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Study: Sustainability Becoming Priority for Corporate Travel Bookers

By / Jan 29, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

New research from the Global Business Travel Association finds that most European companies require some kind of sustainability clause in their travel contracts. The U.S. lags behind, but even here, the trend is growing.

When it comes to your annual meeting, are you thinking sustainably?

If so, you’re part of a bigger trend in the corporate travel world. According to new research from the GBTA Foundation, an education and research offshoot of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), many companies are becoming increasingly focused on the issue—especially abroad.

According to the study of nearly 300 U.S. and European-based travel managers, sponsored by the rental-car conglomerate Enterprise Holdings, 57 percent of Europe-based companies include sustainability in their corporate travel policies, a massive jump from an estimated 39 percent in 2012.

U.S.-based companies are improving on this front as well, albeit more modestly. The research found that 19 percent of companies are including sustainability clauses this year, a jump from 11 percent in 2011.

One thing that companies were keeping an eye on, no matter the ultimate goal? Air travel. Among companies keeping an eye on their environmental footprint, 96 percent of European companies and and 92 percent of U.S. companies are focused on the impact their air-travel can have on the environment. This dovetails neatly into the popularity of carbon offsets, which remain popular with corporations, even as the offsets are seen as a niche product for most travelers.

That said, the reasons for sustainability differ, depending on the region of the world.

“Overall, sustainability initiatives appear to be more integrated in Europe-based organizations, with opportunity for improvement among U.S.-based organizations,” GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research Joseph Bates explained in a news release. “We found that European companies are focused on efforts that result in both financial and environmental benefits, while American companies have a strong focus on the human relations aspect of sustainability.”

So, in other words, some are in it for the cost, while others are in it for the good PR. The study found that more than 40 percent of both European and U.S. companies believe that the corporate travel moves have generally improved company image, employee morale, and/or business processes.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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