, and reporting (requested by 65 per cent of buyers).


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