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ITM Sustainability Taskforce publishes guide to help buyers build responsible travel programmes

“Building Responsible Travel Programmes” has been written in response to a growing and urgent need for companies to meet carbon reduction targets.

The Institute of Travel Management (ITM) has published a guide to help its buyer members develop policies that encourage more sustainable business travel.

Kerry Douglas, Head of Programme, ITM, said: “While business travel is only a small percentage of total global emissions, it is often a significant portion of the CO2 generated by many companies. There is, therefore, a growing demand for more responsible policies that help reduce emissions while enabling purposeful business travel to continue. This guide will help travel managers future-proof travel programmes and contribute towards companies meeting carbon reduction targets.” 

The paper entitled ‘Building Responsible Travel Programmes’ is the output from ITM’s Sustainability Taskforce* which was established in March this year in response to ITM buyer members’ growing concerns around how best to approach bringing sustainable practices into their programmes and influence the behaviour of their travellers.  It provides extensive practical advice to buyers at any stage of their sustainability journey, across any industry, and recommends steps buyers can use to get started. These include:

  • Understand your company’s carbon targets
  • Identify allies and engage with them
  • Get the right data
  • Revisit targets and KPIs

A key element of the guide is a suggested matrix, setting out actions across a scale of simple to complex and level of impact.  At the top of the matrix there are four key actions that have the potential to deliver the greatest impact and these include:

  • Gaining senior leadership engagement and support – this is the number one requirement given every organisation is different in terms of industry they operate in, culture, travel programme characteristics and commitments in ESG
  • Travel Policy Updates & Changes – driving change through suppliers, education, modal shift
  • Demand Management – reviewing alongside business owners what can be done in terms of managing demand and how that demand can be met through alternative forms of meeting and/or transport
  • Investment in insets (SAF) and/or removals – business travel is a force for good so stopping this all together is not realistic or advisable due to the wider economic, societal, and cultural benefits it brings.  Therefore, as an industry we must collectively seek to support the acceleration of decarbonisation, such as signalling demand for SAF, alongside reviewing what actions can be taken to remove carbon (in addition to any offsetting investments ) in order to reach net zero commitments . These actions require engagement and direction by senior leadership’

The matrix complements the work already undertaken by the GBTA Foundation’s Sustainability initiative and Sustainability Toolkit. Accompanying the main guide are several appendices featuring case studies and more detailed explanation of steps buyers can take to plan for the future, including links to additional GBTA resources**.

Kerry Douglas added: “By clearly defining the vision of what a responsible travel programme looks like and having the buy-in from all stakeholders, Travel Managers have a prime opportunity to educate and lead their organisations in helping to meet their sustainability objectives. ITM sincerely hopes that this guide and accompanying appendices provide actional insights and practical support to our buyer community so that they can take an informed conversation forward. Not everyone will need to read the full document or appendices and therefore this resource is meant to offer choice in how much background or detail they need.”



*The ITM Sustainability Taskforce consists of 17 members (eight buyers from diverse industry sectors, two TMCs, three consultancies, one green technology provider and one carbon removals specialist), all of whom are united in their passion for driving action, and their commitment to addressing climate change. The group has met regularly over the last six months to assess the current travel programme environment, supplier progress, and what steps buyers can take regardless of industry size and programme to build a sustainable travel policy. Taskforce members include:
Jon Bolger – Head of Travel UK & CH | CBS Sustainability Lead WS People & Purpose Lead, Deloitte
Kerry Douglas – Head of Programme, ITM
Emma Eaton – Commodity Manager, Siemens (UK/IE Travel)
Sian Ellis – Assistant Director Supply Chain Services ESGS, EY
Shelley Fletcher-Bryant – Vice President, Sales & Client Management, Advito
Kelsey Frenkiel – Senior Manager Sustainability, GBTA
Pippa Ganderton – Product Director, ATPI Halo
Mike Heath – Travel Procurement Coordinator, Mott Macdonald
Sally Higgs – Travel & Events Sustainability Manager, Festive Road
Helen Hodgkinson – Co-Founder, CACTUS
Karen Hutchings – Global Head of Travel, Meetings & Events, EY
Charlotte Manthe – Head of Customer Success, Thrust Carbon
Alison Rogan – Global Head of Travel and Expense, Barclays
Nicole Sautter – Senior Global Sustainability Manager, American Express Global Business Travel
Jill Smit – Global Sustainability Manager, T&W Arcadis
Mark Stevenson – Co-Founder, CUR8 & Ambassador, Client Earth
Richard Tams- Founder, Tailwind Advisory

** ITM is the exclusive business travel industry partner representing GBTA (The Global Business Travel Association) in UK & Ireland – therefore all ITM ‘business level’ members have complimentary GBTA membership, giving them access to all GBTA resources, including the matrix and other resources associated with ITM’s ‘Building Responsible Travel Programmes’ guide.

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