April Bridgeman, Senior Vice President, BCD Travel and Managing Director, Advito
Olivier Benoit, Principal and VP Global Practices and Sales, Advito
We are no longer working towards getting back to travel, but rather looking at how we can strategically move the industry forward.
Today, there are many ways in which the corporate travel landscape has evolved, from considering more sustainable alternatives to an emphasis on the traveler experience, and new tools are emerging to help push these efforts forward. If you still haven’t shifted your focus to making your travel program more sustainable, now is the time to start. And if you have started, it’s important that you continue to learn and find new ways to continue to improve your program from a sustainability perspective.
But what does sustainability in corporate travel even look like and what help is available for organizations and travel managers looking to become more sustainable? We talked to April Bridgeman, Senior Vice President, BCD Travel and Managing Director, Advito and Olivier Benoit, Principal and VP Global Practices and Sales, Advito to learn more.
What is needed to build a greener future for corporate travel?
OB: There are three things that you can do right now to build a greener corporate travel future. The first and most important is to simply act now. There is no time to wait until you have the perfect strategy in place. You will learn the most by doing.
Second, you must drive behavior change within your program. You cannot rely solely on technology to make travel more sustainable. Instead, it’s important that you focus on managing demand and traveling better. That can look like shifting certain routes from air to rail and selecting the best-in-class suppliers in every category. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support investments in technology like sustainable aviation fuel, be we can’t rely on these solutions to decarbonize the industry.
Third, look at the bigger picture. It’s not just about reducing carbon emissions; it’s critical to consider the social and governance components of a sustainability strategy. Duty of care matters, traveler wellbeing matters, diversity, equity and inclusion matter, and biodiversity matters. Expand your scope and address the whole range of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) spectrum to be effective.
Where’s a good place to start?
AB: There’s a huge opportunity for business travel leaders to get started today regardless of where their company might be, in terms of Scope 3 focus. Begin by measuring the impact of your program. Understand your company’s footprint and its broader sustainability goals, then think about how those same principles apply to the travel program.
In addition, travel program leaders must start engaging travelers, because many travelers are interested in behaving more sustainably on behalf of their organizations, but they need some guidance on what steps to take.
How do Advito and BCD Travel approach sustainability?
AB: We’ve always gone beyond emissions. Whether you’re talking about sustainable sourcing, focusing on our communities and philanthropy or our ethics and governance, sustainability has been at the forefront for both BCD and Advito. It’s woven through the fabric of our organization. We also believe that we can accomplish so much more together when it comes to more sustainable practices in business travel, so industry advocacy is a priority for us.
How does Advito/BCD help the travel industry with sustainability?
OB: From the perspective of a travel management company, I’d say BCD helps by leading by example, such as being certified by EcoVadis at a Platinum level for the last three years. (EcoVadis is the most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings.) We’ve also had our science-based targets approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) and we plan for that to be a significant continued focus for BCD.
AB: On the client side we have a range of methodologies and practices that our clients can implement to drive more sustainability throughout their managed travel programs. For example, our ISO-certified methodology, GATE4, measures emissions across air, ground, hotel, and car. We also help clients use tried and true retailing techniques to engage with travelers and change their behavior even before they decide to take a trip.
The bottom line on sustainable business travel is that it’s ideal to start now. If you are interested in learning more about actionable steps to build a sustainable business travel program, join Advito’s Senior Director, Matthew Patterson at SAP Concur Fusion on February 28th. He will be joining a panel covering how to create a sustainability strategy to reduce your organization’s environmental impact.