Business travel, sustainability must co‐exist in the new era of mobility

Sustainable travel is nothing new – vacation companies such as Responsible Travel or Exodus have been putting people, place and planet at the heart of their offerings for many years now. But what about those of us who wish we could follow the same environmental, social and governance (ESG) values ​​when we travel for business?

The good news is that if there’s one lesson we’ve all learned from the pandemic, it’s that we can all be kinder to the planet and appreciate the people around us – and that’s especially relevant as the Earth Day arrives on April 22.

For example, the Conscious Travel Foundationa non-profit network that aims to promote responsible travel practices through mentorship programs, was born out of the pandemic, as companies realized more could and should be done to make travel more sustainable.

Major brands such as Hilton Hotels and IHG have also increased their concentration on improving their green credentials. Hilton Hotels has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by 61% and water intensity by 50% by 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Accord, while IHG has pledged to eliminate its 200 million single-use mini toiletries in its hotels.

Discussions at last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) highlighted some stark realities, which mean that society is now making greater efforts to adopt healthier living and working habits. green, which the business travel sector cannot ignore.

So here are two key areas that will fuel conversations in the business travel space and help address the climate crisis: climate-resilient locations and setting greener examples.

Find additional climate-resilient locations

Climate-resilient locations are areas that have the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to environmentally hazardous events, trends, or disturbances. These are quickly becoming a hot trend in the world of business travel and for all the right reasons. Regions such as Scandinavia and North America, which offer good water and food security, have rich biodiversity and, above all, tightly regulate environmental degradation, providing a solid foundation on which companies can build their wallets.

Estimate

Instead of building systems that react to climate change, business travelers can focus on ways to preserve and transform local areas that are resilient to climate change.

Vivi Cahyadi Himmel

This is partly due to fewer complications when it comes to integrating stricter sustainability protocols, as these regions are more sustainable, making it easier for companies to align their needs with environmental considerations. Not only are these regions already fertile business hubs, but they are also strategically positioned for business travelers given their ability to withstand sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events.

Prioritizing mitigation over adaptation is also a preferred route for business travel. Instead of putting in place systems that react to climate change, business travelers can focus on ways to preserve and transform local areas that resist climate change, reduce emissions and build the resilience of local communities.

Investing in climate-resilient sites is therefore a solution that corporate booking platforms can adopt to measure themselves. Added to this is the additional desire to make cities and communities more sustainable, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It’s important to change your overall business strategy alongside these goals, as it encourages businesses to be more environmentally progressive.

Setting greener examples with ESG

Seamlessly integrating ESG into their overall business strategies empowers companies to influence broader change in the travel industry and helps them leverage existing momentum from environmental initiatives such as the COP26 Summit. As noted at the summit, setting tougher ESG targets will help accelerate the achievement of global net zero by mid-century.

As employee demand evolves to become more sustainable, enterprise booking platforms have a responsibility to support this transition. If you are looking to align your reservation processes with global sustainability values, transparency is essential.

Paul Proctor, Vice President of Commerce, Europe, for IHG Hotels & Resorts, echoes this demand, saying “more transparency on sustainability at the reservation stage is a win-win situation for corporate clients and hotels alike.” “. On top of that, Paloma Zapata, CEO of Barcelona-based Sustainable Travel International, cites the “forward-thinking climate-smart approach” some companies are taking, creating awareness and actively engaging employees to take action. smarter decisions and take ownership of their footprint. And with 89% of hotel operators already investing in technology in 2021, it’s clear there’s an appetite for change.

Thus, technology is a key ingredient in stabilizing the discord between business travel and sustainability: by selecting platforms that offer cloud-based sustainability screening tools, companies can then better source properties that reflect their own environmental objectives. For example, modular filters that highlight whether properties offer green assets, like recycling programs or environmental certification, allow guests to book more eco-friendly accommodation and support actions such as offsetting. carbon.

These latest creations in the corporate reservation cycle aim to overturn outdated legacies associated with traditional reservation processes, establishing a new frontier for combining guest sustainability values ​​with technology-driven capabilities to meet internal ESG standards. Giving users the ability to opt for more sustainable lifestyles ensures that employees can gain a personalized experience while prioritizing the methods that work to future-proof the travel industry and the planet.

And because these tools can be easily accessed and adopted, they’re a great equalizer and enabler for smaller operators who don’t necessarily have the budget to create a sustainable plan.

Ultimately, the journeys won’t stop. In fact, business travel is expected to reach $1.7 trillion this year, which is another strong reason corporate booking platforms are supporting shifting employee and business values. It’s time we all think about how to become smarter, safer and more sustainable – combining technological solutions with environmental ethics might just be the first step.