Companies turning to green business travel

May 20, 2014 |

In today’s technology-driven world, it was inevitable that business travel would “go green” and virtual meetings would soon reign supreme. According to the New York Times, businessmen are now able to have meetings in multiple countries on different continents without leaving their desks thanks to the growing virtual trend.

Digital conferences technologies including Skype, Lync and Polycom are helping to reduce the number of miles employees must travel to attend meetings. The source reported that Microsoft was able to reduce travel in its field offices by 59 million miles in the fiscal year 2013.

“After all, the greenest business trip is the one you don’t take,” GreenBiz Group Inc., founder and executive editor Joel Makower told the Times. “Most companies understand that. But it’s hard to pull off. Despite the great technology advances, there’s still no substitute for face to face and sharing a meal and a handshake.”

Although some trips are necessary and can’t be replaced by virtual ones, going green is expected to remain a priority for companies interested in cutting costs while also reducing their carbon footprint. The source reported that companies are also turning to more eco-friendly strategies in order to appear attractive to the younger generation that finds sustainability more desirable.

“It’s one of these things that is embedded in corporate travel departments and facility management these days,” Makower told the source. “Environmental responsibility is part of how you do business.”

Airlines are reportedly doing what they can to showcase a dedication to the environment, even though there is no green standard that can make it more difficult to become environmentally-friendly. According to the Times, corporations are working to make travel programs more sustainable in the air, automobiles and hotels.

Microsoft, for example, has a carbon fee program it uses to encourage responsible travel by employees. The Times reported that internal departments are charged for emissions related to business travel and the fees are then used to make green energy purchases.

A survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that more than half of the international companies that responded said they are giving more attention to green business travel efforts.

Hotels go green
Many of the country’s hotels are going green and becoming more eco-friendly as well. According to GBTA, hotel and casino operators in Las Vegas are putting forth efforts to be more sustainable, save energy and water, and reduce carbon emissions.

Many of these hotels are going green because of the multiple business travelers and company meetings that are held in the city each year. The source said every major hotelier, including Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood, has not only become more energy and water efficient, but organized what are called “green teams” to help continue to reduce carbon emissions and waste, GBTA reported.