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 a focus only on your carbon footprint. While the carbon footprint is a singular critical measure, there are many other things that business travelers can focus in on in order to make their travel greener.
Wondering what strategies can be employed by companies to ensure that efficiency is increased as we work to decrease our overall environmental impact? Here are some suggestions:
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 allow you figure out the “how” that can help them implement 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 supplier 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 in-house from your procurement RFPs and incorporate them into your travel supplier RFPs. Then, align travel with your companywide purchasing and supplier 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. The reality is, not many people want 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 to plan your corporate events, make sure that they include environmental performance (“sustainability”) language, giving preference to any and all attempts to green up the meeting.
How you measure the impact of business travel may be your greatest opportunity to propel change. If it is more than just measuring the CO2 footprint of travel it is probably time to work with providers like Green Business Bureau that offer green certifications. If you are trying to encourage your travelers to do more on a single trip, it may require making the trip a little longer to make it more effective. In addition, it may mean changing your calculation for your CO2 footprint to focus on 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. For example, in the past we had paper tickets, but today, even paper boarding passes are slowly vanishing and most people now carry soft copies of their itineraries on their phones or other devices. 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 allow you to influence the thought processes around sustainable travel in relation to your company culture. Working with your travel department, your travel management company and your travel technology providers may allow you to affect policy and behaviors (beyond travel avoidance) at every step of the travel process. For example, you may want to emphasize or highlight booking your preferred green providers, or taking a train on certain routes domestically/internationally over a plane. Reputable travel suppliers will be able to provide some C02 data as an initial benchmark, then continue with reporting and customization to assist with measuring your custom company goals.
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