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Where We Get It Wrong: The Shortcomings of Travel Sustainability Policy

Travel policy is an impactful way to move toward more sustainable practices for meetings and business travel—and there’s plenty of room for improvement, according to a survey of travel management pros by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation in conjunction with AIG Travel.

The report, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Going Beyond Green,” concluded that many more companies could encourage or require their travelers to make choices in line with sustainability goals. While more than half the respondents (53 percent) worked for organizations with a formal corporate sustainability program, travel initiatives didn’t appear to be a key part of those programs. Of the 90 travel management professionals who responded, only
3% incentivize travelers to use public transportation,
16% incentivize travelers to stay in hotels with sustainable practices,
2% incentivize travelers to share transportation to and from the airport when traveling with co-workers,
5% incentivize travelers to fly direct.

Travel managers, however, appear to be more focused on sustainability issues when it comes to contracting with suppliers. Respondents were asked how much various issues factored into their contracting decisions. Here is the percentage who said an issue affected their decisions “some” or “a lot”:
Hotels with LEED certification: 23%
Transportation companies with eco-friendly fleets: 16%
Airlines with modern, more eco-conscious fleets: 37%
Companies that proactively offset their carbon footprints: 20%

When asked specifically about contracting with meetings and event suppliers, respondents revealed that their top three sustainability-focused factors are:
59% finding a venue with enough walkable housing options,
34% selecting cities with airports accessible by public transportation,
27% choosing venues that support paperless events through the use of digital tools and technology.

“Travel is more accessible today than ever before, and with this access comes a responsibility to positively impact the places we visit, whether for business or for leisure,” said Jeff Rutledge, CEO of AIG Travel. “This research shows there is a major opportunity for companies to incorporate additional sustainability practices into their travel programs.”
The full GBTA Foundation report is free to members, and available for purchase for nonmembers.

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