Business travel to return to more sustainable level

The Global Business Travel Association's BTI Outlook forecasts that global business travel spend will only recover to 2019 levels by 2025. Felled by the coronavirus pandemic, the post-COVID business travel slump is worse than any in recent memory. But the Middle East’s business travel will inevitably resume, and sustainability is already redefining how we’ll get around in the post-Coronavirus age.

One of the positive effects of the pandemic is the decrease in carbon emissions. This has made many consumers more conscious of climate change and environmental issues and has raised demands for businesses to rebuild with sustainability in mind.

While the integration of technology is key when it comes to shifting consumer travel patterns, business travel is different. Its impact on the planet has put sustainability at the top of the agenda for many corporate travel decision-makers because work trips are a key component of the economy. What the pandemic has shown us is that organizations of every size and kind can no longer afford to be negligent with the safety and security of their employees. It’s never been more important to reshape management travel and expenses, rethink corporate programmes and focus on making travel sustainable.

It’s also becoming imperative that organisations implement a travel risk management programme, integrating technology tools like artificial intelligence and automation to help plan and managing upcoming trips with safety in mind. While business travellers can use mobile apps to access neighbourhood safety scores and assess whether the COVID-19 cases are high or low in the area, Gartner is looking at digital vaccine passports and standardised covid testing to reopen travel safely.

For any organization to successfully implement a policy to advance or achieve strategic carbon ambitions, it is commercially critical that they think through the economics such that their partners, particularly on the travel side, are compensated to reflect those goals.

Ultimately, corporate sustainability needs to become a win-win scenario – according to SAP’s Corporate Travel Sustainability Index 2020, nearly two thirds of corporate travel decision-makers said that sustainability is an integral part of their business travel policies.