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  • Nico Decurtins

10 Tips for Sustainable Sports travel

This Blog was first published by travel ctm in the UK.

Photo credit: IAB Travel


The hot topic of sustainability is seeing more sports organisations taking a leading role in not only addressing their own carbon footprint but recognising that they can have a much greater impact and reach through their supporters and supply chain. Sustainability has become an integral part of planning and corporate governance processes as sports organisations and individuals seek to slow the pace of climate change.

The challenge many sports organisations have is that they cannot simply reduce their travel; sporting calendars and event locations determine where they need to be, and this can vary each season. With traditional sports requiring individuals to be present to take part, sports organisations are often left wondering how they can create sustainable sports travel programmes. There are many opportunities that exist to contribute to the sustainability objectives of your organisation. Now is the time to review and refine your travel to meet the needs of a more sustainable future while maintaining the necessary travel activity. Here are some tips to help build sustainable sports travel programmes.


1. Consider the route and the category of travel

Non-stop (direct) flights tend to be better for the environment. They are shorter and use fewer resources, primarily due to fewer take-offs and landings. In addition to the environmental benefits, direct flights are less likely to cause traveller fatigue, ensuring your team or athletes are focused on their training and performance. When comparing quotations, it is worth noting that the age and size of the aircraft, type of engine, as well as the routing all play a key role in the carbon emissions. Your travel management company will be able to advise which is the “greener” choice. Most sports organisations have different categories of travel, some are easier to influence than others. Consider looking at your travel spend in different categories, your approach to business travel (your day-to-day travel that you undertake is probably very similar to any corporate organisation), whereas team or tournament travel may be quite different, look at where you can introduce some simple steps.


2. Greener on the ground

For your business travel, it’s worth asking a number of questions:

  • Do most travellers rent cars when they land at the airport.

  • Do you have policies around how many people must ride together to attend a meeting?

  • Do your preferred rental car providers offer a good selection of electronic or hybrid vehicles, at rates that fall into the parameters of your travel policy?

For team and supporter travel, understand the age and efficiency of the coaches you are using for your team/tournament travel. These are just some questions you should ask when developing an environmentally sustainable ground transportation policy.


3. Location, location, location

It’s worth considering the locations of your preferred hotel partners and meeting venues to align with these sustainable ground transport solutions. To improve public transport adoption, use your travel programme’s reporting tool to identify the most frequently booked hotels in your most visited destinations. Are those properties located along major public transit routes? Are they within walking distance of your offices or the locations of your top clients? Working with your TMC and hotel partners to make slight alterations to your preferred properties could significantly influence your company’s sustainability outcomes. Thinking about the location of the team accommodation and its proximity to both the event venue and airports can help reduce travel times as well as positively reduce coach and kit van miles.


4. Select green hotels

Sustainability in hotels was once limited to reusing your bath towel. These days, more and more hotel companies are embracing sustainability through innovative solutions such as green roof technology, automatic shut-off of lights and air-conditioning units, using local and on-site food sources, implementing water conservation programmes, and much more. Take a look at your preferred hotels and work with your TMC to make this a priority when selecting contracts.


5. Know the stats

Is your organisation using your TMC’s reporting to track and communicate progress towards sustainability initiatives? CTM’s customers have access to a wide range of services, including consolidated reporting that tracks CO2 emissions in a number of different ways:

  • By month

  • Per trip and per traveller

  • By service type (air/hotel/car)

  • By service provider

  • By fare class

Use these reports to set goals and track your progress and use them as fuel for travel policy modifications and supplier negotiations.


6. Travel that supports your organisation

We all understand the positive impact of business travel on our own performance and growth. By choosing to offset your travel programme’s carbon footprint you can positively contribute to a range of sustainability initiatives that support people, communities, and economies around the world. You can choose to offset carbon emissions created by air, hotel and car rental through environmental sustainability initiatives such as rainforest conservation, sustainable livelihood programmes, wildlife protection, and renewable energy – learn more about the positive contribution of carbon offset programmes here.


7. Reduce, reuse, recycle

As mentioned above, your company likely has some kind of corporate sustainability programme in place. This programme may encourage employees to reduce paper and plastic usage and recycle as much as possible. Extend those initiatives beyond the four walls of your offices to travellers while on the road. Promote the use of business-approved electronic and mobile services as an alternative to printing itineraries, presentations, etc. Encourage travellers to pack items such as reusable water bottles and toiletry items vs. using single-use, disposable products offered by the hotel or airline. You can even promote sustainability within your travel and expense programme by encouraging travellers to look for locally-owned dining options that support the use of locally sourced ingredients.


8. Update your travel policy

Chances are you’re already making some important travel policy updates to account for new risk management, health and safety requirements. This is an excellent time to simultaneously review your travel policy to enhance sustainability. Discuss your travel programme’s sustainability objectives and potential solutions with your CTM account manager and refine your travel programme to support business sustainability and employee wellbeing objectives.


9. Provide an incentive

Gamification is certainly a buzzword, and that’s because it works. Incentivising employees to make good travel decisions by collectively working towards a common goal can be a powerful tool to strengthen programme performance, engage your workforce, and help the environment. By weaving sustainable suppliers into your travel programme, you can encourage employees to travel sustainably while supporting your preferred supplier agreements for maximum commercial benefit. Encourage your entire team to participate in building and delivering on your travel programme’s sustainability objectives – encourage employees to vote for their preferred carbon offset project and utilise your travel programme data to communicate performance clearly and regularly against your sustainability goals.


10. Work together

Sustainability spans many areas of an organisation, such as operations, procurement, HR, corporate security, IT, marketing, and more. Working together on sustainability initiatives can be a great way to fortify those ever-important cross-departmental connections. You might need to rely on those connections for future travel programme initiatives. Opportunities such as this can help you demonstrate your travel programme’s significant value to the organisation.


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