This is a guest post written in partnership with Balboa Travel, Inc., a Green Business Bureau Member.
Sustainability is more than just a catch phrase or your carbon footprint. While the carbon footprint is a singular critical measure, we are all aware that business travel is a critical tool when running or growing a business. So what strategies can be employed by companies to ensure that efficiency is increased as we work to decrease our overall environmental impact?
People, Process and Policy
Get to know the people who manage and handle travel within your organization. Find out what their goals are, what scorecard, if any, is used and what systems they utilize. This will allow you to find out how to best align with them and their goals and start the integration of sustainability into your travel management program. Why do you need to understand their tools and processes? This will help you figure out the “how” to help them implement these sustainability measures in the most straightforward and efficient manner. By supporting the program and the goals of those who manage it, you will also encourage them to support the changes you are hoping to see integrated.
Find out how green your supply chain is. Many companies have a vendor scorecard system, which rarely includes travel suppliers. Using those same principles and criteria, or global standards, you can create a scorecard to see how your much of your travel spend is going to “green” suppliers. Consider incorporating sustainability language, you may already have from your procurement RFPs, into your travel supplier RFPs. Then align travel with your companywide purchasing and vendor selection.
Groups and Meetings
Customers and employees often comment about green companies serving bottled water at meetings or giving out gadgets that are not sustainable at tradeshows. No one wants another stress ball made out of plastic, foam or some other synthetic material. In many cases, groups and meetings may not even be measured as a part of the corporate CO2 travel footprint. When using a professional, make sure that they include environmental performance (“sustainability”) language requiring or giving preference to any and all attempts to green the meeting.
How you measure the impact of business travel may be your greatest opportunity to propel changes. If it is more than just measuring the CO2 footprint of travel then work with providers who have green certifications like those provided by the GBB. Furthermore, consider, if you are trying to encourage your travelers to do more on a single trip, it may mean making the trip a little longer, but more effective. So it may mean changing your calculation for your CO2 footprint to your travel day, so that your CO2 per day will decrease over time. If you measure your travel spend against revenue dollar generated, then adding the CO2 into that equation will show a decrease in spend and CO2 per revenue dollar generated. So by linking your measures directly to your specific goals you can demonstrate improvements of your “green” program beyond CO2 calculations.
Technology can be the good guy in achieving successful and efficient integration of sustainability into your managed travel program. Travel industry technology has made huge progress in making travel more efficient and more sustainable. In the past we had paper tickets, now even paper boarding passes are slowly vanishing and most people now carry soft copies of their itineraries rather than a hard or paper copy. Technology is ever evolving and people often demand what they want from companies which includes that they promote efficient and sustainable travel.
Your understanding and familiarity with your company’s overall goals, travel policies and compliance levels allows you to influence the thought processes around sustainable travel in relation to your company culture. So you may want to emphasize or highlight booking your preferred green hotels, or taking a train on certain routes domestically / internationally over a plane. Working with your travel department and your travel technology providers may allow you to affect policy and behaviors (beyond travel avoidance) at every step of the travel process.
Sustainability no matter what the field or industry is multi-phase including planning, managing and evaluating. Developing a travel program is more than a singular count of your carbon footprint, it requires a plan to become more sustainable and is no longer something we can ignore or avoid.
Andréa da Rosa
Director Marketing Communications
Balboa Travel, Inc.
Content Marketing Manager
Green Business Bureau