Sustainability in a Managed Travel Program

The events of 2020 may have put a damper on travel plans, time with loved ones, and more. But one thing that was gained from “the year that was 2020” was our time for self-reflection, not only from an individual standpoint but from a company standpoint as well.

The pandemic has presented the unique opportunity for companies to review their corporate travel policies and guidelines. With this review, it is important that we ensure that sustainability becomes a guiding principle within those guidelines. As we sit in 2021, we are just ten years out from the deadline set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) for reducing our impact on the environment and just nine years away from the Paris Agreement’s goal of European countries reducing emissions by 55% by 2030. As we approach these deadlines, it is more important than ever for companies to take a long hard look at their stance and guidelines surrounding sustainability efforts – including those within their travel program.

That is why FROSCH Consulting delivered by TCG has added SUSTAINABILITY as the 18th component in their patented Total Cost of Ownership program. TCG has updated its TCO-TMPE® (“Total Cost of Ownership for Travel, Meetings, Payment, & Expense”) methodology to officially include the Cost of Sustainability in an integrated TMPE program, bringing their number of TCO cost metric components to 18.

TCG’s TCO-TMPE® methodology holistically examines all elements of Travel and Expense (“T&E”) to incorporate it into a broad spend under management strategy and provide an approach that delivers innovation, user collaboration, incremental savings, and alignment with company priorities. The TCO-TMPE® methodology allows a program to grow spend under management; capturing hidden costs, drive new savings and revenues, and address travel program maturity stagnation. The TCO-TMPE® is comprised of four pillars – 1) Management & Delivery; 2) Investments; 3) Workflow and Processes, and 4) Controls and Reports. The new Sustainability component falls under the 4th pillar – Controls and Reporting.

Sustainability has been an important topic for centuries because of how it impacts our world and all living things that share our planet. Our decisions made today surrounding this topic will directly impact our planet’s future, for better and for worse. Many companies have incorporated sustainability as a corporate strategic imperative (“SI”) within their organization.

Sustainability can be defined by three pillars –

  • Environmental Sustainability – as it relates to practices that impact the environment over the long term.
  • Social Sustainability – as it relates to the process of creating successful places that promote wellbeing.
  • Economic Sustainability – referring to practices that support long-term economic growth that does not negatively impact environmental and social sustainability.

Sustainability within business can involve any or all of the above pillars, depending on the organization’s respective industry and approach. The overwhelming majority of company CEOs (90%) state that sustainability will be important in their company’s success. Understanding that sustainability will be a key to success for companies, TCG encourages three key steps to incorporate environmental sustainability into a company business model:

  • Step 1 – Perform a materiality analysis to understand what is substantial (or key) to your industry as it relates to sustainability.
  • Step 2 – Conduct a stakeholder engagement to understand overall perceptions about your industry and your company as it relates to key sustainability issues that are material (or key) to your industry.
  • Step 3 – Benchmark your sustainability efforts against your peers / the market.

Examples of areas to look at within your travel policies and company guidelines surrounding sustainability include:

Marketing of sustainable products and services; Creating positions like Chief Sustainability Officer and Environmental Director; Implementing policies that promote more work-life balance, health & safety protocols, and improved work conditions; Implementing carbon offsetting programs; Utilizing paperless payment and expense management tools; Evaluating and tracking purpose-of-trip to determine CO2 impact along with other trip approvals; Corporate and virtual payment cards; Selecting airline suppliers based on their green initiatives; Offering eco-friendly hotel options; Offering electric ground transportation options; Creating virtual meetings where possible; and Combination/consolidation of multiple trips into one.

By integrating a TMPE program and aligning it with a company-wide sustainability initiative, organizations can transform their business into a greener travel program. The 18th cost component of the TCG methodology provides clients with a sustainable strategy that reduces their operational and environmental impact within their TMPE program. As travel reopens, companies should begin to evaluate their travel policies to ensure they include this sustainability initiative. The pandemic, though detrimental, did give us the gift of time. Time to pause, reflect, and look deeply at health, safety, and our environment.