Can companies really navigate sustainable business travel costs?

05/10/2023

Comments by Rich Quelch, Group CMO, Good Travel Management

“ACCORDING to the findings of a recent report, the higher costs associated with sustainable travel options are a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of environmentally friendly business travel practices.

“More than half of those surveyed (53 percent) identified elevated costs as the primary challenge in implementing sustainable travel programmes. And while 82 percent of companies have sustainability goals, only 45 percent have targets for sustainable business travel.

“Though the costs may be initially steeper, businesses must ask whether they can truly afford to neglect low-carbon travel. One study confirmed that businesses could risk losing out on the top candidates, with 53 percent of UK business travellers agreeing they would prioritise companies supporting it over those that did not.

“These figures highlight that CO2 measurement for travel is becoming increasingly important, but it can be challenging given that there are so many ways to measure it. If this is a priority for your business, you will need to decide how you choose to capture CO2 data and ensure it is consistent across all departments in all other countries.

“However, balancing business growth with environmental responsibility, while complex, is a necessary endeavour. The silver lining is that there are practical steps businesses can take to ease the decision-making process.

“The first step is to outline the objectives of business travel. Employees often need to travel for a variety of business purposes, such as attending in-person client meetings, conferences or training sessions. Nevertheless, an excess of corporate travel is likely to conflict with a company’s sustainability goals. Therefore, it’s crucial businesses pinpoint what constitutes essential travel.

“Implementing a system to capture and categorise reason codes for each business trip will help identify trends where travel is unnecessary in favour of virtual alternatives. In taking a more strategic, purposeful approach to business travel, organisations can reduce unnecessary expenses, minimise their environmental footprint and ensure that face-to-face interactions are reserved for situations where they add the most value.

“Additionally, implementing the right tools and technology can help quantify the environmental impact of business travel and can assist in evaluating the ROI from an environmental and cost perspective.

“We chose to partner with Thrust Carbon, on behalf of our customer. Thrust Carbon builds upon multiple base methodologies and applies the most appropriate methodology given the data provided for a possible flight to calculate CO2 emissions.

“For example, when the direct fuel burn is known for a flight it will use a DEFRA fuel methodology, which is one of the most accurate ways to measure emissions. The second most accurate is then its ICAO methodology, which is used when the aircraft is known instead, to work out potential emissions.

“By partnering with CO2 experts, businesses can introduce accurate approvals mechanisms dependent on CO2 emissions for planned trips. For example, if your software indicates a journey will go over your company’s maximum CO2 threshold, it could be declined. In these cases, an alternative solution should be found to ensure ROI is still achieved for that business opportunity.

“With a clearer focus on measurable objectives, companies can navigate additional costs effectively, not only achieving sustainable ROI but also staying ahead in the race for top talent and a greener, more responsible future.”

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