Minimising the downsides of regular travel

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Bolt consider the effect of travel on personal wellbeing and the environment. / Tom Barrett via Unsplash

While it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and have once in a lifetime experiences, the reality is that travel can take its toll on both our wellbeing and the environment. Industry experts examine how this can be ameliorated…

Jamie Clifton: Managing mental wellbeing

Travel is a major part of what we do in the marketing industry. We visit clients, attend and run events, find strategic partners and run projects in new locations. While travel is a privilege of the job, we tend to view it as a burden. This is often because of travel disruptions that cause you to be late for your meeting or you spend hours at the airport when you could be at the office.

This view comes down to not taking care of our wellbeing as travellers. Putting our wellbeing first can be the difference between a great or terrible trip. There are so many reasons why we don’t put ourselves first. We want to save money on tickets, prioritise work instead of rest and reach destinations in the quickest time possible. While we think we’re helping ourselves and the company, travelling this way can negatively impact our stress levels and productivity.

There are easy ways you can improve your wellbeing while travelling:

  1. Create a properly managed travel programme to ensure you know where, when and how you have to be at your destinations. Make sure you have alternative travel options in case you experience unexpected disruptions. If you’re travelling by air, choose times that work with you not against you. If you travel at 10 pm and have to be in the office the next morning, your productivity will be minimal.
  2. Apart from key meetings that can’t be missed, try keeping your laptop closed while travelling. Relaxing or sleeping during your journey will relieve your stress levels and make you more focused when returning to work. This is especially important during long-haul travel. If you have to work on your journey out, make sure you relax on your journey back. Not being jet-lagged when working a 60-80 hour week on your return will be beneficial.
  3. As well as our personal wellbeing, consider how we can improve the environmental wellbeing of our travel. Be smart about your travel and don’t make any unnecessary journeys. You can group events or meetings in a certain area into one day. Ensure that your meetings are done via technology where possible. You can utilise video conferencing and live webinars to prevent travelling to events. These solutions will reduce your carbon emissions and save you a great deal of time and money.

Travel is often unavoidable. We need to meet client requirements, network and conduct new projects in locations that require us to travel by car, rail or air. We still have a responsibility to ourselves and our environment to make travel as compassionate and considered as possible.

Rebecca Deadman: Managing environmental desires

Marketing, like any other industry, needs an overview of its travelling strategy. There are so many companies operating in a status quo because it is what they have always done. Travel is important to this and many other industries, but is all of it essential? We have to find a way to question ourselves and to map a new way that is sustainable for our planet.

I am currently putting together a lot of travel companies that I personally come into touch with and making a note of the materials, packaging that comes with them. Although I am pleased to see companies are beginning to change I can’t help but feel that it is not enough; while it’s a good bit of PR to declare that you are banning straws across all of your hotels, for example, what is the reality of that? What else are you doing? It feels as though we need to go further and do more. The travel industry currently aspires to be so glamorous and essential for business - perhaps if the bones were exposed a bit more we’d get people to approach it all differently.

Each company, no matter how small or large has to take responsibility for all aspects of their travel program. They should plan, prioritise, and organise it themselves. How many events are being attended? Is there an opportunity to do things differently and combine them, all in the name of sustainability? Partnerships are the way forward after all. Not only is this more sustainable, but it will save money too. It’s about using tech when it works and using the personal touch when it works; we should have enough data to understand this now .

New technologies that are revolutionizing the traveler experience led by BAA and IATA are ones to watch. The development of NDC and One Order will change the industry as much as moving from paper tickets to e tickets, next step – no tickets, no check-ins etc. This is where we should continue to focus our energies, but as it stands the booking process is being simplified for leisure which is in direct contrast with the corporate sector, which is painfully slow and falling behind. Tech can help but not with a full understanding of the legacy systems, and to make it better we need to communicate more. Aggregators, Suppliers and Clients. At Blue Cube Travel we call this a Triangle of Trust.

This article was first published in The Drum Network's print supplement. Members of The Drum Network receive and have the opportunity to write for our print magazine, which is distributed to other relevant members and brands in print and on our app.

Jamie Clifton, cofounder at Bolt and Rebecca Deadman, commercial director at Blue Cube Travel.

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