July 13, 2024

Landmark study reveals biggest barriers to sustainable business travel

Higher costs, limited data and lack of access to transparent information are the main challenges to achieving more sustainable business travel, according to a landmark research study out today.

The 21-page study ‘The State of Sustainability in the Global Business Travel Sector’ has been launched by the GBTA and global public affairs and communications consultancy Grayling.

It’s based on a survey of 762 global business travel industry professionals in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific and the views of 100 external stakeholders worldwide, including policymakers, think tanks, non-profit organisations and international organisations, to gain an outside perception of the industry.

The research found:

  • Only 14% say the business travel industry is currently well advanced on sustainability
  • 76% of travel buyers have already incorporated or are planning to incorporate sustainability objectives in their travel policies
  • 80% of the global business travel industry report having a sustainability team and/or a sustainability programme in place and are already measuring (55%) and reporting (56%) on environmental impact of their business travel activities
  • 88% of the global business travel sector views addressing climate change as the number one priority area for action
  • 88% of the industry sector ranks reducing business travel emissions as the top priority for the next two to three years
  • For industry professionals, the biggest barriers to more sustainable business travel management practices are higher costs (82%) and lack of transparent information and data (63%)
  • The key enablers include fostering change in industry culture (63%) and improved access to sustainability data (63%)
  • Industry respondents say the most impactful actions for sustainable business travel programs are prioritising energy efficient accommodations (81%), suppliers with sustainability certification (78%), and flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) (73%)
  • 89% collectively say sustainability is already a priority for their company
  • Regardless of region, travel buyer and supplier respondents say better protecting the planet is a priority: Asia Pacific (99%), Europe (97%), Latin America (91%), North America (84%)
  • 73% of buyers support encouraging or mandating taking fewer trips, while 60% of suppliers do not encourage this blanket reduction in travel
  • Regionally, Europeans are much more likely to support that less travel be encouraged or even mandated and six times more likely than North Americans to support mandating multimodal travel options. 

There’s no longer the debate whether we should engage in sustainable actions for business travel, but how we turn ambition into action, said Delphine Millot, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, who joined GBTA in January to head up the association’s Sustainability Programme.

“Investing in sustainable solutions must be part of our game plan today to make sure we can still connect people and travel for business tomorrow.

“This is only possible if our industry joins forces – across our full value chain and with external stakeholders including governments, to adopt ambitious targets, drive green investments and accelerate the uptake of clean technologies.”