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Environmental sustainability in procurement business travel: BCD survey gauges importance


A new survey by BCD Travel has revealed that while 82% of companies have sustainability goals in place, only 45% have targets for sustainable business travel. Furthermore, only 20% of business travellers are aware of their company’s sustainable travel goals.

The survey, which questioned more than 100 travel buyers and almost 1,800 business travellers, found that travel buyers’ top three sustainability priorities are supporting general company sustainability goals, tracking and reporting travel sustainability, and reducing the environmental impact of business travel.

Over two-thirds rate these priorities as extremely or very important. Meanwhile, offsetting carbon emissions and satisfying traveller interests are the least important.

When it comes to benefits and challenges, in addition to reduced environmental impact (88%), travel buyers see enhanced company reputation (65%) and talent recruitment & retention (46%) among the main benefits of adopting a sustainable travel program. 

However, more than half mention the extra cost of sustainable travel options as their biggest pain point. Other challenges include traveller education, a lack of standard measurement approaches and definitions, and having the right tools.

Interestingly, only one-third of travel buyers require suppliers to have sustainability goals and commitments in place. 

A quarter search for suppliers with similar sustainability values and environmental certifications, while one-sixth require availability of a carbon emissions calculator, science-based targets and other sustainability metrics.

When it comes to sustainable travel options, half of companies encourage sustainable travel, but only a third promote sustainable options at the point of booking. 

Reducing travel volumes and travelling by train instead of plane are the top two options promoted by travel buyers. They often also promote taking direct rather than connecting flights, combining several trips in one, and limiting the number of employees on the same trip. 

Additionally, travellers mentioned sharing ground transportation and choosing economy class over business class as frequent recommendations by their companies.

During a trip, the most popular traveller sustainability practices relate to hotel stays. Seven in 10 avoid frequent towel changes, while six in 10 refrain from using daily housekeeping. 

Recycling, going paperless with travel documents, supporting local vendors or walking where possible are popular too. Some four in 10 also mention travelling with only hand luggage and bringing their own reusable water bottle.

From the perspective of regional differences, the study found employers in the APAC region often promote direct flights and eco-friendly hotels, compared to an EMEA focus on reducing travel volumes and travelling by train instead of plane, while flying economy class instead of business and sharing ground transportation are more common in North American companies.

To learn more, download the buyer survey report and the traveller survey report.

Keen to delve deeper into the world of sustainability and ESG? PASA’s Sustainable Procurement & ESG Today online event takes place on 15-16th November, featuring several high-profile speakers who will offer pragmatic tips on how to understand the supply side ESG agenda, focusing on traction and impact over just policy.

Tickets are selling fast, so secure yours today

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