4 key trends shaping the world of sustainable business travel
We spoke to Geert de Boo, VP of Global Business Travel at JTB, to get the inside track on the trends shaping the sustainable business travel industry and how they will affect your business.
As part of a series to celebrate our new strategic partnership with JTB USA - one of the leading travel providers in the world, we spoke to their VP of Global Business Travel, Geert de Boo. Fresh out of a whirlwind trip to the annual GBTA conference hosted in Dallas, Texas, Geert shared some of his key takeaways from the conference when it comes to sustainability, together with some broader industry trends that are set to affect the entire industry. Here’s what we learnt...
1. Enterprises are still leading on sustainability, but SMEs are stepping up
Sustainability was still firmly on the agenda this year at the GBTA conference, with keynote speeches underlining the travel industry’s important role in tackling the climate emergency. But the noticeable shift was the increased number of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) that attended - all looking to equip themselves with tools to help monitor their travel activity. While enterprises have typically led on sustainability efforts because of their size and set up, Geert says that SMEs are focussed on playing their part, especially since travel still makes up a sizeable chunk of their business.
"While enterprises have reduced a lot of their obsolete travel such as return day trips, for SMEs its different - travel is more about survival, so it’s hard for them to cut."
SMEs also form part of a broader value chain, so while they may not yet be legally required to report on their emissions as a business, they do need to disclose if they plan to work with larger businesses who do.
2. Having quality emissions data is increasingly important
With businesses setting reduction targets or simply looking to get an overview of their emissions, the ESG software market is booming, but the focus is very much on the accuracy of the emissions data.
For enterprises this is an integral part of benchmarking and reducing their emissions, but for SMEs who are trying to get the overview, and have limited resources to dedicate to this, these tools prove to be an invaluable and cost-effective solution and help them play their part in the fight against climate change.
3. EU climate legislation has huge implications for the global economy
EU climate legislation is not a European challenge - it’s a global one. While Europe is certainly leading in this space, the simple fact that we’re a global economy means that businesses are intertwined in such a way that, whatever affects Europe, impacts the rest of the world. And this is particularly true when it comes to emissions calculations and reporting.
"I see developments around sustainability where the directive in Europe is going to impact the entire value chain, and it’s changing the thinking, particularly in the US."
Taking GDPR as an example. For a time Europe was leading, with the US not required to follow the same rules, but for those businesses working within Europe it became a necessity because they were part of a broader supply chain, so they eventually had to comply, and it’s become a standard for US companies ever since.
4. Profitability and sustainability go hand in hand
At the end of the day, businesses need to deliver on business goals, but what’s becoming clear is that this does not have to be at the expense of sustainability. Businesses who prioritise sustainability as part of their business operations will undoubtably reap the rewards.
“Business profitability and ESG can mutually go together - and I don’t mean just in terms of environment, but also in terms of building communities and giving back to society in a meaningful way. Doing good can be very profitable”.
The bottom line
As travel exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and businesses scramble to deliver on climate targets, sustainability has become a key issue for businesses of all sizes. Solutions like Goodwings that can provide an intuitive way for businesses to book their travel, whilst also providing accurate data for climate reporting will be in a strategic position to capture the market.
Read more about responsible scaling in our interview with Geert de Boo