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Amid climate debate, business leaders still expect business travel to rise in 2020

Amid climate debate, business leaders still expect business travel to rise in 2020

Neu-Isenburg, 27 December 2019

Companies’ employees will travel more frequently on business in the coming year. At the same time, though, the business sector is also looking to greener alternatives.

The climate debate is affecting business travel, with two-thirds of companies having already made adjustments in their travel policies as a result. Still, the number of business trips is expected to rise in 2020, say at least 61 percent of the CEOs and top managers surveyed by AirPlus International. About a third (36 percent) of respondents expect the number of business trips to remain unchanged, while just three percent forecast a decline. That is the result of a recent survey of more than 400 CEOs and managing directors from Germany, the United States, China, Italy, and France that was conducted by AirPlus International, a provider of solutions for day-to-day management of business travel. The main reason cited by business leaders for the further increase is general economic growth or business expansion. Among those who expect to see more business travel, 94 percent indicated that this was one reason for the increase. Eighty-three percent believe the trend will be driven by the increased importance of personal dialogue with customers, and just as many expect to see expansion into international markets.

Climate debate drives change in travel behavior

Despite the expected increase, climate action is an increasingly important factor in the business travel sector. “Grappling with climate protection and sustainability is no longer just nice to see among companies. It’s become an economic necessity – and that’s especially clear from business travel, of course,” says Yaël Klein, Executive Director of Marketing at AirPlus. For example, the number of trips would probably be even higher if not for the measures taken in this area. One-third of companies have already reduced the number of trips for that reason, and another 38 percent have plans to do so. Four out of ten have replaced air travel with trips by train or other modes of transportation with lower CO2 emissions, and another 41 percent are planning a shift of this kind. And yet, air travel remains important to many trips: 81 percent stated that they could not go without it. “Especially when it comes to long distances, air travel remains essential. Personal contact with customers, partners, or colleagues can’t be replaced entirely by videoconferences or similar solutions,” says Klein. In the same vein, four out of five respondents view meetings like these as crucial to their business.

Entire travel process goes sustainable

Protecting the environment is also an increasingly important factor when it comes to the trips themselves. Regardless of the specific means of transportation, 40 percent of those surveyed plan to compensate for CO2 emissions generated by their travel activities, and 36 percent have already taken steps to do so. AirPlus has also seen an increase in requests for CO2 reports for compensation purposes, Klein notes. There has also been positive feedback at AirPlus regarding the climate-neutral billing solutions the company has offered since back in 2012. Measures are in place to offset the CO2 emissions generated by the data centers, for example. Where there are still invoices on paper, they are now also being shifted gradually to electronic transmission. That already saves an additional 2.5 million printed pages a year as the first step, lowering CO2 emissions by 13.2 tons. “In this way, we are making it possible for our customers to take action to help the climate, not only during the travel itself, but also when it comes to billing,” Klein explains. Climate issues have an increasingly important impact on the entire company’s success, with two-thirds of the top managers surveyed indicating that climate change is of special interest to their business.

AirPlus surveyed a total of 424 top managers in Germany, the U.S., China, Italy, and France, including CEOs, CFOs, and heads of sales, for its survey on the development of business travel in 2020.

About AirPlus International:

AirPlus is a leading international provider of solutions for the daily management of business travel. 50,000 corporate customers rely on AirPlus for the payment and analysis of their business trips. The products and services are marketed worldwide under the AirPlus International brand. The AirPlus Company Account is the most successful billing account within the UATP. More information is available online at

Contact AirPlus International:
Marcell Haag
AirPlus International
Phone: +49(0)6102 204-6350

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