Covid-19 has raised the importance of risk mitigation ahead of cost savings, and ensuring suppliers deliver services that meet increasing sustainability, social and environmental concerns. By Caroline Boey
As companies continue to reimagine and adapt for the next era in business due to the impact of the Coved-19 pandemic and societal change, corporate travel priorities are also shifting with the focus now on factors influencing the next era of business travel.
Discussions on GBTA forums now show that corporate travel managers (CTM) are prioritising sustainability, and the industry is pursuing carbon-offsetting programmes, according to CEO and executive director Suzanne Neufang.
During a recent Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) webinar, Strategic Event Procurement’s principal Therese Jardine noted that “risk mitigation” ranked ahead of savings in the priority rankings.
Jardine posited there would be no savings if suppliers were unable to deliver on client priorities to mitigate risk and bolster travel policy compliance. She also advised corporates whose TMCs contract on their behalf to spell out expectations on data privacy protection, sustainability and social and environmental concerns moving forward.
Hwang Cheng Meng, vice president, global market management, Asia Pacific, CWT, noted “risk mitigation and traveller safety have been at the top of the agenda since the pandemic began”.
He shared: “The leading question in many RFPs we have received over the past couple of years has been: ‘How will you help us keep our travellers safe when they begin travelling again?’”
Hwang said the myCWT platform has been enhanced in the past year with new capabilities, its messaging support channel expanded to many more clients, and its travel counsellors are now equipped with next-gen tools that give them a 360-degree real-time view of a traveller’s journey across all channels to be better prepared to provide assistance.
Aside from risk mitigation, one Singapore-based CTM told TTGmice that sustainability has become a hot topic that is being driven by clients.
The CTM said: “For my company, there are definitely activities at the global level around sustainability with a specific team with full-time roles and targets being set.
“The business approach is evolving and instead of just looking at our immediate impact, we are also starting to consider secondary and tertiary spheres of influence, our partner suppliers and where we spend our money.
CWT’s Hwang added: “Sustainability is on everyone’s radar, and ranks in the top five priorities for many travel programmes. When we surveyed our global customer base at the end of 2021, 87 per cent expressed that they would like sustainability information provided to their employees at point-of-booking to help reinforce responsible travel choices.”
In March, CWT added carbon footprint indicators to its myCWT mobile and web booking channels, and recently entered into a offsetting partnership with Etihad Airways.
Benson Tang, executive director, corporate travel, Informa Markets (IM) said “governments around the world have illustrated more determination in sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance principles) after COP 26 (the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow last November.
“This top-down government approach will exert more requirements on corporates to focus seriously on the overall level of carbon emissions and carbon emission trading. As the world sets its sights on achieving net-zero emissions, there is increasing debate on carbon offset and tax,” he elaborated.
Tang, who is also executive director of IM subsidiary Corporate Travel Community, noticed that CTMs were indeed complying with new government requirements, amending travel policies, and implementing the new requirements in the RFP processes.
He told TTGmice: “IM aims to become a champion of sustainability within our business and across the specialist markets we serve.
“As part of our FasterForward programme, we have committed to a series of specific goals and activities over a five-year period, designed to help us become an ever more sustainable, and high-impact business to support and accelerate change in our markets.”