Alexandria, VA – Sustainability is at the forefront of global business, but have company commitments to sustainability made their way to corporate travel and meetings management programs? What will it take for companies to make business travel and meetings more sustainable?

A new report from Global Business Travel Association and Cvent – “The Journey to More Sustainable Corporate Travel and Meetings Management Programs” – surveys corporate travel managers and meeting planners across the U.S., Canada and several European countries about their current sustainability programs and activities. The report reveals where corporate travel programs stand in terms of emissions tracking, business travel sustainability measures, cost-benefit approaches, and sustainable travel sourcing. It also outlines current and future thinking on corporate meeting programs including virtual and hybrid meetings, operational changes, and venue sourcing.

“There’s no question that sustainability is an important topic in the marketplace today. We’re proud to partner with GBTA to put a spotlight on the emerging trend and help organizations better understand what their peers are doing and how to navigate these evolving corporate priorities,” said Cvent Chief Marketing Officer, Patrick Smith.

In the survey, more than half of company respondents (55%) say their organization has a company-wide carbon emissions reduction target. However, fewer than one-quarter (23%) have a target for business travel specifically. Even fewer (9%) have a target for company-hosted meetings and events.

The survey also shows a major gap between North America and Europe. Almost half of Europe-based respondents (46%) say their company has an emissions target for business travel and one in five (20%) say their company has a target for company meetings and events. This compares to only 14% of North America-based respondents who say their company has a target for business travel, and only 6% that have a target for company-hosted meetings.

“Corporate travel managers and meetings professionals have a tremendous opportunity to be drivers of change and evolution as more companies prioritize sustainability. They can provide the expertise and guidance to help bring more environmental sustainability to their employee travel and meetings,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA.

Additional highlights include:

  • Sustainability is a priority for both corporate travel and meeting management programs. Almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) say sustainability is at least a moderate priority for their company’s travel program, including 41% who say it is a top priority. Two-thirds of respondents (65%) say sustainability is at least a moderate priority for their company’s meetings management program and 29% cite it as a top priority.
  • European travel programs are more likely to prioritize sustainability. Two-thirds of Europe-based respondents (64%) say sustainability is a top priority for their company’s corporate travel program, compared to only one-third of North America-based respondents (33%).
  • The C-Suite is engaged on sustainability. More than half of respondents say senior executives/C-suite leaders (57%) are top stakeholders who drive sustainability/carbon reduction at their company, just behind sustainability/corporate social responsibility departments (64%).
  • Sustainability is expected to drive virtual and hybrid meetings in the future. Three in five respondents (59%) expect sustainability considerations will drive their company to hold more virtual meetings and 52% say it will drive more hybrid meetings in the future.
  • Company-hosted meetings and events incorporate sustainable practices. Most cited are providing shuttles from the venue to hotels or other off-site events (40%), communicating with attendees about public transit (34%), serving locally sourced food (32%), using recyclable packaging (31%), and replacing plastic cutlery with real flatware (30%).
  • The role of sustainability in supplier sourcing. Of the respondents who say their company sends out hotel RFPs, half (54%) include sustainability-related questions “most of the time” or “all of the time.” Of those who say their company issues RFPs for meeting and event venues, more than two in five (44%) include sustainability-related questions “most of the time” or “all of the time.

The survey was fielded among GBTA members and industry stakeholders with some direct involvement procuring travel and/or planning, organizing, or overseeing meetings and events at their company from January 11-28, 2022, resulting in 167 respondents across 13 countries. (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg.)

Tune in for a free GBTA-Cvent webinar and join the discussion

Cvent and GBTA experts will discuss the study results in more detail and debate the ongoing journey to a more sustainable corporate travel and meetings management program during a free webinar on Thursday, May 19, 11am-12pm ET. For more information or to register for live attendance or on-demand replay, visit here.