Achieving a sustainable future in travel will require a concerted effort from all industry participants. Travel Management Companies (TMC’s) are no exception and at Hannon Travel, we believe we are integral to driving positive change. Travel, both for business and leisure, is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, TMC’s play a crucial role in steering the travel industry and high-frequency travellers towards a more sustainable future. This article explores the pivotal role TMCs can play in helping the industry strategically transition to a Net Zero future.
Understanding the Carbon Footprint of Travel
Before delving into the role of TMCs, it’s important to understand the carbon footprint of travel. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), aviation accounted for approximately 2-3% of global CO2 emissions in 2019. At the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting in Boston, USA, on 4 October 2021, a resolution was passed by IATA member airlines committing them to achieving net-zero carbon emissions from their operations by 2050.
Business travel, often managed by TMCs, contributes significantly to these emissions. This sector is characterised by a complex web of flights, accommodation, ground transportation, and other services. TMCs, therefore, have a unique vantage point in helping businesses minimise their carbon footprint by making more sustainable travel choices.
The Role of TMCs in Reducing Emissions
TMCs can play a vital role in educating travellers about the environmental impact of their choices. By providing information on carbon emissions associated with different travel options, TMCs can empower travellers to make more sustainable decisions.
Data and Reporting:
TMCs have access to vast amounts of data related to travel. This data includes information on routes, modes of transportation, and carbon emissions associated with different travel options. TMCs can use this data to provide clients with detailed carbon emission reports, enabling businesses to track their environmental impact more accurately.
Sustainable Travel Policy:
TMCs can help their clients develop and implement sustainable travel policies. This may include promoting eco-friendly transportation options, carbon allocations and projections support, and selecting accommodations with strong environmental credentials.
Contributing to Company-Wide Carbon Offsetting:
TMCs typically offer carbon offsetting programmes. These programmes allow travellers and businesses to offset the carbon emissions generated by their trips by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as reforestation or renewable energy initiatives. That said, the market is evolving towards more company-wide carbon offsetting and thus the role of the TMC is to contribute easy-to-integrate, accurate carbon impact data, to support these holistic programmes efficiently and effectively.
Technology and Innovation:
TMCs are increasingly using technology to optimise travel arrangements. This includes recommending more fuel-efficient routes, identifying energy-efficient hotels, and providing real-time information on carbon emissions during the booking process. Increased adoption of sustainable accreditations (such as: Green Key and Green Globe for hotels and IATA Environmental Assessment “IEnvA” for airlines) will support this movement further into the future, although to date update has been relatively low.
Challenges and Opportunities
While TMCs can have a substantial impact on reducing the carbon footprint of travel, they also face challenges. The travel industry’s complexity, coupled with the need to balance economic considerations with sustainability, can be daunting. Nevertheless, these challenges present opportunities for TMCs to innovate and drive positive change.
Hannon Travel’s 3-pillar approach to sustainable travel
At Hannon Travel, we take a multi-faceted approach to sustainability. Pre-travel, we support our clients with up-front sustainability analysis either through our comprehensive Online Booking Facility or through our expert team of travel consultants. Post-travel, we provide valuable analytics to support carbon offsetting, budgeting and future projections. Lastly, we provide connectivity to carbon-offsetting programmes through our Sustainability partners.
Aside from our client-centric programme, we invest in industry-wide initiatives such as Aircraft Leasing Ireland Global Aviation Sustainability Day (in association with IBEC), an annual event that began in 2022 that aims to inspire and drive action among the aviation industry, on this path to Net Zero.
The road to achieving net-zero emissions in the travel industry is a challenging one, but it is a journey that we must embark upon. TMC’s have a pivotal role to play in guiding businesses and travellers towards more sustainable choices and providing valuable data analysis that powers future decisions. By leveraging their data, influence, and commitment to sustainability, TMCs can help steer the travel industry towards a net-zero carbon future, where we can continue to explore the world and drive business expansion while minimising our impact on the environment.