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The State of Corporate Climate Action: 5 Planner Takeaways

Lessons to consider from GBTA’s new sustainability report, Global Industry Barometer 2023.

The Global Business Travel Association unveiled its second annual sustainability report this week, “The State of Climate Action in Business Travel—Global Industry Barometer 2023.” Based on 863 survey responses from business travel professionals, largely from North America and Europe, the wide-ranging study reports on sustainability practices in the global business-travel sector.

While the study is directed at travel managers, event professionals can build off the findings to better understand what’s happening and what’s to come in their realm. Here are five key findings considered with meetings in mind:

From the GBTA report: For companies responding to the survey, the biggest driver of sustainability uptake is reputation management (84 percent). A genuine willingness to drive a positive impact for the planet is a close second (82 percent). 
Meeting takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of communicating your events’ sustainability efforts to build a positive relationship with attendees. Tell your story!  Have you decreased waste from the event? Increased recycling efforts? Selected a LEED-certified building? Added vegetarian food options? Supported local organizations in the host community? Today’s attendees appreciate sustainable approaches to meeting design, and your organization’s reputation will be the better for it.

From the GBTA report:  Combining trips is seen as a tactic to maximize travel’s return on emissions, with 74 percent of travel managers encouraging (55 percent) or mandating (19 percent) their employees to combine multiple business trips into one. 
Meeting takeaway: Consider the trend to combine business trips when you make your site selection decisions. While many factors are at play, if your attendees sell farm equipment, for example,
maybe the Fresno Convention Center in California’s Central Valley goes on your list of venue options. If your location can create attendee travel efficiencies, market that point to potential participants who have to persuade the boss on attending.

From the GBTA report: Carbon pricing is a niche policy, but it’s growing.  Only 10 percent of travel managers have established carbon budgets or carbon fees—but it is under consideration by another 23 percent. 
Meeting takeaway: As more organizations
set carbon budgets for their corporate travel or charge travelers a carbon fee based on the CO2 emissions generated by their travel, air-travel-heavy meeting departments may see their budgets take a hit. It’s also another reason to understand your attendee demographics: Where’s the closest site for the most people?

From the GBTA report: When asked to pick five 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 percent of buyers).
Meeting takeaway: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. The development of sustainability-tracking tools is a priority that meeting professionals should rally around with their business-travel colleagues.

From the GBTA report: More than half (54 percent) of respondents say their company has set either internal or public targets to reduce Scope 3 emissions, which include those from business travel. Another 23 percent are planning to set such reduction targets.  
Meeting takeaway: While meeting departments may not have emission-reduction targets today, expect them down the road. What can be measured today to better understand where you stand on sustainability and where cuts might come in the future?

The full report can be downloaded from the GBTA Foundation website.


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