Egencia, EGA members tackle sustainable business travel

Working toward more sustainable business travel

By Wendy White, CMO of Egencia with special guest Alexandre Motta, CEO of Tour House

Egencia, EGA members tackle sustainable business travel

Our friends at Tour House offer customers corporate travel and event solutions — not unlike Egencia. That’s why we’ve made such great partners the last 10 years. As part of the Egencia Global Alliance (EGA), Tour House is Egencia’s local partner in Brazil and leads our EGA efforts across the region. I sat down with Tour House CEO Alexandre Motta to talk about our partnership.

Wendy White: This week Tour House is celebrating 10 years as our Brazil lead in the Egencia Global Alliance (EGA) — thank you! At Egencia we know our customers benefit every day from the network of local, expert companies and local supply options in EGA and from the great leadership you and your team bring to that program. But how has Tour House benefitted from being part of this important program?

Alexandra Motta: Wow, it is an amazing question. To tell you the truth, we cannot imagine our life without Egencia. Our partnership boosted Tour House’s position to another level in our local market, changed our mindset, and guided our company to another level in the Latin America (LATAM) region.

Egencia and Tour House celebrate 10 years of collaboration.

Egencia and Tour House celebrate 10 years of collaboration

During the last 10 years we’ve learned a lot and improved our processes. For me, the best benefit was learning from Egencia behavior. I would ask myself, “How does Egencia think?  How is Egencia moving forward? How does Egencia promote their governance, teamwork, and customer centricity?”

By asking these questions, I was able to learn how we could we improve our performance, increase our productivity and gain scale. Today we are operating with more control, efficiency, and simplicity. And at the end of the day, we can invest time and resources in developing solutions and new products for the entire LATAM region.

WW: At Egencia, we hear a lot more and more from our customers that they would like our assistance in building more sustainable business travel programs. This is an important emerging trend with corporate clients and to support it. What are you hearing from your customers across Brazil and Latin America about their focus on sustainability?

AM: We hear a lot of the same things you do, and that’s why I fully agree it is a global trend — the focus on sustainability is no different in our region. Here in Brazil and LATAM, we are having discussions with our clients every day about more sustainable travel programs.  Those discussions tend to focus on three big areas:

  • Green suppliers: Clients are interested in working with green-friendly suppliers who have real and measurable mitigation programs. Once these suppliers are identified, they often become priority suppliers. For some companies, we are noticing that this is more important than the price factor.
  • Carbon offset program: Many clients have an official program to mitigate their operation by purchasing carbon offset certificates.
  • Planting trees: Another initiative that is growing — pun intended — across our client base is a tree planting program. In collaboration with a social company, clients are creating programs in their companies to assist in reforestation.

WW: This week at the 2020 Business Travel Show (BTS) in London, Egencia announced we are collaborating with Tour House and our broader Egencia Global Alliance members, including Andromeda Viajes and Villa Tours, to support a tree planting exercise in Brazil. The goal is to offset the travel of all clients who visit us at the Egencia stand during BTS.

As part of Expedia Group, Egencia already operates as a carbon-neutral company, and our Egencia team has already committed to going swag free or only using sustainable materials for event giveaways. This tree planting exercise is a new venture for us as we think about how to further reduce the impact of our customer events. Last summer during the terrible fires in the Amazon, you and I spoke about the health of the important Amazon rainforest as the “lungs of the planet” and that inspired me to partner with you on this. Tell me more about your inspiration.

AM: Tour House and Egencia — we have the same vision. Pioneering is part of both of our DNA. So, let’s get straight to the point and get to work — or in this case, get to planting!

The Tour House group has had a long-standing environmental commitment. In 2007 we were the first agency in Brazil certified as offering a carbon offset program. For the past four years, we’ve been the official carbon offset agency for high-profile trade shows in our industry.

The 2019 Amazon fires have made us even more aware. We realized that we can make a difference and inspire others in the market, inspire new leaders, and inspire other companies from other business segments to do the same.

We were motivated to take action and to venture into an area that is so urgent and is fueled by people’s passion. It is a great pleasure to start another project with Egencia, and we look forward to attracting attention and building a more robust sustainability movement across the industry and with our mutual clients.

WW: Our joint tree planting program is not your only effort this year. Tour House began a program earlier this year called E-Trip Green Friday. Can you tell us more about that?

AM: Yes, good topic. In the face of so many environmental catastrophes, we had a strong feeling that we needed to do something different. In the lead up to the holiday, everyone was talking about Black Friday, but to us with that came this concept of and black and fire. When you think about what was happening at that time not only in the Amazon, but also in Australia, this concept of Black Friday for us did not sound good. No, no, no, we needed to send out a positive and productive message in the market for the people.

In September, E-Trip Green Friday was conceived. We launched the program in November and changed Black Friday to Green Friday. The idea was to promote conscious consumption by offsetting all the purchases during November with a tree planting.

We launched a campaign that was a challenge to the market, asking a large number of companies to participate. In the end, 14 companies from different areas of business across Brazil participated and the result was 8000m² (1,500 trees) planted in the Atlantic Forest.

In its first year Green Friday had great participants such as Air France KLM, Movida, Gol, and others. Today this new partnership with Egencia and our friends across the EGA countries comes at the best time, helping us transform E-Trip Green Friday into a global movement, with tourism being a pioneer in sustainability actions. It’s amazing!

WW: Alexandre, thank you and the team at Tour House for everything you do on behalf of Egencia clients and now on behalf of more sustainable travel programs!