The top business travel trends for 2021

Earlier this week, our industry partner American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) hosted a webinar on the travel trends for the year ahead for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. They revealed 7 upcoming trends: air corridors, new rules for sourcing hotel programs, technology and more personalised ground travel options, sustainability, traveller and employee wellbeing, strengthening travel engagement and updated policies for the new travel landscape. Perhaps unsurprisingly as a result of the coronavirus health crisis, digital health wallets and air corridors were voted as the trend most likely to dominate the business travel industry by the attendees of the webinar. Employee well-being, updated policies and sustainability also received major percentages of the vote.

Employee wellbeing is the third of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages”). Sustainability is not only about capping emissions; it is also about sustaining individual health and wellbeing which can be helped by implementing a supportive company culture. At FGA, employee wellbeing is one of our core values – read our article published on International Woman’s Day on why happier employees are more resilient at work. No longer an optional nice-to-have benefit, a preventative approach to mental and physical health leapt to the forefront of company priorities when the pandemic led to a wave of psychological distress. At FGA, we support and mentor our employees’ career development and actively encourage flexible working. GBT also highlights several ways in which you can help safeguard your travelling employees’ wellbeing.

Covid-19 has caused significant changes to how people travel, how often they travel and where they go. Remote working has become much more common, with virtual communication proving that travel is not completely essential for collaboration and productivity. Face-to-face meetings and events will eventually return in the longer-term but never to the same degree, with face-to-face technology compensating where travel is not considered essential.  With health and safety having become a major concern, businesses will have to update their travel policies to take new risks into account. This may take the shape of tighter travel approval processes and speaking to reservation agents or consultants before booking a trip. We are working on making the travel policies also sustainable.

With less than 10 years left to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement emissions targets, the pandemic has offered the opportunity for many companies to review their business travel policies by making sustainability a priority.  Limiting greenhouse gas emissions from business travel is important to reducing a company’s overall carbon footprint, as well as integrating offsetting and sustainable aviation fuel. Get in touch with to discuss how our FGA Travel Smart™ can help your company meet its carbon neutral commitments.

Happy IWD 2021 from the FGA ladies and baby!

For International Women’s Day 2021 we want to introduce you to some research and findings which we hope will support the workplace going forward. We tend to look to the positive and see that amongst the stress the pandemic has brought, it has also brought new ideas, is reshaping working policies, increased environmental awareness, changed our ways of living and also changed the way we relate to each other. So what can we learn from this time? And what should we keep in place going forward?

The pandemic has now accelerated the growing trend for flexible working contracts, with positive effects on the mental health of employees. The recent Forever Flex report states that 34% of employers reported increased productivity from flexible working during lockdown and the same percentage also reported improved employee wellbeing and happiness. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of mental well-being in the working world, but it can also be used as an opportunity for businesses to transition to genuine flexible-working cultures. Flexible working can lead to a better work-life balance, which leads to better mental health and in turn greater productivity. It also means that there is flexibility to do the school run and to fit work in around your lifestyle and routine rather than the usual rush to fit everything in to a standard office-based 9-5 working day. A workplace which puts an emphasis on empathy and flexibility can not only retain female employees but could also allow them to fulfil their potential to a higher degree in the long-term.

Emotional wellness/’emotional fitness’ is essential for thriving during times of stress both in work and in life and it can be improved by cultivating resilience, optimism, an inner sense of control, assertiveness and self-efficacy. These are all competencies which can be learnt. In the recently conducted study Employee Engagement Is Less Dependent On Managers Than You Think, Forbes found that increasing an employee’s level of optimism improved their inspiration at work by 30%, compared to 21% when the employee’s accomplishments were recognised by their employer. A report by WISE showed that diminishing self-confidence was a barrier to senior female professionals returning to work, but that these barriers could be in part counteracted with motivation and personal attitude.  Related to building confidence is making sure you are surrounded by supporters and this we read yesterday is actually a science. This Ted article explains more about how to build your nervous system and this allows us to take criticism and handle stress better. The article mentions “We also regulate each other with words — a kind word may calm you, like when a friend gives you a compliment at the end of a hard day. And a hateful word may cause your brain to predict threat and flood your bloodstream with hormones, squandering precious resources from your body budget”. The concept of a body budget is an interesting one and shows that we have a certain capacity to handle people and take situations, you can increase or decrease that if you follow some advice from the article, increasing your capacity strengthens self confidence. The pandemic has been an ideal time to experiment with what we can take and to test what makes us feel better/worse. By now we all know ourselves pretty well!

At FGA, we happen to have a majority female team led by female startup founder and CEO Sarah Wilkin, which as you can see from the photo above we are happy to have. We’re also pleased that 2 of our team members are Mums looking to stay engaged while bringing up their children, which is a full time job, but as smart ladies they both want to stay sharp and stay well read. A big reason we support this is due to the findings of this PwC report from 2016 which showed that women who take career-breaks face greater obstacles when returning to the labour market and often end up working below their potential in lower-skilled positions. In the long-term this significantly impacts the earnings and career progression of professional women in senior roles, as well as gains to the economy. Women mainly take career breaks for family reasons, and the unequal burden of housework and child-rearing combined with a lack of flexible working opportunities creates a logistical barrier to return to work. Before the pandemic, this research suggested that this could be remedied partly through employers reassessing the candidate’s potential and returnship schemes, but also through more part-time and flexible professional roles becoming available. During the pandemic there has been what is termed ‘shecession’ as more women than men have exited the labour market since the start. By the end of 2021, this could take back years of progress towards gender diversity in the workforce and stunt economic growth.

At FGA we support and mentor the career development of our employees and actively encourage flexible working and shared parenting between men and women, and by following brilliant start ups such as Project Fearless. Personal and professional development is one of our core values and we make sure our team are cared for and upskilled to take on the most challenging times!

Happy IWD 2021 from the FGA Team!


FGA Travel Smart works toward Aviation’s Destination 2050 net zero plans

After yesterday’s announcement by the civil aviation sector it was concluded that an agreed list of measures will be taken to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 including:

  • Reduction of demand – 12%
  • Sustainable aviation fuel – 34%
  • Improved air traffic management – 6%
  • Carbon removal – 8% (sinks, sequestration)
  • Fleet update – 37%
  • Market measures – CORSIA, offsets, corporate programmes – 8%

Presented by a strong stakeholder group: Airlines for Europe (A4E)Airports Council International (Europe) – ACI EUROPE , CANSOEuropean Regions Airline AssociationNLR – Netherlands Aerospace Centre

Sarah Wilkin, founder and CEO, of FGA asked during the presentation session and panel discussion on behalf of Fly Green Alliance (FGA):

Do you plan to collaborate with organisations working on how to integrate sustainable travel in to carbon neutral plans? If so how do you propose organisations reach out to do this?

Olivier Jankovec took the question and discussed that the aviation industry will look to expand the stakeholder group to support the net zero commitments which will include the travel and tourism sectors.

At FGA we have set up our programme FGA Travel Smart to work towards the goals of the aviation industry as featured in the BTN site here 9th February 2021 and is shown here below and our own personal ambitions as discussed at the Business Travel Association event in February 4th 2020. The industry is making great leaps to progress building back back.

Business Travel News:

“Several years ago airline organisation IATA suggested that annual global passenger numbers would double, to 7.8 billion, by 2036. In 2020, however, international passenger demand fell by 75 per cent and domestic demand by nearly half.

Covid-19 has rocked global aviation and even the most optimistic observers do not expect ‘normal’ levels to return for three to five years. And what of that prediction for 2036? Right now, it’s difficult to envisage that.

The pandemic has changed our attitudes not only to the way in which we do business, but also towards sustainability and, as air travel recovers, suppliers and corporates alike will build back greener.

For businesses this means reducing travel volumes, carbon counting and offsetting our impact. For suppliers it means developing and adopting more efficient technology and innovating like never before.

It’s very much understood that we won’t all be going back to the office in the same way and that remote working and videoconferencing will, on the whole, remain in some form to help reduce costs and support home/work balance.

I’m sure most of us miss travel right now and don’t want overseas holidays and work trips to be a thing of the past. We also miss the connection of face-to-face meetings, so how can we do business, build back better and hit emissions targets in our new world?

Aviation is one of the most difficult industries to decarbonise and reduce emissions. It needs collaboration and partnerships to bring solutions to the table. It is our role at FGA to foster such relationships and also to work with organisations to help them develop sustainable travel policies.

Simple first steps should include:
• Shifting more journeys from air to rail travel where possible
• Considering whether trips are truly essential before they are approved
• Continuing to use videoconferencing even when the world opens up again
• Implement permanent remote working policies and set-ups
• Purchasing sustainable aviation fuel offsets or credits

Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) are one of a basket of measures approved and agreed upon by ICAO, European member states, IATA and other leading bodies and experts in the sector.

Last year, in fact, SAF producer Neste delivered renewable jet fuel to Zurich Airport during the World Economic Forum in Davos, enabling business jets flying in and out of the airport to blend it with fossil jet fuel, compared with which it has an 80 per cent smaller carbon footprint.

However, from our own research we found only half of travel managers know what sustainable aviation fuels are and, according to our research partner Ipsos Mori, the figure is only 30 per cent among the general public. Clearly there is a need for education on this front.

On a more positive note, we are engaging with increasingly more travel management companies, corporates and their travellers, among whom interest in sustainable travel is rapidly growing. TMCs are committed to providing innovative tools to help clients confront their environmental responsibilities.

We must all play a part in making business travel less harmful to the environment, whether we are a supplier, buyer or intermediary. Our role is to grow awareness, stimulate interest and facilitate conversations and partnerships that facilitate greener travel. We hope you’ll join us on that journey.”

The recording of Destination 2050 can be found online here.

FGA at the United Nations

One year ago, FGA was at the United Nations discussing our work and talking about collaboration:

Prince Harry, Booking.comSkyscanner,Visa and TripAdvisor announced work towards sustainable travel the same week. Fly Green Alliance  introduced the Travalyst initiative at the United Nations SDG Lab event, asking if industry and the tourism sector was being consulted in regards to climate action and conservation work.

After some discussion the closing remarks mentioned that all stakeholders should be consulted including new ones, when it comes to climate action work and an open approach should be taken. the R&D project we are developing at University of Amsterdam is part of work towards sustainable travel through innovation of waste to sustainable aviation fuel.


View Travalyst online.

Sarah Wilkin at Palais des Nations

Green Aviation in 21st century Europe

The EU Green Week took place virtually last week, on the theme of preserving global biodiversity and nature. The panels featured renowned policy makers and scientists in a series of short and engaging talks discussing how tackling biodiversity loss could help increase the future well-being of our societies, by mitigating the impacts of climate change and the devastating effects of pandemics.

The importance of decoupling future economic activity and future human well-being from our natural resource use was mentioned. Two key points stood out to us – first, that economic growth and preserving nature are not in contradiction with one another. Second, that we must treat the causes and not the symptoms of the current health crisis, and other crises stemming from and including climate change. The EU Green Deal (EGD) was set up to achieve these aims.

Janez Potočnik, who co-chairs the International Resource Panel, said “The circular economy should be seen as an instrument to deliver decoupling of economic growth from resource use and environmental impacts and as part of a bigger picture of economic, societal and cultural transformation needed to deliver the SDGs.”

The EGD is an ambitious scheme to be carbon neutral by 2050, based on implementing a sustainable circular economy. The European Commission views recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and sustainability as “two sides of the same coin”, as stated in its executive summary report on the System Change Compass.

The System Change Compass lays out the main systemic orientations the EGD should take, taking an integrated systems perspective in order to move toward a more equitable and socially inclusive ‘new normal’. The report identifies four main societal needs which consume the most resources: nutrition, housing, daily consumer goods, and mobility.

Within these four needs, the System Change Compass identifies “50 champion orientations”, or 50 sustainable industries, that can be scaled up to form the foundations of a circular economy. These represent specific investment opportunities that could create new jobs and form the backbone of a new, more resilient, European industrial landscape as part of the green recovery from the pandemic.

With the number of passengers and flights expected to increase in the coming years, green aviation is considered a “champion orientation” to meet society’s need for the transportation of people and goods, where funding at the national and European level should be directed. The transition to a carbon-neutral mobility industry can occur through policy measures and technological solutions, such as sustainable aviation fuels. To achieve this aim, the full report states that we need to: “improve aircraft fuel efficiency, increase the supply and demand of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (made either from advanced biofuels or produced using renewable energy sources), develop new technologies and systems engineering processes and methods to optimise air routes”. Shifting to sustainable aviation fuels would lead to drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and create quality jobs. This could also be complemented by additional measures, for example by implementing ‘mobility-as-a-service’ transportation schemes – increasing public transport on the ground would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from people travelling to and from airports in taxis and privately-owned cars. Above ground is where sustainable aviation fuels come into play, by reducing emissions from the actual flights.

Sustainable aviation fuels represent a source of untapped potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector. The next step is to increase supply and demand for sustainable aviation fuels in the EU, in order to increase their consumption.

Sarah Wilkin interviewed for Amsterdam Founder Series

You can read the full interview online at Troopl’s website as part of their Amsterdam Founder Series.

“I realised it was very much about policy and it was a lot of debate in Brussels. So I started going to Brussels and met different lobbyists, public affairs managers, airlines, fuel suppliers, airports groups and the aviation associations. I was learning from them, and then started being part of the discussions, getting involved.”

“I like to support people that are less supported than others. I personally have been given chances by people. If I can give somebody an opportunity to give them a leg up, I will definitely do that. I think I’ve always had that, and I always will do that for people.”

“I was introduced to some great people. So it’s never one thing. It’s all of the things together – it’s through connections and having conversations.”

FGA’s mental and neuro health project work

As part of our commitment at FGA we are actively supporting mental health and wellbeing, and have integrated and acknowledged this in our FGA Travel Smart programme.

We believe in ‘put your own mask on, before you help others’ so we look after ourselves and our team physically and mentally, especially recently when times have been tough and uncertain.


Sarah Wilkin, FGA founder, is in a project team with Hendrik Saare – sound designer and researcher, Micheal Carthy and Tiffany Ballou – psychologists. Teresa Atkin, Executive Coach, also acting as an advisor. The team collectively bringing together experience and knowledge from many different disciplines and schools of academic thought.

We are working together on a self-compassion based approach to personal development goals (PDGs), you can read Tiffany’s post on this work here. This will be applicable across our personal and professional lives and will be suitable for anyone wanting to move forward with behavioural patterns not serving them or to improve communication and relationships overall.

We’ll be sharing more in the coming months and will be asking for support to understand this complicated and important topic further through polling and questionnaires.

Our project team up for the job:

Have a good mental health day!

FGA Travel Smart – “one of the most relevant and exciting solutions..”

We are pleased to be on Johnny Thorsen’s innovation radar, VP of Strategy & Innovation at Amex Digital Labs and travel futurist, and listed as one of the most ‘relevant and exciting solutions’ in sustainable travel.

Johnny writes:
“Fly Green Alliance provides independent consulting services across a wide range of segments to corporations and individuals involved in buying of corporate travel. Through the FGA Travel Smart Program they help companies understand their current situation, create and execute a strategic framework for a sustainable travel program and monitor the ongoing performance along with the option to partner with a growing list of suppliers and customers to share knowledge, experience and ideas. 
Buzz builder : Leading the way towards a greener travel program”

It was a nice surprise to be added to the list at the close of 2020. We put our programme together last April and started to talk about our solution online throughout last year. FGA Travel Smart is a foundation framework which will support corporates to decarbonise their travel and will work with the sustainable fuel industry to support their growth. All working towards carbon neutral commitments in a measured, progressive and innovative way. The programme is gaining interest from some great early adopter companies and we’ll roll out the application this year with the view to creating some case studies as examples to others.

It is great to be recognised for our work in the field of sustainable travel and we will be, as part of our ongoing work, continuing to develop projects with investors and lobby for policy change across the ecosystem in order to scale the sustainable aviation fuel industry and work towards green travel development in view of meeting the Paris Agreement.

You can read Johnny’s full report here listing other tech solutions and carbon management platforms in this area.

FGA Travel Smart is one of our solutions, and in 2021 we will be announcing others with a carbon reduction focus involving fuel suppliers, transport companies, logistics companies, investors and more while strategically partnering with other consultancies.

Going forward when you travel, will you Travel Smart?

Contact to discuss your needs for 2021 onwards.

Keeping your finger on the pulse during times of rapid change and uncertainty

Earlier this month, our partner Ipsos MORI released a webinar on the future of brand research, “Keeping our finger on the pulse during times of rapid change and uncertainty”. By accelerating pre-existing trends, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we relate to brands. This includes people’s reactions to the inequality they see around them, the concern for living more sustainable lifestyles, and the greater authenticity they expect from brands. According to the sustainability transparency platform Compare Ethics, only 20% of customers trust brands’ sustainability credentials. Brands must show up for the causes they champion and build up trust with concrete actions. 

During times of rapid change and uncertainty, brands must continuously adapt their marketing strategies by paying attention to the changing social norms and expectations of their customer base to keep pace with the changing currents in society. This will enable brands to maintain their relevance by ‘keeping their finger on the pulse’. Brands can achieve this by keeping informed on insights as the changes happen.  

Brewdog are actively making sustainability commitments in their style and language, Real Betis are one of the first carbon neutral football clubs and Formula E and Extreme E, by nature of their business, are promoting innovation in EV (electric vehicles) and also working to decarbonise their operations, this year making carbon neutral commitments including use of biofuels.  PWC disclosed this month in the workshop Climate Change & Sustainability Reporting’ that 50% of their clients had made net zero commitments, they do see much development but there is some way to go.

During the pandemic, digital ethnography (the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences) has been used to monitor these changes and help with the insight process as part of brand research. Ethnographic video studies offer us a window into how people’s behaviours and personal and social needs shifted during the resulting recession. “What we saw is that people were blindsided by everything that was happening, and the world stopped…we knew what was happening in Wuhan in January , [but] governments and individuals didn’t like the decisions we had to make and their consequences” said Oliver Sweet, the Head of Ethnography at Ipsos MORI’s Ethnography Centre of Excellence. We need to make sure we don’t become blindsided by the pandemic-shaped recession the way we did at the start of the pandemic, he concludes. 

Digital ethnography allows brands to have more empathy and a greater connection with their clients – making their products and services more relevant and meaningful. During the pandemic, we saw how people started relating to each other differently, from bringing groceries to quarantined neighbours to being more active in social justice issues. Rob Scotland, Head of Strategy at McCann London mentioning: “Globally, we are closer now. We’re only three people away from someone that had the virus, that’s had a food shortage, or will be made redundant.”  The slowing down/The Great Reset, as the pandemic has been named, has allowed a greater awareness of our surroundings and also care for people and planet. It is having, and will have, a long term lasting effect on us as consumers, travellers and likely our overall purpose. Bill Gates and HSBC predicting business travel will reduce by 50% next year and maybe for some time to come. 

From our perspective at FGA this means travelling smarter. What does this mean? Some reduction, more virtual and doing it sustainably. Read about our programme supporting how to become smarter travellers here: FGA Travel Smart 

To coincide with this work at FGA we work with our partners and investors on their ESG strategies which includes social and environmental commitments, and we nudge and provide information for companies to begin to accelerate this work in view of meeting the Paris Agreement. You can reach out to us for your carbon neutral commitments, for a presentation on green travel developments and to speak to us about becoming Travel Smart. Contact for more information.

FGA is on linkedin, follow our work online.