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29 Mar 2023

Leading The Way in Sustainable Travel: Case Study

Leading The Way in Sustainable Travel: Case Study

Digital infrastructure company Colt Technology Services is dedicated to embedding sustainability and ESG as part of the company’s DNA.

“We’re a business with purpose and part of our values, which are the guiding star for all colleagues, is that we live and breathe sustainability and ESG,” Colt VP, ESG Kelsey Hopkinson explains. “Our customer requirements have changed over the last few years. Sustainability has definitely moved to the forefront when it comes to winning and retaining business. However, being serious about protecting the planet is also the right thing to do.”

Committed to developing science-based targets (SBT) against Scopes 1, 2 and 3*, Colt recognised an opportunity to initiate change with the company’s business travel when building its SBT roadmap.


Colt’s initial objectives included achieving a behavioural change, encouraging colleagues to make the more responsible travel choice. One way the company wanted to do this was by showing colleagues the direct environmental impact they were having on the planet at the point of booking travel.

Colt turned to its travel management company of eight years, Reed & Mackay, to work together on how Reed & Mackay’s online booking platform could simply and effectively highlight the carbon emissions generated for different types of travel.

“It was a collaboration and open discussion with Reed & Mackay and its sustainability team from the start of that journey,” Hopkinson says. “We discussed the enhancements that could be put into the system – which also included a bespoke dashboard – and they were all produced in-house by Reed & Mackay’s developers.”

Reed & Mackay suggested options such as incorporating a traffic light system on carbon emissions for each trip and changing reference fields for reasons for travel, designed to make Colt’s colleagues consider the more sustainable choice.

“Reed & Mackay brought sustainable travel options to life on the booking tool. Even on messages that pop up during booking, it steered clear of being overly scientific and, instead, gave people easy graphics and illustrations such as ‘by taking this type of journey you’ve saved enough power to charge x number of mobile phones or plant x number of trees’ – impacts that relate to the everyday,” Hopkinson adds.

Reed & Mackay also worked with Colt to develop its travel policy, ensuring there was clarity around where to consider alternative methods for meetings and drive sustainable choices to cut its carbon footprint. This included messaging on sustainability goals for the business such as updating messaging to encourage travellers to switch to rail, designing messaging regarding one- and two-day trips and rules and approval processes implemented.

“We were still in the depths of the pandemic when we had planned to roll out the new sustainable travel policy so held back on its release until it was safe to do so. Having a really close working relationship with Reed & Mackay helped us make the change quite quickly from a COVID travel policy to the new green travel policy when the time was right,” Hopkinson says.


Colt also worked closely with Reed & Mackay on the sustainable reporting element of its travel programme. It needed to provide information to its senior leadership team on the carbon emissions associated with their team’s travel, but also produce travel reports for Colt’s consultants, who would then help calculate the carbon emissions.

“We worked together, refining and tweaking to get exactly what we needed from the reporting,” Hopkinson explains. The result was the introduction of post-trip reporting, creating bespoke dashboards for department heads and bespoke dashboards for individual travellers.


How did Reed & Mackay’s development of bespoke online booking tools help Colt achieve its sustainability goals?

“First, the tool is easy and straightforward to use,” Hopkinson says. “As with any system change in a business, we rolled out internal comms, this time using screen grabs of the new tool to explain the changes. And the changes themselves have been a catalyst for conversations and education around sustainability. Colleagues are asking us ‘Why does this flight emit more carbon than that flight?’ and I know I can reach out to Reed & Mackay to produce a more formal response, if that’s needed.

“For us, it wasn’t about stopping people’s business travel altogether. It was about shifting to travelling with purpose. The guidelines provided through Reed & Mackay’s recommendations in our travel policy were part of that change in behaviour.”

Hopkinson adds that the reporting element has been hugely positive: all businesses need robust reporting and monitoring to drive change. 


As Colt’s commitments to science-based targets means addressing 93% of its supply chain emissions, working with suppliers that are already on its own sustainability journey has made the process easier. Reed & Mackay has set science-based targets for its own company-wide emission reductions.

“You start to speak the same language,” Hopkinson says. “As it’s on the same sustainability journey as Colt, Reed & Mackay has been proactive in sharing information, whether that’s introducing us to partners in the carbon offsetting space, education about Sustainable Aviation Fuel, even more great ideas about how to enhance our dashboard and what happens post-reporting.

“It’s made everything easier, helps us with education for our own sustainability commitments and, essentially, benefits our people and our planet. Plus we’re excited about Reed & Mackay’s partnership with SQUAKE – it could be the next level of reporting that’s required to really drive change and I’m genuinely interested to see how that piece evolves.”


With Colt firmly established on its sustainability journey, Hopkinson highlights how working with Reed & Mackay has been an essential part of the strategy.

“When we embarked on this journey, we were one of the first of Reed & Mackay’s customers to do so and both of us were open to, and engaged in, making those changes,” Hopkinson concludes. “Using Reed & Mackay’s in-house resources to create a bespoke online booking tool, and change the travel policy wording, has meant we’ve seen behaviour change that’s been key to Colt’s sustainability journey.”


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* Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain. Source: Carbon Trust

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