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How sustainability is becoming a focus for Indian businesses, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

by News Times USA


Changing business travel trends: How sustainability is becoming a focus for Indian businesses

Since the pandemic, sustainable business travel practices have become an essential consideration, from being an important one earlier. Organisations are also building sustainable business travel programs that encompass everything from reducing overall emissions and working with sustainable suppliers and carbon offset partners, to ensuring the right communications strategy is in place to secure traveler buy-in.

From setting policies that promote direct flights as they burn less fuel and making sure your contracted hotels follow high sustainability criteria to using rental cars with emissions caps and mileage ratings. Many of these conscious measures by businesses and educating their employees about the importance of these measures are some important steps towards sustainable travel.

In this regard, Ben Price shared SAP Concur’s perspective on how sustainable travel is becoming a focus for Indian businesses in the current scenario. Here are excerpts from the interview:

ETTravelWorld (ETTW): How business travel trends are changing in India. How have things changed from pre-Covid to the current scenario?
Ben Price (BP): We as a corporate travel group SAP Concur, we’ve been working on sustainability for quite some time, honestly, before Covid, because of the whole charge towards net zero by 2050 and UN sustainable goals right have been something we’ve been looking at. So now with the Covid-19 pandemic and now with some of the climate emergencies or some of the cost pressures, the challenge is how quickly you can respond and how quickly you can get ahead. So, before you just wanted to be good, if that makes sense, and be a good corporate citizen. Now you want to make sure you make your contribution towards the sustainability goals of your company, and you want to be ahead to make sure that your company is a first mover. I think organisations have certain challenges that we can help with from a Concur point of view.

ETTW: So, what kind of challenges companies are facing while achieving those goals? What can be possible solutions?

BP: So, first of all, customers have a lack of budget if that makes sense. They don’t have the money to respond to the challenge. They have a lack of employee engagement. Employees don’t see it as a big thing, which is wrong. It is a big thing, and we should respond. So, for employee engagement they need tools. You need a toolkit of things that you can use to be better. So, whether in our case an online booking tool, or a policy you need all these tools because you want to give your employee that flexibility and that adaptability, the right to book a hybrid car for example.

A recent survey conducted by SAP Concur has revealed that for 96 per cent of Indian businesses, sustainable travel is a key focus area while companies across India are excited to make their corporate travel programme sustainable and are turning to technology for help. Such business practices include the enablement of pre-trip approvals and the provision of sustainable travel and accommodation options for employees’ selection.

The right to choose an aeroplane that emits a small amount of CO2 versus a direct flight, for example, that it’s at a higher cost with more CO2. So, I guess when I think about the challenges, they are – budget, employee engagement tools, flexibility, and adaptability. From an Indian perspective, a lot of Indian customers have already started doing this. Our data says that 71 per cent of the customers in India have started becoming more sustainable. Starting is great, but we want them to do it and do it quicker. So about 38 per cent of the corporations have software in place, 33 per cent say they will acquire software very soon.

So, it gives me a lot of hope that customers are going to identify their challenges and have a way to respond to those challenges in the near term. And of course, the SAP Concur team wants to help. We want to make sure that they have smart travel choices to manage, and demonstrate their actions to their employees and overall, they mitigate their emissions. So, we make sure those challenges are solved with Concur solution.

ETTW: What’s the future of sustainable travel in India and what role technology is playing in enabling it?
BP: The future I believe is one that is outcome-focused, and the outcomes are the benefits that we’re after. In the old days, people just wanted to save money which isn’t bad because you should save money and be operationally efficient and technology does those things. What I see now as we come out of Covid in the Indian customers is that they want a business travel strategy that is sustainable that reduces the need to travel to improve operational performance, saves time and money through efficient travel policy and practices, reduces emissions so that you have better air quality or make a lesser impact on the climate and improve your organisation reputation because your organisation wants to be the one that is making the biggest positive impact leading by example.

So, I see a business travel strategy is moving away from purely a cost and control type narrative to one where we are making smart choices that make positive benefits, and to your point, the Indian customers are doing that and doing that very, very quickly. So, I kind of look at it and go, there’s a whole bunch of thought leadership that comes out of that. The Indian mindset is really one of ingenuity. They find a way to do good things right. And so that gives me a whole bunch of thought leadership.





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