SAP Concur survey: Sustainable travel a focus for 88 percent of Singapore businesses
Companies across Singapore are excited to make their corporate travel programme sustainable, and are turning to technology for help
[SINGAPORE, 22 SEPTEMBER 2022] – A new study by SAP Concur, a provider for integrated travel, expense, and invoice management solutions, has found almost nine in 10 businesses (88%) across Singapore saying their companies are actively considering sustainability when managing corporate travel.
This widespread determination to be environmentally sustainable has been revealed in the SAP Concur APAC Sustainability Survey, which was conducted by Consulting Group – Asia Insight. It polled 648 senior and mid-level managers in corporate travel, finance, HR, procurement, and sustainability across Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea. There were 107 respondents from Singapore.
According to the Air Transport Action Group, aviation is responsible for 12% of CO2 emissions from all transport sources; and the World Resources Institute reported that business travel represents about 15% to 20% of global travel.
Singapore commits to sustainable travel
In Singapore, the government has developed and started implementing the Green Plan 2030, a nation-wide movement to support individuals and organisations in Singapore in advancing Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development over the next 10 years, with an aim to achieve net zero emissions in the long-term.
Perhaps taking the cue from the Government, many companies here have gone beyond articulating sustainability principles to putting things into practice through their corporate travel policies, driven by their leaders.
About 53% of the respondents said their “senior leadership” is driving the sustainability agenda for corporate travel. This group comes ahead of “employees” (37%), “those responsible for sustainability initiatives” (45%), and “those responsible for corporate travel” (35%).
The survey also suggested organisations are investing in sustainability outcomes. More than half of the Singaporean firms surveyed (59%) said they committed resources to championing sustainability. About 32% of the firms have someone who manages sustainability as part of their role, while 27% have dedicated personnel handling sustainability.
“The research findings were a significant departure from the pre-pandemic days where Singapore organisations were more concerned about travel cost savings than the environmental impact of their actions,” said Dr Carl Jones, Managing Director, Southeast Asia at SAP Concur.
“I believe that as flying time reduced, and emissions dropped during Covid-19 lock downs, organisations realised the possibilities of sustainable travel, and stakeholders became more motivated to take action. This shift of focus to bigger picture issues is a pivotal moment – not just for businesses to run better and be more profitable, but for more sustainable business practices to take root.”
Such business practices include the enablement of pre-trip approvals, and the provision of sustainable travel and accommodation options for employees’ selection.
Technology is key to overcoming implementation challenges
Despite that intention, businesses outlined a range of priorities for sustainable travel, based on their goals to:
- Cut costs (62%)
- Increase operational efficiency (62%)
- Increase brand reputation (60%)
Other priorities include forging relationships with sustainable organisations (58%) and increasing positive brand awareness and reputation externally (58%).
But challenges remain. The greatest barrier to developing a more sustainable corporate travel program cited by respondents were:
- A lack of personal knowledge/training on sustainability issues (28%)
- A lack of professional tools to visualise the environmental impact of travel (21%)
- A lack of employee engagement (17%)
Many Singapore organisations (68%) already realise they need to harness technology to become sustainable effectively. About 28% currently have software in place to support corporate travel and expense management, while 40% plan to acquire such software “very soon”. About 57% of Singapore respondents said they have good or excellent business travel data for their software to analyse.
“It’s clear from the study that organisations are brimming with interest and intent to embrace sustainable travel,” said Dr Jones. “For those that lack implementation know-how, technology could point a way forward – in terms of helping guide employees to sustainable itinerary options, tracking emissions, and ultimately formulating more efficient and sustainable travel strategies. Firms should examine how these tools can support their broader sustainability goals.”
SAP Concur solutions aim to enable sustainable travel management and assist organisations in making informed travel choices, track and manage results, and measurably demonstrate their actions’ impact to the environment. When complemented by SAP’s sustainability tools, organisations can be empowered to measure, manage, and mitigate emissions across their whole business.
Key findings from the study can be found in the survey whitepaper.
The SAP Concur APAC Sustainable Business Travel Survey, conducted by Consulting Group – Asia Insight, covered senior and mid-level managers in Corporate Travel, Finance, HR, Procurement and Sustainability residing in Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. There were 648 respondents in total (slightly over 100 per market). Organisation headcount breakdown: 1,000 and above: 49%; 500-999: 25% and 100-499: 26%.