The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Podcast: 2019 Trends: Sustainability, Security and Simple Meetings

The Business of Travel is back. We are kicking off ‘season two’ of GBTA’s official podcast with today’s episode featuring three GBTA members sharing the top business travel trends to look out for in 2019 around sustainability, security and simple meetings.



Episode guests include:

Aurora Dawn Benton
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
GBTA Sustainability & Responsibility Committee Member

Erin L. Wilk
Global Security Travel Safety Manager & Interim Head of Internal Communications for Global Security, Facebook
GBTA Board Member

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien
President & CEO, Groupize
GBTA Meetings Committee Member


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

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.

Mind Your Ps: How Corporate Travel Supports Business Goals for Profits, People and the Planet

The three Ps—profits, people and planet—are the triple bottom line for businesses today. Companies evaluate opportunities and measure success using financial, social and environmental metrics. According to a recent study commissioned by the United Nations:

  • 97% of chief executive officers believe sustainability is important to the future success of their business.
  • 85% have embedded sustainability into the business.
  • 79% say brand, trust and reputation drive them to act on sustainability.

Corporate travel plays a vital role. A travel program that embeds sustainability into its operations supports savings (profits), traveler satisfaction (people) and environmentally and socially responsible stewardship (planet).

If you’re just getting started with linking your travel program to broader business goals on sustainability, GBTA’s Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool, created in conjunction with BCD Travel, is a great place to begin. It measures sustainability by program category, including:

  • Overall sustainability program
  • Policies and procedures
  • Air
  • Hotel
  • Car rental
  • Rail
  • Other transportation
  • Meetings and events
  • Traveler well-being
  • Program communications

Based on the results, the tool grades your travel program’s sustainability level and provides recommendations for improvement. It’s easy to use, and the category assessments can be completed over time or all at once.

Once you have a clearer understanding of your program’s strengths and weaknesses, start looking for others in the business travel industry with a proven record of sustainability success.

In addition, the United Nations Global Compact website offers information on thousands of companies committed to the world’s largest sustainability initiative. The Global Compact calls for corporations to align business principles with sustainability efforts, including improving human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption practices. Make connections with some of these businesses that are getting sustainability right, and ask them for guidance.

The focus on profits, people and the planet is here to stay. It’s time to start minding your three Ps—and you’ve got the tools and resources to make that happen.

Questions? Comments? Send me an email at, and let’s have a chat about creating a sustainable travel program. You can also get in touch via, and we’ll share our story and tips for sustainability success.



As Senior Manager Global Sustainability Marketing, Sabine Kerse leads all Marketing and Communications activities focused on sustainability at BCD Travel. In this role she’s made her passion for sustainability part of her profession and uses the powers of Marketing to drive corporate responsibility forward.

Sabine holds a Master’s degree in Tourism & Leisure Management from the Salzburg Management Business School and has profound knowledge about corporate travel from different roles in over 20 years in the industry.

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.

Travel Risk Management and Sustainability...Connecting the Dots

By GBTA Risk Committee and GBTA Sustainability Committee


How organizations manage the health, safety and security of their employees on business travel is not only part of their Duty of Care legal obligation, but also bears heavy influence on their GRI sustainability score. Corporate sustainability is an organization’s activities that demonstrate their work towards social, occupational and environmental concerns in business operations.

Having a Travel Risk Management program and partner not only provides robust travel risk solutions that help organizations protect their people, meet their Duty of Care requirements and save money, but it also helps to meet sustainable development goals and GRI reporting requirements.

It is important to work with a TRM partner, implement a holistic program, and report on how you are protecting your employees by providing solutions in a global environment; such as health consulting, promotion of worker health, and assisting employees with health and safety events while traveling.

Connecting the dots starts with understanding the lingo!


Key Sustainability Terms for a Holistic Travel Risk Management Solution:



Sustainable Development Goals




Sustainable Development Goals in Good Health & Wellbeing


Sustainability Report

How an organization reports what they've done to achieve goals




Global Reporting Initiative


GRI 403


Global Reporting Initiative on Occupational Health & Safety




Sustainability Accounting Standards Board




Sustainability Grading System



Food for thought:

“One out of every eight dollars under professional management in the United States in involved in socially responsible investing. That $3.07 trillion represents a huge pool of money that is being invested in companies that have been found to be sustainable.” – John Friedman (Huff Post, September 2017)

Do you know your company’s Sustainability goals and score?

Week in Review

It has been quite the week of natural disasters. On Thursday, Typhoon Jebi made landfall in Japan leaving nearly 3,000 passengers stranded at Kansai International Airport, Business Insider reports. Due to severe flooding, the airport was forced to shut down.

Tropical Storm Gordon also made landfall this week, causing major airlines to waive change fees in advance, USA TODAY notes.

Officials have unveiled a new facial recognition system at Dulles International Airport in the Washington, D.C. area, The Washington Post reports. The system is expected to eventually replace boarding passes for international travelers with facial scans.

According to Skift, TSA is planning to expand its testing of next-generation scanners (computed topography X-rays) for carry-on bags.

United Airlines announced plans to ditch plastic straws and cocktail stirrers for bamboo equivalents in November, CNBC reports. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines took similar steps earlier this year.

According to SFGate, the House approved a new bipartisan bill called the “PreCheck Is PreCheck Act of 2018” this week. If it becomes law, the legislation will bar TSA from letting non-members into PreCheck lanes.

Ben Coleman, Global Security Executive Services Manager for Facebook, identifies the benefits of leveraging security and travel to build a better travel risk management program.

Skift notes that a rise in peak occupancy nights in 2018 is helping hotels.

A flight from Dubai to NYC ended with passengers and crew taken to the hospital and a quarantined jet, NPR reports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 100 people on the flight complained of illness.  

According to TravelDailyNews International, a new IATA report reveals worldwide annual air passenger numbers exceeded four billion for the first time. The report also delves into airline industry performance in 2017.

USA TODAY notes a “refresh” is coming to JetBlue’s TrueBlue loyalty program. Though the points scheme will remain the same, members will have access to an updated website to track and redeem points.

New research out from GBTA, in partnership with U.S. Bank, reveals mobile payments among travel buyers and suppliers are still in the early adoption phase. Although most buyers and suppliers are familiar with mobile wallet and contactless payment solutions, nearly 50% are unclear on the benefits.

Week in Review

As Taiwan braced for the impact of Typhoon Maria on Tuesday, Reuters reports hundreds of flights were cancelled and schools were shut down. Weather officials warned of landslides and flooding on the island.

A new study revealed Miami International Airport was the top-ranked airport in Florida for business travelers, TravelPulse notes.

According to Business Traveller, Singapore’s Changi Airport will soon become the first airport in Southeast Asia to accept payments through WeChat Pay.

Ryanair was forced to ground dozens of flights on Thursday after a pilot walkout, Skift writes. This is the biggest strike that the airline has faced to date.

Corporate Travel Management acquired Hong-Kong based travel agency Lotus Travel Group in a $37.4 million USD deal, Travel Weekly notes.

Also on the acquisition front, Buying Business Travel reports Booking Holdings will buy hotel Australian metasearch site Hotelscombined.  

On this week’s podcast, we discuss how to tune up your travel policy. The conversation focused on identifying cost-savings opportunities, finding the balance between cost-savings and traveler productivity, and addressing shared economy options.

According to Buying Business Travel, UK airports are “failing” disabled passengers. The Civil Aviation Authority came out with a ranking of the region’s 30 busiest airports based on their ability to provide disabled passengers with assistance.

U.S. airlines are increasingly putting smaller bathrooms on planes, Los Angeles Times notes.

According to Forbes, the percentage of women traveling for business is rising, and as such, so are their unique travel safety risks.

Business shares tips on how to deal with employees who go rogue while booking business travel.

Following a trial period, Buying Business Travel reports Carlson Wagonlit is rolling out its Price Tracking technology worldwide. The technology continuously monitors flight and hotel prices and checks them against existing bookings.

As Google places a bigger emphasis on its mobile-first initiative, HotelMarketing’com discusses how hoteliers must adapt their digital presence and marketing.  

According to USA TODAY, American Airlines plans to eliminate plastic straws and stir sticks from its flights and lounges. As a result, the airline predicts its use of plastic will lessen by 71,000 pounds a year.

Week in Review

If you thought winter’s worst was over – oh boy, are you in for some fun! Much of Europe was plagued by extreme weather conditions ranging from heavy snows and freezing winds, CNN reports. Not surprisingly, the so-dubbed “Beast from the East” disrupted travel in Scotland, Ireland, England and most of mainland Europe.

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. is experiencing its own weather problems, and as of Friday afternoon, USA TODAY notes airlines have already cancelled over 2,500 flights.

According to 4Hoteliers, a no-single use plastic hotel launches in Thailand in May. The hotel claims to be one of Asia’s first hotels to prohibit the use of plastics.

AccorHotels CEO Sebastian Bazin suspects mobile payments and interactive technologies like Google Home and Amazon Echo could threaten the hospitality sector, Hotelmarketing’com notes.

IATA aims to have one billion passengers fly on sustainable aviation fuel flights by 2025, TravelDailyNews International reports.

According to Skift, American Airlines and Qantas have filed an application through the U.S. Department of Transportation to form a joint business.

The same source reports Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City have received the green light to display ads in their vehicles.

In airport improvement news, Buying Business Travel reports Dubai International Airport will be upgrading its southern runway, resulting in a 45-day closure in 2019.  

Chicago O’Hare International Airport may also be seeing some major improvements in the $8.5 billion USD range. The Chicago Tribune claims Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s airlines are currently negotiating a deal to expand the airport as part of an eight-year plan.

Continuing on with this airport theme, Business Traveler writes Denver International Airport is officially a smoke-free facility, joining more than 600 airports across the country.

4Hoteliers reports Qatar Airways acquired the 174-room Sheraton Melbourne Hotel in a A$135 million deal (~$104.6 million USD).

According to Bloomberg, airlines are backing a startup that could fix the overbooking problems we’ve been witnessing recently.

Business Traveller notes Singapore’s Changi Airport is increasing departure fees for passengers in order to fund improvements to the airport.

House lawmakers blasted the Transportation Security Administration over its PreCheck strategies this week, USA TODAY reports.

In other TSA news, the organization is aiming to improve the transgender screening process, USA TODAY writes.

World Travellers and Companies as Global Citizens

*The following is a guest blog post by Kati Ihamäki, GBTA member and Finnair’s Director of Corporate Sustainability*

The business sector and the way companies operate have a major impact on the future of the Earth. We can’t simply focus on minimising the impacts of our operations — instead, we must find opportunities for developing our operations, growing responsibly and benefiting society.

Companies and individuals who operate in a sustainable manner can thus change the world for the better. A company may not directly be able to influence things such as national legislation, but a sustainably operating company will introduce new practices and approaches into the social environment it operates in. Likewise, an individual citizen and consumer can make choices that help steer the product offering towards better sustainability. Companies want to contribute to be sustainable members of society and global citizens. Companies take on responsibilities and exert influence well beyond their geographical boundaries – their sphere of influence includes countries where their products are used, or where they have subcontractors or where they source their raw materials from. Sustainability throughout the entire sourcing chain has become a key indicator. This also applies to the travel industry – the entire travel chain and the infrastructure it requires. Social and environmental impact knows no geographical boundaries.

According to the old saying, leaving is more important than arriving. However, what about your destination and the method by which you travel? Sustainable travel, ‘staycationing’ and ecotourism are on everyone’s lips, but how seriously do people actually take these when planning their vacation? In business travel, you can hardly choose your destination, but the mode of transport and choice of hotel also leave a mark.  If you are interested in sustainability, where do you find reliable information?

Although there is a plethora of different eco labels, certificates and calculators available, the calculation methods and evaluation criteria applied for them vary dramatically. Fortunately, travel industry operators have joined forces to develop tools for travellers to help in deciding their destination based on sustainability or their mode of transport based on the level of emissions. We are unlikely to ever achieve a single, comprehensive label that would cover all aspects of sustainability, but these tools will help travellers make choices based on facts that matter to them personally.

Environmental considerations are often mentioned in connection with travel – carbon and water footprints, amount of waste generated and energy consumption. Different modes of transport can be compared using emissions calculators, just like hotels’ environmental performance can be evaluated based on their environmental footprint. The problem may be in that the calculators used by different airlines are not based on the same methods of calculation. Therefore, comparison between airlines is tricky, although destinations can be ranked based on the flight route calculators.

There are still no foolproof ways of comparing different modes of transport, but progress is being made through a concerted effort by stakeholders. In an ideal situation, when using a booking application, the customer should be able to not only compare the prices, but also the travel time and emissions. Although there is still some way to go before this is achieved and the emissions calculations are only estimates, development work is underway.

If you want to do your share and contribute to sustainable development projects, you can do so by, for example, donating your frequent flyer points or even participating in projects on-site. These alternatives are offered by airlines, hotels, travel organisers and NGOs.

In order to promote responsible business travel, Project ICARUS will be running the industry's only Sustainability E-learning Certificate program through a series of educational e-learning sessions starting Tuesday, October 24.

Kati Ihamäki has been the Director of Corporate Sustainability at Finnair since 2008. She has been passionately designing and managing Finnair’s corporate responsibility strategy and integrating sustainability issues into Finnair’s competitive strategy. Previously, Kati worked as Finnair’s Alliance Director for oneworld affairs; Manager for Bilateral agreements; Controller for Service and Quality for Stations abroad.

In her current role, Kati leads the development and execution of company-wide strategic sustainability initiatives, while integrating corporate responsibility into business-critical processes throughout the company.

Kati’s responsibilities include ensuring that sustainable development efforts enhance Finnair’s business performance and support the company’s strategy along with the long-term interests of multiple stakeholders. Kati’s work ensures that Finnair's current and future operations are sustainable and in line with the relevant values, norms and regulations. Additionally, she is responsible for the continuous development of Finnair’s corporate responsibility reporting and communication.

Week in Review

According to the Chicago Tribune, a new study suggests the TSA would save $34 million a year by making PreCheck free for frequent fliers. In addition to saving millions, the agency could create shorter lines and enhance security at many of the nation’s airports.

Earlier this year, the GBTA Aviation Committee unveiled a new, revamped Airline Request for Proposal (RFP). Designed to become the new industry standard for travel professionals, the new airline RFP toolkit is now available free of charge to all in the industry.

Ctrip has officially completed its previously announced acquisition of SkyScanner in an estimated $1.74 billion deal, according to TechCrunch.

According to Buying Business Travel, Cabfind announced a partnership with travel management company CTI. The partnership will allow the ground transport company to expand its service.

Buying Business Travel shares new research from Carlson Wagonlit Travel that suggests businesses could reduce travel spend by up to 15 percent by changing traveler behavior and enforcing existing travel policies.

According to MarketWatch, IATA estimates airline profits will reach record heights before 2017. The association says airlines are expected to deliver a combined record net profit of $35.6 billion this year, an increase from $35.3 billion last year.

IATA has also stated global air passenger traffic demand rose 5.8 percent in October compared to the same period last year, according to Manila Bulletin.

TravelDailyNews reports Scope 5 and Concur have partnered to help customers track the emissions impact of business travel. The Scope 5 integration is now available through the Concur App Center.

According to Buying Business Travel, UK airports are in favor of revamped aviation policies to boost regional growth. A chief executive from Manchester Airports Group has called on the government to develop a new policy following the approval of a third runway at Heathrow.

TravelDailyNews shares findings from a new study by Expedia and Luth Research revealing 43% of business trips are extended for leisure purposes.

Travel Weekly reports Expedia is expected to become the world’s first $100 billion travel agency. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the company has a goal to achieve this landmark within the next few years.

According to Tech Wire Asia, a high speed rail agreement between Malaysia and Singapore will be signed by the end of the year. A high speed rail trip between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is expected to take around 90 minutes.

Business Traveller reports Marriott International is set to open 28 luxury hotels in 2017. The properties will be added across six of its current brands.

This week’s list comes from Condé Nast Traveler: 6 Holiday Travel Tips to Make Your Trip Less Stressful