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Buying business travel services: Roadmap to sustainable procurement for travel buyers

20th March 2015

Buying business travel services - Roadmap to sustainable procurement - Flightline Travel agentsSustainable procurement is not a simple issue to address – especially when it comes to buying business travel services. Undoubtedly, business travel plays an integral part in building and maintaining robust relationships with clients and business partners. However, business travel often is the largest generator of carbon emissions, especially for organisations within the professional services industry. For example, 67% of PWC’s carbon footprint was related to business travel with air travel accounting 58% of the organisations total emissions in 2014. Considering these figures, it is no surprise the organisation has made sustainability initiatives a key priority to minimise the effects of business travel to their wider environment –  they are not the only ones. A recent GBTA study (conducted by the GBTA Foundation) on sustainability in corporate travel management programmes confirmed 57% of European-based companies have integrated sustainability initiatives into their business travel policy. But, sustainability in business travel is not only about greener travel or minimising your carbon footprint, it is more about how we can ensure sustainability is effectively implemented in business travel procurement. Here we share 7 key points to consider for a successful sustainable corporate travel procurement programme.

1. Understanding sustainable procurement 

Most procurement professionals would agree sustainable procurement of business travel services requires much more than solely the compliance with carbon emissions reporting requirements. In fact, companies should take a holistic approach by managing the costs and addressing the wider environmental and social consequences of different modes of business travel as well as the impact of how goods, services and utilities are purchased. Thus sustainable procurement essentially involves the adoption of viable working policies and practices, whilst engaging the supply chain beyond economic factors such as the purchasing price or volumes. A well-executed sustainable procurement programme can deliver a number of key benefits to your business, such as the reduction of waste while improving resource efficiency, the creation of markets for new products and services, the enhancement of your corporate image in the marketplace, the reduction of business travel related cost and the minimisation of risks. Unfortunately, many corporate travel procurement efforts are still concentrated on cost reduction, especially when the financial side of things gets tough. However, a solid sustainable approach to business travel procurement should be built on long-term objectives. The procurement policy should not only benefit your company during financial highs but also through the harder times without needing to make cut backs if originally well implemented. Introducing sound sustainable procurement practices does not need to be complicated: In fact, you should keep it simple, but effective. So, how can you achieve this goal?

2.  The business travel procurement cycle
Make sure you fully understand the business travel procurement cycle for your company, including the following: understand needs, markets and commodities, develop your strategy, pre-procurement assessment, develop the relevant documents, select suppliers for your business travel tender, issue the ITT/RFP, contract award, programme implementation, contract performance, SRM & SC management, and also asset management. You can use these points as a basic roadmap to assist you in the successful launch of your sustainable procurement programme, making sure your programme stands on solid ground.

3. The Big Picture
Many companies logically follow through each step of the business travel procurement cycle, but may not really see the big picture. How it does all come together? Whether you are buying business travel services other products, services or utilities, both factors are vital to be clear, structured and consistent, and thus to be successful in the short- and long-run with sustainable procurement initiatives.

4. The support from internal stakeholders
Make sure you also build strong relationships with other departments in your company, such as those responsible for climate change and sustainability, supplier management and corporate social responsibility. This way you can align your programme within your organisation, gaining further support, which makes it more effective and powerful.

4. The number of suppliers and how to engage with them
Focus on your key suppliers instead of lots of organisations. This will provide you with more time to spend more effectively when engaging with your business travel suppliers. This also includes making them aware of your sustainable procurement programme and informing them of what is in it for them. This way you strengthen the programme further through more support, even from outside your company. However, your programme will not be as effective if you lack internal support. It is a crucial point as previously mentioned.

5. On-going performance measurement & review
A key point is to track the success of the sustainable procurement programme from the very beginning. For example, set up quarterly reviews to get an overview of quantitative and qualitative results showing you where you are and measure them against your goals to see where you need to get to. This will amongst others also help you to stay focused and progress in line with your key points of the programme. Business travel companies, like Flightline Travel Management, can advise and provide you with powerful reporting solutions delivering the insight you need to assess and optimise your travel programme performance.

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
In order to keep this all up and running, as well as not lose any support from outside or inside, keep up dialogues with your suppliers and internal supporting sections. You will need to repeatedly prove the value to your stakeholders and what is in it for them in order to avoid them losing interest. You could do this on regular scheduled or special meetings when presenting an overview on how you are doing, what they contributed and what needs to be done to successfully continue the programme.

Read more articles: 

11 steps for improving business intelligence & performance measurement in travel programme management

Flightline Travel: Delivering sustainable travel management programmes and superior business travel services

Being one of the UK’s leading independent business travel agents, Flightline Travel Management delivers superior travel booking services and tailored business travel management solutions, whilst providing your company with additional information and support for your sustainable procurement programmes when buying business travel services. Find out more and contact us on 018442990174 or enquire online about any other type of support for your business travellers.

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