The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Concerns are emerging that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not protecting traveler data after conducting searches of electronic devices, Skift notes.

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy is acquiring luxury hotel group Belmond in a $3.2 billion USD deal, CNBC reports. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Also on the acquisition front, Phocuswire notes Google acquired Where is My Train?, a mobile app in India that provides train timetables and sells rail seats to commuters.

According to Bloomberg, a Boeing 737 jetliner was damaged midair shortly before approaching its destination on Wednesday. Aeromexico Group is currently investigating whether a drone collided with the aircraft.

Brasil’s fourth largest airline, Avianca Brasil, filed for bankruptcy on Monday, Aviation International News notes. The airline cited rising fuel costs, currency fluctuations and the depressed economy for its difficulties.

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers remained stable at $108,000 between 2017 and 2018, Buying Business Travel writes. GBTA’s annual Compensation and Benefits study reveals salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. buyers and identifies disparities in pay based on demographics like gender, education, region, and position.

According to USA TODAY, Delta plans to ditch zone boarding in 2019. Instead, the airline will board passengers based on ticket type.

American Airlines has started trialing biometric boarding at LAX, AirlineRatings reports.

In other biometric news, Skift notes Hertz has partnered with CLEAR to speed up the car rental process using biometric technology.

The same source reports Travelport is being taken private in a $4.4 billion USD deal.

Last month, airline executives from Finnair, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic shared their thoughts on the future of aviation. The executives discussed NDC and the potential impact that a no-deal Brexit will have on aviation and their day-to-day operations.

According to Business Traveller, Malaysia Airlines is rebranding its first class cabins as business class, though the product is not changing.


Week in Review

Marriott International revealed that hackers breached its reservation system, compromising the personal data of up to 500 million guests, The New York Times reports. The personal information includes credit card numbers, addresses, and passport numbers.

The hack began four years ago, and the hackers left behind clues that suggest they were working for a Chinese government intelligence-gathering operation, CNBC notes.

According to Travel Weekly, the hotel chain could face a fine of up to £20 million because of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced a new Open Skies-type agreement between Canada and the UK, TravelDailyNews International reports. The agreement will allow Canadian and British air carriers to operate between both countries and give full flexibility on route selection, service frequency, and pricing. It will take effect after Brexit, when the UK will no longer be covered by the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement.  

GBTA wrapped up its ninth annual conference in Europe last week, with nearly 1,100 attendees from 30+ countries. The hot topics of the conference were automation, fragmentation and consolidation.

During the conference, our Executive Director & COO Mike McCormick and Konstantin Sixt discussed the future of mobility, challenges facing ground transportation and the future of Sixt as a company.

According to TravelPulse, Uber is launching a new minibus service in Cairo. The ride-sharing company wants to alleviate traffic congestion by enticing individuals to use the minibus service in place of personal automobiles.

At the beginning of the month, Conde Nast Traveler reports LaGuardia opened 11 gates in its brand new Terminal B, amounting to 243,000 square feet of space.

Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo launched the first phase of its self-driving ride-hailing service in Phoenix on Wednesday, Auto Rental News writes. A limited number of people can access the app to hail a self-driving vehicle, and each car will feature a safety driver for the duration of the ride.

In other ground transportation news, peer-to-peer car rental app Getaround launched in Denver on Thursday. According to BusinessDen, car owners can list their vehicles for rent through the app by providing a description of their car and setting an availability schedule.

United launched a new premium economy offering for its longer international flights, CNBC notes. The seats fall between coach and business class and come with more legroom, amenity kits, and other perks.


Podcast: Live From Berlin: The Future of Aviation

This week’s episode of The Business of Travel comes to you once again from GBTA Conference 2018 Berlin in Partnership with VDR. Hear the Airline C-Level Panel - The 2020 Vision On Aviation, which took place on Centre Stage during the Conference featuring execs from Finnair, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic sharing their thoughts on the future of aviation.  

 

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Week in Review

Thai-based hospitality group Minor Hotels has purchased an additional stock in NH Hotels, increasing its holding to 94%, Business Traveller reports. The purchase will enable Minor Hotels to expand in Europe, while also allowing NH Hotels to put down roots in Asia.

Icelandair has signed an agreement to buy budget airline WOW Air for nearly $18 million USD (approximately €15.9 million), Buying Business Travel notes.

According to France24, Airbnb is being sued by French hoteliers for unfair competition. The main trade group for French hotels, The Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) accuses the home-sharing company of “knowingly violating” certain imposed rules.

What will the election mean for business travel? Regardless of who wins or loses, a change in committee leadership means a change in governing philosophies, ultimately affecting our industry. Here are the main travel-related committees to keep an eye on.  

Birmingham Airport has unveiled a £500m master plan to increase capacity and improve the traveler experience, Buying Business Travel notes. The investment aligns with the airport’s desire to grow traffic by 40% (to 18 million passengers annually) by 2033.

Over the next 20 years, China will account for approximately 19% of the world’s aircraft demand, Business Traveller reports. According to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, the country is projected to require nearly 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Star Alliance is putting virtual reality technology to the test in select lounges, Business Traveller writes. Travelers flying through CDG in Paris and FCO in Rome can try out the virtual reality systems, which may eventually be offered on planes and across lounges globally.

The TSA will begin testing new technology that can screen multiple passengers from up to 25 feet away, Los Angeles Times reports. If the terahertz screening devices pass the initial tests at a TSA facility, they may be further tested at U.S. airports.  

According to IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, air traffic could double to 8.2 billion travelers in 2037. The forecast also outlines China, the United States, India, Indonesia and Thailand as the fastest growing aviation markets.

A no-deal Brexit would result in 5 million fewer outbound trips made globally by 2022, Travel Weekly reports. These findings come from a new study by Euromonitor International. They also claim Spain will see the brunt of this, since UK travelers account for nearly 21% of inbound revenues in the country.

Following in Lyft’s footsteps, ride-sharing company Uber has launched a Ride Pass subscription option in select cities, Business Traveller notes.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport received a new 2.5 million square-foot parking and car rental facility on Wednesday, ABC7 reports. The $242 million facility features 13 car rental agencies, 12 electronic charging stations and “innovative parking guidance technology”.


Week in Review

On Monday morning, a Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the Java Sea near Jakarta, Indonesia, Express reports. Since then, investigators have found the plane’s landing gear, black box, and part of the aircraft, CNN notes. Officials are still trying to determine what went wrong leading up to the crash.

According to the NZ Herald, Brazilian airline Gol is ditching middle seats in premium economy on its new Boeing 737s, which will be used for non-stop flights from Brazil to the United States.

Citizens from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan will be able to use automatic ePassport gates at the UK border starting in 2019, Buying Business Travel notes. Travelers must have passports with the biometric symbol on the cover in order to qualify.

Air France is preparing to launch a new platform that enables travelers to resell their non-refundable tickets, Lonely Planet writes.

In acquisition news, Travel Weekly reports that Fattal Hotel Group has acquired the 173-room Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton for £29 million.

Also on the acquisition front, Hyatt is planning on formally closing its acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality within the next two to three weeks, Skift writes.

Business travelers say loyalty matters in the hotel booking process, HospitalityNet writes. According to new research, nine in 10 business travelers view rewards points and perks as a motivating factor in selecting a hotel. The research also reveals that travelers are willing to share their information for a more personalized experience.

According to Skift, the Italian government is renewing attempts to sell bankrupt Alitalia. The flagship carrier has attracted bids from Delta and EasyJet, and it’s possible the airline will gain multiple owners.

Emirates is launching the world’s first biometric path at DXB, which will allow travelers check in, go through immigration, enter lounges and board flights simply by walking through the airport, Business Traveler reports.

Fees and surcharges at U.S. hotels are expected to hit an all-time high of $2.93 billion this year, marking an 8.5% increase from $2.7 billion in 2017, Business Traveler notes.

According to USA TODAY, Southwest Airlines will begin offering free in-flight movies for passengers to watch on their mobile devices.

Los Angeles has approved a $2 billion contract for a consolidated car rental facility near LAX, Los Angeles Business Journal reports. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.


Passage of the FAA Bill Is A Major Win for the Business Travel Industry, GBTA and You

Earlier this month, I sent the note below as an email to GBTA members outlining why the FAA Reauthorization is such a big win for business travel. Read on below for more and tune in to this week’s GBTA podcast where I had the opportunity to talk with Shane Downey, GBTA Vice President of Government Relations, along with Todd Webster of Cornerstone Government Affairs for an in-depth discussion on the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Bill and what it means for business travel.

 

 

In a rare act of bipartisanship in today’s political landscape, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass a bill that reauthorizes the budget for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. Before the President signed the FAA Bill into law, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 93-6 and it passed the House by a similarly large margin with a vote of 398-23.

Why is this such a big win for business travel?
As the voice of the business travel industry on Capitol Hill, GBTA staff tirelessly advocates for policies that better the business travel industry. Our Government Relations Committee provides insight to help us identify the issues that matter most, our Chapters engage in advocacy through our annual Government Relations Challenge, and most importantly, many of our members attend our Legislative Summit each year to take our collective voice to the Hill and meet with their Senators and Representatives.

In this one bill, virtually all of the priority issues we have included in our Legislative Agenda for the past five years have now become a reality.

  • Long-Term Reauthorization: GBTA has been calling for a long-term FAA Reauthorization to provide stability to the nation’s air traffic control system, ensuring the ongoing safe, secure and efficient facilitation of air travel. This bill marks the first five-year extension since 1982. This follows years of instability created by three authorization extensions from 2015-2017, a federal government shutdown in 2013, a lapse in the FAA authorization in 2011 and 23 short-term extensions from 2007 to 2012.

  • An End to the Diversion of Security Fees: Over the past year, GBTA has been one of the lone organizations supporting the FASTER Act, which would end the practice of diverting a portion of the 9-11 security fee charged on each air ticket toward the national deficit. GBTA argued that this money should go towards security and improving TSA’s efforts as it was intended. This bill ends the current practice of diverting 60 cents on every fee charged by 2027.

  • PreCheck is PreCheck: PreCheck is a win for all passengers, leading to increased traveler satisfaction and overall safety. This new bill mandates that only those prescreened passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs can use the PreCheck lanes. It also enacts measures to increase marketing and enrollment capabilities through authorized third parties, which will ultimately continue to strengthen the benefits of PreCheck.

  • No Voice Calls on Planes: GBTA has long-advocated for #NoCallsOnPlanes as the vast majority of business travelers oppose voice calls on planes. This bill calls for a regulation prohibiting calls on planes. As we always say, sometimes silence really is golden.

  • Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs): The bill did not include an increase in the PFC, which is a tax on air travelers and essentially a tax on the cost of doing business. The bill also calls for the formation of an expert panel to investigate the need for infrastructure, resources and the impact of increasing the fee – specifically calling out for representation from the business travel industry to act as a stakeholder on the panel. This is the direct result of our efforts to demonstrate the diverse needs of the leisure and business travel industries and showcase the important economic impact of our industry.

  • Rental Car Taxation: This bill prohibits discriminatory taxes on rental cars at airport locations, meaning that state and local governments can no longer put a tax on a rental car that they wouldn’t put on any other purchase. For example, specific car rental taxes used to pay for new stadiums targeted at travelers renting cars who are not from their voting district would be prohibited.

  • Business Traveler Protections: Finally, the bill included some consumer protections that will look out for our business travelers including mandates to set new minimum requirements for seats on airplanes; a call to refund passengers for services they paid for but did not receive; and for regulators to determine if it is unfair or deceptive for airlines to tell passengers that a flight is delayed or canceled due to weather alone when other factors are involved.

Thank you to all of our members who have been a part of our advocacy efforts over the years. It was your collective voice that allowed our industry to achieve this tremendous milestone. The fight is never over though when it comes to advocacy as we must remain vigilant on these issues and stay on top of our next priorities. I encourage you all to attend our Legislative Summit next spring to make our voice even stronger. You can also stay up-to-date on GBTA’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., Brussels and around the world by subscribing to GBTA’s bi-weekly Politics of Travel email from GBTA’s Vice President of Government Relations, Shane Downey.

I would also like to thank our long-time friends and colleagues at Cornerstone Government Affairs. Our partnership over the past eight years has been exceptional and your contributions to our success immeasurable.

In closing, it is worth again calling out the outstanding bi-partisan work in Congress and the White House to look past ideological differences and put the future of the business travel industry – and business travelers that drive our economy – first. We hope that this is a model for future success for the global business travel industry and our leaders in Washington.
 


Podcast: Why the FAA Reauthorization is a Win for Business Travel

On this week’s episode of The Business of Travel, GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick talks with Shane Downey, GBTA Vice President of Government Relations, along with Todd Webster of Cornerstone Government Affairs for an in-depth discussion on the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Bill and what it means for business travel.

 

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Week in Review

Corporate travel bookings start-up TravelPerk has raised $44 million in funding for its consumer-like business travel site, Reuters reports.

Japan plans on launching an electronic visa system for tourists in order to reach its goal of 60 million annual foreign visitors by 2030, Business Traveller notes. The country has also relaxed its visa requirements to increase inbound tourists.

According to Auto Rental News, Lyft is launching a subscription service. For $299 a month, customers can take 30 rides worth up to $15 each.  

Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport was named “airport of the year” at the National Transport Awards in London, TravelDailyNews International notes.

According to new GBTA research out yesterday, 83% of women have experienced at least one (if not more) safety-related incident while traveling for business over the past year.

Cypriot carrier Cobalt Air, which initially launched in 2016, has ceased operations indefinitely, Business Traveller writes.

London’s Gatwick Airport will begin using its emergency runway as a second runway in order to deal with its growing traffic, Airport-Technology.com reports.  

According to Buying Business Travel, Europcar launched a new website for corporate customers.

Hotel-Online.com shares tips on how hotels can compete in the sharing-economy provider landscape.

After filing for bankruptcy last year, USA TODAY reports the Italian populist government will relaunch Alitalia with plans to take a 15% share.

According to Buying Business Travel, Laterooms Business launched a new meetings booking platform that enables business travelers to book and manage both their accommodations and meetings spaces.  


BREXIT UPDATE: UK Leaders Must Not Leave the EU Without A Deal

GBTA Calls on EU and UK Leaders to Agree on Outstanding Issues in the Withdrawal Agreement

Progress in the Brexit negotiations since the June 2018 European Council Summit has been slow by every measure. The UK and EU negotiating teams have met in Brussels since mid-August in the hope of finalizing the outstanding issues in the Withdrawal Agreement preparing the exit of the UK from the EU. Despite these efforts, they have reached the long-earmarked deadline of the October European Council Summit without evidence of clear progress on some of the key remaining issues relating to the Withdrawal Agreement, such as Northern Ireland.

Even despite positive talks over the weekend, political considerations have brought us back to square one.

In this context, ahead of the European leaders’ Summit taking place on 17-18 October, GBTA stresses once again that securing the Withdrawal Agreement and transition remains essential for the business travel industry. The lack of progress in negotiations puts into question the feasibility of guaranteeing certainty for businesses with an effective, predictable transition period as of March 2019. Letting the UK leave the EU without a deal would lead to brutal changes to the current trading, economic and social environments causing serious consequences on business travelers themselves, as citizens and as business representatives.

Although GBTA welcomes the EU and the UK’s increased activities on preparing stakeholders for every outcome including a “no deal”, with publications of many technical notices (UK and EU), the priority remains to not reach that point. We appreciate the fact that aviation is one of the few areas in which the European Commission and the UK Government has been forthcoming with their contingency planning. The UK has in fact committed to unilaterally grant permits to allow EU airlines to continue providing their services in the UK. We can only hope that the EU-27 will agree to reciprocate these permits for UK airlines even in the case of a no deal.

While Brexit contingency planning for the aviation sector is relatively advanced, if not properly managed, risks still exist that would undermine many key principles critical to the business travel industry. GBTA has been continuously defending the need for proper connectivity, robust competition and high standards for safety and security measures for travelers as well. 

That is why GBTA calls on the EU and the UK to harness the general momentum to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement, including the vital transition period, by mid-November at the latest. This will ensure the EU-27, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament have sufficient time to adopt the provisions of the agreement. GBTA also looks forward to EU and UK negotiators initiating discussions on the framework for the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK, especially when it comes to future aviation arrangements.

Finally, GBTA looks forward to meeting with key EU decision makers again this week to discuss Brexit and its impact on the business travel sector at this critical juncture.   


Week in Review

After causing destruction in Cuba, Hurricane Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 storm before hitting the Southeast U.S., Buying Business Travel reports. According to CNBC, over 300 flights were cancelled at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday.

Meetings & Conventions recently revealed their fourth annual list of the top 25 women in the meetings industry. The list included GBTA President Christle Johnson, ITM Chair Karen Hutchings and WINiT founder Michelle “Mick” Lee.

British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Finnair, and the carriers of the LATAM group will participate in NDC exchange, a platform that “bridges the gap between IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) and traditional distribution methods,” Buying Business Travel reports.

Hyatt announced its plans to acquire Two Roads Hospitality for a base purchase price of $480 million, Business Traveller writes. Through the acquisition, Hyatt will be adding 23 new markets to its presence.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, acquisitions will continue to occur in the hotel sector, but they will become more targeted.  

Hertz announced Tracy Gehlan as its new chief operations officer for its international division, TravelDailyNews International notes.

This week, we announced the formation of the WINiT Strategic Advisory Board to provide direction for the future of WINiT. We announced our acquisition of WINiT this summer at our annual Convention.

According to USA TODAY, New York’s JFK Airport is set to get two new terminals in a $13 billion transformation. The seven-year construction project is expected to begin in 2020.
IHG announced plans to remove plastic straws from its 5,400+ hotels by the end of 2019, TravelDailyNews International reports. The hotel group has already removed plastic straws from nearly 1,000 hotels.

For this week’s podcast, ECPAT-USA Director Michelle Guelbart shares ways the travel industry can help put an end to child trafficking, including specific tips for travel buyers and suppliers.

According to Travel + Leisure, IATA recently revealed what airline passengers really want based on results from its annual global passenger survey. The survey also found that passengers are less willing to share personal data than a year ago.

Skift reports Microsoft will invest an unspecified amount in ride-hailing platform Grab, which operates in Southeast Asia.