Understanding the development of business travel policies: reducing business travel, motivations and barriers

Roby, Helen (2014). Understanding the development of business travel policies: reducing business travel, motivations and barriers. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 69 pp. 20–35.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2014.08.022


Business travel accounted in the UK in 2010 for 3% of trips and 10% of the UK’s domestic distance travelled (Department for Transport, 2011, p. 4). However, it is an under researched area, even though in major cities, where transport networks are most congested, it forms a higher proportion of trips. The paper presents the findings of a study of changing business travel practices and policies affecting the briefcase traveller. The findings are drawn from semi-structured interviews with key actors in stakeholder and private sector organisations based predominately in London and a survey of 150 business travellers. The study was designed to understand the motivations and attitudes towards reducing business travel and the compromises that needed to be made to balance reducing carbon emissions and cost, whilst maintaining or improving productivity and meeting the requirements of the business.

The main findings show the approaches and implications of these approaches to reduce carbon emissions and costs, improve productivity and the impact of ICT. The findings show the importance of external reporting through the Carbon Reduction Commitment, the Carbon Disclosure Project and corporate responsibility reports as a motivator to develop new policies. The paper goes on to outline how some factors can be both barriers and motivations for change, such as customers insisting on meeting their suppliers face-to-face, but also requiring information on carbon emissions as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project. Individuals can also be both a barrier and a motivator to change. The role of existing travel and meeting habits and the view of some that travelling is a perk linked to status symbols have proved to be a hard barriers to overcome. However, a technically literate younger generation used to communicating virtually have challenged these practices.

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