Planners, here's a 'green' way to organise business travel

New tool builds sustainability into the procurement process as businesses look to lessen carbon footprint.

HRSGettyImages- Petmal
Amazon, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Siemens are among HRS clients which have joined the Climate Pledge with the aim to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Petmal

Global lodging platform HRS has unveiled Green Stay Initiative, described as “a first-of-its-kind solution that gives corporations and employees a way to organise business travel more sustainably".

Introduced as a pilot in the first quarter of 2021, the initiative leverages proprietary technology to give corporate procurement executives, travel planners and travellers “an intuitive system to identify, compare and prioritise hotels” that are helping to reduce the ecological footprint.

HRS said it is assimilating data from “thousands of hotel groups and independent properties” as part of a framework, including details on energy consumption, water use and waste disposal, to provide “vital information” to corporations and travellers for them to make procurement and individual booking decisions.

The company pointed out that sustainability has become a “mega trend” in the era of Covid with companies and countries targeting carbon-neutral business practices, as well as with travellers.

A 2020 BCG survey of consumers in eight countries found that 87% said companies should more aggressively integrate environmental concerns into their products, services, and operations.

The European Union has committed to being climate-neutral by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement, calling it both “an urgent challenge and an opportunity to build a better future for all”. On the Biden administration’s first day, United States took steps to re-join the Paris Agreement and align with global emission targets.

More than 50 Fortune 500 companies – several of which are HRS clients – have joined the Climate Pledge with the aim to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Among them are Amazon, Ernst & Young, Microsoft and Siemens.

This trend has flowed into the managed travel arena, noted HRS. Corporate travel looks at a redefined ecosystem in the wake of the pandemic, and procurement and travel departments are tasked with doing their part to help companies achieve carbon net-neutral status this decade.

“The latest Sustainability Index from Cornell highlights that hotels, on average, account for 45kg of carbon emissions per room night. Metrics like this are vital as companies take steps to reduce their carbon footprint,” explained Martin Biermann, chief product officer for HRS and leader of the team developing the Green Stay Initiative.

To showcase their sustainable practices hotels engage in a scoring system developed by HRS, which determines actual footprint values on a hotel’s energy, water and waste usage. The system is based on guidelines established by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Hotels are scored based upon their metrics and progress from the prior calendar year. This enables corporate decision makers to weigh environmental sustainability elements based on factual data when developing programmes. When hotels are categorised as “Green” they are awarded a new Green Stay label that appears in procurement displays (when buyers are considering hotels for inclusion as a preferred supplier) and self-booking tools used by employees and travel agents for individual bookings.

According to HRS, ongoing hotel engagement building off its Clean & Safe Protocol, which was launched last year, is the key to making the initiative work for both corporations and hotel partners.

“The Green Stay Initiative enables companies to dramatically enhance awareness of new sustainability priorities for their travel programmes while also facilitating an avenue for hoteliers to promote their corresponding investments,” said HRS CEO, Tobias Ragge. “As our industry emerges from pandemic-related challenges we’re hopeful this technology will ultimately represent a milestone in advancing sustainable managed travel for years to come."

Source: Web in Travel