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Delivering what really matters: Environmental sustainability

ATPI delivers what really matters. By facilitating the most dynamic and up-to-date solutions for our clients, we go above and beyond to ensure that each organisation receives a travel programme that suits their specific needs and requirements.

Last month we sat down with key stakeholders across the business to find out what Travel Managers really care about in 2022 now that normality has resumed.

First up is our very own Product Director of ATPI Halo, Pippa Strasser-Ganderton.

What currently matters in the world of travel regarding environmental sustainability?

Environmental sustainability has fast become a key focus in the world of travel today. It is no longer a topic anyone (TMC, traveller, supplier) can avoid, and rightly so. The impact of travel on our environment is presented in the media, across travel consortia, in politics, and is a topic of debate, making it even more important ATPI has a strategy to support clients and suppliers looking to cooperate to achieve their reduction goals.

What currently matters to travel managers regarding environmental sustainability?

The Travel Manager needs to be able to rely on their TMC to support them when demonstrating to senior stakeholders within their organisation that they have a strategy for reducing their travel related CO2 footprint. Preferred suppliers and travel policy both play an important role here, and working with a TMC that understands these priorities, and can support in supplier choice, as well as guide on travel policy and compliance tracking is invaluable.

At the same time the Travel Manager needs to be able to motivate the travelling workforce to embrace sustainable travel options. Making the travelling employee feel part of the mechanism to reduce emissions is critical to achieving best results. If a client is offsetting their travel footprint, employees want to be able to follow the projects their organisation is investing in, and feel part of that journey to improving livelihoods and natural habitats.

A TMC that has it’s own offsetting projects and mechanism will be able to ensure the client has access to updates on project status.

What currently matters to travellers regarding sustainability?

Many travellers want comfort in the knowledge their organisation has a travel policy that environmental sustainability, so they have less to worry about when they do travel. They expect to be guided by the policy in many areas, e.g. when to take the train or a flight for domestic travel, or can I sleep easy knowing the hire car I have to drive to a location inaccessible by public transport is an electric or at least a hybrid fuelled car?

When booking online travellers want to be able to see which options are more or less environmentally friendly, or if the preferred hotel has an approved sustainability programme

What are your personal thoughts on environmental sustainability in the world of travel?

There is danger of doing things so piecemeal that it becomes hard to consolidate the full CO2 emissions overview and measures taken to reduce and avoid unnecessary travel. A consolidated approach to travel related emissions reduction targets, and measurement of the actual travel footprint as well as any offsetting, makes it much easier to keep senior stakeholders informed of progress towards targets, to know when targets or strategies need amending/tweaking.

Everyone is talking about environmental sustainability, so it is important to check what a TMC or supplier is really offering, and if their programme can stand up to integrity, e.g. are any offsetting project mechanisms robust, how are projects sourced, monitored and certified. Travel Buyers need to know they can stand up in front of investors and shareholders knowing their programme has undergone suitable due diligence.

How have ATPI combatted problems travel managers may have surrounding environmental sustainability?

The first hurdle is to have robust data capturing travel-related emissions. ATPI can support clients in accessing their data. We have chosen to partner with Thrust Carbon, a global leader in travel emissions measurement. Having a partner whose focus is granular, science-based carbon measurement and calculation is critical in an area where the science is evolving quickly.

ATPI can work with clients to analyse their data and make recommendations for more sustainable travel programmes, from reducing, and even eliminating, unnecessary travel, to understanding the impact of choices for consideration, e.g. direct vs indirect flights, domestic rail vs air travel, hotels with viable ESG programmes etc. ATPI Halo includes a range of high-quality offsetting projects, largely nature-based, but also including alternative energy solutions, which clients can offset their unavoidable travel CO2 footprint against. All projects are certified by VERRA or Gold Standard, have undergone intense due diligence and are independently monitored.

What are your predictions for the future regarding environmental sustainability in the travel industry?

Environmental sustainability will remain a key component to the TMC service offering to corporate clients going forward. As corporates are required to publish their Co2 footprint and how they are working towards their 2030 and 2050 carbon neutral and net zero goals, they will rely on TMCs to provide the necessary guidance and insight into their travel-related emissions.

We will be able to present clients with a dashboard of their year-on-year progress to both emissions reduction and offsetting of unavoidable emissions. I expect that all OBTs will be able to highlight preferred “green” suppliers, as well as to flag which modes of transport are more environmentally friendly, driving bookers to make sustainable choices.

And finally, what do you think will be the main topics of discussion in the industry in five years?

In 5 years the science around the measurement and tools for the calculation of travel-related CO2 will be very advanced. Carbon footprint reporting will be another compliance factor that clients supported by their suppliers will need to fulfil.

In 5 years the cost of SAF will have reduced and adoption will be wider. However, additional alternative energy sources for Planes and Ships will also have been more widely developed (hydrogen, wind, electricity). What we start to achieve today is critical. If we are not materially closer to net zero by 2027, the changes required then to meet the goals will be far more radical.

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