BUSINESS TRAVEL

B2B TRAVEL COMPANIES LAGGING ON SUSTAINABILITY

Northstar Travel Media LLC | August 12, 2021

Sustainability has become one of the hottest topics in the travel industry in the past few years – and particularly since the start of the pandemic, as the halt of travel put a spotlight on what “could be” and created an opportunity to spur transformational change from this moment forward.

Consumers are indicating a heightened interest in sustainability in all forms – environmental, economic and social. Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report 2021, based on surveys of 30,000 people in 30 countries, finds 46% say the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.

And many consumer-focused travel companies clearly recognize this interest and the opportunity they have to differentiate their brands by taking action on sustainability. In recent weeks brands such as CWT, Accor, Singapore Airlines, Intrepid Travel and TourRadar have announced new initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, support nature conservation, benefit local communities and more. Last week Brazil’s Azul airlines announced a $1 billion partnership with Lilium to begin operating electric air taxis.

But what about sustainability action at B2B companies – those that do not deal directly with travelers but provide the systems and services that keep the industry running? A new report from consulting firm Belvera Partners finds: “Sustainability overall has had a poor take-up in the B2B travel space.”

For its report, Belvera assessed websites of 350 B2B travel companies from around the world looking for sustainability policies, reports, examples or any other meaningful mention and also whether the information was easy to find.

The findings indicate a lack of prioritization of sustainability topics among B2B travel companies analyzed – or at the least, a lack of public communication about their positions on this topic.

The report finds only 43% of the companies analyzed mention sustainability – or similar terms such as environment or CSR – on their websites. Many fewer (24%) have sustainability policies on their sites and still fewer (17%) have any sort of “sustainability report.”

“If a company can’t demonstrate its sustainability credentials, then stakeholders will quite reasonably assume the worst. Our data shows then that the worst is what people must be assuming for the 83% of organizations in our sector that still don’t produce something that can be vaguely called a sustainability ‘report,’” says Roman Townsend, Belvera Partners’ managing director.

“While the moral obligation is hopefully clear, the failure to act is also hurting these businesses economically: banks are less likely to lend, B2B partners are screening out such suppliers and employees are beginning to vote with their feet too.”

Looking at 12 sub-sectors within the B2B the travel ecosystem, aviation has the highest percentage of companies with a sustainability report (42%) or at least a mention of sustainability on the company website (89%) – although it scored below average on ease of finding sustainability information.

Spotlight

Just as there is much more to the whole travel process than the booking, there is also more to business travel than the expense. In any Managed Travel programme, corporate and social responsibility and optimisation of spend remain at the forefront of corporations’ minds. Yet there is more to Managed Travel. In a world of digital interaction, where technology, data and traveller expectations mean that freedom and control sit hand in hand, the power today is with the corporate citizen.

Spotlight

Just as there is much more to the whole travel process than the booking, there is also more to business travel than the expense. In any Managed Travel programme, corporate and social responsibility and optimisation of spend remain at the forefront of corporations’ minds. Yet there is more to Managed Travel. In a world of digital interaction, where technology, data and traveller expectations mean that freedom and control sit hand in hand, the power today is with the corporate citizen.

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