In times of a pandemic such as we are currently experiencing, travel for customer visits and events has declined very sharply. However, the need for personal exchange will increase again, I am convinced of that. Even if the purpose of a business trip will be questioned more often in the future, and virtual meetups offer an efficient alternative - mobility will come back! Perhaps there will be fewer short trips, for example, but more in one piece with several stops in between perhaps? How can we establish sustainable mobility for business travel, both privately and as a company?
I try to avoid air travel in Europe, even though I live in the flight path of Zurich Airport and have excellent connections. In my opinion, distances of more than 1000 kilometers can be covered comfortably by night train and long-distance connections. The travel time is undisturbed working time or rest time in the sleeping car. I experience many inspiring moments and ideas during train journeys, in contrast to personally experienced stressful situations at airports or above the clouds.
On business trips, I am often asked whether I would like to take the last plane in the evening so that I can still see my family. Of course, the sustainable way of traveling requires more time in many cases, and correspondingly less presence at home. But there are a few tricks to make up for this. For example, I can interrupt my return trip in Frankfurt at a hotel for the night and then take the first train back home next morning, so that I can still enjoy breakfast with the family on time and fully relaxed. Or why not enjoy dinner in a foreign country and start the return journey on the night train? I may be missing out on a small amount of family time with the more sustainable approach to long-distance travel, but my three children are also grateful to me that Dad traveled CO2-efficiently by Intercity Express (ICE) and overnight train.
My colleagues at FAIRTIQ also live the travel approaches described. As an employer, we are thus also prepared to bear any additional costs for meals and hotels, even if "cheap flights" would be the "entrepreneurially" more favorable option. Accordingly, we give greater weight to the ecological perspective than to the commercial one, in line with the fight on climate change. Furthermore, we offset our CO2 emissions in high-quality myclimate carbon offset projects and set targeted incentives by also financially supporting privately undertaken trips by public transport through company contributions. We are aware that compensation is not everything and that emissions should be avoided altogether if possible, but we are setting an example and striving to constantly minimize these emissions.
I would be delighted if Europe-wide business travel were to shift more and more from air to rail over the next few years. The offer is out there!
My favorite travel tools:
- Half-fare card in Switzerland and the famous FAIRTIQ App!
- BahnCard 25, 1st class, very good price/performance ratio especially for special fares (but I often travel 2nd class - different audience = diverse inspiration)
- My personal booking profile at ÖBB NightJet, the leading provider of night train connections in Europe
- Revolut App to pay contactless and benefit from favorable exchange rates Swiss Franc and EURO.
- Booking.com, used as a meta search engine for offers. But I also book some of my favorite hotels directly.
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- My Cycle Bag backpack, who needs a rolling suitcase nowadays ? Travel light means travel lighter!
About Reto Schmid:
Reto Schmid, Director Business Development, is responsible for the growth into new markets at FAIRTIQ together with his team. He is married, father of three children and lives in a car-free housing cooperative in the north of Zurich