As the world moves towards sustainability, there is a spotlight on the Tourism and Travel sector, which is known to impact the environment significantly. The COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness to reduce pollution, manage waste better, and address other factors brought by climate change. However, after the prolonged lockdowns, the industry has bounced back, and Southeast Asia’s online travel market looks likely to reach USD 44 billion by 2025.

The increased global movement poses an environmental problem, and travel tech startups like Goodwings are stepping up to provide much-needed solutions. Goodwings is on a mission to deliver affordable and sustainable business travel by reducing worker emissions as they go from one location to another. The ultimate vision is to make the industry a positive force in addressing climate change.

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When business people book a hotel through Goodwings, the company uses the money to buy biofuel or Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on behalf of its clients. SAF is considered an alternative to fossil-based jet fuel and comes from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials like used cooking oil. Goodwings also finances nature-removal offset projects, such as funding reforestation efforts. Lastly, it helps with reporting by compiling downloadable emissions data and transaction reports.

Integrating sustainable approaches into business travel

Moving about for work is crucial for success. Companies must close deals to earn revenue and explore markets overseas or in distant areas within their country. Furthermore, their employees must network or meet face-to-face with suppliers and clients. Trips may involve events, conferences, company retreats, team building, training and education, client meetings, trade fairs, offshore work, and business meetings.  

Unfortunately, long-haul journeys for professional reasons negatively affect worker health and fitness, company expenditure, and the planet. Air travel, for example, contributes to global warming, with planes releasing greenhouse gases into the sky. A lot of food waste is accumulated on those trips as well.

Southeast Asia can follow the example set by Goodwings and introduce eco-friendly practices that can make work trips better and healthier for the individual and their environs. 

Here are a few ideas to consider:

Limit travel

When the COVID-19 crisis occurred, startup founders were initially concerned about being unable to go out and meet with their clients. Technology made a difference by providing video communication and collaboration tools. It enabled organisations to reassess the need for employees to be globe-trotting when they could meet remotely from the comfort of their offices. 

Collect and analyse data on company and employee tours

Big Data is helping startups collect and analyse information about their employees’ professional journeys. Insights may include expenses, behaviour monitoring, greenhouse gas release, carbon credit calculations, and more. By reducing expenditures, founders can make data-driven decisions to protect their cash flow and budget. 

Make eco-friendly accommodation and transport choices

No matter the destination, employees can make an effort to go to hotels and homes using environmentally friendly solutions. They can choose to stay in buildings using sustainable raw materials, and the mode of transport can include electric cars and buses. Travellers can opt for electric trains over aeroplanes to get to wherever they  go.

Organise greener face-to-face meetings

Organisers should use a green mindset when setting up meetings  with clients. For example, visiting a location can be done by riding together in an electric bus. Staff should limit the use of paper and instead stick to electronic documents. Moreover, the food and water sourced for the event can be served without plastic containers and bottles.

Encourage eco-literacy and introduce beneficial policies

Organisations should make an effort to educate their people on safeguarding mother nature. Green upskilling ensures there is a concerted effort to train the workforce on their role in preventing pollution, not contributing to waste, using energy-efficient options, and choosing clients that are also green-conscious.

Suppliers and other companies connected to the organisation should use products, raw materials, and transportation that are healthy for the environment.

The role of Southeast Asian governments in sustainable business travel

Finally, government policies can significantly contribute to sustainable business travel by improving the infrastructure, changing regulations to suit a green economy, and funding innovation in the travel and tourism sector. Furthermore, they can facilitate startup transition to sustainability through subsidies and financial grants.

Additionally, there should be extensive research and seminars to gather information from the public and stakeholders on how to visit other areas without harming the planet. More effort is also necessary to obtain alternative fuels for aeroplanes and cars or build more charging ports to encourage more electric vehicle ownership.

The surge in trips in Southeast Asia is inevitable as the world opens up again after the pandemic and countries like the USA and China end their restrictions. Travel tech startups like Goodwings are playing their part in saving the planet one transaction at a time, and the rest of the population should help.