The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we urge you to join the fight to help end trafficking. It can be as simple as training your associates to recognize the sign or including language in RFPs inquiring about suppliers’ trafficking policies. Making a positive difference starts with the decision to make a change, no matter how big or small. There are resources for travel buyers to help end trafficking, tips on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, and additional resources for buyers and suppliers.

According to SiliconANGLE, Singapore Airlines recently revealed the data of 285 frequent flyers was compromised following a buggy website update.

Travel Leaders Group is set to acquire UK-based event management company Your Event Solutions (YES), Skift notes.

Winter storm Gia is expected to hit a 1,500-mile path from Colorado to the Mid-Atlantic region, USA TODAY reports. In advance of the storm, several major airlines are waiving change fees for passengers traveling through certain airports.

According to The Local Germany, walkouts by security personnel at several airports across Germany led to the cancellation of over 800 flights, affecting over 100,000 passengers. The Verdi union warns that another strike will take place on Tuesday at Frankfurt airport.  

Heathrow is offering local communities the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback as it prepares to build its third runway, Buying Business Travel notes. The airport will hold 30 consultation events across neighborhoods surrounding the airport, where individuals can weigh in on how the airport should manage noise and local factors that Heathrow should consider in designing future flight paths.

According to ABC7 News, the pilot shortage is causing debate among some individuals in the airline industry. Boeing predicts airlines will need 790,000 new pilots around the world in the next 20 years, but even today, the shortage is causing small regional airlines to shut down. Some argue that the extensive training programs should be relaxed, but pilots warn that the 1,500 hours of flight time is necessary.

Portuguese airline HiFly aims to eliminate all single-use, disposable plastics in 2019, Business Traveller reports. The airline recently took its first flight completely free of single-use items like straws and cutlery.

What should you do if an airline damages your checked luggage? USA TODAY weighs in.

Avis Budget plans to equip 50,000 of its vehicles across Europe and the US with keyless technology, Buying Business Travel writes. The technology enables customers to completely manage their rental experience through the Avis mobile app.

According to Business Traveller, Air France is adding a “Healthy” meal option to the a la carte menu for its premium economy and economy class. Passengers can book the meals for long-haul flights departing Paris from April onwards.

During CES, Google revealed a few updates to Google Assistant including navigation, travel and translation features, The Next Web notes. The voice assistant can now help travelers check-in to a flight, retrieve a boarding pass, provide real-time translations, and more.

Airbnb has partnered with American Red Cross to raise awareness and provide safety information for hosts and guests, 4Hoteliers writes. The goal is to keep people safe from home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.


Week in Review

Happy New Year! The Week in Review is back in action to provide you with the latest business travel industry news.

In late November, Marriott announced that approximately 500 million guests (who made a reservation at a Starwood property) were impacted in a data breach. Today, the hospitality company downgraded its estimate to 383 million compromised records, Skift reports. Since some guests have multiple records in Marriott's system, the number of guests impacted is likely less than 383 million.

According to BBC, London’s Heathrow Airport and Sussex’s Gatwick Airport will invest millions of pounds in anti-drone equipment that can obstruct communications between drones and their operators. This move follows a drone disruption at Gatwick that caused 1,000 cancelled flights over 3 days last month.

In acquisition news, Flight Centre Travel Group has agreed to acquire Casto Travel’s U.S. operations, Skift writes. The Australia-based travel agency has a mission to strengthen its North American presence.

AirlineRatings.com has released its list of the safest airlines in the world for 2019, with Qantas topping the list, USA TODAY notes. The list also includes the 10 safest low-cost airlines.

Qatar Airways acquired a 5 percent stake in China Southern Airlines on 28 December, Buying Business Travel reports. The airline also holds shares in International Airlines Group, LATAM Airlines Group, Air Italy, and Cathay Pacific.

New York was the world’s top destination for business travel in 2018, Business Traveller writes. The annual rankings from Egencia highlight the most traveled-to destinations for business. London, Paris, Shanghai, and Toronto are also among the top five destinations.

According to Skift, new safety concerns present a complicated challenge for event organizers. From extreme weather to terrorist attacks to widespread disease outbreaks, the duty of care bar continues to rise for event planners.

Singapore Airlines is now offering passengers the ability to pre-book their meal choices, Business Traveller reports. This only applies to travelers in suites, first and business class.

Buying Business Travel writes on the importance of having proper risk management processes and programs in place. Is your organization prepared to locate and help your travelers in the face of an emergency?

According to Business Traveller, the global ridesharing industry is valued at $61.3 billion and is expected to grow to $218 billion by 2025.


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: One on One Interview With Konstantin Sixt

This week’s episode of The Business of Travel comes to you from GBTA Conference 2018 Berlin in Partnership with VDR. GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick interviews Konstantin Sixt of Sixt. The discussion focuses on the future of mobility, challenges facing ground transportation and the future of Sixt as a company.

 

 

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.


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.  


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.


Week in Review

Another Friday, another Week in Review post to keep you updated on the latest business travel news.

According to Buying Business Travel, a new app for disabled train passengers is currently in development. The app will track passengers throughout their journey, making it easy for staff to know when and where to meet them for assistance. Currently, passengers must book assistance, and staff are given a print-out of requests every morning.  

A new survey reveals 77% of airports and 71% of airlines are either researching biometrics or planning to implement programs to identify travelers using facial recognition or other biometric means, Business Traveller reports.

The United States and Australia will launch a pilot program that allows Australian citizens to apply for Global Entry, Big Island Now writes. The Global Entry program allows for expedited customs clearance for pre-screened travelers.

In other airport news, Milan Linate Airport will close for three months next summer due to runway and terminal building renovations, Business Traveller writes.

The same source notes that Austria’s Salzburg Airport will also close in 2019 in order to refurbish its 60-year-old runway. The airport will close from April 24 to May 28.

According to The Washington Post, the Senate on Wednesday approved H.R. 302, a bill that provides long-term funding for the FAA and prohibits voice calls on planes, among other things. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee states that the President will sign the bill during a 2:45pm signing ceremony on Friday.

Budget airline Primera Air officially ceased operations on Tuesday, leaving thousands of passengers stranded, Reuters notes.

This week, our podcast highlights a recent webinar called Solving Real Enterprise Problems Through AI. AppZen’s Ryan Floersch looks at how AI is empowering managers to take control of team spend at a field level.

According to Investing.com, Avis Budget Group acquired a car rental company in Portugal called Turiscar Group, adding nearly 3,000 vehicles to its network.

Also in acquisition news, Xenia Hotels & Resorts acquired Fairmont Pittsburgh in a $30 million deal, TravelDailyNews International reports.

According to Buying Business Travel, Delta Air Lines plans to launch personalized corporate sites that will allow business travelers to view the benefits included in their company’s sales agreement.