Need for action? Need for action!
In general, the number of business trips has decreased significantly: A recent analysis by the German Travel Management Association (VDR) shows that the volume of business trips has roughly halved when comparing the years 2019 and 2022.
Is there still any need for action when it comes to the sustainability of business travel? Yes. After all, business trips cause enormous emissions and are also a huge source of potential savings. This is particularly relevant for larger companies, given that the implementation of the EU directive on “Corporate Sustainability Reporting” (CSRD) in 2024 will make sustainability an even weightier issue. From 2024 onward, sustainability reporting will become mandatory for many companies in every sector: They will have to illustrate how climate-friendly, environmentally friendly and socially responsible they are.
Companies not affected by the CSRD face a different form of pressure: Image as their primary issue, both the perception of customers and business partners, and also in the perception of their workforce. Whereas even a few years ago business trips were still a status symbol to a certain extent, those who travel sustainably on business and only when truly necessary earn respect. An employer’s attitude towards sustainability and business travel is definitely relevant for employees and potential recruits, as it reflects the company’s attitude towards sustainability as a whole.
Two steps toward sustainable business travel
How can companies make unavoidable business trips more sustainable in the future? Because even in 2023, not every business trip can be replaced by a video conference.
Step 1: New travel policies
Corporate travel policies often offer little scope for sustainable business travel. Good reason to reconsider these policies and revise them if necessary.
These travel policies can often be made more flexible so that the cost framework also enables more sustainable means of travel (by train, etc.) or accommodation (sustainable hotel). Conversely, these policies can simply be stricter and include more sustainable requirements such as specific hotels/hotel chains or domestic travel only by train.
Step 2: Reorganize travel management
A second important step consists of introducing or expanding professional travel management.
But is this taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, especially for smaller companies?
No, because booking business travel is costly: Booking travel can be enormously time consuming when people who have to comply with the corporate travel policies have little practice with the process, especially when the travelers handle their travel arrangements themselves.
An external travel management agency which organizes the bookings “sustainably” in accordance with sustainable travel policies can be the solution for smaller companies. In contrast, larger companies may benefit from investing in their own travel manager, who sustainably implements the company’s specific internal policies.
Both approaches ensure that the policies are implemented correctly. At the same time, making travel booking more professional also makes the employees more efficient, sparing them the need to waste valuable working time on the complicated process of booking and settling their business trips.
A completely new start?
Does this mean that we have to throw out everything connected with business trips and start all over again? Definitely not. Instead, the aim is to avoid unnecessary business travel, to rethink old travel management structures with a view towards sustainability and to adapt them to the changed situation.
Summary of the key facts
- Sustainable business travel protects the environment and is good for a company’s image, both internally and externally.
- New travel policies for sustainable business travel are the first step in the right direction
- Professional internal or external travel managers ensure compliance with travel policies and make travel bookings efficient, to the benefit of everyone involved.