With travel picking up pace post-pandemic, business travel and its
environmental impact are under the spotlight. How are net zero carbon
commitments influencing policies and what challenges are travel buyers
extent to which climate sustainability has been embedded in these
organisations’ company culture, whether carbon reductions are part of
company policy and the importance of travel analytics were among the
topics discussed at The Mechanics of Sustainable Travel webinar, which
was recently hosted by Business Travel News, part of Northstar Travel
The lively discussion featured contributions from Ann Dery, director,
Global Travel & Meetings at S&P Global and Elizabeth Sullivan,
senior vice president, business operations executive at Bank of America,
responsible for Travel and Aviation Operations and Meetings/Events.
1. Look at travel as a benefit and focus on the carbon footprint
Rather than taking the ‘we need to cut down on business travel’ view,
Sullivan spoke about the importance of making travel more meaningful
and more value-based.
“We want to minimise our travel impact, particularly coming out of
Covid, we want to tread lightly and make it worthwhile rather than just
travelling because we can,” she said.
While Bank of America has traditionally focused on pricing to ensure
employees book ahead to get optimum prices, it is now encouraging staff
to opt for trips that generate a lower carbon footprint, according to
She acknowledged that this approach would need to be supported with
technology tools and also envisaged offering "some form of incentive" to
encourage this mindset.
2. Meetings and business travel buyers can influence the supply chain
Sullivan highlighted how Bank of America is not only exploring
sustainable products, it is also examining how it can influence the
travel supply chain.
She referenced an agreement between Bank of America and American
Airlines, announced earlier this year, supporting the purchase of one
million gallons of SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) annually for
On the other hand, S&P’s Dery contended that it is more
complicated to effect change on the supply chain side compared to the
business travel side. “How much influence does an organisation have on
their supplier?” she asked. “Your supply base doesn’t stay stagnant, it
changes weekly, monthly, quarterly.”
3. Look at making carbon reductions part of your travel policy
Dery highlighted that S&P has made changes at policy level with
regards to business class travel, following a study showing that 70% of
its carbon footprint is generated by this.
“We raised our threshold for eligibility to take flights in business
class from six hours to eight hours [travel time]. Now, flights between
six to eight hours must be flown in premium economy."
Dery added that the organisation has recently established an automated process to ensure compliance.
4. Behavioural notifications can have an impact
Dery spoke about how S&P is developing a very easy "layman’s
term-style" communication that is delivered quarterly to everyone who
“It shows what their individual carbon footprint was for that quarter
and how it relates to other travellers in the business and will show
our enterprise-level carbon footprint.
This is to drive home the point that we can get analytics around
carbon footprint and then we can build the business case. These
notifications give travellers more insight into how we are reducing our
footprint on a quarterly basis.”