10 sustainability movers and shakers
In no particular order, here's our pick of 'ones to watch' in the sustainability space, selected with the help of Black Box Partnerships
COCO+ brings a business travel solution to market which combines a slick user experience with an ethical commercial engine that allows businesses to tackle their travel emissions without any additional cost, guiding businesses to travel net zero. It was founded in April 2022 by serial hospitality entrepreneurs, CEO Neil Fincham-Dukes and COO Phil Brown, and is a Pending B Corp. It targets all businesses that have an ambition to reach net zero, most specifically SMEs and businesses that have unmanaged travel programmes. In partnership with Climate Care, which provides GOLD standard offsetting certification, COCO+ pays for the carbon offsetting of its customers’ emissions on their behalf through upfront bulk buying of carbon credit and this is built directly into the commercial model. It operates a transaction fee-based model with carbon offsetting built in. Its product offering also includes COCO+ Fuel, a corporate Fuel card service.
Black Box verdict: An exciting new addition to the TMC landscape, which is set to make a big impression.
Greengage has designed a business ecosystem that connects and supports businesses with an interest in sustainability. Established by Andrew Perolls in 2018, it provides independent advice and support to the travel and events sector by providing independent audit and accreditation, adding credibility to green initiatives, and identifies any gaps to prioritise improvements. Its ECOsmart accreditation provides a quality stamp of approval to help companies make a sustainable decision when booking and, in turn, gives suppliers a competitive edge. It is targeted at sustainable-minded businesses in the hotel, aparthotel, and event venue sectors and provides consultancy services for agents, TMCs and the public and private sectors. It operates a subscription-based model for accreditation and offers consultancy on a bespoke basis.
Black Box verdict: The approach of guidance and consultancy within a community is a refreshing one.
Staze is a fast-growing hotel platform that helps businesses take their hotel bookings to net zero. The London-based business launched in March 2020 and raised a seed round later that year. Its platform displays a live carbon footprint for 3 million hotel rooms worldwide, allowing travellers to find and book the hotel with the lowest carbon footprint in any given city. Each booking is carbon negative, meaning the carbon footprint is double offset to ensure the trip results in negative CO2 emissions. The Staze platform gives travellers visibility on the actual carbon footprint of different hotels with a unique, data-driven approach. The calculations rely on millions of datapoints, such as local energy mixes and regional occupancy, and are updated daily. It operates a transparent subscription-based model, with tiered pricing based on monthly spend and provides access to negotiated wholesale hotel rates. Further discount is available for annual subscriptions. It only supports verified offsetting projects and its portfolio is aligned to the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting.
Black Box verdict: A smart combination of wholesale procurement for advantageous hotel rates, placed alongside a very credible offsetting solution.
Launced by ATPI in September 2021, ATPI Halo supports clients with identifying and achieving their sustainability goals and targets regarding travel related emissions. Headed up by Pippa Ganderton, Product Director Sustainable Travel & Events Solutions, ATPI Halo is essentially a consultancy service built around three core pillars: measure, reduce and offset. ATPI is able to calculate a client’s travel-related CO2 emissions and present this data in robust carbon analytics, while account managers help clients identify ways to reduce their CO2 footprint through improving behaviours and revising travel policy. The final pillar offers clients the opportunity to invest in carbon credits, bought in bulk, for nature-based restorative and regenerating to alternative energy projects, all providing social and environmental benefits. Projects are curated in partnership with Respira, a CO2 project provider, and are all independently monitored. The projects also fulfill various UN Sustainable Development Goals. For CO2 measurement, ATPI Halo has partnered with Thrust Carbon. The Halo model can offer a full consultancy service or specific elements, such as carbon analytics reporting and analysis or periodic offsetting. Clients can offset historic travel related emissions, accrue for future periodic offset or offset at point of sale or invoice.
Black Box verdict: An excellent addition to ATPI’s customer proposition, offering credible and proactive carbon reduction advice.
Trees4Travel calculates the impact of journeys by translating trips into trees and then planting trees in developing countries to absorb CO2 emissions, helping to restore forests, biodiversity, and supporting local communities. Every tree comes with a share of an investment into UN-certified renewable energy programmes. Trees4Travel is part of the UN’s Environment Program One Trillion Trees campaign and supports 13 of the 17 UN global sustainability goals. Self-funded by Elkie and Nico Nicholas, it is aiming for B-corp status. Revenue is split 67% for tree planting and renewable energy and 33% for management of the business. It engages with corporates, TMCs and suppliers, including Eurostar, offering simple file uploads and API connectivity
Black Box verdict: A mission-led business with an admirably open and transparent commercial model.
Thrust Carbon was founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and technologist Mark Corbett. The business offers three core products: Thrust Calculator, using hundreds of data points to provide robust and defensible reporting which can be integrated across the supply chain and generate visual impact reporting that can be white-labelled; Thrust Engage, a suite of behavioural change tools that can create and measure department and personal carbon budgets and can deliver carbon policy messaging at point-of-sale and on-trip, and; Thrust Offset, which provides an independent platform to connect to any carbon offset scheme, with the total transparent display of fees. Thrust Carbon operates a simple subscription-based model and offers an affordable API. It is committed to a ‘freemium’ entry level for small business and this scales based on volume of records. It also offers bulk-discounted offsets. Its software products can be used with no set-up and the API solutions have been built so developers can integrate within hours. Thrust Carbon deals with corporations and offers a reseller agreement for TMCs. It also provides bespoke services to enterprise clients. Earlier this year it partnered with CWT to offer its clients free point-of-sale carbon footprint indicators for myCWT mobile and web.
Black Box verdict: The effortless approach is truly delivered in the ease of integration and the sheer simplicity of the product suite.
In 2021 Gray Dawes, in partnership with Forest Carbon, created an offset programme designed specifically for its corporate clients. Inspired by COP26 and in support of the BTA’s ESG initiative, LEGACY ensures its clients’ business travel can be managed with a tangible focus on sustainability. From clients’ travel bookings data, carbon emissions are calculated using the DEFRA model and the numbers are transferred (anonymously) to Forest Carbon, which turns that data into Carbon Credits. With a range of UK-based or international woodland and peatland projects within the LEGACY portfolio, the clients’ carbon credits are then invested in the product of their choice. Gray Dawes’ owners – the Inchcape family – has converted nearly 300 acres of working farmland on its Glenapp Estate in Ayrshire, Scotland, to permanent woodland creation. Occupying an area the size of 200 football pitches, the project will sequest at 42,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The business operates a transparent model for its clients’ purchase of certified carbon credits.
Black Box verdict: The ‘keeping it in the family’ approach makes this an offsetting scheme with a difference, and with tangible solutions for clients.
GreenPerk was launched in March 2020 by booking platform TravelPerk and enables its clients to offset travel-related CO2 emissions. Once they’ve opted in, businesses are charged per trip with a fixed price per tonne of CO2 of €10 (charged per local currency). Earlier this year TravelPerk launched GreenPerk API, an open API-based service for travel management platforms and their customers. The service allows users to measure their carbon footprint and build strategies to cost-effectively reduce emissions and help them reach net zero. It provides direct access to data and analytics about a company’s carbon footprint across travel verticals including flights, rail, accommodation and car hire. GreenPerk API can also provide emissions comparisons of different modes of low-emissions travel, dependent on factors such as route, city destinations, and the availability of alternative travel modes.
Black Box verdict: An affordable and transparent initiative supporting VERRA certified projects, and with data that can be accessed via an API.
TMC Equinox Travel and its sister company Equinox Charter have launched a service offering sustainability assessments of airlines and charter operators. There are three levels, from basic assessments of carbon mitigation culture, SAF use, ESG efforts and published technical data, through to the top level, which involves a much deeper operations review with expert analysis, direct flight observations, and in-depth evaluation against criteria such as culture, ground operations and crew training.
Black Box verdict: An excellent initiative providing much-needed insight to empower client choice.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria. It was set up by UN agencies, together with NGOs and the private sector, to operate as an independent organisation. The Council provides sustainability accreditation services in partnership with ASI (Assurance Services International). It also runs Sustainable Business Travel courses using the GSTC Criteria, incorporating best practice presentations, case studies, plus in-depth advice and consultation on how to implement sustainability practices in business travel. It is the only UN-certified course for business travel professionals and is delivered online over four weeks by travel sustainability experts Bernard Harrop and Horst Bayer.
Black Box verdict: Backed by sustainability heavyweights, the GSTC courses are helping to build ESG knowledge and awareness.
This list was put together with the help of Paula Cullen, Associate for Growth & Sustainability at business travel, meetings and events consultancy Black Box Partnerships. She has worked in the industry for almost 30 years, with director level commercial roles in both the TMC and supplier networks.