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The Long and Winding Sustainable Travel - Part One

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

During the pandemic total global carbon emissions dropped 7%.

Since then there has been a noticeable shift in corporate clients' attitudes towards sustainable business travel, as almost 3 years of travel freezes prompted a re-evaluation of travel practices and their environmental impact.

External stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulatory bodies, now place greater emphasis on sustainability and it has subsequently become a core value for many corporates. It has become one of the key drivers for many companies, as they align travel activities with their sustainability goals, to demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility.

Is the business travel market ready to meet these challenges?

Travel suppliers have been actively responding to the demand for more sustainable travel options from corporate clients. While the level of readiness in the supply chain may vary, there has been a notable increase in sustainable initiatives and offerings in the travel industry.

Here are some ways travel suppliers are addressing the challenges:

  • Sustainable Accommodations - energy efficient systems, waste reduction, water conservation

  • Green Transportation - more fuel-efficient aircraft and vehicles, bio fuels, electric cars

  • Collaboration - travel supply chain partnering with sustainability organisations e.g. carbon offset programs, sustainable aviation

  • Supply chain - travel companies seeking sustainable supply chain and sourcing practices

  • Reporting - travel suppliers providing more transparent data including carbon emissions, multi-modal alternatives

  • Technology - providing filters for eco-friendly accommodations, "green" airline fares, electric cars

  • Education - training for travellers and bookers to foster a sustainability focused mindset

  • Investment - leading travel suppliers are heavily investing in R & D to explore more innovative solutions - biofuel, renewable energy integration, waste reduction

Collaboration for Sustainable Travel

A lot of progress has been made, but there are still many challenges to address.

Suppliers must continue to improve their sustainability efforts, expand offerings, and overcome logistical and cost barriers. Moreover, collaboration between travel suppliers, corporate clients, and other stakeholders is crucial for driving systemic change and accelerating the availability and adoption of sustainable travel options.

In Part Two of this series we will explore in more detail the specific challenges facing travel management companies, who have to strike a balance between meeting clients' sustainability demands with managing their travel budgets effectively.

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