Maintaining the balance of sustainability + cost + wellness in corporate travel 

Sustainability is on everyone’s minds. But while we might be looking to reduce the emissions costs of work-related trips, is there a financial and mental cost that outweighs that strategy? For example, the nature of travel to remote or regional building worksites can mean that only one airline services the route or there are few accommodation options, so cost savings and sustainable options can be harder to find. The mental impact of construction workers being isolated, working long hours or for extended periods of time and away from family, also needs to be factored into the conversation.  

Three speakers presented the case for each of these pillars of sustainability, cost and traveller wellness at FCM’s 2022 event in Athens – Th!nk. Below is a summary of what they had to say …  

The case for cost  

Presented by Andy Cassidy, Corporate Travel Manager at AMC Networks  

"Travel had obviously significantly reduced and is picking up again. How am I going to convince my CFO to invest into sustainable aviation fuel or that our hotel program should have more sustainable properties when those costs are rising again? It’s not that I don’t care about the environment, I just worry that it’s a big ask particularly as we come out of the pandemic. At my organisation, most of our travel is for external conferences and meetings which can be expensive. It’s not necessarily booking our preferred hotels and the capacity is tight with airlines, so on top of the effect on cost that those are having, I’m going to struggle to get sustainability focus above cost." 

The case for sustainability  

Presented by ThrustCarbon’s Head of Partnerships   

"We’ve been able to continue to do business with no or very little travel, so it’s not an impossible task. It’s more difficult, it’s a transition but it is something we can do. We’ve found new ways to collaborate and engage, and now it’s a case of how we take those learnings and make sure that we manage the return to travel. There are solutions emerging but we need to make sure we’re championing those and bringing them in to travel programs.  

"I think one of the most important things is data. We need to make sure that we’re using all the data we have and combined with technology that will drive the change. It also aligns with what travellers want; we’re seeing they want to make better decisions. The opportunity is huge." 

The case for traveller wellness  

Presented by Gilles Trantoul, VP Operations, Amadeus  

"If you want to meet a client or your colleagues, Teams and WebEx are okay but business is better in real life. And the recovery is showing that. Travellers need to be in the centre – it’s creating fatigue, it’s not always easy to find the right choices, it’s not easy to go the airport, sometimes there’s delays or you feel lost. We’ve all been there and done that, and now we need something different.  

"Travellers have evolved their expectations; they want solutions on the go. Imagine an end-to-end process where everything is smooth. Imagine before booking that you have a recommendation on where and when to visit a client to plan a trip to balance these three pillars. Imagine at check-out you don’t have to pay or submit expenses when you’re home, because it’s been paid for.  Technology is changing the game when it works in an ecosystem." 


The final thought  

While virtual meeting solutions enabled some office-based workers to continue with business as usual during the pandemic, the building and construction industry relies heavily on having people and boots on the ground. A return to regular travel clearly means juggling competing priorities at a time when building firms are also facing rising supply and production costs. There is no one-size-fits all solution and each business needs to tailor a travel policy that best fits their workforce. 

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+1.5⁰C by 2040

The heat is on the corporate travel sector to be more sustainable.

But what does that mean for company travel programs? And how can organisations align their travel programs more closely with their wider business objectives for Environment, Social and Governance?

In our latest report, FCM Consulting provides a big picture view of how sustainability is shaping the travel programs of the future.

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