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APAC organizations put sustainability goals into practice

by Helen J. Wolf
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A new survey from SAP Concur finds that nearly nine in 10 companies (86%) in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) say their companies are actively thinking about sustainability when managing business travel.

Consulting Group- Asia Insight conducted the SAP Concur APAC Sustainability Survey, which included 648 senior and mid-level executives in business travel, finance, HR, procurement, and sustainability.

According to the research, many companies have gone beyond formulating sustainability principles to put things into practice through their corporate travel policies, driven by their leaders.

About 56% of respondents said their “senior leadership; is the driving force behind the corporate travel sustainability agenda. This group is ahead of ’employees’ (47%), ‘responsible for sustainability initiatives’ (47%), and ‘responsible for business travel’ (41%).

APAC

The research also suggested that organizations invest in sustainability outcomes. More than half of the APAC companies surveyed said they are deploying resources to promote sustainability.

About 34% of companies have someone who manages sustainability as part of their job role, while 21% have a dedicated staff dedicated to sustainability.

Matthew Goss, senior vice president and general manager of SAP Concur Asia-Pacific and Greater China, said: “The survey results were a significant departure from the pre-pandemic era when organizations in Asia-Pacific were more concerned about savings in travel costs than about the environmental impact of their actions.

“I believe that as flight time shortened and emissions dropped during COVID-19 lockdowns, organizations realized the possibilities of sustainable travel and motivated stakeholders to take action. This shift in focus to bigger issues is a pivotal moment — not just for businesses to function better and be more profitable, but for more sustainable business practices to take root.”

Such business practices include enabling pre-travel approvals and providing sustainable travel and lodging options for employee selection.

Despite that intent, companies outlined a series of sustainable travel priorities based on their goals:

Increase operational efficiency (70%) Have positive brand awareness and external reputation (67%) Reduce costs (66%)

Some companies also believed that sustainable travel policies could become a differentiator in attracting new talent in a competitive market (63%). However, challenges remain.

According to the survey, the hurdles organizations faced when implementing a sustainable travel system were:

A lack of budget (37%) A lack of employee engagement (32%) A lack of professional tools to visualize the environmental impact of travel (31%) A lack of policy flexibility and adaptability (31%)

Many APAC organizations (71%) already realize that they need to use technology to become effectively sustainable. Approximately 38% currently have software to support business travel and expense management, while 33% plan to acquire such software “very soon”.

About 60% of APAC respondents said they have good or excellent business travel data that their software can analyze. Trains and electric vehicles (EVs) are more sustainable modes of travel than airplanes in terms of CO2 emissions per passenger.

The research results suggest that, despite countries in the APAC region being separated from each other by water, such modes of transport will grow here in the coming years:

SAP Concur states there is awareness, with approximately 81% of respondents saying they know that rail travel is more sustainable than air travel. Where train travel applies, more than three-quarters (76%) of respondents are willing to transfer from plane to train for at least 20% of existing journeys.

Regarding incentives for sustainability, about 65% of respondents said they currently reimburse employees for charging electric cars; another 16% plan to do so ‘very soon’.

Goss: “The research clearly shows that organizations are full of interest and intentions to embrace sustainable travel.

“For those lacking in implementation knowledge, technology can show a way forward – ielphelpingloyees move towards sustainable travel rptioptionsacking emissions, and ultimately formulating more efficient and sustainable travel strategies. Companies must explore how these tools can support their broader sustainability goals.”

SAP Concur states that the company’s solutions aim to enable sustainable travel management to help organizations make informed travel choices, track and manage outcomes, and measurably demonstrate the impact of their actions on the environment.

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