Environmental sustainability has been a hot button topic over the last couple of years. It is one that has affected (and is still affecting) how businesses conduct their daily operations in a responsible and thoughtful manner. Consumers have also started to champion such causes and now expect the companies that they patronise to rethink their policies.
These discussions about sustainability haven't escaped the travel industry. In fact, it is for this very reason that the idea of "Sustainable Travel" was birthed.
So what exactly is "Sustainable Travel"?
According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Sustainable Travel is defined as the "management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems."
With that said, why is sustainable travel necessary or of any significance?
a) It creates a great financial synergy
Sustainable travel creates a situation where the actions of travel companies and tourists are seamlessly integrated into the local economy in a way that the commerce of tourism doesn't hurt or cause conflict with the local people, businesses, and culture.
b) Preservation of the environment
Not only does sustainable travel help preserve the natural environment so that future tourists can enjoy and experience it, but it also makes sure the present and projected needs of the local people are met.
c) It's a sign of empathy
Bottom line, sustainable travel shows deep thoughtfulness to the places we visit, compassion to other people, and creates an empathetic society that values people, places and resources.
How then does a Travel Manager or a Chief Financial Officer go about incorporating this thinking into their organisation's overall sustainability efforts? Here are three suggestions:
1) Ensure that your people, process and policy variables are aligned
For starters, get to know the in-and-outs of your travel department: the individuals, their performances, their objectives and the systems that they use.
The goal here is to get as much information as possible so that you can be better familiarise yourself with their current operations so you can better align them with sustainable travels mandates.
2) Be broad as possible with your measurements
When measuring the impact of your business travel on the environment go beyond just the total CO2 footprint. Get as much information as you can from your travel department (e.g. C02 footprint by day, C02 per revenue dollar, etc.)
The point is to be as granular as possible so that you can paint a picture that is will help you in your cause for driving sustainable travel policies.
3) Take advantage of technology
Use all the technological tools at your disposal (everything from the tools you use to cull C02 reports on travel to mobile apps or even corporate booking tools, etc.) to promote and advocate the successful adoption of sustainable travel efforts.
To learn more about sustainable business travel and other trends redefining the industry, download your free eGuide '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below: