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The National Business Travel Association and its Foundation enlisted BCD Travel's Advito consulting arm to produce a toolkit and benchmarking resources for responsible travel management. To be disseminated next week, the toolkit offers "practical" guidance, NBTA said, including a five-step implementation program, reference material on carbon emissions calculationsand carbon offsets, demand managementsuggestions, sustainable procurementtips and duty of carerecommendations. It also includes a glossary to "beat the jargon."
NBTA's Corporate Social Responsibility Committee spearheaded the program, which offers profiles of companies that implemented responsible travel management initiatives, including Capital Group, Credit Suisse, Electrolux HSBCand Siemens. The committee also provided a new CSR-related benchmarking element within the NBTA Foundation's Managed Travel Index & Benchmarking Tool.
NBTA said a recent survey of "nearly 200 travel managers showed that 29 percent manage travel within the context of corporate CSR programs that include an environmental focus. Another 47 percent report at least a partial focus on the environmental impact of doing business. More than two-thirds indicate they have travel risk management programs in place, while 25 percent note partial initiatives."
Further, the survey found that "29 percent of travel managers will help their companies implement or improve environmental initiatives covering travel within the next six months, and an additional 36 percent may do so. Similarly, 16 percent will, and 26 percent may, implement or advance travel risk management initiatives in that timeframe."
CSR committee chair and Colorado state travel manager Lenora Kingston said she wasn't surprised by the study's findings. "I'm optimistic that this is just barely a year in the making and these folks were able to move forward without the toolkit," she said, referring to last year's creation of the committee. "I anticipate for it to grow, especially with all the education and training."
One of the most challenging elements of the environmental portion of CSR is selecting the basis on which to calculate emissions. Kingston called it "unfortunate" that there is no universal standard for such calculations, so the toolkit advises travel managers to liaise with "internal stakeholders" who may have initiated environmental programs and "piggyback" on those, said Advito vice president Torsten Kriedt.
Also recognizing the lack of a standard, Concur separately this week launched a new capability in its travel booking tool that allows travelers to sort flights based on carbon emissions. Concur supports multiple emissions calculators, including those provided by CE Delftand Defra, as well as travel management companies.
Some environmental advocates have recommended that while no calculator is perfect, travel managers should pick one and stick with it because what's most important is performance over time. Kriedt agreed, but added the caveat that "you might want to upgrade if science improves." Moreover, he said, company culture should determine how aggressively organizations encourage travelers to consider environmental impact as an element of their decision-making.
Some organizations and corporations are "way ahead of the game," said Kingston, "and others may be a bit intimidated by it all. We're trying to educate the travel managers and infuse even little steps in that direction. You don't have to take a huge bite out of this CSR initiative; you can slowly implement it into your program, educate your travelers and gain buy-in from executives."
The toolkit includes specifics on "travel avoidance through virtual meetings" as part of demand management; metrics for ethical and sustainable air, car and hotel sourcing; guidance to managing travelers' work-life balance; and an overview of 18 carbon-offset providers.
The Managed Travel Index now offers a self-assessment based on 15 CSR-related questions that measure travel programs, are "structured to manage travel demand, procure sustainable travel services, offset travel-related emissions and incorporate duty of care initiatives."
NBTA plans to distribute the toolkit as a PDF file on small disk drives to all buyer attendees of next week's convention in Los Angeles.
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