6 Ways to Make Business Travel More Sustainable

October 25, 2022

High gas prices, mounting natural disasters, and young talents’ emphasis on curbing CO2 emissions are among the reasons sustainability stays top of mind. More than ever before, businesses and travelers alike are taking the planet into consideration when making travel plans.

But finding the information your travelers need to travel sustainably isn’t always easy. There are so many factors at play in the “greenness” of flights, hotels, and ground transportation that doing sustainability research for each trip could itself become a full-time job.

To help travel managers hit their sustainability goals, Deem has rounded up six policy ideas to keep your business traveler’s carbon footprint as small as possible. From opting for electric vehicles when renting to taking advantage of the latest digital tools, they’ll be reducing emissions in no time.

1. Embrace coach

When it comes to flights, the amount of space your business travelers take up has a direct correlation to their impact on the environment. If they’re booking first-class seats, they should know that they’re fueling demand for taking up more space on a plane, which increases carbon impact. 

As reported in thepointguy.com, a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that “Passengers seated in business class are responsible for 2.6 to 4.3 times more emissions than if they fly in coach….” So, if your travelers don’t have a true business need for higher fare classes, embracing economy in the skies helps conserve carbon emissions in addition to dollars.

2. Greener alternatives for short journeys

Let’s say one of your employees is traveling in Europe and they have to get from Paris to London. Their first instinct may be to book a flight, but understand that flights emit significantly more CO2 than any other form of travel. 

In this case, travel by train is widely available across Europe. And this may be true in other areas of the world in which you do business. If travel itineraries involve a short flight, and when the traveler’s time permits, it can be incredibly easy to find more sustainable options. 

For even shorter trips, micromobility options may be the best options. Rental bikes and scooters are proliferating around the world. Once travelers see how much time and money can be saved by riding a bike through Manhattan instead of taking a taxi, they may find they prefer the sun and exercise break of a short bike ride over sitting in a cab.

3. Consider car rental options

It may be second nature for travelers to rent a car for every trip that involves a flight, but with so many ways to get from points A to B, it’s the right time to think about what kind of car, if any, might be needed for a trip. What about using shared ground transportation provided by many hotels for trips to and from airports and nearby locations? In bigger cities where traffic can be paralyzing, for some travelers it may be easier, faster, and even less stressful to walk or use other sustainable modes to get around. 

You may find that travelers do, indeed, need to rent a car for their trips. If that’s the case, be sure that policy includes the option to rent electric vehicles (EVs). Travel managers can also encourage or even mandate smaller classes of vehicles when renting a car is the best way to move around a specific location.

4. Support public transportation

If your traveler is headed somewhere with a convenient public transportation system, they can consider skipping the car altogether. There are plenty of ways for travelers to navigate the public transit system in many larger cities in the world.

Mobile phones typically have built-in maps applications that do show public transportation as part of their mobility options. There are also other apps available to download from app stores, like Transit, NYC Subway, or CityMapper, for example. Hotel concierges can also be a wealth of information about navigating cities safely and sustainably.

5. Ride hail EVs

Ride hail has fundamentally changed how travelers get to and from the airport, and we’re here to help enhance the entire experience. Uber for Business with Etta gives travel managers improved visibility and insights into ground travel trends that help enhance their duty of care efforts. But what you may not know is that it also offers the right technology for sustainability efforts.

Uber Green is included in the Etta experience, giving travelers a way to request a fully electric or hybrid car to get them to the airport. Better yet, according to Uber, each Uber Green trip produces at least 25% fewer carbon emissions than the average trip. Those little eco-friendly efforts for ground travel all add up faster than you’d think.

6. Use technology for sustainability

While it can feel overwhelming to try to tackle climate change as part of your travel program l, just know that there are more tools than ever to help your travelers reduce their trip’s carbon footprint. The Etta travel management platform solution from Deem offers EcoCheck to help travelers assess their business travel carbon footprint.

Screenshots of Etta showcasing the sustainability feature, EcoCheck. EcoCheck can give visibility into the carbon footprint of your trip's flight and hotel selections.

The EcoCheck feature takes a complicated question—which flight, car, or hotel is most sustainable?—and provides answers right in your traveler’s usual trip-booking process. When booking travel, travelers can get an accurate understanding of their impact thanks to relative listings—e.g., this flight has X% lower CO2 emissions than average—hotel sustainability scores, and contextual equivalencies. EcoCheck may illustrate, for example, that a certain flight is equal to producing 10,000 plastic bags.

Looking for solutions that enable you to make more sustainable travel decisions? 

Learn more about Deem’s sustainability technology, EcoCheck, here: https://www.deem.com/ecocheck


Deem Editorial

The Deem editorial team brings important, informative commentary and data to travel managers and everyone interested in technology and the corporate travel industry.

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