Reducing environmental impact has become a prime directive for corporations worldwide and making greener business travel choices will carry a lot of weight in succeeding. Major companies have set ambitious sustainability targets around energy, water use, waste reduction, and community engagement. These environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals aim to combat climate change through sensible corporate governance and social responsibility.
As a frequent business traveler or corporate travel manager, you play a key role in determining whether your company can achieve its lofty sustainability ambitions. The accommodations you book, transportation modes you select, and small daily decisions you make on the road collectively contribute to the carbon footprint left behind by business travel. Luckily, you now have more control than ever to make greener business travel choices.
Forward-thinking hotel chains provide an array of tools to enable greener stays, while travel programs promote social good in small but meaningful ways. Read on to learn simple ways you can reduce the environmental impact of your next business trip.
Corporations Have Ambitious Sustainability Targets
Nearly every major company has publicly declared emissions reductions targets, pledged net zero carbon by 2050, or signed other environmental accords. As business travel picks back up to pre-pandemic levels, all those flight miles and hotel stays risk counteracting sustainability objectives.
As a frequent business traveler, you likely hold some responsibility for adhering to your company’s ESG goals. And as a corporate travel manager, aligning travel spend with green business travel objectives may even be an explicit part of your role. The good news is that hotels are laser-focused on sustainability as well.
Marriott has shown a strong commitment to sustainability by planning to reduce water and carbon impacts by 15% and 30% respectively by 2025. Marriott also priorities sustainable practices through their supply chain by using local suppliers to support communities and reduce the carbon impacts of transportation. The company strives to educate employees, guests and partners about greener travel and urges participation in sustainable practices.
These operational adjustments help hotels meet their own environmental targets. But they also allow you, the business traveler, to directly choose greener accommodations.
Hotels Offer Tools for Greener Stays
To enable smart eco-friendly selections, Hilton provides corporate clients and travelers a detailed look at its environmental practices through an award-winning tool called LightStay. LightStay tracks key sustainability metrics at each Hilton hotel, including:
- Energy use and efficiency details
- Water consumption statistics
- Waste diversion rates
- Paper product usage
If you’ll be planning a company event, conference, or other meeting, Hilton offers the LightStay Event Impact Calculator. By inputting details like the room block size and total event duration, this tool estimates the environmental footprint of that specific gathering. With a data-driven view into sustainability metrics, you can showcase that greener business travel is a priority in your venue decisions and align events to internal ESG benchmarks.
Travel Programs Promote Social Good
Between energy and climate pledges, the “S” for social priorities also holds significance in ESG goal setting. Travel programs increasingly incorporate community engagement elements, benefiting destinations along with travelers themselves.
In 2022, Choice Hotels matched 1:1 employee donations doubling the impact to local organizations. It also allows loyalty members to convert rewards into cash donations for partner charitable organizations.
Other hotel initiatives aim to feed those in need locally by donating excess edible food at the end of corporate events to area shelters or by providing meals to people facing food insecurity. If you arrange group trips, you may consider inquiring about these food donation partnerships at prospective event venues or hotels. This small ask keeps excess waste out of landfills while supporting local social good causes.
You Can Help Through Small Actions
Along with smart hotel selections, significant impact stems from planning decisions. But business travel also means making greener choices while on site. Small habit shifts collectively influence corporate ESG outcomes.
In guest rooms, you can waive daily housekeeping and hang up towels for reuse rather than sending them to the laundry after one use. Similarly, minimize single-use plastics by choosing bulk dispensers instead of individual amenity bottles. In hotels with digital check-in through apps, opt for mobile room keys over plastic key cards.
While moving about the destination, take public transportation, walk, or bike versus driving or hailing solo rideshares. Ask about recycling bins in guest rooms and meeting venues—and actually put items in the proper receptacles. Notably, only request compostable or recyclable serve ware if that infrastructure exists on property.
Individually, these sustainable actions may seem minor or even trivial. Yet collectively, simple daily decisions shape the footprint left behind by business travelers. With a little mindset shift, you can enable greener business travel that supports internal ESG aspirations.
The days are gone when business travel operated separately from corporate sustainability objectives. Thanks to solutions provided by forward-looking hotels, plus willingness from travelers to alter habits, reaching ambitious ESG targets now seems within reach. By voting with your wallet to stay at genuinely green properties, while treading lightly through eco-conscious decisions on site, you pave the way to greener business travel. Covington’s Account Services representatives or Meetings & Events team will be happy to answer questions and help you make sustainable business travel choices.