Check-in with Suzanne

March 30, 2021


Hi Everyone – It’s time to check in, and to greet the second quarter of 2021. It seems unbelievable that five quarters have now gone by since this pandemonium started – and a full year since it was officially recognized as a pandemic.


Let me start by thanking all of you who participated in my listening tour. Listening has been an important priority for me from Day One, and we have just concluded the first formal member listening series – with Canada yesterday, the U.S. and LATAM sessions last week, and Europe starting us off two weeks ago. My special thanks to member leaders Mark, Christina, Stacey, Gary, Alma, Sue and Shelly who facilitated each of these sessions; they made it interactive and relevant, and I really appreciated all the preparation they did to make each session a success.


The questions and comments you voiced during these hour-long sessions have been so insightful for me… to understand your deep commitment to each other, and to GBTA’s programs, education, networking, advocacy and overall mission. You’ve alerted me to what you’re struggling with back at your companies and regions, what the past 12 months have done to not just the business travel industry in general, but to budgets, duty of care concerns, DEI, sustainability, innovation, and local job markets.


I hear your concern and also your sense of optimism and opportunity. And I promise that we are finding ways to keep our topics and programs true to the moment and even more relevant. We will especially make sure the listening isn’t just a “phase” – rather a permanent way for us to serve our membership and sponsors.


And that’s why, along with more recent member surveying and our now regular COVID pulse, you will keep seeing us ask for your opinions via surveys. Data is the fuel by which you drive our learnings, about what you think, care about, and want for a better business travel environment in the future. I appreciate every response you send us – so thank you!


Finally, at the end of 2021 Q1, and fresh from last week’s equinox, I can’t help but reflect that we’re still in the middle of a conundrum of seasons, with vaccination rates rising in many of our members’ countries, even while COVID cases continue to remain high or even growing. Risk mitigation continues to be what GBTA is pushing for with governments, travelers, suppliers, travel operations and budget decision makers and meeting planners.


This is not the time to become complacent. We’ve worked a full year (plus!) to achieve a way out of this pandemic. So, let’s continue to work together to make that happen – as an industry, as professionals who care about our travelers and peers, and as citizens of Planet Earth.


News to Know


U.S.: GBTA and Other Travel Industry Groups Urge President Biden to Set Plan to Lift International Travel Bans: Among the most significant new components of post-pandemic travel will be the need for a traveler to prove they’ve been vaccinated and/or they have a negative COVID test result. GBTA joined with U.S. airlines and more than two dozen other industry groups last week to urge the Administration to develop digital vaccine passport standards and allow vaccinated to be exempt from international testing rules. For more details on the coalition “asks,” click here.


UK Global Travel Taskforce Considers Input From Industry Groups: GBTA Europe recently collaborated with Business Travel Association (BTA) on a submission to the Taskforce that illustrated the importance of business travel to the UK economy and offered recommendations for a safe and feasible restart. The Taskforce is responsible for developing a framework to enable more international travel and is expected to announce its recommendations on April 5. Read the white paper here.


LATAM: New Lockdowns and Border Closures: Last week, Chile’s government announced a lockdown of the Metropolitan Region and other areas. Restrictions on mobility and gatherings will impact nearly 16 million people, with exceptions made for essential workers. Meanwhile, Argentina is closing its borders to all non-essential transportation. Restrictions had already been in place for air transportation, but have now expanded to a ban on land and sea transportation.


Good News for Canada on the Vaccine Front: Canada is scheduled to receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the U.S. next week, with an additional 18.5 million doses expected to funnel into Canada over the second and third quarters of this year through an agreement with the U.S. Last week, Canada’s vaccine rollout hit a double-digit milestone, as 11 percent of the country’s adult population has now received at least one dose of the vaccine. Read more here.


Israel Says Oral Covid Vaccine is on the Way: If approved, the new Oravax vaccine could enable people to take the vaccine at home, eliminating barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution. A pilot animal study has been successfully completed and Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. is preparing to launch a Phase I human clinical trial. Read more here. Also in Israel, a nasal spray capable of killing 99.9 percent of virus particles has started rolling off production lines in an Israeli factory.


GBTA News & Reminders


Update on Project Unite/ACTE Integration: After conducting a global survey, numerous hours of calls, along with many emails that provided very insightful details into the global business travel community, Project Unite is transitioning from the fact-gathering stage to the review and execution stages. Next, the GBTA leadership and staff will analyze the ideas from the perspective of implementation, impact to members, and budget and then design an execution schedule. Click here to read about the takeaways from the fact-gathering stage.


Join Me Tomorrow: National Security Roundtable – The Future of Travel Post COVID-19:

GBTA and our U.S. lobbying partners at Cornerstone present an interactive conversation with aviation experts as they explore the policies and programs needed to regain the confidence of the traveling public. Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines is the keynote speaker and panelists include:

  • Kelli Ann Burriesci, acting under secretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans at the Department of Homeland Security
  • Kyle Klein, deputy staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Republican Staff
  • Robin Hutcheson, deputy assistant secretary for safety policy at the Department of Transportation
  • Roncevert (Ronce) Ganan Almond, senior counsel at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Click here to register.


Introducing WINiTIn45: At our WINiT Awards & Virtual Gala earlier this month, Mick Lee and Dorothy Dowling announced an exciting new monthly series of 45-minute high-impact virtual sessions offering insights and advice into how to elevate your career. The first two sessions are set: “WINiT in Marketing and Communications” on April 20 and “WINiT Wherever You Stand – Job Holder or Job Seeker” on May 6. To learn more about this exciting new series, and to register for the upcoming sessions, click here. Also be on the lookout for a new feature in the Daily News Brief called “WINiT Wednesdays.” Each Wednesday we’ll feature the stories of this year’s inspiring WINiT Award honorees.


Members Appointed to GBTA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee: The work of this important committee can now begin, with the appointment of 17 committee members to join U.S. Chair J. Grant Caplan, U.K. Vice Chair Carol Fergus, Canada Vice Chair Sharlene Ketwaroo-Nanoo, and Latin America Vice Chair Nidia Quintero. The individuals appointed have been selected based on their strong and varied backgrounds and the contributions and insights they will bring to GBTA’s global membership. This committee will lead the charge of making travel more productive, safe and comfortable while ensuring that inclusion and diversity remain at the forefront.


Let’s continue taking all precautions to stay well and continue our focus on moving forward. The recovery of our industry depends on it.





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