Home News & Features Sustainable Business Travel on the Rise in Europe

Sustainable Business Travel on the Rise in Europe


ALEXANDRIA, VA.—The majority (57 percent) of European-based companies have sustainability initiatives written into their company’s travel policy, according to a recent study on sustainability in travel programs by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Assn. (GBTA).

This marks a significant increase from 39 percent in 2012, and is largely attributable to the financial benefits, and safety and security enhancements delivered by the programs. The study also found that more U.S. companies are incorporating sustainability programs into contracts (from 11 percent in 2011 to 19 percent), but they continue to lag behind European counterparts.

“Overall, sustainability initiatives appear to be more integrated in Europe-based organizations, with opportunity for improvement among U.S.-based organizations,” said Joseph Bates, GBTA Foundation’s Vice President of Research. “We found that European companies are focused on efforts that result in both financial and environmental benefits, while American companies have a strong focus on the human relations aspect of sustainability.”

The GBTA study—“Sustainability in Travel Programs”—was sponsored by Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. The annual revenues of Enterprise Holdings, the world’s largest car rental company, rank near the top of the travel industry, ahead of many airlines and most cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies.

Several Hundred Surveyed

Nearly 300 U.S. and European-based travel managers were surveyed to better understand how they currently view sustainability initiatives and the role sustainability plays with ground transportation. In addition, the study focused on future intentions regarding incorporating sustainability into programs as well as similarities and differences by regions and across time.

Moving beyond the initiatives themselves, the survey also examined the impact of sustainability initiatives, finding that among companies that measure their environmental footprint, nearly all measure air travel activity (96 percent in Europe and 92 percent in the United States).

“It does not surprise me to see sustainability issues rising up the agenda for travel managers,” said Jim Burrell, Senior Vice President for Enterprise Holdings in Europe. “Sustainability within the travel supply chain has been a core component of contractual discussions for a number of years. However, there is a definite shift to this becoming more about measurement and impact than just a ‘nice to have’.”

Burrell also noted that Enterprise has been working with organizations to help them understand the long-term impact of corporate travel, not only in terms of cost, but also environmental considerations, employee safety and efficiency. “This goes beyond the provision of vehicles,” he said. “We also are noticing a much stronger emphasis on questions about how we manage our own supply chain in relation to sustainability.”

Key highlights of the study:

•    The majority of European Travel Managers (52 percent) think sustainability is now more important to their organization compared to two years ago.
•    Nearly half of European companies find the environmental impact of car rental and rail suppliers to be very important/important (44 percent, each). A similar amount report receiving CO2 emissions data from the suppliers (car rental suppliers: 47 percent, rail suppliers: 44 percent). Safety and security considerations are the biggest driver of sustainability investments in both regions (72 percent in the United States and 74 percent in Europe). Long-term cost savings (71 percent) ranked second in Europe, while American companies were focused on contributing to society (68 percent).
•    Forty percent or more of American and European companies credit a stronger public image, improved employee morale, and more efficient business processes as benefits of their sustainability investments.

Go to the Global Business Travel Assn.