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Discover How a Travel Manager Can Promote Sustainable Travel

Travel managers as sustainability specialists in Germany

5 min
Posted: 26 June 2023
Happy businesswomen on a trip

Many German companies are seeking tools that map out their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their sustainability management. Sustainable planning and strategies require concrete data. Change can’t occur without careful planning– and that is how travel managers can play a key role. At Egencia, we help travel manages take smart, practical steps to build a sustainable travel programme that mitigates, reduces and offsets the carbon footprint of corporate travel.

Sustainable corporate management is on the rise. Detailed information about a company’s own efforts in the field of environment, social and governance (ESG) has become standard on company websites, and employees have made it part of the criteria on which they base job search decisions.

The EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) on January 1, 2023 has impacted many companies with additional obligations to meet sustainability goals. These apply to all companies with total assets, turnover or headcount over a defined amount. According to an estimate from consultancy firm PwC, this is around 15,000 companies in Germany.

PwC concludes in their study ‘ESG Strategy and Reporting: Opportunities and Challenges for Germany that 60 percent of companies have recognised that green transformation is necessary, but the approach they are taking is still not holistic, and therefore they are still unable to satisfy the legal requirements.

In other words: Travel managers can play a key role in their companies to meet new legal requirements around sustainability.

Travel managers need support

Global business travel companies like Egencia offer comprehensive data on greenhouse gas emissions arising from flights, train travel and hotel stays.

  • Travel planning information includes emissions for each flight query in the search results that Egencia supplies – and alternative routes. This way, a more sustainable version can be selected during booking.
  • Comprehensive emissions reports according to the most important routes and destinations, allows CO2 reduction strategies to be developed on the basis of actual data as opposed to mere estimation. Progress can be documented.
  • A clearly defined strategy ensures that every decision and every measure brings the company a step closer to their sustainability goals. And that it can be discussed in a clear way – both internally as well as with customers, partners and the press. Business travel programmes are not only good for the environment, but also for company transparency.

Possible measures for good travel policies

So what needs to be done? An effective sustainability strategy can consist of many building blocks. For example:

  • Book a non-stop flight 
    Layovers are often cheaper than direct flights, but at a greater cost for the environment. On average, non-stop routes reduce carbon emissions by roughly 100 kg per person compared to the next best connecting option. That is equivalent to the carbon footprint of driving for 250 miles. Not to mention, a layover can add an extra day on the road and the possible loss in productivity, which will always be higher than the extra cost of a direct flight.
  • Book rail instead of air 
    Did you know there’s Wi-Fi on most trains? Rail may make more sense for regional journeys and often are less expensive than airfare. Even though rail may be associated as slow travel you can work remotely on the train and avoid the lines at the airport. There are currently so few renewable energy alternatives to traditional jet fuel, and none is expected until after 2030. According to the European Environment Agency, rail travel accounts for 14 grams of CO2 emissions per passenger mile, making it more of a sustainable practice than flights at 158g per passenger mile.
  • Choose hotels strategically 
    Consider starting a green list of hotels that are committed to decreasing waste production and water waste. There are providers in the travel industry that are leading the way in sustainable tourism and resources available for navigating sustainability standards in lodging. Along with reviewing eco-friendly lodging try to choose a hotel close to the company’s or client’s headquarters or project sites, so you can walk or take public transit instead of having to rely on cars or taxis to get to your destination.
  • Alternative ground transportation 
    Choosing a rideshare, like Uber and Lyft, over a cab means the carbon footprint of a ride is distributed among more people. Public transportation is an even more sustainable choice. And nowadays, many cities worldwide have options for bike, electric bike and even scooters to get from one point to another. If you have to rent a car, look into sustainable options like hybrid or electric.

Practical support through Egencia

Book according to emissions: Throughout the booking process Egencia details the CO2 impact of the flight – and supports you in choosing the most sustainable means of transport. If the travel policy limits flights for individual travel destinations within Germany, Egencia can provide the best train option. Egencia displays specific train alternatives for Norway, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, France, United Kingdom and even in the United States.

Offsetting: According to Egencia’s comprehensive offset strategy, companies can deposit a specified price per tonne of CO2 generated (or equivalent). When carrying out a search, the specific offset costs per flight then appear and facilitate sustainable booking decisions.

Clients can access their company’s CO2 data at any stage in the Egencia Analytics Studio and share reports with their sustainability partners to identify projects they would like to invest in. Egencia recommends reliable offset partners with certified sustainability projects on request, for example, CHOOOSE, Climate Neutral Group (CNG), Atmosfair and ClimatePartner.

Precise analysis: Egencia offers current data on greenhouse gas emissions from flights, train travel and hotel stays that can be compiled into individually configured reports. Furthermore, additional input fields configured by the company are available to travellers during the booking process, such as, reason for travel or project number. This allows travel accumulations and emissions to be considered according to location, department or project – and in-depth analysis: Who is travelling and why? Are all trips necessary? What alternatives are there?

Consulting: Companies that need advice on the topic of ESG stand by Egencia. Egencia consulting can detect gaps in sustainable travel policy and assess service providers and partners according to ESG criteria.

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