Much of the global business travel industry has already made sustainable business travel a priority, with a focus on reducing emissions and its environmental footprint. But the industry and external stakeholders, such as policymakers, recognize more needs to be done. These are some of the insights from a research study called “The State of Sustainability in the Global Business Travel Sector” from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The report reveals that barriers to achieving more sustainable business travel include higher costs, limited data and lack of access to transparent information. On the flip side, a change in industry culture, easier tracking of data and harmonized standards are seen as key enablers. Delphine Millot, senior vice president, sustainability, who joined GBTA in January, said the debate is no longer over whether the industry should engage in sustainable actions for business travel, but about how it turns ambition into action. Investing in sustainable solutions, she said, must be part of the game plan today “to make sure we can still connect people and travel for business tomorrow.” The 21-page GBTA benchmarking study provides in-depth data and commentary from both global business travel buyers and travel suppliers as well as external policymakers, think tanks and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations).
Key takeaways from the study include:

  • Almost 9 in 10 industry respondents (89%) collectively say sustainability is already a priority for their company.
  • Regardless of region, travel buyer and supplier respondents say better protecting the planet is a priority: Asia-Pacific (99%), Europe (97%), Latin America (91%), North America (84%).
  • Only 14% say the industry is currently well advanced on sustainability — but improvements are being made, as 76% of travel buyers have already incorporated or are planning to incorporate sustainability objectives in their travel policies.
  • 80% of the global business travel industry report having a sustainability team and/or a sustainability program in place and are already measuring (55%) and reporting (56%) on environmental impact of their business travel activities.
  • 88% of the global business travel sector view addressing climate change as the No. 1 priority area for action.
  • 88% of the industry sector ranks reducing business travel emissions as the top priority for the next two to three years.
  • For industry professionals, among the biggest barriers to more sustainable business travel management practices are higher costs (82%) and lack of transparent information and data (63%). The key enablers include fostering change in industry culture (63%) and improved access to sustainability data (63%).
  • Industry respondents say the most impactful actions for sustainable business travel programs are prioritizing energy-efficient accommodations (81%), suppliers with sustainability certification (78%) and flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) (73%).
  • When it comes to sustainable travel policies, the main divergence between travel buyers and suppliers relates to multimodality and the frequency of travel. Seven in 10 buyers (73%) support encouraging or mandating taking fewer trips, while 60% of suppliers do not encourage this blanket reduction in travel.