GBTA Convention Panel Discusses Geopolitical Disruptions and the Future of Global Business Travel

In the modern travel world, political tension has an immense impact on travel policies and the way businesses conduct transportation on a global scale. During Monday’s Center Stage Panel at GBTA Convention 2017, global business experts discussed the two main geopolitical disruptions we face today alongside moderator Courtney Hammond, Principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP.

The Movement of People

The first disruption consists of the complications that arise when transporting business travelers to their destinations. Michael Gips, Chief Global Knowledge and Learning Officer of ASIS International, described the three types of travel restrictions the world has faced recently: the laptop bans imposed by the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump’s travel bans, and travel restrictions imposed by individual corporations through travel policies.

Gips believes that the restrictions that will be of greatest influence to businesses are those from the corporations. He explained that the laptop ban is in the midst of being resolved and in places where it is still imposed, travel managers can be creative by sending their business travelers through different routes or telling them to use alternate devices, like smartphones.

Businesses are also putting a priority on increasing their own safety practices. “The reality is businesses are not going to avoid the necessary movement of their employees to develop their businesses. They’re going to be careful,” says Tom Derry, the CEO of the Institute for Supply Management. Introducing precautions such as new insurance policies and the use of armored cars can increase traveler protection while abroad.

Lynn Shotwell, Executive Director of Council for Global Immigration, highlighted the importance of communicating the business industry’s needs to governments around the world, as their policies directly impact commerce and the global economy at large.

Duty of Care, Safety and Security

Once business travelers are at their intended destination, there are still concerns in regards to their safety. While travelers should remember to follow common-sense precautions and stay in contact with their office, Peggy Smith, President and CEO of Worldwide ERC, doesn’t see these practices as interfering with the traveler experience. “The drive to experience something outside of their native environment is much stronger than the inconvenience of taking off your shoes [for security purposes],” she commented.

Finally, when asked to predict what global business travel will look like in year 2025, Shotwell noted we will continue to have face-to-face meetings due to their irreplaceable nature. She also mused that the biggest change could be the countries that sit at the hub of the travel industry. Africa and Asia are becoming more competitive, while Derry mentioned the impact the bullet train that will span Europe and Asia may have in the ease of travel transport. A world of increased connectivity is around the corner, bringing countries that seem universes away closer than they ever have been before.

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