From IATA to ITM: Collaboration is the Key to the Future of Sustainable Corporate Travel

January 31, 2024

The world of business travel is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and its role in achieving Net Zero is becoming increasingly vital. Last week, we had the privilege of attending two influential events: the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Sustainability Summit and the Institute of Travel Management (ITM) Autumn Conference. These gatherings offered valuable insights and discussions highlighting the ever-growing importance of sustainable travel in the corporate world. In this blog post, we explore the two primary takeaways from these events, shedding light on the changing landscape of business travel.

Purposeful Travel is Essential for Net Zero

One resounding message from the IATA Sustainability Summit was that achieving net-zero emissions in the travel industry goes beyond adopting Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The uncomfortable truth is that the industry needs to reduce overall travel.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and ITM have forecasted that the cost of travel will rise significantly more than inflation in the coming years. In response, finance and travel leaders must proactively take measures to identify and eliminate lower-value trips across their organizations. By doing so, not only will these organizations save costs, but they will also unlock productivity and efficiency gains across the organization while simultaneously reducing air travel emissions.

The Importance of Collaboration & Translation

At the ITM Autumn Conference, sustainability took center stage. ITM Board Members, including Nikki Parsons, Kerrie Henshaw-Cox, and Nikki Rogan, are at the forefront of this movement. However, it's important to understand that the transformation of the travel industry towards sustainability cannot be achieved in isolation.

The most successful organizations foster collaboration between travel, sustainability, finance, and business stakeholders throughout the travel management lifecycle, from strategy development to planning and execution. These organizations are not merely checking boxes for sustainability; they are integrating sustainability goals with the key financial and operational metrics for each stakeholder. By doing so, they are better equipped to overcome the perception that sustainable travel equates to negative business outcomes.

Stakeholder Collaboration Drives Sustainable Corporate Travel Success

Collaboration among stakeholders is emerging as a key driver for sustainable travel success, aligning sustainability goals with financial and operational metrics. As we move forward, the synergy between these areas will be crucial for businesses looking to thrive in a more sustainable future.

The events we attended have made it abundantly clear: sustainable business travel is not just a trend, it's an imperative for the corporate world. By embracing these changes and forging strong partnerships, businesses can not only reduce their environmental footprint but also enhance their bottom line and organizational efficiency.

To continue the discussion, we hosted a webinar with two of the preeminent thought leaders in business travel, Scott Gillespie and Joel Hanson. During the webinar, we discussed the strategies, mindsets, and best practices that harness the power of genuine cross-functional collaboration, enabling you to break barriers and lead the charge to spend better, travel smarter, and reach net zero faster. Watch it now on demand.

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