AMERSHAM, ENGLAND—The Institute of Travel Management (ITM) has launched a campaign to help buyers tackle the challenges of delivering on their organization’s sustainability targets and to provide them with practical guidance for shaping a responsible travel program.
The initiative is driven by recognition of ITM’s pivotal role in ensuring business travel continues to be understood as a force for good. It evolves sustainably to minimize negative impacts on the environment. It has also been spurred by the rapid acceleration in organizations setting commitments to net zero emissions, as well as new legislation and audit requirements that will be imposed on companies regardless of whether travel accounts for 10 percent or 90 percent of an organization’s emissions.
The campaign has also evolved due to buyers’ growing concerns about how best to approach the sustainable travel dilemma of cost versus carbon, introduce sustainability in the supply chain and change the perceptions of travelers. Indeed, according to ITM’s most recent Buyer Priorities Survey, the biggest challenge facing buyers when managing travel in 2023 is influencing sustainable practices.
A key element of the campaign is the establishment of a new ITM Sustainability Taskforce consisting of 16 buyer and supplier members who will meet regularly over the next three months. The aim of the Taskforce is to assess the current travel program environment, supplier progress, and what still needs to be done to support buyers, regardless of industry or size of program, to build a sustainable travel policy and program. The task force will also discuss impending legislation and the potential impact on travel programs, as well as debate how buyers can engage internal stakeholders regarding the role of the travel program in supporting an organization’s environmental goals.
An ITM Resource Guide
A key output from the Taskforce will be an ITM resource guide to give buyers practical tools and tips to take action, regardless of whether they are only just embarking on the topic or are already making progress with travel policy changes. ITM will also host a webinar sharing the insights and discussions of the taskforce.
Kerry Douglas, Head of Program, ITM commented: “Influencing sustainable travel is a topic that has been on buyers’ priority list for a while, but there is now a real sense of urgency due to the accelerated global focus on climate change and legislation that will tighten up organizations’ disclosure of carbon emissions. However, the topic of sustainable travel practice is so vast that there’s a real risk that buyers become overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. There is also a sliding scale of maturity on the topic within travel programs and in terms of focus across organizations, depending on the industry sector and how much business travel accounts for their emissions.
“ITM has therefore established a new taskforce as part of our overall drive to support buyers with the complex topic of sustainability and the critical journey to deliver a truly responsible travel program. The resulting ITM resource will act as an easily digestible guide with practical tips and suggestions based on starting, embedding or executing program change. Buyers can apply elements of the resource that are relevant to them, whether it’s to make a start, progress further, engage internally, or embed program change. The taskforce will also discuss elements that could be taken forward as standard editions to travel policy,” said Douglas.