BTS speaker Q&A: Horst Bayer

We found out a little more about Horst Bayer, founder of TravelHorst Sustainable Business Travel Consulting and chair of the Business Travel Working Group, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, ahead of his session on sustainability at the Business Travel Show later this month

Tell us a bit about your business.
After working for conglomerates as a travel manager in Germany and abroad, I founded TravelHorst with a vision that there is a world in which companies fully live up to their responsibilities and also act sustainably and responsibly in the travel industry, with respect for the resources of our planet, their employees and future generations.

Together with network partners, TravelHorst advises and supports companies in the development of sustainable travel management practices. We also support our clients in negotiations with selected internal and external partners and organisations to implement the action. We analyse an organisation’s business travel programme in terms of sustainability and create alternative proposals, set priorities, targets and success criteria.

The focus is on a sustainability business travel report based on the 17 SDGs of the United Nations and then transparently reviewing the company’s travel activities. Based on this report, the potential for change is identified and options for action are developed for the entire company (from leadership, employees and shareholders up to suppliers). This will enable an organisation to have future travel activities that are economically, ecologically and socially compatible and sensible. To facilitate the implementation of the goals and to promote awareness, we offer online training and workshops for your employees together with our network partners and conduct surveys on request.

Can business travel really be sustainable?
Sustainability is the concept of permanently sustainable development of the economic, ecological and social dimension of human existence. These three areas of sustainability, which are also called the three Ps – People (social), Planet (ecology) and Profit (economy), are equally important, interact with each other and require balanced coordination in the long term. Too many companies believe that the best practice solution is just compensating their CO2 emissions from business travel. Sustainability is much more than compensating a company’s air travel though. Before we think about compensating air travel, we must find ways to avoid unnecessary trips or replace air travel with more climate-friendly means of transportation. Sustainability is a journey and not an easy setup. It has many deliverables and milestones to reach. It takes a commitment from management.

Does sustainability have to come with the risk of increased costs?
Yes and no. If a train ticket is more expensive than traveling on an airplane, or if a non-stop flight is more expensive than a connecting flight then yes. If the trip can be avoided at all, then no. So it depends from case to case. In the end, a holistic approach to sustainability has been proven to be more cost effective. There are hidden costs to the environment, which sooner or later will be added to the total cost of travel. Carbon pricing is one example.

How can travel managers encourage more sustainable travel choices without impacting traveller wellbeing?
As mentioned earlier, travellers’ wellbeing as well as their safety and security is an essential part of a sustainable travel programme. The three areas of sustainability are equally important, interact with each other and require balanced coordination in the long-term. The social aspect pertains to the employee and society. Therefore, more sustainable travel choices shall not impact traveller wellbeing.

Why should Business Travel Show attendees carve out time for your session?
We can still limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; we just have to be serious. We should not miss this truly historic opportunity. We all can contribute to it, as individuals and as managers in the business travel industry. An organisation can start and limit business travel to the bare minimum. Technologies that make travel unnecessary is ubiquitous. It takes courage and a strong will to implement sustainability in business travel. Learn about best practices and what your company can do for a sustainable travel programme. Our youth is calling for action against the climate crisis. Now is the right time to start.

Bayer will be taking part in the session “The true win-win-win: How to save money, travellers’ health and the planet” on 27 February at 11:30. To register to attend the event, visit businesstravelshow.com/register

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