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Business travelers and their managers increasingly are aware of the environmental impact of their organizations' travel, which has led to some purchasing and behavioral modifications, according to the latest Association of Corporate Travel Executives-KDS survey of 139 business travelers and 125 travel managers from around the world. When compared with the same survey from last year, a gradual mindset change within travel procurement is evident, though some findings suggested that more progress is needed.
"For the first time, this year's survey revealed the beginnings of an 'eco-friendly' stance in travel procurement behavior," according to ACTE and KDS, which "see this as the start of what will become a major trend in how corporations manage their travel."
The November 2007 to January 2008 survey--which garnered the most responses from the United Kingdom (30 percent), the United States (24 percent) and Continental Europe (23 percent)--also reflected the differences in traveler and manager perceptions. "People who answered as travelers seemed more inclined toward green behavior than travel managers," according to the survey report. "They also tend to believe that companies' support of sustainable travel is greater than travel managers actually indicate."
There also were noticeable differences in responses between those surveyed in the United States and those from the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. For example, the percentage of U.S. respondents who said their travel departments are tasked with providing travel-related carbon emissions reports to senior management, and the percentage working for an organization that is cutting travel in the name of environmental sustainability in both cases was roughly half that of British and Continental European respondents. U.S. respondents' companies also are less likely than their U.K. and Continental European counterparts to have a corporate social responsibility charter, 55 percent versus 63 percent.
However, the overall survey base showed progress in those areas: Thirty-five percent of respondents said their company's travel department now is responsible for providing carbon emissions information, up from 20 percent in 2006. Similarly, 36 percent reported reduced company travel as a measure for supporting sustainability, up from 23 percent a year earlier. [Still, 75 percent of all travel manager respondents said their companies' annual travel spend increased in 2007.]
Travel policy is one area in which sustainable travel showed very little progress: Thirty-four percent of all respondents said their company's policy supported environmental sustainability, up only two percentage points from 2006, as "many companies are still working on the creation of a sustainable travel program," according to the report. "It appears that adjusting travel patterns to take full account of global warming will take years and is closely linked to the availability of environmentally friendly options from suppliers."
In a separate survey of 400 European business travelers, conducted in late 2007 on behalf of American Express Business Travel, 15 percent said their companies "actively" promote environmentally responsible travel. Ten percent said they changed individual travel habits to be more environmentally responsible.
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