September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
This year”s ITM (Institute of Travel Management) Industry Observer cites the fact that 60% of the report”s respondents believe Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to be a ”key strategic issue for the travel management industry”.
As the latest hot topic in business travel, CSR is becoming a well-known phrase. But it is a blanket term that covers widely separate issues ” from environmental responsibility to duty of care to the individual traveller ” and these must surely be addressed individually if they are ever to be conquered.
Much of CSR”s heightened importance during the last year undoubtedly comes from the furore over carbon emissions. The travel industry has ” quite unfairly in the view of most who work within it ” come under fire for its contribution to environmental damage. In fact transport (including everything from freight to sea travel), only accounts for 14% of global emissions, according to the recent Stern Report that addressed environmental concerns from an economic standpoint.
And the often-quoted air travel emissions statistic, showing that air travel accounts for just 1.6% of global greenhouse gases, surely shows that aviation is a relatively benign polluter. When you think that business travel makes up only a part of that percentage, it”s clear that some of the facts are getting in the way of a good story.
Nevertheless it looks as though the emissions hype is here to stay. The enormously complex issue of how businesses embrace this need for environmentally responsible travel needs a term all of its own (Corporate Green Responsibility, perhaps?) if it is ever to become a viable and workable arena.
Confusion arises from the outset when it comes to which areas of the industry should take responsibility, and where to turn to for advice. The recent survey by KDS and ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) into attitudes towards green travel returned some interesting results on this point. Of the 200 or so travel managers and business travellers worldwide who took part in the survey, 59% saw travel management companies (TMCs) as an expected source of information and advice on environmentally friendly travel.
But do TMCs have a complete solution? No, and they shouldn”t be expected to, according to ACTE executive director and chief staff officer Susan Gurley (pictured below left): ”Currently there is no communication between corporations and suppliers; only when the two sides start talking together can sustainable policies be reached.
”Corporate travel is a significant area for potential improvements and ACTE will be working closely with travel professionals to help spread the knowledge and skills that can help businesses meet this challenge.”
And there is the crux of the matter: there is great potential for business travel becoming more environmentally sound, but for that to happen every side of the industry has to do its part. A great many companies, from travel technology to airlines and hotel groups, have announced they have ”gone green” and will offer their customers the chance to ”offset” their carbon footprint. But it is not until they start working together that this will have any real impact.
As KDS marketing director EMEA Stanislas Berteloot (pictured right) put it: ”Most companies are sincere in their desire to cut and manage emissions and see travel as an area where improvements can be made. However, they are currently held back because the market doesn”t offer them the right tools to do this efficiently or on a large scale.
”Businesses need to be able to gauge carbon emissions when planning a trip, to weigh up greener alternatives at a glance, and to quickly generate management reports that give them a handle on this new area of data”.
In response to the 92% of attendees at ITM”s conference in May 2006, who thought CSR was a subject relevant to their role, ITM has made it the theme for this year”s event in March. Let the sustainable initiatives for environmentally responsible business travel begin and perhaps we can see a way through the current green smog.