The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

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.

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.

GBTA Research and Professional Development Update

Are Business Travel Programs Barring Basic Economy?

According to new research, business travel programs are not on board with basic economy fares. These fares were introduced by many airlines last year and are typically cheaper than standard airfare, but come with restrictions. The report, put out by GBTA in partnership with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), revealed that 63 percent of travel programs never allow basic economy, and even more (79 percent) configure their booking tool to hide basic economy fares when travelers are not authorized. Delve into additional research findings.  


GBTA Announces Formation of WINiT Strategic Advisory Board

In early October, GBTA announced the formation of the WINiT Strategic Advisory Board, which will provide strategic guidance and direction for the future of WINiT as a GBTA Board of Directors initiative. GBTA announced its acquisition of WINiT in August at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. More details on this acquisition and initiative can be found here.


Mobile Payments among Travel Buyers and Suppliers Still in Early Adoption Phase

New research by GBTA, in partnership with U.S. Bank, reveals that mobile payments among travel buyers and suppliers are still in the early adoption phase. While most travel buyers and suppliers are familiar with mobile wallet and contactless payment solutions, 49 percent of travel buyers are still unclear on the benefits. Learn more about this new research.


GBTA & ITM Announce Long-Term Joint Venture

During GBTA Convention 2018, GBTA and The Institute of Travel Management (ITM), the leading managed business travel association in the UK and Ireland, announced the creation of a new London-based event for the managed travel and meetings sector. The new joint venture will kick off with an event, focused on Strategic Meetings Management, that will take place in London on 31 January 2019. Find out more about this partnership.


83 Percent of Female Business Travelers Report Safety Concern or Incident in Past Year

A recent study, conducted in partnership with AIG Travel, revealed that more than 8 in 10, or 83 percent, of women have experienced one or more safety-related concerns or incidents while traveling for business in the past year. The report delves into various precautions that female business travelers take due to safety concerns, highlights gaps in managed travel programs, and more. Read on for more statistics on female business traveler safety.


Business Travelers Say Loyalty Matters in Hotel Booking

According to new research by GBTA, in partnership with Omni Hotels & Resorts, 82 percent of business travelers say loyalty programs matter when making a decision to book a hotel. Additionally, a vast majority (84 percent) of business travelers feel having a personalized guest experience is important. Learn more about trends in hotel personalization and loyalty programs.


Upcoming Events

October 30: GBTA Canada Market Call – Canadian Cannabis Legalization and Its Business Travel Implications 

November 6: Benchmark Your Air Travel Policy – Findings from GBTA ARC Research 

November 14: New GBTA Research – Simple Meetings by the Numbers – A Huge Process and Savings Opportunity 

November 26-27: Advanced Principles of Business Travel Management™ 

See More Upcoming Events



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Wyndham Hotel Group

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.

GBTA Unveils Speaker Lineup for Western Canada Business Travel Symposium in Calgary

GBTA, the voice of the global business travel industry, today unveiled the speaker lineup for its sold-out Western Canada Business Travel Symposium in Calgary on Thursday, October 18.

This event is an evolution of the Energy, Resources & Marine Symposium that has taken place annually in Calgary from 2014 to 2017. Our 2018 symposium will feature keynote speakers and education sessions focusing on business travel, logistics and crew/camp movement, and accommodations within the industry sectors of oil, gas, energy, resources, mining, forestry and agriculture, specific to the western Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan to British Columbia.

Attendees will hear insights on the latest technology trends impacting the Canadian business travel industry, lessons on crafting a comprehensive end-to-end travel program for companies operating crew movements, learn about NDC’s impact on personalization in our industry, and much more. In addition, our symposium will provide an excellent opportunity for travel buyers and suppliers to network with other professionals involved in these specialized industry sectors.

Keynote and Centre Stage Speakers include:

  • Lee Courtney, Founder, DLC Strategic Solutions
  • David Crawford, Vice President, Vancouver Board of Trade
  • Dave Froh, Vice President, Sector Development, Economic Development Saskatchewan
  • Clark Grue, President & CEO, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre
  • Roxanne Israel, Partner, EY Law LLP
  • Sharlene Ketwaroo-Nanoo, Travel Category Manager, Rogers Communications
  • Shelly Lewchuk, Manager, Corporate Travel, Canadian Natural Resources Limited
  • Linda Olsen, TV News Anchor, Global News
  • Jay Richmond, Head of Business Travel Group, Amadeus North America, Inc.

We also have an excellent line-up of Featured Session Speakers that includes:

  • Ashley Allot, Managing Director Canada, Egencia
  • Greg Allworth, Director Enterprise Sales, Chromeriver
  • George Bryan, President, Tropos Consulting
  • Luc Carriere, Production Coordinator, Sulphur Experts Inc.
  • Colleen Fitzpatrick, Chief Commercial Officer, Innfinity
  • Jeff Hamilton, Director, Sales & Business Development, Carlson Wagonlit Travel
  • Darlene Innes, Manager, Employee & Labour Relations Advisory Services, Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Mark Kosikowski, Manager Commercial Distribution, Air Canada
  • Jean-Philippe Lavallee, Founder & CEO, Nomadis
  • Monica McKill, Air & Ground Transportation, Cenovus Energy
  • Michael Nagel, Nomadis
  • Jessica Nunes, Manager, Business Travel and Operations ScotiaBank
  • Ian Race, Senior VP, Corporate Sales & Account Management, Vision Travel Solutions
  • David Roberts, Indirect Tax Manager, Cargill
  • Barbara Stiver, Manager, Client Logistics, Civeo North America

For more information and the full agenda, please visit the symposium website. Press registration is complimentary for accredited media. For media accreditation, please contact Marianne Varkiani at

Global Travel Pricing in 2019

What will pricing for air, hotel and ground transportation look like in the year ahead? According to GBTA research, travel prices are expected to rise sharply in 2019, with hotels going up 3.7% and flights 2.6%, driven by a growing global economy and rising oil prices. Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Christophe Renard and GBTA Economist Jon Gray recently joined GBTA Executive Director & COO Mike McCormick to discuss shifts in global travel pricing in addition to the trends shaping the future of the industry. Read more highlights from the forecast here.

Week in Review

After a brief hiatus, the Week in Review is back. Head to the GBTA Blog every Friday for a weekly recap of the latest business travel news.

As category three Hurricane Lane bears down on Hawaii, major U.S. airlines are cancelling flights and offering travel waivers to impacted passengers, Business Insider reports.

Marriott International has completed the integration of its three loyalty programs, Buying Business Travel notes. Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will now “operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency”.

Hyundai is investing $14.3 million USD in Indian car rental startup Revv, TechCrunch writes. Revv provides consumers with on-demand car rentals and uses a model similar to Zipcar.

According to Travel Market Report, major airlines are rolling out new benefits for corporate customers aimed to please road warriors and travel professionals alike.  

A potential pilot shortage could have repercussions on the way we fly in the near future, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

4Hoteliers shares findings from an IATA survey that suggests significant growth in aviation jobs is expected. However, the survey does not address the forecast shortages of pilots and maintenance technicians.

GBTA Convention 2018 wrapped up just over a week ago in the beautiful and sunny San Diego. As we celebrated our 50th anniversary of Convention, innovation and the future of business travel were the predominant themes throughout the event.

According to USA TODAY, Lufthansa tops the ranking of Europe’s 30 biggest airlines (by available seat miles).

Delta’s newest jets will have fewer middle seats than typical jets, Skift reports. The airline plans to deploy the jets on key business routes and in markets where its most lucrative passengers fly.

Changi Airport Group has launched a “Changi Stopovers in Singapore” program in order to attract passengers traveling through the airport, Business Traveller notes.

Podcast: Live from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018 Part 1

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel takes you back to last week’s GBTA Convention. Hear all of Monday’s Center Stage sessions. First, up you’ll hear from Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson in a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick as he shares his outlook on the business travel industry, the shakeup over group commissions and the company’s home-sharing strategy.

Next up is a panel featuring Successful Women Leading in Business Travel, moderated by GBTA’s Allied Member of the Year honoree and the SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Dorothy Dowling. The panel of top female business travel executives share their insights on the unique challenges they faced as women arriving in leadership positions within their companies.

Wrapping up today’s episode, you’ll hear our final Monday Center Stage session where TSA Administrator David Pekoske and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan took the stage together for the first-time in an interview with McCormick. The two highlighted technology’s potential to dramatically increase security and passenger facilitation.



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!


Bullish on the Future, Marriott CEO Takes Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018

As only the third person in 90 years to head the largest hotel company in the world, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson shared his outlook on the business travel industry, the shakeup over group commissions and the company’s home-sharing strategy on Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018.

Sorenson said he is “thrilled to be in an industry that’s growing,” during a one-on-one interview  kicking off Center Stage with GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick.  Marriott’s success, like much of the rest of the travel industry, is thanks to solid economic progress and the global growth of the middle class, he said.

Consumers are spending more of their dollars on experiences, also contributing to the recent growth many in the travel industry are enjoying.

Perhaps the best news is that Sorenson doesn’t think the prosperity will end anytime soon. “I don’t think we’re in a plateau or peak. We are in a complicated world today, and that complicated world exists in the United States and it exists abroad.” Those complexities are hard to predict, but the bigger trends will last for decades, Sorenson predicted.

McCormick and Sorenson discussed some contentious issues, including Marriott’s market concentration, pricing and group commissions. With a portfolio of 30 brands and an enormous presence in some larger cities, McCormick relayed GBTA members’ concerns over rates and the ability to negotiate in those markets.

“We don’t have much pricing power,” Sorenson explained. “As big as we are--roughly 15 percent the of U.S. hotel business--we only price about half of those rooms.” The other half, he explained, is priced by franchisees. Further, Sorenson said, there is “total transparency, enormous competition…[and] the potential for a rate premium is extraordinarily modest.”

In addressing the company’s decision to reduce group intermediary commissions, Sorenson highlighted the significant rise in group business over the past decade. He would like ultimately to transition to a commission system where group intermediaries are rewarded based on the value they deliver to their customers.

“Some were delivering amazing value, some weren’t at all,” he said, “and they were all charging 10 percent. Ten percent in the context of many of our hotels in bigger cities in the U.S. is a very healthy percentage of the total profitability of that hotel.” He proposed finding a position where “the economics are fair and we are as aligned as we can be.”

Sorenson discussed the home sharing’s effect on the hotel business and the company’s future plans to participate in that space; however, the company’s pilot program—200 whole-home units in England connected to the loyalty program--competes for leisure travelers, not business travelers. Home sharing, he said, competes “broadly in the hospitality space,” but skews overwhelmingly to leisure and budget travel. As for the future, Sorensen said, “I think it’s fair to say this business exists, and we’re unlikely to be able to wake up tomorrow and suddenly see that it’s [the home services industry] gone.”