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Doing the right thing: driving sustainable behaviours in business travel

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TMCs like Agiito are key in helping PAs drive sustainable behaviours in business travel within their organisations. Dana Moore and Lone Konradsen from Agiito discuss how this can be put to practice.

Booking in advance. Switching from road to rail. Choosing hotels with valid green credentials. All great examples of business travellers ‘doing the right thing’ to help their organisation hit sustainability goals. But how do you embed a sustainable buying culture?

Changing cultures is like a super tanker making a 360 degree turn; if you’ve built up momentum going in the wrong direction, you’ll have need an informed operation to get everyone moving another way. That means changing booker and traveller behaviour for the better by aligning company goals, travel policy, traveller needs and preferences, then clearly communicating with targeted messaging. But what involved in changing behaviours to get bookers and travellers to do the right thing? Let’s dive in!

It starts with data

For many TMCs, the challenge in helping customers to work smarter is getting meaningful data and putting it into a context that is relevant to the customer. We’ve gotten very good at harnessing data that evidences the impact of what doing the right thing can be. We share that data with our customers, broken down into tangible ‘buckets’ that are relevant to their business, so they can decide on what is a realistic opportunity and how they want to mitigate or reduce their emissions.

Data can be used for all kinds of wonderful things, like identifying audiences to target messaging or recognising trends so that we can build objective specific campaigns that encourage a shift in business cultures.

Modal choice

Finding the right balance for traveller wellbeing when it comes to business travel, and deciding on the mode of transport can have a significant impact on the environment and the wellbeing of the traveller. Switching from air to rail is the first step companies usually take, yet rail is often more expensive than air, per mile travelled. You can fly from London to Manchester in 45 minutes, compared to 2 hours by train. You’ll save significantly on CO2, but there’s a higher cost associated with the longer journey, both in time and pounds and pence.

There are so many variables to travel mode, it’s often about what’s right for the traveller. After all, unless you can get a table seat, you can’t work effectively on the train. Sitting with your laptop perched on one knee isn’t good for the wellbeing. But even this can be preferable to the road option, where you can’t work at all.

Know your audience

The key here is to understand who you’re trying to influence, to understand more about them and why they are behaving in a certain way. Only when you’ve done that can you shape and target the messaging to influence behavioural change.

To do this, we lean heavily on data, but involving your audience and asking them direct questions can be one of your most valuable assets. It can help find what’s most important to them.

It’s all about the messaging

Even with access to the right information, some bookers and travellers still make choices based on personal loyalties rather than focussing on carbon emissions. That’s why organisations need to target their messaging at specific audiences to ensure the right messages reach the right people. This can often start with travel policy, which should reflect the organisation’s expectations, but few are updated regularly, and we see policies that are up to four years old, so no wonder the two are not always aligned.

With the right technology, organisations have a huge advantage in reaching bookers with targeted messaging. For example, our Meetingspro technology helps meeting planners to identify green accredited venues, so our customers can make better informed choices based on their location and sustainability credentials. The same can be said for travel booking tools, where bookers can be provided with a library of accredited suppliers that tick the boxes for travellers and organisations.

Are customers willing to pay more for sustainable travel?

The supply chain is making significant investments in sustainability, but it can’t bear all the associated costs alone. These costs must also be shared by the end user. We calculate that opting for more sustainable travel options would increase expenses by approximately 25%, and for hotels, this figure could rise to anywhere between 30% and 50%. However, once the initial investment has been recovered, suppliers should strive to support customers without constantly raising prices.

At the same time, businesses should not expect to obtain greener products and services at the same prices as in 2019. The world has evolved, and so have the costs involved in sustainable practices. It is unrealistic to expect to maintain the same prices as in the past, just because that was the norm. We believe that most corporations will be willing to pay a 25% premium for sustainable options as it reflects their commitment to their company values.

Summary:

Doing the right thing can vary depending on your objectives but when it comes to sustainability, audience and message all need to be aligned to ensure the greatest chance of success.

Get in touch with Agiito to hear more about how we’re helping customers to driving sustainable behaviours across their travel programme.

 

You may also be interested in reading Caroline Metcalf’s take on how to deliver great corporate events.