How To Make Corporate Travel More Sustainable

How to make corporate travel more sustainable

Travelling for business is a necessity these days; we can't avoid it altogether. So, minimising our environmental impact when we do travel is essential.

We spoke to Marina Wood, who frequently travels in her role as Training and Customer Experience Leader for Flight Centre Business Travel, for her insights into how businesses and individuals can travel more sustainably.

Travel manager meeting with client over coffee outside

Write sustainability into your travel policy

As a business, you're able to influence and even manage the providers that your travellers use through your travel policy. So, this is an ideal place to start when looking at your sustainable travel practices.

“From a company level, those businesses who want to do everything they can to practice more sustainable travel can write it into their travel policies. They can specify their preferred airlines and encourage travellers to fly with them unless there are significant differences in cost, or they might choose to restrict which airlines their staff can fly with altogether,” says Marina.

Qantas passenger in business lounge

Fly with airlines that are active in reducing their carbon footprint

Flights are often the first element booked, so they're your first opportunity to make your travel more sustainable, says Marina: "Look for airlines that have good Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and practices."

One of the best airlines locally in terms of sustainability is Air New Zealand, whose sustainability framework centres around the society, the environment and the economy. Virgin Australia is another airline that is making waves in sustainability, with their recent change to recyclable cutlery, and Qantas has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Another opportunity is to carbon offset your travel as much as possible, says Marina:

“Ask your travel manager to generate a report that shows you all flights flown and use this to calculate your carbon. You can then invest your money into the environmental initiative of your choice, whether you want to support the reef, the rainforest, or something else.”

ACCOR Chadstone Hotel Evening

Stay at hotels that have good sustainability policies

Hotels are also doing good things in sustainability, with the likes of IHG taking mini toiletries off bathroom shelves in all their hotels and Accor balancing guest experiences with their environmental footprint by investing in smarter hotel design and promoting water conservation.

“The Accor Group are doing a lot of good things throughout their hotels that are accessible as well, with different brands, price points and plenty of locations to choose from,” says Marina.

Another brand that’s prioritising sustainability is Crystalbrook Collection, considered one of the best hotel chains in Australia for its sustainable practices. The 5-start brand has a handful of properties located in areas that are more ideal for holidays than corporate travel. Proving that sustainability and luxury can co-exist, their properties feature wooden room keys, no plastic water bottles, and iPads in the rooms instead of paper menus.

business traveller with coffee in cafe

Avoid waste while travelling

For a traveller on the road, convenience and availability of things on the go can add up to significant waste, especially single-use plastics and paper. And as Marina says, all it takes is some planning: "If you think about it ahead of time, you can prepare. Ask yourself if it’s something that you’re going to throw away. If it is, work out a way to avoid using it.”

Start by replacing your takeaway coffee cups, water bottles and cutlery with reusables.

“Take your keep cup with you; everyone will serve your coffee in it, even on the plane. Also, carry a refillable drink bottle and fill it up in the lounge before you board; you’ll save wasting plastic cups on the plane. And carry bamboo cutlery in your carry on so if you’re eating on the run you’ve always got reusable cutlery with you,” says Marina.

This way of thinking extends to hotels, where Marina suggests you skip the mini amenities by taking your shampoo and conditioner, and order room service or eat at restaurants rather than getting take away to reduce plastic packaging.

“I can’t even remember the last time I printed something travel-related. I’ve got apps on my phone that keep details of all my flights, accommodation and itineraries. Everything is accessible electronically so you shouldn’t need to print anything,” says Marina.

Make every choice count

Next time you're booking a work trip, or you're packing to head on the road, consider your options and how each choice can make a significant impact, says Marina: “All it takes to make a difference are some simple practices.”

Flight Centre Business Travel is proud to be part of a global company dedicated to having a positive impact through our commitment to social responsibility.

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