Corporate Travel Meets Sustainability: Key Insights from 2023 GBTA Conference

January 31, 2024

It’s been a little over a week since we returned from the 2023 Global Business Travel Associations (GBTA) annual conference, yet the learnings remain top of mind. Three things, in particular, stand out the most from this year’s events:

  1. The growing importance of the travel and sustainability teams partnership,
  2. How travel is becoming the sustainability tipping point, and
  3. There's a new definition of corporate travel.

Let's break these three things down a bit.

The Growing Importance of the Travel & Sustainability Partnership

Corporate Travel leaders are some of the most passionate sustainability professionals I have met.  They are incredibly knowledgeable about sustainability data and decarbonization in travel and genuinely want to be a better partner to their Sustainability team peers.  Plus, they have experience partnering with the CFO and cross-functional organizations.

Similarly, Sustainability teams know the reporting requirements and understand the role business travel has in generating revenue. Still, they need to become more familiar with travel data, the various types of systems, and the levers that come into play. Many still need to or are just starting to figure out how to be helpful partners to each other and develop that rapport and trust that they are true partners to one another. Those that have figured out the secret are having an incredible impact.

Travel and sustainability leaders at companies like AXA XL, AstraZeneca, NetApp, Adobe, Arcadis, Bain & Company, and a handful of others are leading the way.  There’s a lot that can be learned from them.  

Travel is Becoming the Sustainability Tipping Point

CEOs, CFOs and their executive teams are looking to Corporate Travel as the catalyst to drive transformation on the sustainability front. The reasons to me are relatively simple:  it’s highly visible, impacts every employee, and helps to deliver positive business outcomes.  

Trailblazers like Scott Gillespie of tClara, Jamie DeMaria at AstraZeneca, Steve Sitto at Gilead Sciences, Eric Rhode with Meta, and Jessica Litza from Schneider Electric have all embraced this challenge and are thinking outside the box to define what high return on investment, good travel looks like.

A New Definition of Corporate Travel

Corporate Travel has taken on a new definition in our post-COVID world that involves navigating the remote and hybrid work environments which have blurred the lines between business travel and commuting.  As our friends at Festive Road shared perspectives on, corporate travel teams are now being tasked with developing commuter programs and partnering with HR, transportation, and real estate teams to shape employee mobility strategies for the future of work.

How have you seen all this take shape in your organization? We’d love to keep the conversations going and hear how your decarbonization journey is going. Reach out to schedule some time to talk.

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