|   5 minute read

5 common misconceptions about sustainability and corporate travel

Sustainability has become a fervent talking point within the corporate travel sector over the last year and looks set to stay as such for the year ahead and beyond.
Insights featured image (17)

There is no shortage of advice and recommendations as to how travel managers can develop a more sustainable corporate travel strategy, but there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about sustainability perpetuated about how best to achieve this.

Our team of travel sustainability experts have selected the most common misconceptions about sustainability and corporate travel in order to set the record straight:

1. Being sustainable will always be more expensive

There’s no denying that flights that use more sustainable sources of fuel or are more direct than journeys that require stopovers are more expensive than their alternative counterparts. However, it’s important to look at sustainability in a more holistic way and examine all aspects of travel – not just flights.

As part of an overall effort to make your organisation’s travel more sustainable, you will probably be taking steps to reduce travel. This could include sharing new criteria for necessary travel or implementing reliable virtual meeting
software. Travelling less will undoubtedly create some cost savings when comparing your current travel spend with that of two years ago and so it’s important to bear this in mind when feeling reluctant to select more sustainable travel options due to their slightly increased price; a good example of travel that is more sustainable and usually lower cost is rail vs air on domestic travel. It’s also worth noting that economy travel is more sustainable than business class.

2. Sustainability is just a phase

Sustainability is a hot topic right now – not only within the corporate travel sector but across all aspects of our lives. As such, the sheer amount of discourse surrounding environmental practices and changes can feel intense and like it’s a hot topic that will soon burn itself out.

However, with multiple governments around the world introducing legislation that limits or reduces carbon footprints and protects our planet into the future, sustainability is here to stay.

In addition, since sustainability entails environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, it can hardly be considered a trend. Companies, and indeed, the world, have always cared about social and economic prosperity. The only difference is that now the consequences of climate feel more urgent. As the world is becoming more transparent, investing in minimising the amount of negative impact – and thus, scrutiny received – will bring long-term positive gain.

3. Staying in sustainable hotels means compromising on quality

Second to air travel, our hotel stays are the most environmentally damaging part of our trip due to water usage, energy usage, food waste and general waste.

Although there is a misconception amongst many travellers that more sustainable practices mean less comfortable guest experiences, this is not the case – many well-known hotel brands have made significant steps in implementing more sustainable practices without compromising on quality.

Knowing which certifications and credentials indicate that a brand is serious about sustainability can help travellers make fast decisions when trying to book a hotel. One option is to look for hotels that have certifications from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). These include the Biosphere certificate, which requires that a hotel strives to meet certain standards, such as maximising recycling and putting in place requirements related to its supply chain (using local suppliers and fair trade products).

4. Companies that buy offsets are just buying their way out of taking responsibility

Although offered as a counterargument to carbon offsetting by the press, our experience shows the opposite of this to be true. Organisations that do buy offsets are doing so as part of an overall management strategy and are mostly using offsets to either tackle emissions they can’t eliminate internally or to create an internal “price on carbon” that focuses attention on emissions and accelerates reductions.

Contrary to the “greenwashing” narrative, it appears as though using offsets is increasingly the hallmark of a company that’s leading on climate action rather than bringing up the rear. That said, it’s important for corporates to take a well-rounded view of sustainable travel and work to limit their carbon emissions, as well as offset them.

5. Sustainable Aviation Fuel is used on your flight (once you’ve paid for it)

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) has attracted much attention within the corporate travel sector over the last year, with many airlines partnering with TMCs and clients to fund the use of more environmentally friendly fuels. However, the way that SAF is currently funded at the point of sale has led to the misconception that it will be used on the flight that is being booked.

In actual fact, those pledging a sum towards the development of SAF at the point of booking are not contributing to SAF being used on that particular flight. Money that has been pledged to the development and use of SAF is added to the central fund for the airline. Currently, only certain types of aircraft are able to make use of SAF fuel on a limited number of routes, and so it’s important that corporates appreciate that although SAF is a good step towards limiting carbon emissions, other steps must be taken as part of a holistic and long-term approach to sustainability.

Return to previous page