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What Is Corporate Travel Sustainability?

It isn’t just a feel good phrase that gets tossed around without actionable policy anymore. These days, corporate travel sustainability requires more of us. We need to look at our corporate travel with a clear eye so we can make conscious decisions about lessening the environmental impact of it while still meeting the needs of our company. It isn’t as daunting as it sounds; it’s simply assessing where we’re at, then figuring out where we want to be, and finally creating a sustainable business travel policy that will help us reach that goal. KesselRun is here to help you find the data and create the policy that reflects your company’s goals.

How Does Sustainable Travel Help Your Company?

First of all, it’s just good optics. Sustainability is a very visible issue. Companies that aren’t addressing their environmental impact run the risk of appearing anachronistic. The majority of the workforce are Millennials, and Gen Z is coming up fast behind them. They care about the environment and expect a corporate culture that reflects that priority. Our corporate travelers want guidance and options for travel that they can feel good about. A well structured policy is a way to attract, engage, and retain quality employees.

But it’s not all about optics. Travel is a crucial component of business today. While many meetings can and should happen online, they cannot replace the face to face interaction with teams, clients and potential customers. Pre-pandemic in 2019, business travel made up nearly one third of tourism and we are quickly returning to that level. Businesses are uniquely poised to have a big impact with good policy. We know that travel is necessary, and creating a sustainable travel policy helps us mitigate the effects of it.

What Are Companies Doing Internally to Be Sustainable?

Collecting the data and creating the policy are just the beginning. Companies are creating offset programs and setting vendor requirements that further their sustainability goals. They’re making the relevant data available to their travelers so they can make informed choices during the booking process. KesselRun can help create a dynamic and responsive sustainable travel policy program.

Top Traveler Sustainability Initiatives:

  • Prioritize rail travel in lieu of air in Europe, and the U.S. East coast and Pacific Northwest. Rail is approximately 20 times more efficient than air travel. 
  • Fly direct when possible.
  • Create an offset program for carbon emissions. 
  • Communicate clear guidelines and straightforward goals to your employees and offer opportunities for feedback.
  • Recommend hotels, airlines, and other vendors that are implementing their own sustainability programs.

What Should You Include in a Sustainable Business Travel Policy?

  • Identify the company’s sustainability goals.
  • Offer sustainable alternatives to travelers along with helpful data.
  • Set clear guidelines for travelers but do keep them engaged in the decision making process. 
  • Encourage consolidation of trips/trip purposes to limit flights.
  • Be sure your TMC(travel management company) has the ability to capture “sustainability” as a reason code for a more expensive booking.

Key Points on Corporate Sustainability and Sustainable Travel:

  • Because this is such a newly developing area, data on sustainability is often an estimate but we will see continued reporting improvement in the years to come. 
  • Once the company’s sustainability goals have been clearly defined, educating and making the information accessible to your travelers is key, as well as giving access to emission data during the booking process. 
  • Put an offset program in place.
  • Consider “sustainability travel budgets” for each traveler or department. 
  • Create vendor requirements relative to their sustainability initiatives on a procurement level. 
  • Set a dollar value per kg emitted to help set company policy and to help make the numbers more meaningful to travelers. 
  • Decide what tolerance for cost your organization has regarding vendor pricing. What percentage of cost increase are you willing to accept for a more sustainable travel option?

How Can KesselRun Help?

Here are our top 10 broad spectrum tips for creating a sustainable business travel program: 

  • Get un-siloed. This is a conversation that should span many departments – travel, finance, risk, CSR teams, and more.
  • Review historical data. While 2022 or 2023 is outdated, it may make sense to look at month over month or quarter over quarter for the last several years.
  • Frame the discussion around projections for the remainder of 2024 travel volumes.
  • Set realistic, scientific-based goals for your organization & publish them broadly.
  • Update your policy with clear and specific information relative to sustainability.
  • Update your OBT and other points of booking for travelers to reflect your goals and relevant data.
  • Ensure travelers have meaningful, relevant and timely information relative to their travel and the organization’s sustainability goals.
  • Monitor & Adapt – sustainability remains in its infancy for many, if not most, companies. Know that goals may change; data accuracy and sources will change; and technology will improve.
  • Report on progress in aggregate: it is still too early to track micro-trends

KesselRun can help you build a sustainable business travel policy and program. We can analyze historical data and help you create realistic sustainability goals that are tailored to your business culture and needs. We will optimize booking processes and set up future reporting and metrics. KesselRun can create a flexible, dynamic and responsive corporate travel program that will make sustainability less burdensome and more manageable.


Why KesselRun

KesselRun brings deep experience to every aspect of your corporate travel program. After 20 years in business, we still believe that every consulting engagement is as unique as our client’s business.

20+ Years in Business
Custom Solutions
Industry Experts
Excellent Client References

Executive Team

Our Executive Team has decades of experience across the entire corporate travel supply chain. We come from both Big 5 management consulting firms and from corporate travel supplier and client sides of the business. We provide flexible, thoughtful, and independent solutions. Our goal is always to increase traveler satisfaction while optimizing corporate spend and supplier leverage.

Brandon Strauss

Brandon Strauss


Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan


Krissy Herman | KesselRun

Krissy Herman

Vice President of Program Management

erik woodfolk

Erik Woodfolk

Director of Federal Programs and Services


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