Remote and hybrid work is now the new normal, resulting in a wide range of alternatives to help us do business remotely instead of making the trip. Equally, every aspect of the travel experience is changing, leaving business travel at an interesting crossroads.
But it seems that despite the availability of alternatives like Zoom meetings, business travel remains an important way for people to connect and will never be fully replaced. In fact, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the number of air passengers is set to exceed pre-Covid-19 levels in 2024. So now is a good time to reconsider and revamp your travel program for the future.
Making the go-no-go travel decision
Because travel is typically the biggest contributor to an organisation’s environmental footprint, reducing the number of trips will contribute to achieving overall sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals.
Firstly, deciding to travel or not is ultimately a business-driven decision. If, for example, your business relationship is already well-established, some meetings could be replaced by a video call, reducing the need to travel.
Equally, internal meetings can also be managed remotely instead of hopping onto a flight.
Usually, short trips and internal travel are the most easily replaced by virtual tools. Once you have decided on the criteria for the no-travel decision, we recommend that you detail the available communications tools and provide relevant links to access them in your travel policy. This will help to guide employees to make the right decision.
For most businesses, though, it is still important to meet in person for important discussions, to close a deal, or to build connections. Here, big consulting and finance firms are leading the way in getting back to see customers face-to-face.
One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen once the decision to travel has been made is the move to making more sustainable choices. For example, discouraging one or two-day trips, limiting travel to essential trips that are several days long, or combining several trips into one will help reduce emissions and increase productivity.
Make the most environmentally friendly choice
As well as reconsidering the purpose of a trip, it’s also worth reconsidering what action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.
Many travellers, particularly in Europe, are replacing air travel with train travel. Not only does this alternative offer better connectivity, but short of cycling to your meeting, rail transport is much more efficient than road or air transport.
In fact, the French government was the first large economy to ban short-haul flights in a bid to reduce carbon emissions earlier this year. The ban applies on routes that can be travelled via train in under two and a half hours, which affected flights from Paris to destinations like Bordeaux and Lyon. Similarly, this month a report from “The Intergenerational Foundation” is calling for the UK Government to follow suit where routes are available via rail under 4.5 hours.
In air, that means prioritising relationships with suppliers investing in new aircraft for their fleet. For hotels, it’s about identifying eco-friendly accredited hotels or avoiding resorts, which can use up to 2X as much water per room per day as a regular hotel.
Here are three ways to consider incorporating sustainability into your travel policy to ensure sustainability is part of your business travel decisions:
- Educate your travellers about sustainability and help them understand the truth behind today’s sustainability trends.
- Highlight how travel decisions align with your sustainability efforts in the travel policy.
- Expanding the definition of sustainability in your travel policy to include employee satisfaction, E.g., Promote benefits your travellers receive from sustainably approved suppliers
Contact your Rennies BCD Program Manager for more information on Sustainability initiatives and customised carbon emission reporting.