The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

On Tuesday, the UK parliament rejected the Brexit deal that PM Theresa May had reached with the European Union, NPR reports. As the March 29 deadline quickly approaches, it’s possible that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in place. The UK could also unilaterally reverse its decision to leave, as ruled by the bloc’s highest court.

Car rental giant Enterprise is set to acquire corporate travel provider Deem, Skift notes. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Also in acquisition news, TechCrunch reports American Express acquired Japan-based restaurant booking service Pocket Concierge in an undisclosed deal.

According to The Seattle Times, divers have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air jet that crashed in October. The aircraft crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off, killing all 189 people on board.

After the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada, China is asking some of its state-run enterprises to avoid business trips to the U.S. and its allies, Bloomberg notes. The country is also asking them to take extra precautions to protect their devices if travel is necessary.

On the branding front, Travel Weekly reports Marriott is relaunching its loyalty program as Marriott Bonvoy, encompassing its Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards platforms.

Aer Lingus also unveiled a rebrand of their logo and livery this week, Buying Business Travel writes. The airline is set to take delivery of four A321LRs this year, which will allow them to introduce a new business class product.

According to Skift, event organizers are planning for stretched budgets this year. A poll of 1,200 event creators revealed that half expect their budget for 2019 to remain the same as the previous year; however, 49% also said they expect to be responsible for more events than last year.

All Nippon Airways is trialing driverless buses in a restricted area at Tokyo Haneda Airport, Business Traveller notes. The airline will run tests until January 25, and if the trial is successful, it could lead to the implementation of driverless buses at the airport by 2020.

The future of travel could also hold flying taxi services. According to Skift, Switzerland’s national rail service is in talks to develop air taxis that would transport customers from rail stations to destinations.

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

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, 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.

Week in Review

Airbnb wants to give its host the opportunity to own a piece of the company, TechCrunch reports. The home-sharing company is attempting to change the SEC’s Rule 701, which governs ownership of equity in companies.

The UK government warns of flight disruptions in the case of a no-deal Brexit, Skift writes. If the EU doesn’t grant reciprocal approvals to its planes and airlines, flights may be grounded.

According to CNN, Hong Kong launched a new high-speed rail link to mainland China on Sunday. The $10.75 billion dollar project is controversial because it allows mainland immigration officers to enforce Chinese law on Hong Kong soil.

In other high-speed rail news, Al Jazeera notes Saudi Arabia launched a high-speed railway on Tuesday that connects holy cities Mecca and Medina.

According to USA TODAY, Southwest Airlines has begun rolling out complimentary in-flight messaging on select flights.

On this week’s podcast, we talk business travel payment trends. Airplus’ Kathy Cantwell and GBTA Senior Research Analyst Mark Sharoff talk through key highlights from a recent payments study and discuss the future of virtual payments.

Uber has been fined $148 million due to a cyberattack that exposed the data of millions of customers and drivers, Buying Business writes.

On Wednesday, the House passed a five-year FAA reauthorization bill, WTOP notes. Among other things, the bill prohibits voice calls on planes, states that only passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs can use PreCheck lanes, and does not increase the passenger facility charge (PFC).

Grow your network with GBTA Ladders! This unique team mentor program affords members the opportunity to expand their professional development and to gain lifelong friends. Don’t miss out on your chance to get involved. Submit your application by September 28.

Japan Airlines plans on flying a nonstop service from Seattle to Tokyo, USA TODAY reports.

Another day, another pilot strike for Ryanair. The airline canceled nearly 100 flights on Friday after German pilots announced a strike at the last minute, Buying Business Travel writes.

According to Skift, Singapore Airlines is one step closer to launching the world’s longest flight, a non-stop service to New York that totals nearly 19 hours.

The Evolution of Travel

The next time you find yourself irritated because of a delayed flight, put yourself in the shoes of a traveler in the early 1900s. Before the era of mass air travel began, travelers relied primarily on ocean liners for long-distance journeys, and Low-Tech Magazine notes a trip from London to New York would take three days and 12 hours to complete. Today, that trip takes as little as seven hours and 40 minutes, thanks to the commercialization of airplanes.

From horse-drawn carriages in the 18th century to gas-powered automobiles in the 19th century to flying around the world at a moment’s notice today, the way we get around has altered dramatically. The below timeline highlights a few milestones throughout the history of travel, courtesy of the University of Houston, CNN, Motor Trend, and Daimler.


1769 – Nicolas Cugnot invents the first steam-powered automobile capable of human transport

Steam-powered car invented by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot

Image Source: PBS LearningMedia


1885 – Karl Benz creates the first gas-powered automobile 

The original "Benz Patent Motor Car", 1886 - the world's first automobile

Image Source: Daimler


1903 – Orville and Wilbur Wright made history by completing the first-ever manned, heavier-than-air flight

Image Source: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum


1952 – The de Havilland Aircraft Company debuted the world’s first commercial jet flight, a 23-hour trip between London and Johannesburg

Image Source: Finding Dulcinea


1964 – Japan launches the bullet train, a high-speed rail that reaches up to 210 km per hour

World's first bullet train, made in Japan, turns 50

Image Source:


1969 – The first Boeing 747 flight took off, traveling nearly twice as far as other commercial planes

Image Source: Aviation Week Network


1990 – Mazda produces the Eunos Cosmo, the first car with a built-in navigation system

Image Source: Motor Trend


1996 – The launch of booking site Expedia opened up the door for online travel bookings

Image Source: Tnooz

As travel has evolved and increasingly connected our world, so has our Association. Over the years, GBTA has provided a platform for managed travel professionals to share best practices, policies and solutions to the industry’s greatest issues. While these posts are meant to look back and reflect on our history, we look forward to what the future holds, for both our organization and the travel industry.

Visit the GBTA Blog every Thursday for more throwback posts! Interested in submitting a Convention memory for a chance to be featured at #GBTA2018 in San Diego? Here’s how. You can also share your Convention memories with us on Twitter using #TBT and tagging @GlobalBTA.

Week in Review

Following last week’s speculations of a potential acquisition, Reuters reports AccorHotels will buy Movenpick Hotels in a $567 million deal.

According to The Korea Times, Korea plans on putting an end to OTAs’ unfair refund policies, which prevent customers from changing reservations or claiming refunds in the case of cancellations. The Fair Trade Commission suggests that agencies can still sell the rooms to other customers if the reservations are cancelled early enough, meaning the current policies infringe upon customers’ rights.

Marriott, Accor, Southwest and Virgin Australia were all voted in as the top loyalty programs at the Freddie Awards last week, Skift notes.

Great news for travelers flying through Chicago: O’Hare and Midway international airports are now offering free unlimited Wi-Fi, USA TODAY shares.

According to USA TODAY, six new airlines have joined the TSA Precheck program: Air Serbia, Condor Airlines, Porter Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and the UK and Scandinavian units of Thomas Cook Airlines.

On this week’s episode of The Business of Travel, we chat about how improving the traveler experience can boost travel policy compliance. Jeanne Liu highlights research findings that show the connection between traveler satisfaction and policy compliance, while Jason Moskal of Hotel Indigo and Even Hotel Brands for IHG shares lessons learned in building a brand around creating the best possible travel experience.

The results are in: the world’s busiest air route is a one-hour connection from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. According to Business Traveller, carriers operated 30,537 flights over the 12 months to February 2018.

TravelWeekly reports train companies are discussing the possibility of a high-speed rail link between London and Bordeaux.

According to The Independent, a new study suggests airline passengers are missing out on compensation due to a flawed complaints process.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker warns that higher airfares are coming due to rising fuel costs, The Washington Post notes.

Heathrow’s CEO suggests the airport’s potential third runway is within “touching distance” of approval, Skift writes.

According to Fox News, Singapore Airlines is prepping to launch the world’s longest non-stop flight by the end of 2018. The Singapore-New York route would be 9,521 miles long and take 19 hours to complete.

TravelDailyNews International shares findings from a new study suggesting 89 percent of top travel websites fail to protect user security.

Week in Review

Adding to a growing list of industry breaches, Delta revealed a data breach that may have exposed credit card information for hundreds of thousands of customers. According to The Verge, an online support company that powers the airline’s chat platform suffered a malware attack last fall, but failed to inform Delta until mid-March 2018.

According to Phocuswright, Google’s internal incubator lab is developing a corporate travel product that will create instant travel budgets and incentivize employees.

Chicago’s city council has approved a plan to invest $8.5 billion in O’Hare International Airport, Business Traveller notes. In addition to receiving upgrades in security screening, baggage handling and check-in technology, the airport's Terminal 2 will be demolished and replaced with a new international terminal.

Following in Qantas’ footsteps, Air New Zealand is introducing its own ultra-long-haul flight. Starting in November, the non-stop 16-hour flight will fly from Chicago O’Hare to Auckland, USA TODAY reports.

On the latest episode of The Business of Travel, we discuss cost savings strategies in managed travel programs from the basics on up. Two industry veterans share their experiences, perspectives and best practices when it comes to saving your travel program money.

A three-week air traffic control upgrade could delay London flights in the coming weeks, Buying Business Travel notes.

In acquisition news, Skift reports Red Lion Hotels is buying Knights Inn from Wyndham for $27 million.

The same source states AccorHotels plans to buy a 50 percent stake in Mantis Group, a South African hotel chain. The deal would add 28 properties to the group’s portfolio.

Continuing on this trend, Conference & Incentive Travel shares Business Travel Direct has completed its acquisition of Uniglobe Preferred Travel.

In 2017, over 40 million people were exploited in some form of human trafficking, an industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits worldwide. Traveler awareness has the potential to create a meaningful impact to end child prostitution and trafficking, and here’s how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

According to The Register, the U.S. State Department wants all visa applicants to provide information about the social media accounts they’ve used in the past five years. The plan is yet to be approved.

Radisson Hotel Group is getting a makeover with a new, refreshed brand in the U.S., Travel Weekly reports. The project may result in the removal of 10 to 15 percent of non-compliant hotels.

French rail workers staged a mass strike from Monday evening to Wednesday morning, Skift notes. The strike halted 85 percent of the country’s high-speed trains and three-quarters of regional trains.

Safety and Awareness Support for Female Travelers

Nearly two-thirds of travelers today are women, reports the George Washington University School of Business. Many of these women travel solo for business, with the numbers doubling in the past five years. 

Today, all travelers face increasing risks but women specifically may face their own unique situations. Organizations must adapt to support the increase in women travelers and may need to provide additional training measures to adequately prepare and support women travelers so they can safely and confidently conduct business.

Organizations and employers should provide women travelers with appropriate travel safety and security advice specific to female travelers including:

  • Information on health concerns such as traveling during pregnancy and stress
  • Confidence and assertiveness training
  • Methods for coping when away from family
  • Proper clothing and accessories
  • Cultural and etiquette education for women
  • Geographical awareness and support to limit exposure to crimes against women
  • Emergency contact details, and communication channels and potential challenges
  • Airport arrival and departure times

In addition, the option to refuse to travel to a destination where the risk exceeds the traveler’s tolerance level must be offered and accepted.

While the majority of business travel experiences go off without a hitch, organizations should identify that female travelers may have different travel needs and be prepared to provide the appropriate level of care and support for those traveling alone or with other women.

Week in Review

According to Reuters, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide the legality of Trump’s latest travel ban. The court is set to hear arguments in April and will issue a ruling by the end of June.

The UK experienced severe gusts and snow storms resulting in widespread travel disruption, power outages and school closures, The Guardian notes.

Following the derailment of a train in Washington last month, Amtrak has appointed an airline expert as its new safety chief, King 5 News reports.  

TravelDailyNews International shares findings from a report that claims U.S. hotel room construction is on the decline.

Airbnb is rolling out a feature called Pay Less Up Front that enables guests to split their payments, The Next Web reports. Guests can pay 50 percent of the bill upfront and pay the remainder just before check-in.

According to TechRepublic, consumer technology tradeshow CES revealed five trends that may have a massive impact on business travel this year.

In honor of our upcoming 50th annual Convention, this week’s Throwback Thursday post takes a comprehensive look at all of our Convention themes since 1996!

Tnooz notes fraud prevention in travel needs a different approach and shares tips for combating fraud and overcoming false declines.

According to SBS News, a Malaysia Airlines flight from Sydney made an emergency landing on Thursday due to “technical reasons”.

4Hoteliers shares the top ten US meeting trends for 2018.

American Airlines is adding Chicago O’Hare to its East Coast Shuttle service, USA TODAY notes.

According to Skift, United will begin giving passengers details about why their flights are delayed.

Hotelmarketing’com reports Italy’s Antitrust Authority has fined six online travel agencies over €4 million for unfair practices and violating consumer rights.

Week in Review

The FAA now recognizes Alaska Airlines and Virgin America as one airline, signaled by the issuance of a single operating certificate, Business Traveller reports.

Bank of America analysts suggest the U.S. tax bill will increase corporate spending and, in turn, business travel, according to Business Traveller.  

Amsterdam is set to impose a 30-day annual limit on Airbnb-type rentals in order to combat the unintended consequences of tourism, Inquirer notes.

To the surprise of few, a new study from Columbia University reveals frequent business travel takes a toll on your mental health. Business Traveller notes frequent travelers are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety than their more stationary counterparts.

Hilton is testing out innovative products for the hotel room of the future including a real-time translation earpiece, USA TODAY reports.  

According to TravelDailyNews International, the airlines of Lufthansa Group are altering how miles are assigned in their loyalty program Miles & More.  

Artificial intelligence has the potential to reinvent the way companies function, and Hotelmarketing’com shares four categories where AI will impact hotels in the coming years.

Business Traveller finds Delta has been named the world’s most punctual airline, boasting an on-time rating of 85.94 percent in 2017.

Emirates and Etihad have joined forces for airline security by agreeing to share information and intelligence with each other, The Economic Times reports.

According to CNET, European ride-sharing company Taxify launched in Sydney recently, bringing competition to the city’s transportation market.

Cathay Pacific introduced Business Plus in India, enabling travel professionals to manage employee bookings, assign and redeem points and more, Business Traveller notes.

The Independent finds Ryanair lost its spot as Europe’s biggest airline to Lufthansa due in part to a rostering error.  

Throughout Asia and Europe, high-speed rail services are giving airlines a run for their money. Bloomberg reports certain train routes are comparable to air travel in terms of price and speed.