The implications of a change in business travel policy on the wider organisation and public policy

Roby, Helen (2011). The implications of a change in business travel policy on the wider organisation and public policy. In: UTSG, Annual Conference, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 5-7 Jan 2011, The Open University, Milton Keynes.



Business travel, although only accounting in the UK in 2008 for 3% of trips and 9% of the UK's domestic distance travelled (Department for Transport, 2009, pp28), form a higher proportion in major cities (15% of mileage in London), where transport networks are most congested. Additionally, business journeys can be time consuming and tiring for the business traveller, affecting work/life balance and productivity, and also costly for businesses and the economy. The carbon emissions from business travel are an important factor due to longer distances travelled and the high proportion of journeys undertaken by air. In some cases business travel can be as much as two thirds of an organisations total carbon emissions.

This paper reports the findings of a study designed to understand the motivations and attitudes of key actors in private sector organisations towards business travel. These motivations include:
• The increasing importance of business travel on business costs and productivity due to the recession
• Reductions in carbon emissions and the links to corporate responsibility
• The demands of customers to reduce carbon emissions through the procurement process
• The extent to which advancements in virtual communication technologies reduce the need to travel
• A greater awareness of the vulnerability of travellers and to business continuity highlighted by the volcanic ash cloud.

The insights into these causal factors and an understanding of the business practices that support, and barriers that hinder a reduction in business travel, are important in forecasting and developing public policy to produce a more holistic approach to managing personal travel, for both business travel and the commute. This paper will report some of these insights and discuss how a change in business travel policy can have extensive repercussions within an organisation, resulting in major impacts on business travel behaviour.

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