House of Travel Auckland City: a Toitū carbonzero case study
House of Travel is the largest kiwi-owned travel company in New Zealand, committed to enriching New Zealanders’ travel experiences. The largest House of Travel office within the Auckland Region, 'City' has a wide range of clients within the corporate travel market. The 'Orbit World Travel' team takes care of all the business and leisure travel needs of its valued clients.
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- Toitū carbonzero certified organisation since 2008
1. What is your involvement with Toitū Envirocare?
House of Travel Auckland City Ltd has been a Toitū carbonzero certified organisation since 2008, so our association with Toitū Envirocare is a long-standing one.
2. What drew you into a formal carbon management programme?
Operating in the travel industry we facilitate a lot of air travel, which has a high impact in terms of carbon emissions. We know the globe is changing and that we’ve got to play our part in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. As a business we strongly felt the responsibility to do our part in managing our environmental impacts, which led us to embark on this carbon management and sustainability journey.
3. How has it changed what you do, and what kind of improvements have you made?
We’re a lot more conscious of our approach to sustainability and it has become an integral part of our staff culture. Our team of 60 are making a collective and conscious effort to minimise waste, recycle what we can and minimise electricity consumption. We also keep a close eye on our printing and photocopying habits, and we try to reduce our travel by combining meeting trips and video conferencing.
Like every other travel management company, we have an online booking tool that our clients use. Within this tool we have built-in functionality that allows our clients to view and track their emissions as they book their travel, so they can also keep track of environmental impacts. We can also help our clients with properties that have programmes for sustainability.
4. Have you saved money because of your initiatives?
Our travel spend is down and so is our electricity consumption, so we have saved money there. To some degree this has been offset by the set-up costs for recycling, but we see it as short-term pain for long-term gain. If we weren’t doing anything and continued our current growth rate, our expenses would likely be much higher - but the programme pushes us to be more efficient, so our costs are much more controlled.
5. What other benefits have you experienced and are you able to put a value on these?
Firstly, if we take off our business hats, there’s the realisation that we’re doing good for the planet and it’s the right thing to do. We take pride in that, and it’s a key benefit to us.
Secondly, we benefit reputationally. When we go to a networking event or meeting we take pride in being an environmentally conscious and sustainable organisation. It’s hard to attach a dollar value to it, but our brand is really important to us. It also puts us in a good light against our competition and gives us an edge.
6. How have you communicated your achievements to your stakeholders and what has been the most effective method?
In the past we’ve had the Toitū Envirocare team come in and present to our staff and talk about the Toitū carbonzero certification. It was a great way to educate our staff members and acknowledge what we are doing as a team.
For our external stakeholders, we make sure to include details of our certification in tender responses, which gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace.
7. Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
In 2013 we were recognised as Finalists in the Green Ribbon Awards for the ‘Small business leadership’ category. That was a proud moment for us. In the same year, we were invited to co-host a networking evening for Toitū Envirocare’s programme members. This gave us the chance to talk about our initiatives and what we offer to our clients, but was also an opportunity to let people know what a travel company was doing in the sustainability space.
With increasing focus on sustainability in the travel industry, we pride ourselves on being leaders in this space and have been working on this initiative for about a decade now.
8. What has been the most challenging aspect of this?
Our rate of business growth has made things challenging. We’ve recently introduced some new staff members to the team, and that affects our carbon footprint. We know that if we carried on the way we’re going right now our emissions would continue to rise. So, the challenge here is to grow the business while keeping emissions to a minimum.
9. Overall, what value does Toitū carbonzero certification have for your organisation?
It is a symbol of our drive to be sustainable. When we bid for new business, the Toitū carbonzero certification makes our sustainability strategy clear and gives us an edge in business acquisition. We understand that we’re not the only ones who care about the planet and we’re bound to cross paths with others with similar ethics. But the certification gives us the opportunities to make connections and partner with people and organisations that have similar values.
10. Where are you heading now with your carbon management efforts?
We would like to leverage more from our Toitū carbonzero certification and look at how we communicate our sustainability initiatives through various channels and bids. We realise that we have a good story to tell, being among the very few travel companies, if not the only one, with long-standing sustainability credentials. We would also like to continue reinforcing the message to our team to continue to build engagement.
11. What advice would you give other companies thinking of mitigating their carbon footprint?
The main thing is to have a sustainability strategy in your core business plan. For instance, our business plan focuses on growth, retention, leadership, process improvement and sustainability. So it is right alongside the main priorities of our business.
Setting up a sustainability team or ‘green’ team, can be helpful as well. This helps better engage staff and collectively explore initiatives for the team to take up.
12. Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience with Toitū Envirocare and their programmes?
We like the fact that the team at Toitū Envirocare keep in touch and engage us in various networking opportunities. The networking events allow organisations with similar values to connect and make good supply chain decisions. For example, the company that recently co-hosted a networking event, ‘All About Promotions’, also happens to be our promotional merchandise supplier.
Working with Toitū Envirocare has been a good partnership, and has helped us achieve our sustainability goals.
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Toitū carbonzero certified organisations
Toitū carbonzero organisation certification is proof an organisation is positively contributing to our environment through measuring, reducing and offsetting their carbon footprint. To achieve Toitū carbonzero certification, an organisation measures all operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064-1, including vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. The emissions are measured annually, and the inventory is independently verified to ensure it is accurate and complete. Once they have measured their footprint, the organisation must develop plans to continually manage and reduce their emissions. Each year, unavoidable emissions are offset through the purchase of quality carbon credits to achieve neutral emissions. The organisation must reduce emissions on a six-year cycle.