Examining Sustainable Travel During Your Travel Downtime

There has to be a better way to get there.

How often do 98% of organizations agree on something, especially when that something involves spending more money? Rarely. Yet according to a recent EMEA-focused study, that’s precisely the percentage of companies who stated they are prepared to commit additional funds to sustainable travel – over and above their current travel management budget. 

Okay. That’s good. Everyone wants to travel more sustainably. But the question is how, and few companies have the answer. 

The same SAP Concur study showed that one-third of corporate travel decision makers are passionate about having a positive impact on sustainability, but they admit it’s difficult to put their aspirations into practice. In addition, 28% of these decision makers say they’re aware of the issues involved but are fundamentally unsure of how to effect change. 

In light of these difficult questions, I’ll ask a few more.  

How are consumers driving the trend? 

An unexpected and positive offshoot of the pandemic has been a decline in emissions, which are projected to be 8% lower in Q1 2020 than they were in Q1 2019. That was one bit of good news in a bad year, and consumers want more. As we begin to move around the world again, travelers are increasingly demanding that any recovery in travel be built sustainably, from more effective seating layouts to low-carbon aviation fuel. 

In the coming year, expect leisure travelers to spend more time at their destinations, utilize paperless boarding passes and itineraries, dine at restaurants that offer locally sourced food, and stay in eco-friendly hotels that provide amenities like refillable toiletries and water conservation. They’re also going to be looking for tools that let them easily track and offset the emissions generated by their travel. 

Is it just a trend? 

To be blunt: No. Sustainability will be table stakes as we take to the skies again, and health and safety won’t be the only perks of responsible travel that will lure people back. Recent environmental research is compelling companies to make the most of this momentary pause in travel by adding environmentally sustainable practices to their corporate travel programs. 

Microsoft, for example, is purchasing credits for cleaner-burning, sustainable aviation fuel (made of used cooking oil and other plant-based oils), so when employees fly, they’re helping reduce emissions as much as 75%. 

Efforts like these will no doubt encourage and inspire a majority of travelers – 69% of whom rank sustainability as important – to feel more comfortable about returning to travel. 

Can we do more?

Of course we can, and here’s where to start. Keep the conversation going on to get tools, tactics, and other insightful information to improve the way your organization travels and how you get ahead. 

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