Sustainability is at the top of organizations’ agendas today. According to a report from United Nations Climate Change, the number of businesses and local governments committed to reaching net-zero emissions doubled in less than a year. The majority aims to achieve a zero-carbon economy by 2050 as part of the UN Race to Zero Campaign. 

As part of our efforts to help clients realize their sustainability goals and protect global communities, American Express Global Business Travel recently became a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) – a strategic partnership that will bring more transparency and ease to the process of booking sustainable hotels.

What is the GSTC?

The GSTC is a nonprofit organization created jointly by United Nations agencies and prominent conservation organizations to establish and manage global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria.

The Criteria are organized around four main themes: effective sustainability planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts to the environment.

As the global authority on quality sustainable tourism standards, the GSTC engages with a worldwide network of members – from leading tour operators and international hospitality brands to government organizations and national tourism boards.

How will GBT support the GSTC?

By becoming a GSTC member, GBT will actively promote the widespread adoption of the organization’s sustainable tourism principles and drive demand for more responsible activities and experiences.

During the initial phase of our partnership with GSTC, we will highlight hotels and other accommodation partners as “sustainable” that meet GSTC’s standards or, even better, are certified by a GSTC-accredited certification body. This information will be available to corporate buyers who are supported by GBC in their hotel sourcing exercise. In the future, GSTC analytics will be incorporated into our booking processes to enable travelers to identify and select qualified accommodation partners.

GBT employees globally will also have access to educational videos and webinars hosted by GSTC to provide knowledge of sustainability topics relevant for the travel and tourism industry.

Through our global outreach and plans to drive sustainability in buyers and travelers’ contracting/booking decisions, GBT is well positioned to spur the adoption of sustainable hotels together with GSTC. With millions of room nights booked annually through GBT, our clients’ impact on the environment and within the industry could be massive.

In addition to our collaboration with GSTC, GBT has several other initiatives that can help our clients and travelers make greener accommodation decisions with our sustainability framework:

  • Track & Report. To enable our clients to analyze, track, and report carbon emissions by hotel chain and develop sustainable strategies based on this data, last year, we added hotel emission metrics to our proprietary solution Insights.
  • Procure Green. GBT has teamed up with travel and transient sourcing technology provider Cvent to create a new set of sourcing questions that standardize and increase the availability of sustainability data shared by hotels and other venues. Developed by our consulting arm, Global Business Consulting (GBC), and Cvent, the new questions will make it simpler for organizations to evaluate hotels’ sustainability standards.
  • Influence Choice. We also strive to influence better travel choices by making it easier for travelers to identify suppliers that have sustainable practices in place. Our online booking and expense tool, Neo™, can now be configured to display a green badge next to hotel content that meets a client’s environmental standards and criteria, allowing travelers to easily find and choose sustainable lodging options.

GBT is delighted to become a GSTC member and champion its superior standards for sustainable travel.

“Sustainability is a top priority for our clients – as it is for GBT too,” said Si-Yeon Kim, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer and Executive Chair of Environmental, Social, Governance at GBT. “By spotlighting suppliers that meet GSTC’s Criteria and steering travelers toward greener choices, we are empowering our clients to make buying decisions that can help preserve this world and create a better reality for future generations to come.”

To learn more about GSTC and its mission, click here.

And to find out more about what GBT is doing to help protect our global community, check out our ESG report.