SAP Concur's Matt Clementson discusses sustainable travel

By Helen Adams
A green future: Why now is the perfect time to place sustainability matters at the heart of public sector policies, says SAP Concur's Matt Clementson

Worldwide travel is opening up after the pandemic for holidays, family visits and business trips, but many consumers have spent the lockdown in reflection and some are considering their travel impact on the environment. 

Results from SAP Concur’s Corporate Travel Sustainability Index shows that 66% of people want to travel more sustainably. The computer software company offers risk management solutions covering travel, invoices and compliance.

Matt Clementson, Enterprise Head of Sales in the UK at SAP Concur, tells Sustainability how travel companies can be more sustainable. 

 

As a society, we have become more aware of our impact on the planet, both as consumers and companies. From decision makers to corporate responsibility, there is an agenda for change and the activism to go with it. It demands we make more informed choices at home and educated decisions at work in support of sustainability. 

In light of this, we’ve seen more government initiatives coming into force, such as the UK’s 10-point green plan, which will create up to 250,000 jobs and place environmental matters at the heart of public sector policies. 

Yet, according to SAP Concur’s Corporate Travel Sustainability Index, only 19% of public sector travel decision makers across EMEA feel their organisation is proficient in making business travel sustainable. Along with that, many employees are also unsure how to incorporate sustainability into their business travel: 

  • 66% want to travel more sustainably
  • Only 39% say they know how to do so.

In fact, the public sector is the least confident in maintaining sustainable corporate travel, of all business sectors surveyed. 

But this can change. Public sector organisations need to remember it’s the small things that add up — whether it is taking the train instead of a flight, or establishing a paperless process — there are many small ways to make business travel across the public sector more sustainable.  

Alongside this, the workforce landscape is changing and central government is working hard to shift the perception that the public sector ‘is not an exciting place to work’. Attracting, retaining and developing the right talent is now a key focus for the public sector. With the younger workforce looking for more flexible working lifestyles, more sustainable options, and tools to facilitate this, it’s time for public sector institutions to reevaluate their policies and look to make changes towards a more sustainable future. 

 

Educate to shift behaviours in the travel industry

Governments are now required to shift and adapt quicker to local, regional, and global matters that impact their citizens. To do so, they must have a robust digital environment that provides flexibility for people, processes, and systems when the need arises and that delivers an immediate impact. 

In the travel industry, education is vital in generating awareness on the alternative, greener options that are available for any given trip. ​Organisations can help by informing employees as soon as they plan a trip or search for travel options, and alert them of alternative considerations to shift normal behaviours. This could be as simple as booking a train over a plane for short journeys. 

 

Sustainable travel needs coordinated policies 

As demand for higher levels of sustainability grows, questions about corporate travel policy will be raised more strongly, more often and by more parties, from decision makers and employees to supply-chain partners and external stakeholders — as well as the travelers themselves.

For public sector leaders, ongoing communication is therefore key, not just for embedding messages firmly in the working culture, but for avoiding any perceived lack of direction. Employee communications will be one of the critical factors and this must be driven forward – meaning that messaging needs to be communicated continually to be effective. Additionally, sustainability policies need to be a coordinated, ongoing campaign to improve change management.

Public sector organisations should also consider technology as a solution to sustainability, to give them and their employees greater visibility into the cleanest modes of travel. Providing visibility into the environmental impact of travel options being booked or leading by example are just a few options for how the public sector can support their travelling employees in making greener choices. 

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