Carbon Taxes, SAF and Ground Transport Are Among Topics Discussed at Latest ITM Buyer Knowledge Exchange

28 May 2024

Tracking travellers’ carbon footprint, and increasing visibility of carbon impact at the time of booking, are some of the initiatives being considered by buyers to meet sustainable travel objectives, according to travel managers attending ITM’s latest Buyer Knowledge Exchange. Raising awareness of alternatives within travel policy, such as the reduction on day trips, and utilising a carbon footprint roadmap to understand the scale of the company’s carbon footprint, are also measures that are helping buyers drive sustainable efficiencies.

However, initiatives such as introducing a carbon tax, or investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) are still relatively low in terms of adoption by corporates. Asked whether they have introduced a carbon tax or carbon allocation to air fares, only 3% of buyer attendees said that they have established this within their pricing model. However, 29% revealed that they are considering implementation. On the topic of SAF, only 7% of buyers are investing in this alternative, while 28% are considering doing so. Nevertheless, the 66% of buyers who have not invested in SAF, are looking at alternative solutions,

Another area for debate at the latest BKE was ground transportation. Buyers expressed their concerns over the increasing costs of ground transport and the complexity of driving efficiencies across the end-to-end journey when calculating total cost and risks involved, specifically in the US market. Other challenges include possible limitations of EV vehicles for long journeys, costs incurred due to wait times for executive travellers, tolls and service charges associated with ground transportation. Buyers attending the session were advised to look out for ITM’s soon-to-be-released Ground Transport Resource, a user-friendly guide designed to support travel buyers/managers who are reviewing or building a ground strategy for their programme.

Buyers also discussed some concerns around technology solutions that track and report travel booked outside of policy. For example some technology solutions track travellers’ bookings in order to capture the booking data which may be outside of the policy parameters (such as, whether it is booked through their TMC or with the supplier directly). This data is fed back into the corporate’s duty of care provider, potentially making the traveller think that it is permissible to book out of policy, as risk is mitigated.  For other buyers, however, overcoming potential data privacy concerns, alongside the associated communication challenges, represented a barrier to adoption.

Lastly, buyers were asked if they are using flexible workspaces (such as WeWork) as part of their MICE strategy. Although, hybrid working policies have been instrumental in reducing a company’s carbon footprint, only 10% of buyers said that they are bringing this option into their MICE policy. However, 13% said that they are considering implementation – for example integrating available meeting rooms from different locations into the office meeting room booking system.

Buyer Knowledge Exchange sessions are hosted regularly by ITM to assist buyer members problem solve common issues, ask questions of their peers and benchmark their approach. Travel managers taking part represent diverse industry sectors such as financial services, energy, food, technology, telecoms, consulting, media and entertainment.

For a full download of buyer sentiment, poll results and other topics that were raised at the latest Buyer Knowledge Exchange, visit the ITM Resource Centre to access the notes from the session. The next virtual Buyer Knowledge Exchange takes place on 11th June 2024. Buyers can register here.