SAP Concur survey: sustainable travel a focus for 96 percent of Indian businesses

 A new study by SAP Concur, a provider for integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solutions, has found almost all businesses (96%) across India say their companies are actively considering sustainability when managing corporate travel.

This widespread determination to be environmentally sustainable has been revealed in new research released ahead of World Environment Day. The SAP Concur APAC Sustainability Survey was conducted by Consulting Group – Asia Insight, polling 648 senior and mid-level managers in corporate travel, finance, HR, procurement, and sustainability across Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea. There were 110 respondents from India.

According to the Air Transport Action Group, aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transport sources; and the World Resources Institute reported that business travel represents about 15% to 20% of global travel.

India commits to sustainable travel

Many companies have gone beyond articulating sustainability principles to putting things into practice through their corporate travel policies, driven by their leaders.

About 62% of the respondents said their “senior leadership” is driving the sustainability agenda for corporate travel. This group comes ahead of “employees” (58%), “those responsible for sustainability initiatives” (47%), and “those responsible for corporate travel” (46%).

The survey also suggested organisations are investing in sustainability outcomes. More than half of the Indian firms surveyed (52%) said they committed resources to championing sustainability. About 29% of the firms have someone who manages sustainability as part of their role, while 23% have dedicated personnel handling sustainability.

“The research findings were a significant departure from the pre-pandemic days where Indian organisations were more concerned about travel cost savings than the environmental impact of their actions,” said Matt Goss APAC SVP

“I believe that as flying time reduced, and emissions dropped during Covid-19 lock downs, organisations realised the possibilities of sustainable travel, and stakeholders became more motivated to take action. This shift of focus to bigger picture issues is a pivotal moment – not just for businesses to run better and be more profitable, but for more sustainable business practices to take root.”

Such business practices include the enablement of pre-trip approvals, and the provision of sustainable travel and accommodation options for employees’ selection.

Technology is key to overcoming implementation challenges

Despite that intention, businesses outlined a range of priorities for sustainable travel, based on their goals to:

  • Increase brand reputation (90%)
  • Have positive brand awareness and reputation externally (88%)
  • Increase operation efficiency (88%)

Other priorities include increasing brand equity (86%) and reducing costs (84%)

But challenges remain. Hurdles organisations faced in implementing a sustainable travel system included:

  • A lack of budget (41%)
  • A lack of professional tools to visualise environmental impact of travel (39%)
  • A lack of flexibility and adaptability of current policies (39%)
  • A lack of training or personnel knowledge on sustainability issues (36%)

Many Indian organisations (86%) already realise they need to harness technology to become sustainable effectively. About 52% currently have software in place to support corporate travel and expense management, while 34% plan to acquire such software “very soon”. About 83% of Indian respondents said they have good or excellent business travel data for their software to analyse.

“It’s clear from the study that organisations are brimming with interest and intent to embrace sustainable travel,” said Matt Goss APAC SVP. For those that lack implementation know-how, technology could point a way forward – in terms of helping guide employees to sustainable itinerary options, tracking emissions, and ultimately formulating more efficient and sustainable travel strategies. Firms should examine how these tools can support their broader sustainability goals.”

SAP Concur solutions aim to enable sustainable travel management to assist organisations make informed travel choices, track and manage results, and measurably demonstrate their actions’ impact to the environment. When complemented by SAP’s sustainability tools, organisations can be empowered to measure, manage, and mitigate emissions across their whole business.

The SAP Concur APAC Sustainable Business Travel Survey, conducted by Consulting Group – Asia Insight, covered senior and mid-level managers in Corporate Travel, Finance, HR, Procurement and Sustainability residing in Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. There were 648 respondents in total (slightly over 100 per market). Organisation headcount breakdown: 1,000 and above: 49%; 500-999: 25% and 100-499: 26%.

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