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Covid rockets sustainability up the travel management agenda


62% of European travel managers have sustainable travel programmes; 20% rely on their TMC to ensure programmes are sustainable. Business Travel Show Europe launches Ethical Travel Trail, and Wellness Retreat makes a welcome return.

A new study of 313 European travel managers by Business Travel Show Europe (30 September – 1 October) has revealed that 62 per cent of travel programmes are now sustainable. This compares favourably to 40 per cent recorded in November 2019. 

While more than one third (37 per cent) of buyers were managing a sustainable programme pre-Covid, 25 per cent of sustainable programmes have been introduced during the global pandemic, and a further 23 per cent of buyers are planning to initiate a sustainable travel programme for their business. Furthermore:

  • 8% of the 313 respondents admitted they don’t have a sustainable travel programme, compared to 60% in 2019 
  • 1% said it’s too expensive an option, compared to 25% in 2019 who didn’t believe it was affordable at the time

How sustainable are these programmes?

When buyers were asked ‘how sustainable’ their programme is, the survey returned the following responses:

  • 20% rely on their TMC to ensure their programme is sustainable 
  • 20% consider their programme’s impact on the environment and make choices to limit this 
  • 11% are conscious of the human rights impact of their programme and make choices to limit this 
  • 4% have introduced policies designed to improve their travellers’ mental health, including a safe space where they can discuss the impact of travel on their well-being 
  • 3% offer travellers information on their carbon footprint (this appears to represent a huge reduction on the 27% from November 2019)
  • 3% offset aviation-related carbon emissions (this figure was 17% in November 2019)

How considerate are these programmes for marginalised travellers?

A follow up question quizzed buyers on whether special considerations are built into their travel programmes for marginalised travellers. It highlighted that more programmes across every single category apart from solo women travellers are accommodating the special needs of these travellers compared to November 2019.


Stephen Swift, Travel Manager, EMEA & APAC, Ford Motor Company, who is speaking at Business Travel Show Europe, said, “My company is fully focused on changing our product range to be all electric by the middle of the decade. We are focussing our travel programme on sustainable travel choices to support this: hotels with clear and published green policies and choosing modern, more fuel-efficient airline fleets and ride sharing where possible."

Sam Hart, CIO of Agiito, who are exhibiting at Business Travel Show Europe for the first time this year, said, “We are one planet. Being a sustainable business IS the only option. We need to help our customers with the right travel choices by providing clear metrics around the impact of their journeys. We also need collaboration across supply chains throughout the industry to solidify the importance of sustainability and minimise end-to-end impact.”

Business Travel Show Europe launches Ethical Travel Trail 
This year’s survey results come as Business Travel Show Europe announces its Ethical Travel Trail. A new launch for 2021, the trail will take attendees on a journey across the show floor, highlighting companies that are championing sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, carbon neutrality and human rights to challenge behaviours for the good of the planet.

Exhibitors already on the trail include agiito,, Chabe, CTM, Direct ATPI, Egencia, FCM, Freenow, LNER, Peregrine, RoamingExpert, Selective Travel Management, Serviced Apartments NL, Traxo and United Airlines.

The Wellness Retreat & Café will make a welcome return following its debut in 2020: a peaceful space and oasis of calm on the busy show floor where buyers can meet and hear from suppliers of wellness products and services and enjoy healthy food options. 

CSR, including sustainability, will also feature heavily across the Business Travel Show Europe conference programme: 

  • Thursday 30 September, 1000-1100: Make your travel programme truly sustainable by 2030
  • Thursday 30 September, 1520-1620: Get up, stand up – Bringing diversity, equity & inclusion to corporate travel
  • Friday 1 October, 1120-1210: Can airline choice really green my travel programme? Is Sustainable Aviation Fuel the answer?
  • Friday 1 October, 1240-1330: Diversity, equity & inclusion – Let’s organise!
  • Friday 1 October, 1240-1320: Sustainability – How to reduce your company’s travel-related carbon emissions
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