The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


5 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

It’s no secret that when you’re away from home, fast food like McDonald’s and Dunkin often looks significantly more appealing than taking the time to find healthier options. Staying consistent with a meal plan and being active are steps to a healthy lifestyle that you shouldn’t have to compromise on while on business travel.

Now, there’s no harm in treating yourself every once in a while, to your favorite sugary Frappuccino or donuts, but its best done in moderation. Many restaurants – including fast food spots – make a point now of indicating healthier choices on their menu making your decisions easier even when you are in a rush as well. In a recent Twitter chat, we asked our followers to share their top tips for staying committed to diet and exercise on the road. Here are the top five:

 

1 - Pick a local restaurant and walk there instead of taking a cab.

2 - Look into trying ClassPass or similar subscription-based fitness memberships you can use in many different cities.

3 - Take an early morning walk around the city you're visiting.

4 - When selecting a hotel, determine whether they have a gym ahead of time.

5 - Finding healthy options at most restaurants is doable. Be mindful of where you go and what you order.

 

According to recent GBTA research, conducted in partnership with Dinova, 77 percent of business travelers consider healthy eating while traveling to be important.

Health-Conscious Travel

Want to learn more about what your travelers think about eating out while on the road for work? Get more info about the study findings here.


Podcast: Solving Real Enterprise Problems Through AI

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel previews GBTA webinar content airing a recent session called Solving Real Enterprise Problems Through AI. Ryan Floersch from AppZen digs deeper into how and why these cultural shifts are forming. He will look at how AI is empowering managers to take control of team spend at a field level, giving them the ability to correct bad behavior and  improve their teams’ expense habits over time while avoiding unwanted ‘big brother’ conversations between managers and employees that only damage relationships and morale.

 

 

GBTA offers frequent webinars on a whole spectrum of topics covering the business travel industry. These timely and relevant presentations on issues impacting our industry are also interactive, allowing you to submit questions throughout and receive immediate feedback from the presenters.

Check out our calendar of upcoming webinars to see what’s coming soon. For GBTA members, if you miss out and can’t attend a session you are interested in, you can also access all of our archived webinars on the GBTA Hub.

 

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!


5 Tips to Eat Like a Local on Your Next Business Trip

In recent GBTA research, conducted in partnership with Dinova, digging into business travel dining trends, we delved into the psyche of the business diner. The typical business travel dining experience really depends on the trip. The study found that in total, 64 percent of business travelers take their money to upscale casual restaurants, followed by fast casual (52 percent), fast food (34 percent) and finally, fine dining (29 percent).

Many business travelers tend to spend their meals in the company of others. For lunch, 30 percent report eating with clients, with an additional 23 percent eating with coworkers, and the numbers jump to 40 percent and 26 percent, respectively, for dinner.

During a recent Twitter chat, many of our participants shared their desire to eat like a local while traveling and gave us their best tips for doing so. Here were the top five:
 

1 - Ask cab or car drivers about spots where they would take their families to eat – not where they tell other travelers to go.

2 - Search “best places to eat in ____” as a start. Use websites like Thrillist to find the best spots to eat. 

3 - Ask people in the hotel about the places they actually eat at. 

4 - If meeting with a client, ask them about the best local place.

5 - Ask friends in the area.


Learn more about the study findings here, and be sure to check out this recent guest blog post from Dinova on incorporating a dining program into your managed travel program.


Top 5 Dining Mobile Apps for Business Travelers

Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s world, and as Apple always says, “there’s an app for that”. As part of a recent research study looking into business travel dining trends that GBTA conducted in partnership with Dinova, we asked business travelers what dining apps they use when on the road for work trips. Here are the top 5…

Top 5 Business Travel Dining Apps

1 – Yelp

2- TripAdvisor

3- Grubhub

4 – OpenTable

5 – Uber Eats

 

The study also explored generational differences when it comes to technology use and eating out while traveling for work. Not surprisingly, Millennials especially embrace technology and are more willing to use the tools and technology made available to them through their travel programs, but technology has also become an essential part of how employees of all ages travel.
 

Learn more about the study findings here, and be sure to check out this recent guest blog post from Dinova on incorporating a dining program into your managed travel program.


Dining Programs are Hot: Here’s Why it Should Matter to You

By Heather Thompson, Public Relations Manager, Dinova

With the Global Business Travel Association’s annual convention just behind us, it’s no wonder everyone is talking about business travel. It’s a hot topic that gets even hotter when we talk about how much business travel actually costs. (Don’t worry, procurement managers, we’re all feeling the same swelter.)

There’s no doubt that managing a travel program is much easier – and ensures your employees receive the best experience possible – when you partner with the right vendors. So, you negotiate the most advantageous contracts with one major airline, one hotel group, one rental car provider, and all is dandy. When it comes to putting together a dining program, however, the sheer number of possible vendors and contracts becomes overwhelming, a herculean task that hardly seems worth the effort. Or is it?

More than $77B is spent annually on business dining in the United States, according to an AMEX and GBTA study released in 2017. That total alone makes it the third largest category of overall T&E spend and clearly identifies dining as a topic worth discussion. But with approximately 640,000 restaurants across the nation, what would a managed dining program even look like?

It should look a lot like any other preferred vendor initiative: one source offering your employees a range of options, enabling them to have a great travel experience while also complying with your travel policy. What else should be included? Discounts or rebates of some kind that gives companies an incentive to use only their services. What makes an outstanding preferred program is understanding the traveler and what they really want.

At Dinova, business dining is always on our mind. We’re always hungry for insights about what makes business diners tick, what’s going on in the restaurant world, and how we can nourish connections between these two passions. In partnership with GBTA, we conducted an in-depth survey of U.S. business travelers in Spring 2018, delving into trends in diners’ habits, technology use, and company expense policies, while also uncovering fascinating generational differences.

Key among our findings: 60 percent of respondents said their organizations do not have any dining program at all, but 74 percent would be motivated to participate in one if they earned rewards for themselves or for the company. Clearly, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to capture employee attention and engagement with a preferred dining program. If you could bring back some of that spend, wouldn’t you?

For more information about Dinova, visit our website at www.dinova.com/company.

About the Author: Heather Thompson, public relations manager at Dinova since 2016, honed her Media Relations skills at a range of organizations, from a boutique PR firm to a Fortune 500 powerhouse. She recently completed her master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington University, and, when not using her PR powers to change the world, can typically be found in a small suburb of Atlanta riding her horses. 

About Dinova:
Dinova provides companies with an innovative marketplace filled with restaurants and enterprise partners who understand the value of a business patron dining on official company business and know that the connections made over a meal drive understanding and shared perspectives that establish lifelong relationships. Dinova nourishes those connections to create value for restaurants, companies, and the business people we serve every day.


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!

 


Is Bigger Better in the Travel Sector?

Being bigger can help companies learn, negotiate better, and innovate, according to the representatives of three big travel brands who participated in a panel discussion from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018. On the other hand, integrating people from different cultures challenges even the largest corporations.

With 4,200 locations worldwide, Best Western CEO David Kong said being bigger provides greater brand awareness and cost savings. With greater scale, companies such as Best Western are in a better position to negotiate with suppliers. “If you think about industry today, one of the biggest challenges that we have is the ever-rising distribution cost. And when you are bigger you have better leverage in negotiating more favorable commercial terms.”

This, in turn, allows Best Western and other similarly-sized companies to boost investments in marketing and new technology to meet consumers’ evolving expectations. “What used to be amazing is now ordinary, obsolete. That expectation keeps rising so we have to respond to that,” said Kong.

Enterprise COO Christine Taylor agreed, even though her grandfather (who founded Enterprise over 60 years ago) often said, “It's not about being the biggest, but it's about being the best.” But being large provides unique opportunities, according to Taylor, which are critical to innovation. Her company’s “diverse, global network…push[es] us to innovate every single day. And we’ve got to do that.”

With the resources needed to develop and apply new technologies, big companies can take more calculated risks and become more innovative. For example, Best Western has invested in artificial intelligence and augmented reality for training their customer service staff. Now, said Kong, the company is partnering with IBM Watson to help consumers plan vacations.

Taylor explained that Enterprise is also using technology to meet consumer needs—the company wants to provide a rental car to a consumer when and where it is needed instead of only by walking into the rental car office.

Size also helps companies use scale and technology to reduce costs, which in turn can be passed along to consumers, said the panelists.

Technology, the panelists said, can help today’s big businesses operate more efficiently and nimbly, allowing them to give consumers experiences anywhere in the world. “Scale has brought us the ability on the demand side to create options for consumers that literally would have been impossible for them to find a generation ago,” said Rob Greyber, CEO of Egencia, a business travel platform within the Expedia Group.

Greyber said that, most importantly, Expedia sees size as an opportunity to learn from the vast amounts of data they collect as consumers use their platform. The Expedia platform is “almost a central nervous system” that helps the company understand travelers’ needs. “Each element, each addition, each optimization to the platform helps our customer service consultants to be more effective, it helps our customers to be more effective,” he explained.

With 11 brands under the Best Western umbrella, its size gives consumers more choices, said Kong. “We bring more solutions to the table,” he explained. Being big enables companies to offer a more attractive loyalty program too. “It makes the loyalty program more powerful, because you're offering more earnings and redemption options.”

Being large creates disadvantages too.

Creating a global company brings tremendous competitive advantages, but if you grow through acquisition, you must assimilate and integrate cultures and systems.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” said Greyber, who said that you can set forth corporate principles “on posters, you can talk about them in the town halls,” but “all of that will be undone in an instant” if leaders don’t model these principles. “Culture is not something you say; it's something that you do every day--it's the set of expectations that people can have and can rely on about how we will work together to solve problems.”


How Do You Operationalize “Travel Happiness” in Harmony With Corporate Security & Expense Policies? A Panel of Travel Buyers Debate.

A travel buyer’s job is to ensure that corporate employees safely travel where they’re needed at a reasonable cost. But it’s much more than that. Importantly, these travel buyers are looking to balance corporate security and budgets with the individual traveler’s preferences and convenience.

A panel of experienced travel buyers told GBTA attendees from Center Stage that successful corporate travel buyers must work hand-in-hand with human resources to help increase employee retention and recruitment. In these days of low unemployment, they recognize their role in helping keep employees happy.

“How do we make travel an attractive part of getting people on board, keeping them there and having them do what they’re supposed to do?” said Stephen Gheerow, travel buyer with the Ford Foundation.

Isabelle Donovan senior manager of global travel at The Boeing Co. revealed that they are also working to improve the experience for their 80,000 travelers. She’d like to “deploy all the fun stuff with AI, machine learning, and chatbots” as well as increase self-service.

“We want to make the travelers really efficient on the road and self-serviced and…have the more expensive agent interaction kept for when something really blows up,” Donovan said.

New York Life Insurance Co. Corp. V.P., CSD Ray Greeve credited technology with helping to integrate various data streams to better forecast costs and identify waste and improper expense reporting. “You can see who’s renting a car and who is submitting taxi receipts at the same time,” he said.

Technology, while increasing traveler convenience and providing data for better cost controls, can be the source of headaches too.

The panelists agreed that the sheer volume of new technologies is a challenge. Each technology investment “must provide a value add,” Donovan explained.

Corporations must also ensure a new app or other technology is secure before they adopt it. These types of security reviews are sometimes “long and drawn out,” said Greeve.   

Keeping travelers—particularly technology-adept Millenials—happy while managing security risks and travel costs aren’t easy.  Often these priorities clash.

“Our next generation of our travelers…grew up with tablets, phones in their hands,” said Denise Truso, travel services manager with Abbott. “They want to use the apps they love in their personal lives for business, which proves problematic for travel managers” who are concerned about security and safety.

Gheerow agreed, explaining that Ford Foundation wants to give employees access to a Ford app store so they can use some of their favorite apps in a secure way.


Podcast: How Can Managed Travel Programs Address the Safety of Female Business Travelers?

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel revisits an important topic – the safety of women business travelers. In the opening segment, GBTA President Christle Johnson talks GBTA priorities and highlights from a recent GBTA research study on female business travel safety conducted in partnership with WWStay. Next up, WWStay’s Dawn McGowan dives deeper into the findings and discusses how they are approaching the issue. Cathy Rigby of the CFA Institute and GBTA’s Risk Committee addresses what’s at stake for companies that don’t build female traveler safety into their programs and provides practical safety and security advice for women travelers.

 

 

Want to learn more about the GBTA research on the topic? Download an infographic here featuring key highlights. If you’re attending GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego, you can also catch an education session on this research on August 13 at 8:45 AM.


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

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.