Thursday 5 December 2019


If I told you that the biggest challenge facing travel managers is cutting costs, would you be surprised? When the recession hit, so were travel budgets. And though they have gradually crept back up, travel managers have remained under continual pressure to make them work harder, smarter and get more for their organisation’s money. 

Each year, the Business Travel Show surveys thousands of travel bookers and buyers across Europe. Between 2015 and 2018, they claimed ‘cutting costs’ was their biggest challenge. Last year, this was bumped into second place by Brexit. This year, however – and seemingly out of nowhere – sustainability has appeared on the top 10 list for the first time. Climate change also made its debut on the list of top ten industry challenges, going straight in at number one. 

The environment has always been a focus for travellers and the travel industry. Marriott is just one hotel group, which has vowed to stop using small plastic toiletry bottles and the percentage of passengers travelling between London and Glasgow by rail over air has just reached an all-time high.

However, the Business Travel Show poll revealed that 71% of travel managers don’t currently offset aviation-related carbon emissions and just 26% offer information to travellers about their carbon footprint. This is one of the reasons the event, which takes place at Olympia London from 26-27 February 2020, will spotlight conscious travel.

“We are at a real tipping point when it comes to climate change and sustainability. Awareness is at an all-time high and the Government’s Net Zero legislation will be a huge instigator for change within travel. 76% of our travel buyers welcome it and Qantas and IAG have both recently committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Business Travel Show group event director David Chapple.

“As a result, more and more companies are being forced to re-think how their business travel affects the environment and human rights, and this raises two really important questions. 1 – is it possible to introduce a sustainable travel policy cost-effectively, given the continued pressure on buyers to cut costs? And, 2, is there even such a thing as an ethical travel programme in the first place?”

Both of these questions will be debated during the Business Travel Show conference, which will also investigate how car rental may offer a green alternative to travel programmes, thanks to major innovations like telematics, car sharing, car clubs and electric vehicles transforming pricing, operations, sustainability and duty of care priorities. 

A further session focused on traveller wellbeing – which also comes under the ‘conscious travel’ umbrella – and promises to help buyers progress from awareness to practical improvements, while also successfully securing the backing of senior management. And the new Wellness Retreat at the show will be a haven of serenity on the show floor where visitors can take time out and relax while getting hands on with innovative travel wellness products and services helping them to look after their travellers better.

This blog post was written by David Chapple, UK Portfolio Director of Northstar Travel Group, which runs the Business Travel Show taking place 26-27 February 2020 at Olympia London. Visitors can register for a free pass to attend at 

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