Sustainability in business travel

Sustainability in business travel

Sustainability in business travel

Our clients often ask us about introducing a sustainable travel policy, not least due to the government’s legislation which promises to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Here, we take a look at some of the key issues and discuss how travellers can reduce their carbon footprint while still meeting their business needs. 

"Qantas and International Airlines Group (IAG) (British Airways’ parent company) have signed up to the Net Zero pledge through more fuel-efficient aircraft, smarter operational techniques and switching to biofuel. United Airlines has also committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 and Virgin Atlantic’s target is a 30% reduction by 2021." – Business and industry magazine

The majority of businesses we speak to today have an interest in reducing the impact their travel is having on the planet. But, with face-to-face meetings often seen as the best way to shape relationships with clients and business partners, there’s a delicate balance to be struck between maintaining this important client contact and minimising the environmental impact this travel causes.

What are greenhouse gasses?

By trapping heat, greenhouse gases make the planet warmer. Humans are directly responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the UK is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and, of course, transportation.

Measuring Emissions

By measuring emissions, we can better understand the company and traveller’s environmental footprint and put plans in place to reduce it. Large amounts of business travel emissions are caused by air and rail travel, and hotel stays.

Wexas Travel Management provides clients with standard and bespoke carbon emissions reports. That’s alongside our account management team, who’ll consult directly on how to implement sustainable travel policies and raise awareness internally of good practice, thereby aiding travellers to achieve personal and company carbon footprint goals.

Sustainability Goals

Once a company has committed to incorporate more eco-friendly practices in to their travel policy and documented their goals it is vitality important that this message is communicated across all areas of the business before publishing the new strategy. Your Wexas account manager can suggest simple and effective ways in which to do this.

A sustainable business travel policy can assist your business to:

  • Understand the company carbon footprint by providing in-depth management information on co2 emissions
  • Make sustainability decisions based on this information

These might include:

  • Limiting the amount of luggage that you take on trips
  • Reducing the need to travel by using new and improved technologies
  • Combining business travel trips to reduce the frequency of travel

Sustainability and air travel

Air travel often gets a bad rap when it comes to sustainability. But the truth is, we all need to travel. So, what can you do to minimise the impact of your trips?

Some tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Flights should be direct where possible. The more take offs and landings the greater the CO2 emissions. Choosing to fly direct can reduce emissions by up to 50%
  • Use local airports where possible, saving on fuel consumption to get to and from your point of departure
  • Choose a fuel-efficient airline (newer aircraft produce fewer emissions) or an airline that invests in alternative fuels. Singapore Airlines, KLM, Scandinavian Airlines and EasyJet are leading the way here
  • Fly economy class more frequently. With larger seats and fewer passengers, flying in a premium cabin increases your carbon footprint
  • Take the train where possible on domestic and short-haul trips. Eurostar from London to Paris uses 91% less carbon than the same route by plane
  • Pack light – The more luggage a plane has, the heavier it is, the more fuel it will use
  • Use digital tickets and confirmations – less paper = less deforestation = a healthier planet

Sustainable hotel stays

More and more hotels are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint. These might include using renewable energy sources, energy-efficient lighting, recycling waste, changing linen and towels only on request, replacing single-use plastics with biodegradable alternative and only using 100% recycled paper napkins and hand towels. Some hotel chains are also incentivising guests to be more sustainable by offering bonus reward points for reducing electricity and linen use.

Some top tips for reducing your carbon footprint:

  • Book hotels that are close to the venue or meeting to eliminate the need for taxis or public transport.
  • Cut down on the use of air conditioning in your room and turn off the lights and TV when leaving.

Points to consider

  • Once Wexas Travel Management has helped you create your sustainable travel policy, remember to communicate it to employees and other stakeholders to help raise awareness of your objectives, gain support and keep up momentum
  • Setting targets and incentives often assists with buy-in and can have a positive effect on the workplace itself. This may be especially true among environmentally conscious employees who place a huge importance on working for a company with the same values as themselves.
  • Contact an expert who’ll help you calculate your current carbon footprint. Then, analyse your carbon footprint and identify opportunities to travel smarter and greener
  • Review your current travel policy, looking at class of travel, airlines used, your hotel programme and whether you currently use rail instead of air travel where possible
  • Invest in a carbon offset scheme that aligns with your company values. Use and share the scheme with colleagues in order to offset both personal and company carbon emissions


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