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Planting the Seeds for Green Travel

Lufthansa, SAF’s largest buyer in Europe, recently integrated ‘Carbon Neutral’ features into its flight booking process, allowing customers to choose flights with SAF, contribute to climate protection projects or a combination of both options. The German airline group is improving its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

These are just two examples of many airlines that have invested in SAF as a strategy to reduce their initial emissions. American Airlines has invested significantly in 2021, and Delta has advanced with a commitment of 75 million gallons in March this year. Earlier this month, smaller players such as Finnair and Japan Airlines made long-term commitments to buy SAF.

On the lodging front, a number of initiatives led by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and others have worked to wrap sustainability standards around the housing industry. The structure of the industry, including the size of individual hotels and franchises, has made it challenging to find the right standards to apply and make purchases from owners and management firms.

The WTTC introduced its Sustainability Basic Standards in April as a ramp-up program for any hotel owner or operator to align their activities with efficiency-, emissions- and community-based standards that will lead them to a sustainable future. The program was designed for all types of accommodation, but with a special focus on features that in the past did not have access to an integrated plan.

“Sustainability is not negotiable but not every small hotel has access to the science of how to differentiate,” said CEO Julia Simpson. “It gives everyone access to a global standard.”

That same struggle hotel solution experts were looking for HRS solutions. Although the global chain has the resources and infrastructure needed to measure and report carbon emissions, HRS chief product officer Martin Bierman says data collection and auditing from countless independent hotels is problematic for the industry and travel managers.

Therefore, the company launched its Green Stay Initiative in March 2021, which uses a proprietary formula based on industrial approaches such as hotel carbon measurement initiatives and greenhouse gas protocols for hotel energy consumption, water use and waste disposal.

“It’s the traditional way [corporate travel] RFPs and procurement processes are by no means sufficient to meet future needs for environmental protection, ”Biermann said, explaining that GreenStay allows travel and procurement managers to compare Apple with Apple and ensure sustainable ratings comply with world-class standards.

Hotels in more than 75 countries have joined the initiative, including chains such as Marriott and Acre, and Bearman says interest is growing. So much so that an updated version of Green Stay will be released in the next few months. This will include new levels of evaluation for hotels and allow travel operators to customize hotel scorecards according to their own focus and areas of corporate goals.

On the ground transportation front, especially in Europe, many companies are pushing for short-distance travel on rail options, which has long been the leader in emissions. Outside the Northeast Corridor, which connects Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, the United States is clearly lagging behind with less efficient rail options.

That said, car rental players are digging deeper into their green strategies. Hertz made headlines last fall by announcing the purchase of 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles by the end of 2023. The company has also signed a related agreement with Uber to hire Rideshare drivers at a special rate, which will be reduced as more EVs arrive. The fleet car rental company entered into a similar partnership with Swedish EV maker Polyester in April to supply 65,000 cars over the next five years.

Hertz CEO Stephen Sher has identified corporate customers and Rideshare partners as the company’s main targets of the growing electric fleet, although Siemens’ North America travel manager Randall Ackerberg told CNBC earlier this month that Hertz could deliver volumes at this stage. “We’re not putting as much pressure as we want, because they’re not ready,” he said.

Hertz was not the only company making waves with the EV announcement. Following the former Tesla announcement, Joe Ferraro, CEO of Avis Budget Group, and Brian Choi, CFO, mentioned the inclusion of electric vehicles in the company’s November earnings call “at scale,” which sent the stock upward. As of June, the company had not yet released details of the strategy, but Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Oronka told CNBC that he would take the company “to his word” in the event of an upcoming rollout. The enterprise has been experimenting in space with a pilot who has been in Orlando since 2014 that continues to inform its new rollout.

Travel management partnerships pave the way for better results

Dennis Naguib, vice president of sustainability and supplier diversity at Marriott International, said there is a “higher awareness” about sustainable hotel operations among corporate clients who want to understand how sustainable practices are embedded throughout operations.

“Although we have been providing sustainable reporting to corporate clients for many years, we now have double-digit sustainability information requests since the epidemic began,” he said, adding that the group is working to run new sustainable practices across its portfolio and is “deeply aware” that effective Carbon reduction requires data access and greater cooperation.

Rohini Senguta, senior manager at United Airlines, Environmental Sustainability and Climate, agrees with the assessment, commenting on the number of corporate customers that demand consistency and transparency in emissions reporting. But, like Naguib, he said, real progress comes from partnerships.

“The strength of the alliance is actually going to shift this market,” he said, referring to the airline’s Ecosquis Alliance, which was created to “accelerate solutions that decommission aircraft” and counts among members of Salesforce, Microsoft and DHL. “Partnerships are important for leadership and action demonstration, especially when it comes to SAF or sustainable technology,” he said.

Katie Virtue, led by Festive Road Client Solutions, sees this kind of commitment to reducing emissions and developing partnerships in more companies than ever before the epidemic, and it is moving beyond dialogue.

“The conversation is shifting from awareness to implementation. Companies are now adjusting policy, approval processes and messaging with people, planets and objectives in mind… and are moving to automate decision-making with technology. ”

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