Future-proofing business trips: Why green travel needs greater transparency

Worldwide: Vivi Cahyadi Himmel, co-founder and CEO of cloud-based global accommodation booking platform AltoVita, discusses the need for greater transparency when it comes to travelling sustainably for business trips.

After two years of travel restrictions, extended trips abroad are back.

According to UNWTO [The United Nations World Tourism Organisation], the first quarter of this year saw an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in the same period of previous year, a 182 per cent year-on-year increase. The International Air Transport Association [IATA] is also optimistic about the industry’s recovery, expecting overall travel numbers to improve to 83 per cent of 2019 levels this year and to 94 per cent by next year.

There is no doubt that more people are planning their travels again – for both leisure and business. Yet it is interesting to see how their travel decisions are now different from a year ago. According to the recent Deloitte 2022 summer leisure travel survey, financial factors are the main concern when it comes to travelling.

To future-proof corporate travel, it is now down to hospitality operators to make sure that businesses [and their employees] can make sustainable decisions with ease.

State of sustainable travel

Launched in the middle of the pandemic, The Conscious Travel Foundation is a non-profit network that aims to promote responsible travel practices through mentorship programmes and enable travel companies to contribute to projects that can bring tangible benefits to local communities and habitat. If further proof was needed, a recent Booking.com survey showed that for 58 per cent of people it was important that their trip had a beneficial effect on the local community, while more than a quarter researched the effect or improvement their holiday spending would have on the local communities.

This shows that there is an interest from hospitality businesses and, of course, from individuals who may want to mirror their sustainable leisure travels when it comes to their business trips.

In fact, travelling sustainably has an increasingly important part to play, with SAP Concur reporting 56 per cent of businesses surveyed having senior leadership driving the sustainability agenda for corporate travel.

Air travel may have a bad name, but figures show that its CO2 emissions are in fact around just two per cent of the 42 billion tonnes of CO2 generated by human activities, lower than many other industries. The paradox may reside in the fact that, although rail journeys may cause 80 per cent fewer CO2 emissions, train fares can also be 50 per cent more expensive than flight tickets, leaving “passengers [facing] a “near impossible” choice between low ticket prices and climate-friendly travel”.

A recent Reuters report refers to a new type of traveller, the so called “slomads”, who take their work with them but also want to spend more time in one location. They also want to fly less, stay in sustainable accommodations, and invest in or contribute to green projects.
There is clearly an appetite for green practices within the sector, but it is often hard for businesses to know where to start. By leveraging technology solutions, they can unlock access to a wider range of sustainable options.
Through easy-to-use filter tools, businesses have data on CO2 emissions [per property, per night] at their fingertips, and can offer employees longer, slower business trips which meet their sustainability goals.
Making conscious decisions
Sustainability and safety features can be embedded in tech-first solutions, providing users with more enriched content and offering them more choices that can take sustainable travel into consideration. This is particularly important as lack of information and knowledge was cited as the second reason stopping people from travelling more sustainably [just behind being unable to afford the extra costs].
With global companies such as Airbnb, American Express and Microsoft allowing staff to work from anywhere, a “holiday” accommodation can actually become a new “office” location. Finding sustainable accommodation then becomes important not just for the digital nomad, but also for the company they are working for.
Combining a technology-powered solution with a human-centric approach can help ensure duty of care across the corporate accommodation sector.
The AltoVita platform provides a network of more than one million housing options to clients, who can then source accommodation and book fast, efficiently, and within their company policies. Filter technology allows users to sort for exactly the type of accommodation they are hoping for, including extensive criteria around sustainability initiatives such as energy, water, and waste management, safety, and work-ready features.
All images of sustainable initiatives are geo-tagged to mitigate greenwashing, and the user can be certain that the images were actually taken at the property. This sets a precedent for incentivising travellers to pick more carbon-neutral housing options.
To support businesses of all sizes in finding affordable corporate extended-stay accommodation to meet their business objectives, we recently launched AltoVita For Start-Ups, a customised offering for startups which provides discounted booking fees, no transaction fees, no security deposits, and consolidated billing statements and management. The start-up offering is available to companies that are less than ten years old and with under $50 million in annual revenue.

The bottom line

Of course, technology on its own does not solve all issues. But by combining a wide selection of sustainable practices with modular filter technology, businesses are able to find accommodation that match their personal and company-wide ESG goals, identifying housing that meets certain criteria and / or has sustainability certifications. This in turn helps corporations meet ambitious net zero by 2030 targets

Our mission is to provide delightful housing solutions for employees anywhere in the world.

This includes building the largest global footprint in corporate accommodations and ensuring the AltoVita platform is synonymous with sustainability, safety, security, compliance, and duty of care.

Earlier this week, AltoVita launched the third iteration of its annual “Altos” Awards, which are dedicated to hospitality operators of corporate housing accommodations and hospitality software platforms, and recognise excellence within the short-term and extended stay rental market within the last 12 months.

There are 11 award categories and an in-person awards ceremony will be held at the Tate Modern in London on Thursday 1 December. The deadline for The Altos award entries is 14 October 2022 – submit your entries for free at this link.

Vivi Cahyadi Himmel is co-founder and CEO of AltoVita, a corporate accommodation platform that enables employees to ‘work from anywhere’ across 1,500+ cities and 165 countries.