Drivers to improve sustainability

European meeting planners take serious steps towards offering sustainability options

The GBTA Conference in Munich featured a brainstorming session among senior leaders. Credit: CWT

The growing social conscience among millennials and centennials is causing European meeting planners to take serious steps towards offering sustainability options in their marketing plans.

When asked how confident they were on the industry's ability to make the future of business travel more sustainable, 65% of delegates at the recent The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Conference in Munich were either broadly confident or very confident. The percentage grew to 71% when asked about the willingness of the industry.

CWT and GBTA recently published The Big Idea: How Can We Make Business Travel More Sustainable? The findings stem from a large-scale brainstorm session on this topic, hosted during the GBTA Conference which was attended by senior industry professionals representing the travel management companies (TMCs), hotel, air, car and ancillary services, and the corporate buyer community from across Europe.

Traveling employees are demanding a more sustainable travel programme. Suppliers will need to adapt if they want to remain relevant for a traveler audience who is choosing to book with more environmentally conscious providers.

"At CWT we are seriously committed to being a positive force for change in the world, which is why we did not hesitate to sponsor this important session at GBTA in order to gain first-hand industry feedback around both demand and drivers for sustainable business travel," said Mr Françoise Grumberg, CWT's VP Global Responsible Business and Diversity & Inclusion.

"Our planet is under critical environmental strain and CWT is committed to driving and contributing to industry debate and forums such as this to drive as much positive action as possible."

Four senior leaders from different segments of the travel industry - including directors and VPs from CWT, Oakwood Worldwide, The LEGO Group and United Airlines - formed the panel who led the debate. Some of the change opportunities discussed include biofuel, improved recycling at airports, better waste reduction, eradicating single use plastics, fewer empty flights, modernised aircraft fleets, more ecofriendly cleaning products that will ultimately lead to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Travel management companies were encouraged to play a key role in making business travel more sustainable by assisting companies to choose the best suppliers, by offering carbon reports and by crafting travel policies around gamification and reward systems for those employees who are more conscious.

"In the end, pressure from the traveler will translate into positive action. Advancements in technology will be required to help solve the more complex environmental issues such as the guest accommodation experience and carbon neutrality in the aviation industry but opportunities are aplenty to work with supply chains who already implement and track sustainable practices across the customer journey," said Mr Scott Solombrino, GBTA's COO and executive director.

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