Speaking of sustainability

Glenn Thorsen of Thrust Carbon interviews Riccardo Gabriele Ricci, Alma Travel Sales Manager for Business Travel

It was a real honor for me to be invited by Win travel global network to talk about sustainability with Glenn Thorsen from Thrust Carbon. Below you can find part of the interview.

I recommend that you always remember that sustainability is not a cost but a choice.

Thanks,

Riccardo.

Q: Riccardo, you recently conducted a survey of travel buyers asking about Sustainability and their plans to incorporate it into their travel programmes. Where you surprised by some of the responses?

A: Hi John hi everyone nice to be here today

Yes a lot of responses if you consider that in Italy the road of sustainability has just started. We chose a panel of 350 companies with a similar size based on a balanced number of employees but an important figure is that 57% of companies interviewed counted over 500 total employees. In Italy companies with more than 500 employees are subject for law to present the Corporate Social Responsibility report every year. At the key question : “does Your company prepare an environmental report ?” only 24% answered Yes.  I honestly believe that if you don’t involve your employees in such an important subject, how can you define your company ESG target? If you want to achieve a goal focused on Social or Environment first of all you have to make your employees aware of the correct use of resources. This means that companies have to communicate in a more efficient way with their employees about their sustainability objectives .

However, it is important to understand what criteria are used to choose a TMC.

Although companies say that sustainability in business travel is very important (57% of respondents), in choosing a TMC they prefer the quality of service (64%) and price (50%). Attention to sustainability is less then 25%. So they think: “I don’t want to pay more for a sustainable TMC” but  they clearly  don’t understand  that they’ll pay the difference in carbon footprint compensation.

Sometimes a sustainable TMC is perceived as an elite company that sells services with high added value at an higher price than the market price. Here this is the first false myth to dispel. Sustainability is a choice. The supply of electricity from renewable sources doesn’t  represent a greater cost; it is not an higher cost to decide to reduce paper consumption in favor of digitalization; it is not a higher cost to allocate part of the profits to projects that can help people or the environment. There are only CHOICES.

Q: Looking at the results, will Alma Travel use some of the information to work with the customers and make suggestions on how their internal policies can change

A: Only few companies (28%) are able to quantify the carbon footprint for business travel and 60% declare that they don’t do it.

We sent a report with co2 emissions to our companies asking them to offset them. We promote joint ventures with our clients to finance social or environmental projects. But this is not  enough: in the future I would like to hold a competition for travelers and give a prize to the most virtuous. At the question: “would you pay more for a travel service if greener? “ They seem to have doubts about the real commitment to sustainability on the part of the TMC. In fact 82%, declared themselves willing to pay more but only if the supplier is really involved on sustainability. So the TMC have to do their part of work in achieving a full awareness on sustainability.

Q: Has Covid-19 made Italian Business Customers less focused on travel and therefore sustainability isn’t so important

A: To the question “How important do you think it is for a company or organization to be able to identify and communicate its significant impacts on the economy, the environment and society, 78 % answered that it is really very important.

However, it does not appear to be a priority for the whole of 2021 and few companies are planning new sustainable purchasing procedures. 47% expressed their intention to take action, but underlining that green purchases and practices are in fact not a priority for 2021. I do believe that this will be an error. Before the covid-19 we saw how green companies grew much more than others. When the economy restarts, green companies will have a significant competitive advantage and will grow even faster than in the past.

CREDITS www.travelforbusiness.it www.wintravel.org www.thrustcarbon.com
Riccardo Ricci

Riccardo Gabriele Ricci

Commercial manager for Business Travel at Alma Travel