Business travel, hotels, and environmental sustainability: An exploration of business travellers' environment-related practices at the travel destination

Wouter Geerts

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores what evidence there is that business travellers engage in environment-related practices (ERP) when they are at their travel destination, and evaluates what scope there is to expand the uptake of pro-environmental practices. Research at the intersection between environmental behaviour and flying has been undertaken before, but to my knowledge no published research has covered the practices of business travellers at the destination (in situ practices). The opportunities for business travellers to make pro-environmental choices, but also the influence of corporate and hotel structures on these choices, deserves further investigation.

To better understand business travellers’ in situ practices, empirical research was undertaken in London, UK, with three groups of stakeholders that are involved in business travel, namely hotel managers, individual business travellers, and to a lesser extent their employers. This source triangulation allowed for an understanding of in situ practices from the perspective of different integral actors, and enhanced the research’s reliability and rigour. Interviews were carried out with 34 business travellers, 22 London hotel managers and 4 company representatives, and business travellers were observed in hotel settings.

The findings from the empirical research are examined in four discussion chapters. Firstly, the discussion focuses on the limited implementation and communication of CSR practices in the researched hotels. This is followed by examining business travellers’ experiences and attitudes to travelling, and the impact of the strenuous lifestyle on the uptake of ERP. By comparing the uptake of ERP at home and when away, it is argued that the strain of travelling negatively impacts the uptake of these practices when away. Next, through an exploration of the impact of corporate structures on travellers’ behaviour, it is argued that travellers have opportunities to change their practices. Finally, however, it is discussed how there are major constraints, like travellers attempting to minimize ‘friction’ and group identity, which inhibit these changes.

Therefore, it is proposed that a collective and collaborative approach is needed, initiated by hotels and employers. The thesis emphasises the importance that should be placed by hotel management on the ‘friction’ that is added or reduced by implementing CSR practices. There is a scope for small changes to the practices of business travellers and to the structures that enable and inhibit these practices, in an effort to expand the pro-environmental practices that are currently present in individuals’ lifestyles and in the hotel industry.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Kleine, Dorothea, Supervisor
  • Dengler, Mary, Supervisor
  • Dodds, Klaus, Advisor
Award date1 Jun 2014
Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


  • Business travel
  • Practice theory
  • Giddens
  • Goffman
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental behaviour
  • environmental change
  • Hotel industry
  • CSR

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