Be smart about cutting business travel

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TARGET AIR TRIP – BCG has revamped its online travel booking tool to encourage more sustainable decisions, including prioritizing train travel over flights on certain routes. Some European companies now ban air travel in favor of train travel for journeys of less than 500 km (310 miles): the carbon footprint of a Eurostar train is only 6 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per passenger-kilometre, compared to 255 grams for a domestic airline flight. , according to calculations by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Colliander cited a number of “less intensive” options, including electric and hybrid vehicles that have had more slack in the BCG program.

INFLUENCE DECISION-MAKING– Microsoft uses a self-imposed carbon tax as leverage to discourage unnecessary business travel: Initially set at $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, the tax was increased to $100 from July 2022. C That’s significantly higher than trying to assess the true carbon cost to a trip, which would add an inconsequential cost that could be easily overlooked by travel managers, according to Scott Gillespie, Founder and CEO of tClara. “You make travel much more expensive by adding a carbon tax,” Gillespie said. “This may force managers to think more carefully about moves as their cost increases.”

SHORTER BUT LONGER TRAVELS – A travel reduction strategy already adopted by companies is to avoid business trips of one or two nights in favor of longer trips that generate multiple customer visits, which helps to reduce the intensity of travel business. “Defining next-generation transportation is critical to achieving sustainability goals, and the extended-stay approach helps achieve that goal,” Colliander said.

Customer data from hotel program solutions provider HRS shows that stays in accommodations are 40% longer after the pandemic than they were before, indicating that companies are recognizing that hotel stays are less intensive in emissions than to initiate another round trip.

MEETINGS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS – Technology also plays an important role both in reducing business travel as part of a sustainability strategy and in deciding whether to meet travel reduction targets. Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex and other video conferencing tools were essential for maintaining communications with customers and between offices when Covid-19 shut down travel and offices, and experts expect meetings Virtual meetings permanently replace at least some meetings that would have previously taken place face-to-face. Gillespie calls it “low-value” business travel, and Colliander agrees it’s an X-factor companies struggled to manage before the pandemic. “My estimate… is that 10-15% of total planned travel could be replaced by virtual solutions,” she said, with some caveats that would apply to industry and business needs.

Reduction must be guided by measures

Colliander said BCG has assessed all elements of work that can remain virtual in the future, only reintroducing travel when it is “essential to creating value for customers and our value proposition for employees. “. The key to making these decisions, however, is metrics.

“Including business travel in the sustainability strategy requires understanding the impact of travel on the organization’s footprint,” Colliander added. “Then the organization needs to align with redefining normalcy, creating new pathways and introducing the notion of ‘meaningful travel.’ This starts with implementing a measurement process, reduction and mitigation.

Gillespie said travel managers can use tools like tClara’s TripTester to assess the rationale for business travel: Sustainable travel choices are one of five metrics used by TripTester, which also scores meetings based on their importance, their results, their possible return on investment and their impact on well-being. the traveller, with a personalized weighting for each decision vector.

Which brings up an interesting point: sustainable travel can have many meanings, not just about carbon emissions. As companies reconfigure travel programs with sustainability in mind, they would do well to understand the role of employee wellbeing and how travel comes into play, Bayer said. Some employees may be eager to get back on the road after more than two years of Covid-19 restrictions, but not so long ago the hot topic of conversation was the impact of excessive business travel on life quality.

“Caring for people is just as important as profit,” said Bayer, who argues that the pillars of any corporate sustainability strategy should be both social and environmental.

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