How to Adopt a More Sustainable Business Travel Policy

By Linda RoperMay 9, 2022

Travel is a necessary part of any business, especially if you don’t want to miss out on valuable opportunities that come your way. As companies become more aware of their impact on the environment, however, there are some simple measures you should be taking to leave a more positive mark on the world around you.

Green toy car sitting on green toy suitcase representing a sustainable business travel policy

A sustainable business travel policy can be a valuable tool, not just for reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint, but also for providing your workers with the support they need to carry out their roles safely and professionally.

So, how can you adopt more sustainable business travel within your company? From booking green-certified accommodation and renting electric vehicles to only flying directly to destinations—here’s our top tips for developing a sustainable business travel policy.

Replace Short Trips with Lengthier or Combined Travels

While it’s impossible to avoid business travel altogether, the best solution is to cut down on short trips, such as those which require just an overnight stay. Hence, to avoid missing out on important opportunities, encourage employees to combine their travels into a single lengthier trip, rather than several smaller one-night stays.

Because travel is often the most significant contribution to an organisation’s environmental footprint, lowering the number of trips will help you in achieving your overall sustainability goals.

Look for Green-Certified Accommodations

Any hotel or resort that has been formally acknowledged for its dedication to eco-friendly practices is considered green-certified lodging. Green lodging accreditation, which varies by country, encourages hospitality brands to save natural resources like water and electricity, decrease waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By enforcing that your employees only stay at green-certified accommodation where possible, you’re not only supporting a great initiative, but reducing your carbon footprint in the process.

Additionally, try to give your employees advice on how to be environmentally conscious hotel guests, such as reusing towels, turning off the air conditioning and lights when not in use, avoiding dry cleaning, and sleeping in the same sheets for more than one night.

Where Possible, Travel by Train Rather than Planes

Because rail travel emits less carbon dioxide than flying, numerous organisations have implemented a ban on all short-haul flights where a train journey of less than six hours is possible. Unless air travel is required for business reasons, trains generally offer more opportunities to work than the combined airport and flight experience, which can equal or exceed the train ride itself.

To make this business travel policy more seamless for employees, try to provide them with route, arrival, and location information, as well as contingency plans in case of delays. Additionally, encourage staff to get tickets ahead of time to save money and make sure your rail ticket booking procedure is simple to use.

If Flying, Choose a Newer Aircraft and Fly Direct

If a business trip requires lengthier travel, such as to a different country, then flying may be unavoidable. In this scenario, businesses can make it part of their sustainable business travel policy for employees to fly with newer aircraft and avoid stopovers, where possible.

Newer aircrafts, like the Boeing 787, Airbus 321 NEO, or Airbus 350, consume much less fuel than older aircraft, as do direct flights. As a result, choosing both will help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Use Electric or Hybrid Vehicles

One big step to cutting down on your carbon footprint when it comes to business travel is to look to more sustainable transport methods, like electric or hybrid vehicles.

Choosing an electric or hybrid car to get about town can greatly reduce CO2 emissions. In the last two decades, several large cities have implemented hybrid taxi services. The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), for example, brought out 2,500 electric taxis in 2019, preventing 6,800 tonnes of carbon emissions from polluting the region.

Avoid Paper Waste with the Use of E-Ticketing and Apps

When travelling—especially for business—there are plenty of documents that an employee must have on-hand. Rather than printing out physical copies of these, however, encourage workers to use e-ticketing and apps to reduce their paper waste.

While some businesses may think that this would make tracking travel expenses impossible, this isn’t the case. Cloud-based expense management software, such as ExpenseIn, includes everything you need to streamline your travel expense claim process.

The software also reduces expense rejections with automated policy checks and enhances expense policy compliance by requiring employees to approve policies before submitting their claims. This ensures all workers are on the same page when it comes to adopting a more sustainable business travel policy.

Sustainable business travel policy infographic