How to Incorporate Sustainability into your Business Travel Policy

5 min read

Business Travel is often the main source of an organisations Scope 3 carbon emissions and has a significant impact on delivery of your sustainability targets and goals. Travelling for business cannot always be avoided and, in some cases, provides more value as a way of building relationships and exchanging ideas than a video call.

Therefore, a Travel Policy focusing on Sustainability can be a valuable asset to your business to provide influence on your carbon footprint and, at the same time, support your employee’s well-being when travelling for business. In fact, putting the well-being of your travellers as your main policy priority should have a positive trickle- down impact on your Sustainability efforts. 

The key fundamentals of a Sustainable Travel policy are: 

  • Communication 
  • Reduction 
  • Traveller Well-Being 
  • Choice and Responsibility 


Make sure that your travellers always have easy access to your travel policy and advise travellers and bookers of any key changes made to it. Provide details on why the policy has been amended and the benefits of any change. Within your travel policy document include some high-level target numbers such as how much you want to reduce travel by in the year ahead and what impact that would have on reducing emissions etc. 


Reducing the amount of Scope 3 emissions for your organisation can be achieved by reducing the number of trips undertaken and/or encouraging employees to make more sustainable travel choices. Consider adding the following to your travel policy: 

  • Strongly discourage, or limit, the number of 1- or 2-day trips that your employees make. 

Encourage combining multiple trips into one trip of a longer duration. Emissions will be reduced, it increases productivity, and overall, it will reduce the amount of time an employee is away from home. Good for their well-being and reduces any duty of care risk for your organisation by having 1 trip to cover rather than multiple trips 

  • Consider using trains before planes for Domestic Trips 

Trains produce less CO2 emissions than planes, or cars, and as they normally service a city centre, they often negate the use of additional transport methods (taxis, car,) and therefore additional emissions, to get from the airport to the final destination 

  • Encourage use of direct flights where possible 
  • Promote use of newer aircraft types via the Online Booking tool 
  • Limit the number of employees on the same trip 
  • Encourage use of electric or hybrid car hire vehicles 
  • Encourage use of preferred sustainable suppliers 

Traveller Well-Being 

The majority of the “Reduction” section of your policy should automatically have a positive benefit for your travelling employees. Less trips equals more time at home. Direct flights are less hassle than having to transit etc. Consider adding other “well-being” elements to your travel policy such as: 

  • Discourage use of very early/late flights that mean people will have to travel to, or home from, airports at early/late hours of the day 
  • Allow people to extend their trip for leisure travel or “bleisure”. The traveller gets to really see a destination and its culture and they don’t have to take another separate trip to do so. 

Choice and Responsibility 

Travel policies rarely provide any benefit, financial or sustainable, if they are too draconian. You want travellers to be able to make quality, informed, choices from their travel options and to take responsibility for those choices. For example, you can allow someone to travel on indirect flights but, you ask them to provide a reason as to why and you can report on that reasoning. This information then shapes your future travel policies to ensure they provide the biggest sustainability and traveller well-being benefit. 

Creating a Sustainable Travel Policy should involve various people across your organisation from Finance, H.R, Procurement, Communication/Marketing and of course Travel Bookers and the travellers themselves. These stakeholders should meet regularly to review the policy, ensure it is still fit for purpose and, by analysing your travel spend/pattern reports, identify areas where the policy might need to be amended to ensure it’s as sustainable as possible. 

A sustainable travel policy will be a key tool in your goals to create a sustainable travel programme along with other elements such as Offsetting (where no other option is possible) and Co2 emission reporting.

All industries have both a moral and legal responsibility when it comes to environmental, social and economic impact. All stakeholders from investors, customers and employees through to local and global communities will continually assess the environmental and sustainable impact of your business and how your company treats your employees. Good Travel Management can assist you in ensuring the travel elements of your Sustainability strategy are robust and withstand the scrutiny of all stakeholders.