sustainability, business travel, bonnie smith

When it comes to business travel, most SMEs are still mainly focused on cost saving. And yet, the sustainability conversation can no longer be ignored.

“It’s by far the biggest issue facing the travel industry today – and a daunting challenge for those tasked with addressing their company’s environmental footprint,” says Bonnie Smith, GM Corporate Traveller.

That is why Corporate Traveller compiled a handy 'Sustainability 101' guide for businesses who are ready to start on the path to more sustainable travel but are not sure how.

Smith unveils six sustainable steps companies and business travellers can take right now:

Step 1: Change your own travel behaviour … and make sure your team is along for the ride

Of course, the obvious answer for sustainability will always be travelling less. But the reality is that many SMEs need to travel. First step? Become more purposeful and intentional in your travel. Determine which trips add real value to your business – and which can be replaced by virtual meetings. Once you’re on the road, be aware of your own footprint and do everything you can to save water, support local, and avoid single-use plastics. Every action counts. Even using digital travel apps to store your itinerary can make a real difference.

Step 2: Make changes to your travel policy

Work with a travel management company (TMC) to analyse your current travel policy, identify any gaps and opportunities, and provide guidance on what a ‘best-in-market’ travel programme could look like for your business.

Examples include:

  • Reducing unnecessary travel, including single-meeting or same-day trips.
  • Prioritising suppliers with recognised sustainability certifications and credentials in place, including environmentally-conscious hotel and transport partners.
  • Supporting airlines with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) programmes in place.
  • Mandating routes with the lowest CO2 footprint.
  • Educating your travellers and bookers on what sustainable travel means – and being clear (and prescriptive) in terms of what is expected of them.

How sustainable business travel helps communities blossom

We have teamed up with Hertz to completely transform green business travel for our clients. Take an inspirational joyride with us in this video as we met up with Food & Trees for Africa's Basheshebahleka project in Cosmo City.

View Full Video

Step 3: Upgrade your tech

Today’s travel tech is pretty impressive. Corporate Traveller’s platform is able to measure your emissions and provide CO2 reporting for each trip. Using this data the Corporate Traveller team will help you set new, non-negotiable sustainability goals, measure policy compliance and track your progress.

Step 4: Embrace carbon offsetting

You’ll have heard the call to “reduce what you can and offset what you can’t” and for the travel industry, carbon offsetting is incredibly important. Talk to your TMC about supporting airlines with strong carbon offsetting programmes in place – or select verified schemes that align with your company’s values and ethos, for example, clean water initiatives, renewable energy projects or community upliftment and enterprise development.

For the full "Sustainability 101" white paper, click here:

Step 5: Green your supply chain

Choose environmentally-conscious hotel and transport partners. Struggling? Ask your TMC to recommend suppliers with the right standards, certifications and accreditations in place.

Step 6: Make sustainability part of the conversation

Last but not least, your responsible business travel efforts must have buy-in from the people who count: your travellers.

Ideally, you want them to:

  • Fly less and Zoom more, especially where a meeting will add little value to business’s overall success.
  • Look for non-stop flight options. Direct flights are better for the planet because they use less fuel and produce fewer emissions.
  • Turn right when they board the plane. Did you know that passengers seated in business class are responsible for 2.6 to 4.3 times more emissions than if they fly economy? Encourage your team to choose economy whenever possible. Plus, you'll save money for other sustainable initiatives!
  • Take public transport (e.g., the Gautrain locally) or carpool instead of driving alone.
  • Linger longer. If you extend your traveller’s stay and encourage them to schedule more meetings per trip, you can cut down on the number of flights they need to take. Think quality over quantity!
  • Pick greener hotels or guesthouses.
  • Remain eco-conscious while on the road, including saving energy by turning off the lights and air conditioning when they leave their hotel room; taking shorter showers; reusing towels; avoiding single-use plastics and supporting local vendors in their destination.

“They say that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. And the second-best time is now. In other words, you if haven’t implemented any sustainable changes in your travel programme, you need to get started. Today,” concludes Smith.

Are you ready to 'green' your travel programme? Chat with us!