The Benefits of Sustainability in Business Travel
Many companies are realizing the value of implementing sustainability initiatives because, quite simply, it’s good for business. The benefits come in brand value and reputation, cost savings, employee recruitment and satisfaction, as well as risk reduction. While every business has different operational challenges, business travel is an essential tool for most companies, so sustainable travel practices are an excellent place to start.
According to the recent GBTA report "2012 Sustainable Travel Policies Benchmarking Study," companies tend to focus on sustainability practices that can generate cost savings. They also attempt to influence traveler behavior to make responsible choices and endeavor to develop relationships with green-friendly suppliers.
Sustainability Can Save Money
There is a myth that it costs more to be green. In the cost savings arena, making longer but more efficient trips is effective. When measuring your CO2 trip footprint, the CO2 cost per day will decrease with a longer trip. If measuring travel spend against revenue generated, both spend and CO2 per revenue dollar could decrease relative to the revenue generated from a longer trip – and that makes the CFO smile.
For meetings, using paperless technology such as electronic registration and confirmation or advertising your conference via the web saves both paper and money. Rock Resorts, a luxury hotel chain, offers a savings of up to 5% on meetings when certain environmental and sustainability features are added to the event. The program is tiered to allow flexible options and several rebate levels. Other cost savings can be realized, too, as the company moves toward greener travel.
Influence Travelers to Make Sustainable Choices
Implementing a sustainable travel policy for your business can go a long way toward influencing employee travel behavior, but actively educating travelers on ways they can reduce, reuse and recycle in their business travel helps awareness and adoption. The good news is that sustainable efforts are contagious, so spread the word!
For example, encourage travelers to share shuttle transportation or choose a hotel within walking
distance of the meeting to reduce carbon emissions. Encourage use of hotels with green initiatives like linen reuse programs or energy and waste management programs. Ask hotels if they are members of TravelLife, a non-profit sustainability scheme for hotels and tour operators, or if they support Clean the World, a non-profit organization that sanitizes and recycles soap and shampoo for distribution to shelters and developing countries.
Sustainability Bolsters Reputation
Your company’s reputation and employee satisfaction are also buoyed by sustainability practices. Research shows that people are drawn to do business with and work for companies whose values align with their own. With increasing visibility of sustainability issues, your potential customers and employees now have additional criterion to weigh when choosing where to do business. That holds true when contracting your supply chain as well. Green language can be incorporated into your procurement RFPs and by using the
Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria you can create a scorecard for vendors and destinations that allows you to compare a hotel’s or a destination’s social and environmental responsibility.
Bruce MacMillan, CEO of Meeting Planners International, noted in a report on sustainability to the UN, “Sustainability is more than a sideline philosophy. It’s a systematic, enterprise-wide practice, and businesses need to increase the value of their experiences with a well-structured narrative for all stakeholders.” Since the days of paper tickets, technology has made a huge difference in making travel greener, but both company and individual traveler’s green choices can and do make a difference.
For further resources on how you can travel greener, contact Covington’s Business Travel Services department.