The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Shane Downey
Shane Downey
Shane Downey's Blog

GBTA Unveils New Airline RFP

At GBTA’s annual Convention this July, the Aviation Committee unveiled a new Airline Request for Proposal (RFP). GBTA is excited to announce that it is making this new RFP toolkit available free of charge to all in the industry.

This new Airline RFP is a complete revamp of an eight-year-old document and will ease the complexity of the resource intensive RFP process. For years, the RFP process has been frustrating for buyers, suppliers, and consultants due to a lack of standardization, so it was a primary goal of the committee to develop a resource that could become an industry standard and could also be flexible and adaptable to the constantly evolving aviation industry.

The EMEA and North American Aviation Committees joined forces to make this a truly global effort, streamlining the process and design of an RFP template that will guide all stakeholders across the globe including buyers, airlines and consultants in launching and responding to an airline RFP. The group designed a suite of easy-to-use documents that reflect the shifting industry trends and the evolution of ancillary services, fuel surcharges and distribution fees, among others. This resource is valid and scalable for all regions and RFP scopes, and will result in a faster sourcing turnaround time and a common language between stakeholders.

“Far too often, buyers and suppliers spend countless hours editing proposals to fit their needs,” said Jörg Martin chair of the GBTA EMEA Aviation Committee. “The numerous existing versions of RFPs have led to inconsistency and inefficiency. We believe this suite of documents will ease this complicated task by setting an easy to work with common standard across the industry.”

“It was incredibly important for us to create a standard document that could drive consistency in the RFP process across the industry and across the globe,” said Kim Kaye, chair of the GBTA North American Aviation Committee. “The Aviation Committees were proud to team up on this important project to create a suite of documents that not only ease the resource intensive RFP process of today, but are flexible enough to continue being a solution as the industry evolves in the future.”

Designed to become the new industry standard for travel professionals, simplifying and easing the RFP process, you can download the new Airline RFP toolkit here.


Together We Are Stronger - Advocating for Business Travel

During GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in partnership with VDR last week, GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and VDR Executive Director Hans-Ingo Biehl delivered a speech from Centre Stage focused on our collective advocacy efforts in the EU as we work to deliver a pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels. europe-mike-and-ingo-speech

Here is a transcript of the full speech:

MIKE: Last year, Ingo and I announced the launch of our advocacy initiative on behalf of the business travel industry in Europe. Our collective efforts have resulted in delivering a very effective pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels.

We knew the time had come for us to make this investment in our collective future. We began with not a moment to spare as immigration worries, terrorism events and global economic upheaval threaten the future of not just our industry – but every other industry – as business travel drives business growth globally.

Brexit was something the experts said wouldn’t happen. Just this past week, the United States capped one of the most turbulent elections in recent history and against all polls elected a hotelier named Donald Trump.

And although it might feel like these are isolated events or unusual times, the future likely holds even more uncertainty as more countries face elections as part of an overall global political realignment.

INGO: It is for these reasons that we as a group, as an industry, must remain connected and active in our efforts to ensure safely vetted business travelers continue to have access to European markets. As we can attest, free movement of people is essential to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in Europe.

With the current terrorism threats and a refugee crisis, enhancing security must remain a key priority for European authorities. However, we must continue to remind them to support legislative proposals that continue to allow the efficient movement of low risk business travelers entering and exiting the EU.

MIKE: But unfortunately, some of these discussions both in Brussels and the United States are taking a worrisome direction. For instance, if the EU was to re-introduce trip-by-trip visa requirements for U.S. business travelers - and this could actually happen - this would severely impact your ability to do your job, place further stress on consulates’ resources and set back the current strategic relationship between the EU and the United States.

This is part of a much larger debate on issues ranging from the future of the sharing economy to the implementation of Brexit – we’ll have more on that in a minute for you as we host a Brexit debate here on stage.

INGO: This is why we are here this week, meeting and discussing business travel topics and future messaging to our politicians to ensure business travel continues to grow and remains safe, yet efficient.

With our different opinions, experiences and beliefs, we are a microcosm of the entire global economy. We will have debates and disagreements. But, the one thing we must not forget is that Together We Are Stronger.

Thank you!


Potential Return of Long Security Lines Loom Large If Changes Aren’t Made

This spring as the busy summer travel season approached, long security lines at airports were becoming a serious issue. People were being asked to arrive at the airport earlier and earlier as wait times continued to swell.

An influx of funding, collaboration between TSA with airports and airlines and increased enrollment in TSA PreCheck helped bring wait times back down to a reasonable level throughout the summer, even as more travelers took to the skies.

Facing the threat of returning to long security lines, we expect Congress to provide TSA flexibility to keep the recently increased number of airport security screeners on board in the near term. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger spoke last week at the A4A Commercial Aviation Industry Summit saying in an ideal world he would have consistent, predictable funding over a five-year stretch to better plan for the future and create a more efficient and more automated system taking advantage of technologies available in a way that energizes the private sector to invest in developing the necessary products. This is really tough to do when you work three months at a time on a budget though, he added.

For business travelers, time is money, and unreasonably long wait times can cut into productivity or even cause missed flights, which lead to missed meetings and deals. The latest GBTA Foundation outlook forecasts 502 million U.S. business trips to take place in 2016 – a majority of which involve air travel. That is no small number and an efficient security experience is incredibly important for these travelers.

While short-term solutions, like increasing personnel over the summer, are important and necessary, long-term solutions are what is needed. GBTA has long been a strong supporter of risk-based security programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to facilitate a better travel experiences. Recent GBTA research shows business travelers agree, with nearly universal satisfaction (90 percent) with PreCheck. Legislation has been passed to improve traveler access to these programs, but TSA has yet to move forward with implementation of allowing multiple third-party vendors to market and enroll people.

Technology is another major area that needs to be addressed. TSA officers are not trained directly by the equipment manufacturers meaning they may not fully understand the full functionality of and how to correctly operate the machines they do have. TSA also needs to take a hard look at its current strategy for research and development as well as procurement of new technology to make sure new technologies are being implemented where they are needed most and upgraded technology doesn’t sit unused.

Another area that requires attention is the 9-11 Aviation Security Fee. A portion of the money taken in from this fee is diverted to help pay down budget deficits rather than being put towards improving security. At a time where the uncertainty and randomness of attacks across the world has put many on edge, it is more important than ever that all available funds are invested in improving security and ensuring are skies remain a safe place.

TSA handled the impending security line crisis this summer well, but it will require cooperation between TSA, the government and industry to truly create a forward-looking system for the future that ensures safe and efficient security across the country.


TSA PreCheck Enrollment: Coming to a City Near You

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve heard and seen the name TSA PreCheck more times than you can count, but you may still be wondering what the program is, or what the benefits in enrolling are. TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program developed to improve the travel experience and reduce airport security wait times. Man Puts Digital Tablet Into Tray For Airport Security Check

Those who enroll don’t need to remove their belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops or shoes, making it perfect for business travelers. As if that’s not enough reason, travelers can reduce airport security wait times by over 80 percent, making them an average of five minutes or less. With over 2.2 million fliers daily at the nation’s 450 airports, it’s no coincidence that TSA PreCheck is gaining popularity.

Microsoft recently enrolled nearly 800 employees in TSA PreCheck at a local event in Seattle. The company’s global travel and venue group lead Eric Bailey weighs in as it being “such a simple decision with a quick ROI and so many benefits for us, airports, airlines, security and for everybody involved.” Bailey suggests TSA PreCheck expedites the security process and improves the travel experience for Microsoft employees and non-PreCheck travelers alike.

GBTA is excited to share that TSA PreCheck enrollment is being offered at popup centers in major cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston and more. Once you enroll, you will be able to take advantage of the benefits for the next five years. For a full list of popup cities and to apply online, go here.

To finalize the application in person, you will need to bring documentation proving identity and citizenship status. A complete list of required documents can be found here. Even if you only take four trips a year, you’d be spending a small fee of $2.13 each time you go through security to cruise through a shorter line, keep your shoes and not have to remove your laptop.

GBTA has long supported risk-based programs such as PreCheck to increase security and efficiency at our nation’s airports and believes continued expanded enrollment in such programs will be key to a long-term solution to lengthy airport security lines.


TSA CMO Talks Expanding TSA PreCheck Enrollment at Legislative Symposium

John Sammon, chief marketing officer at TSA PreCheck spoke this morning at the 14th Annual Legislative Symposium, an event that brings more than 100 business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues.

Sammon told the packed room that TSA PreCheck's goal is to have 25 million enrolled by 2019. The current enrollment is just over 7 million. Sammon announced that TSA was working on ways to boost enrollment, such as making PreCheck easier to purchase whether online or in person, working with outside organizations such as GBTA to help get the word out to its members and finally to put an end to managed inclusion, which was applauded by the attendees.

TSA Sammon

Sammon also cited GBTA research showing that the most important thing for travelers was ease in getting through security, which he said was another goal of TSA PreCheck. He concluded by answering attendee questions and listening to their comments on ways to improve PreCheck.  


Travel Advocate Rep. Cohen Speaks at 14th Annual Legislative Symposium

Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) spoke to over 100 attendees at the 14th Annual GBTA Legislative Symposium, an event that brings business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues. Rep. Cohen spoke about his historical fight against discriminatory taxes on rental cars and discussed his new bill regarding airline seat sizes that is gaining momentum.

The new bill addresses both serious concerns related to the relationship between seat size and cabin safety. Regarding passenger comfort, Cohen made the crowd laugh when he said FexEx, which is based in Memphis, treats its packages better than airlines treat their customers. He commented that while comfort is important, seat sizes affect safety as well. Airlines need to be able to evacuate the aircraft in 90 seconds and the shrinking seat sizes impede that process.

Cohen Speaking

GBTA President Christle Johnson, Vice President Mark Ziegler and Executive Director Mike McCormick then presented Rep. Cohen with the inaugural GBTA Navigator Award. GBTA created the Navigator Award to honor Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry. award

Representative Cohen has been a longtime champion and the leading Democratic proponent for putting an end to discriminatory taxes on rental cars, which create an undue burden on business travelers and rarely are reinvested back into the travel industry.

In conjunction with the Navigator award, GBTA unveiled the Rules of the Road for optimizing business travel at its 14th annual Legislative Symposium. GBTA mobilized its members to create this declaration of travel reform to guide industry, business leaders and policy makers in creating a travel ecosystem that fosters growth, jobs, safety and efficiency around the globe.  


Rep. John Katko Speaks Passionately To GBTA Members About Travel Security

Rep. John Katko (R-NY) was a featured speaker today at the 14th Annual GBTA Legislative Symposium, an event that brings business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues.

Rep. Katko spoke passionately about the bills he has worked so hard to get passed in the House. He said his subcommittee works tirelessly to attack problems and find sustainable solutions, which is evidenced by the fact that he is currently working on his eleventh bill being passed. He discussed security issues that affect opening passage into Cuba, working with TSA to be more innovative with their ideas, programs and vendors, and working with TSA to expand their PreCheck program to better utilize the program. He concluded his remarks with a candid Q&A session with GBTA members.

KatkoSpeaking

Rep. Katko was also presented with the inaugural GBTA Navigator Award by GBTA’s President Christle Johnson, Vice President Mark Ziegler and Executive Director Mike McCormick. GBTA created the Navigator Award to honor Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry.

GBTA chose Representative Katko for this award because of his efforts to hold TSA accountable and to improve passenger screening – and in particular, for the many bills his committee has worked on to improve TSA PreCheck as well as other aspects of the travel experience.

KatkoAwardPic

In conjunction with the Navigator award, GBTA unveiled the Rules of the Road for optimizing business travel at its 14th annual Legislative Symposium. GBTA mobilized its members to create this declaration of travel reform to guide industry, business leaders and policy makers in creating a travel ecosystem that fosters growth, jobs, safety and efficiency around the globe.


Rep. Mike Quigley Says Country Could be Safer if We are Smarter

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) spoke this afternoon at the 14th Annual GBTA Legislative Symposium, an event that brings business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues.

QuigleySpeaking

Rep. Quigley began his remarks by saying how important travel is to the economy. He discussed the Visa Waiver Program and the importance of passing the JOLT Act. He spoke avidly about how the many security threats that face our country can be fixed if we as a nation would reprioritize certain programs to keep us safe. “Being safe is possible if we act smarter,” said Quigley.

GBTA also presented Rep. Quigley with the inaugural GBTA Navigator Award. GBTA created the Navigator Award to honor Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry.

QuigleyAward

Rep. Quigley has been a strong advocate on a number of travel issues, but his leadership on the Visa Waiver Program and the JOLT Act, which would improve and broaden the Visa Waiver Program, has been instrumental. A strong Visa Waiver Program protects America and promotes travel.

In conjunction with the Navigator award, GBTA unveiled the Rules of the Road for optimizing business travel at its 14th annual Legislative Symposium. GBTA mobilized its members to create this declaration of travel reform to guide industry, business leaders and policy makers in creating a travel ecosystem that fosters growth, jobs, safety and efficiency around the globe.


Senator Amy Klobuchar Talks Benefits of Cuba with GBTA Members

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke this afternoon at the 14th Annual GBTA Legislative Symposium, an event that brings business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues.

KlobucharSpeaking

Senator Klobuchar spoke positively about the FAA bill passing in the Senate, which was received by applause. She spoke passionately about Cuba and her role in leading the charge to lift the Cuba embargo. “Fifty-five years of a failed policy is enough.”  She said that opening passage into Cuba will be a long transition but a worthwhile one. She concluded by telling attendees that “change happens, all we need to do is look for the positive opportunities it brings.”

GBTA also presented Senator Klobuchar with the inaugural GBTA Navigator Award, created to honor Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry.

Senator Klobuchar is a recipient of the Navigator Award for her outstanding leadership and her work to increase the security of our nation’s transportation networks, strengthen aviation safety standards and promote competition leading to a safer, more secure and more productive experience for business travelers. In addition, her efforts to combat human trafficking is an important issue that GBTA strongly supports through its efforts with ECPAT.

KlobucharAward

In conjunction with the Navigator award, GBTA unveiled a new Rules of the Road for optimizing business travel at its 14th annual Legislative Symposium. GBTA mobilized its members to create this declaration of travel reform to guide industry, business leaders and policy makers in creating a travel ecosystem that fosters growth, jobs, safety and efficiency around the globe.


GBTA Urges Call for Transparency Between Airlines and Business Travel Industry On Faring Issues

This afternoon, GBTA issued the statement below on recent changes in fare structures on multi-city trips from several airlines:

The buyer members of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) were frustrated with the marketplace news that United, Delta and American all changed fare structures on multi-city trips without any advance communication to corporate travel managers. This represents a major faring change requiring transparency throughout the buyer community.

GBTA has been in active contact with our members and committee leadership, as well as members of Congress. While recent airline statements indicate that these changes were the result of unintended consequences of new combinable fare restrictions, we will now survey our members to verify that the issue has been resolved to their satisfaction.

In today’s travel ecosystem, active communication is necessary and vital. To that end, GBTA believes there should be full transparency with regard to any changes before and during the travel experience, including new supplier policies or travel process time and delays. Both business travelers and travel buyers should have access to clear information across the spectrum as to how prices are determined, how to deal with delays, cancellation policies and how to lodge complaints.

Going forward, GBTA will continue to work with the airlines, our members and other organizations to ensure buyer voices are heard on key issues related to transparency and competition.