Forget cost and compliance, the new ECO framework from CWT Solutions is an example of how responsibility now has to be centre in our future travel mindset

    The coronavirus pandemic has certainly given the travel, transport and hospitality industries time to pause for thought. All had been rapidly expanding pre outbreak at a time that environmental and sustainability agendas where on the rise. Now, they can remerge in the ‘new normal’ with a revised outlook where cost and compliance are no longer the drivers of policy, but instead with a guarantee of responsibility.

    This not highlighted better than at CWT Solutions Group, the consulting arm of CWT , the B2B4E travel management platform, which has created a new responsible travel consulting framework to help companies look beyond compliance and cost management, and build more balanced travel programmes that also align with other important objectives.

    Its new ECO framework – short for Employee Wellbeing, Climate Impact and Organisational Performance – CWT Solutions Group aims to guide companies to design travel programmes that “advance their triple bottom line”. With this approach, business travel becomes an avenue through which companies can simultaneously create an engaged and motivated workforce, reduce their environmental impact, and manage costs more effectively, it says.

    Having piloted the ECO framework with a small group of clients and received extremely positive feedback, CWT Solutions Group is embedding this approach into its global consulting offer. Through the ECO framework it is layering employee wellbeing and environmental considerations onto its existing suite of consulting services which have previously focused primarily on objectives like increasing compliance and lowering costs.

    “Our aim is to help companies find the sweet spot between these different and sometimes conflicting priorities in their travel programmes – and we’re providing them with a roadmap to get there,” explains Richard Johnson, senior director, CWT Solutions Group.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly further focused customer priorities on employee safety and well- being. This has become an increasingly important priority for businesses over recent decades with a rise in international terrorism making security the prime reason, but the public health emergency has delivered more urgency in the need to redefine travel programmes. We must remember that traveller safety has to be at the heart of the process.

    There remains a state of uncertainty in the world right now. In many countries the first steps after lockdowns have been very tentative and concern is seemingly increasing that we may not yet have a hold on a global pandemic that has changed all of our lives. Every task we complete has some form of risk assessment, but right now risk management is front and foremost in our minds as we make simple decisions about leaving our home environment.

    In the ‘new normal’ it is now more than ever before, important – even perhaps essential – to put travellers at the heart of travel policies and know what’s important to them. Some travellers will have concerns about returning to business travel and understanding and addressing these concerns will be key to reigniting corporate travel in the post Covid-19 environment.

    The business travel sector has had years of experience in dealing with unplanned disruptions ranging from epidemics and volcanic eruptions to inclement weather and geopolitical unrest. They may not be on scale of the current unprecedented situation, but being prepared for unpredictable situations remains a key platform for making any travel programme effectively support duty of care obligations.

    In addition to developing proprietary tools to assess and improve the performance of travel programmes with respect to employee well-being and environmental impact, CWT Solutions Group has partnered with Atmosfair, an independent non-profit organisation specialised in making business travel greener, on a highly accurate and granular methodology to calculate CO2 emissions.