Environmentally concerned business-travel planners are often challenged by conflicting goals within their organizations, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported in “Corporate Social Responsibility: Going Beyond Green.”

The majority of professional travel planners who responded to the 2017 GBTA survey reported formal corporate sustainability programs are in place; however, only 16 percent said they currently offer incentives for business travelers to stay in hotels with sustainable practices.

The study’s questionnaire was sent to 1,167 travel managers; 90 planners (8 percent) responded. Sponsored by AIG Travel, the study acknowledged that companies are beginning to take a holistic approach to sustainable practices.

Kate Vasiloff, GBTA research director, explained there are three key factors to sustainability: social, environmental and financial. She referred to them as the “three P’s—people, planet, and profits.”

Travel management professionals are increasingly concerned about booking events at hotels that have implemented sustainable practices (i.e., not washing sheets and towels every night of a stay, automatic light shut off, low-flow shower systems). However, the survey unveiled disappointing results when it comes to their own companies and clients putting those policies into practice.

AIG Travel CEO Jeff Rutledge said, “Travel is more accessible today than ever before, and with this access comes a responsibility to positively impact the places we visit, whether for business or for leisure. This research shows there is a major opportunity for companies to incorporate additional sustainability practices into their travel programs.”

Currently, only one in six travel managers (16%) offer incentives for business travelers to book preferred hotels with proven sustainability programs, the survey found. A good beginning for environmentally friendly meeting planners is to adopt paperless practices.

4 Paperless Best Practices

Send links to surveys instead of paper evaluations
Use tablet stations for registration instead of paper forms
Create event apps to display information instead of printing venue maps and schedules
Display digital signage instead of printed posters

One of the key goals in the study is to reduce the event-hosting industry’s CO2 footprint by 10 percent. This can be accomplished by booking meetings at hotels located near popular offsite locations or near public transportation. This reduces the amount of carbon emissions from rental cars, taxis and buses that business travelers often rely upon to visit restaurants and other attractions.

Public perception of how companies treat the environment are expected to play a bigger role in future decisions about business travel, GBTA reported: “With the rise of the internet driving increased public awareness and consumer activism, gone are the days of a company’s public perception being formed by only the goods or services it provides.”