Sustainability is at the forefront of global business, but have company commitments to sustainability made their way to corporate travel and meetings management programs? What will it take for companies to make business travel and meetings more sustainable? These are the questions being asked by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Cvent.
In a new collaborative report, titled “The Journey to More Sustainable Corporate Travel and Meetings Management Programs,” the two companies surveyed corporate travel managers and meeting planners across the U.S., Canada and Europe about their current sustainability programs and activities. The report revealed where corporate travel programs stand in terms of emissions tracking, business travel sustainability measures, cost-benefit approaches and sustainable travel sourcing. It also outlined current and future thinking on corporate meeting programs, including virtual and hybrid meetings, operational changes and venue sourcing.
In the survey, more than half of company respondents (55 percent) say their organization has a company-wide carbon emissions reduction target; however, fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) have a target for business travel specifically. Even fewer (9 percent) have a target for company-hosted meetings and events.
The survey also shows a major gap between North America and Europe. Almost half of Europe-based respondents (46 percent) say their company has an emissions target for business travel and one in five (20 percent) say their company has a target for company meetings and events. This compares to only 14 percent of North America-based respondents who say their company has a target for business travel, and only 6 percent that have a target for company-hosted meetings.
That said, sustainability is a priority for both corporate travel and meeting management programs. Almost three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) say sustainability is at least a moderate priority for their company’s travel program, including 41 percent who say it is a top priority. Two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) say sustainability is at least a moderate priority for their company’s meetings management program and 29 percent cite it as a top priority. European travel programs are more likely to prioritize sustainability: Two-thirds of Europe-based respondents (64 percent) say sustainability is a top priority for their company’s corporate travel program, compared to only one-third of North America-based respondents (33 percent).
The C-Suite, according to the survey, is also engaged on sustainability. More than half of respondents say senior executives/C-suite leaders (57 percent) are top stakeholders who drive sustainability/carbon reduction at their company, just behind sustainability/corporate social responsibility departments (64 percent).
In addition, sustainability is expected to drive virtual and hybrid meetings in the future. Three in five respondents (59 percent) expect sustainability considerations will drive their company to hold more virtual meetings and 52 percent say it will drive more hybrid meetings in the future. In-person company-hosted meetings and events incorporate sustainable practices, as well. Most cited are providing shuttles from the venue to hotels or other off-site events (40 percent), communicating with attendees about public transit (34 percent), serving locally sourced food (32 percent), using recyclable packaging (31 percent), and replacing plastic cutlery with real flatware (30 percent).
As for the role of sustainability in supplier sourcing, of the respondents who say their company sends out hotel RFPs, half (54 percent) include sustainability-related questions “most of the time” or “all of the time.” Of those who say their company issues RFPs for meeting and event venues, more than two in five (44 percent) include sustainability-related questions “most of the time” or “all of the time.
The survey was fielded among GBTA members and industry stakeholders with some direct involvement procuring travel and/or planning, organizing or overseeing meetings and events at their company from January 11-28, 2022, resulting in 167 respondents across 13 countries. (the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.)