Thursday 9 January 2020

*GUEST BLOG* 3 ways to jump-start travel programme sustainability

Managing corporate travel to increase sustainability has rapidly morphed from a feel-good nicety to an absolute necessity.

Seven in 10 travel managers in Europe now think it’s important to give travellers sustainable choices, according to recent research from the Global Business Travel Association and SAP Concur.

At BCD Travel, we see green travel gaining momentum in 2020 and beyond. But our commitment to sustainability has been embedded in our business practices for more than a decade. We’re proud of our leadership role in the industry and the work we do every day to help companies of all sizes reduce the environmental impact of business travel. We encourage travel buyers to get started by applying proven programme management strategies to their sustainability goals. Here are three ways you can do just that—ordered by level of effort.

1. Factor sustainability into supplier selection.

This is the easiest to-do because you probably already consider sustainability when evaluating agency, air, hotel and car-hiring partners. But plan to expand: Three-quarters of travel managers say they’ll focus even more on sourcing with eco-minded suppliers over the next two years, according to the GBTA-SAP Concur research.

Your challenge is to look beyond table-stakes qualifications, like hotels that ask guests to reuse linens. To make real progress, you’ll need to seek out suppliers with innovative approaches to reducing environmental impact. A recent favourite of mine was Dutch airline KLM’s centennial anniversary “Fly Responsibly” campaign, which offered concrete ways to reduce the environmental impact of flights.

Ask your travel management company what they’re seeing in the marketplace that’s new and next when it comes to sustainability.

2. Guide travellers toward more sustainable choices.

Using Traveller EngagementTM tactics to boost sustainability is simple because your business travellers want to reduce their impact. Over the past year, 58% of travel managers received traveller requests for more eco-friendly trip options, according to GBTA and SAP Concur.

Plus, you’ve got more ways than ever to reach your travellers right as they’re making trip decisions with environmental consequences. Use merchandising via your online booking tool to guide travellers toward lower-impact (and often lower-cost) options. Mobile apps like TripSource® allow you to remind travellers to make sustainable choices, like taking public transportation.

3. Leverage collaboration technology to reduce nonessential trips.

Video-enabled collaboration tools are getting better and more ubiquitous every day. In 2020, try incorporating them into your programme as non-travel offerings in ways that won’t hurt your bottom line.

Here’s the rationale. In-person pitching is 34 times more likely to seal the deal, as the Harvard Business Review reports. So, your salespeople will always need to go on business trips. But internal meetings are ripe for reduction that won’t harm revenue. A directed virtual collaboration strategy for internal meetings enabled one of our clients to significantly reduce environmental impact by avoiding over 900 trips. The company also saved US$5.5 million and boosted productivity by redirecting over 15,000 hours of employee travel time.

At BCD, we’re incorporating supplier sustainability, eco-oriented engagement strategies and virtual collaboration tools into our newly launched Sustainable Collaboration offering. It also provides solutions for more complex areas, such as measuring and reporting on sustainability and implementing a carbon-offsetting programme.

I’d love to talk more about Sustainable Collaboration and hear how you’re enabling conscious travel at the upcoming Business Travel Show, 26-27 February 2020, at the Olympia London. Register for a free visitor pass at and please stop by Booth B320 for a chat. See you there!

This blog was posted by Tony McGetrick, BCD Travel’s director of sales for U.K. & Ireland.

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