5. Keep ahead of sustainable travel

Every travel leader we spoke to said their company had made a sustainability pledge. But more immediate business imperatives often mean that good intentions are not translated into action. Improving sustainability takes time and it is vital to accelerate action on this. As climate change becomes an increasingly pressing issue, customers and suppliers, as well as employees and prospective employees, will want to know what your company is doing to help make business travel more sustainable. Travel policy, embedded into booking solutions, can go a long way to support green objectives, starting by implementing an approvals process that assesses whether travel is necessary in the first place. Booking solutions can also set travel budgets, provide carbon information to support booking choices, and proactively offer environmentally-friendly options such as electric cars. Fidelity has gone public with its commitment to reduce its air travel by 50% by 2024, and everything else by 2030. Carol Fergus explains how Fidelity intends to do that: “We're going to target non-essential travellers. We're going to set some criteria and guidelines around when they should and shouldn't travel, and who should and shouldn't travel, and put in a relatively stringent approval process to ensure compliance.”

Kindle Goodson, Chief Procurement Officer at financial services organization TIAA, says: “In the last few years we have shifted our mindset when it comes to corporate travel. The pandemic showed that we can still be effective, and have meetings not necessarily always in person.” “We approach our supplier agreements differently now. Our agreements with travel providers used to be based on where our hubs are located. But now we try to make sure that there is a carbon footprint lens on our supplier agreements. We also need to make sure that we're looking at where we can reduce costs and reduce our overarching carbon footprint. We are happy that we're able to meet again, but we don't need to go to 2019 travel numbers in order to do so. And we are setting our budgets to reflect that.”

"I want our world to become more sustainable, and I want the travel industry to lead the way on that transformation. But realistically speaking, it's a long, long way away."

Steve Peterson,

Travel industry thought leader

Next: View from IBM

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