A Look Back: GBTA Through the 1970s

We kicked off our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts celebrating the upcoming 50th Anniversary of GBTA Convention with a post on the very beginnings of GBTA – or NPTA as it was known then. Today we learn more about the Association’s past and what NPTA looked like throughout the 1970s.

We left off with the National Passenger Traffic Association selecting Bronxville, NY as its national headquarters in 1970. Corporate travel management continued to gain traction throughout the 1970s as costs for business-related travel increased.

1972 Wall Street Journal Article

NY Times Chart 1972

GBTA’s advocacy roots began early as NPTA fought hard early in the decade to give corporate travel departments volume discounts on airfares. A 1972 NPTA report, A Presentation of Facts Relating to the Business Travel Market, was provided to airline management in hopes they would take action on the NPTA amendment to Resolution 80, which was to be reviewed by the Air Traffic Conference. The NPTA proposal called for amendment of Resolution 80 to provide for qualification of the business travel department as a travel agent on a limited basis.

By fighting for this change, NPTA did not seek to hurt the airline industry, saying, “We want the airlines and all other segments of the travel industry to operate in an environment which will allow them profitability. A strong, viable, economically sound air transport system is necessary for the successful conduct of business today.”

The report also included these principles on which NPTA was formed:

NPTA made a big move in 1973 when it voted to admit travel suppliers into its membership. Years later, Roger Solomon, Allied Council President in 1988, would say that this showed NPTA “recognizing that both buyers and suppliers represent a complex set of requirements that must be satisfied in the daily course of business.”

Airline Deregulation was perhaps the greatest 1970s industry milestone that solidified the value of corporate travel management. After Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, when carrier competition soared and airfare options multiplied, it became increasingly clear that travel arrangement should not be left to amateurs, but rather full-time experts.

The NPTA Board of Directors in 1978:

1978 NPTA Board of Directors

Ed Rathke, NPTA President in 1978, is seen here accepting an award from Hertz in recognition of his significant contributions to the development of corporate travel management:

1978 Ed Rathke Receives Award from Hertz Corportation

You can read more about Ed and his time as NPTA president in this 1999 Business Travel News profile on recognizing pioneers in our industry.

Stay tuned every Thursday for more throwback posts. Share your Convention memories with us on twitter using #TBT and tagging @GlobalBTA.