The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Message from the Office of the GBTA President - January Monthly Communication

*This post was also sent as an email to members on January 31, 2017.*

I would like to wish you all a happy New Year, and I hope your first month of 2017 is off to a great start. In an effort to keep you apprised of the latest happenings within GBTA, I will continue to send these regular updates.


I’m pleased to announce that GBTA recently launched registration and unveiled the theme for Convention 2017. This year’s theme is Convergence. As the business travel industry continues to evolve, today’s business travelers are driven by the need for mobility in a fast-paced environment, the desire for a more personalized travel experience and the risks associated with the current technological, environmental and geopolitical landscape.

As these new elements of travel converge, new hurdles and opportunities for travel professionals have surfaced. Business traveler expectations have risen to another level and they are forcing us to adapt.  Convergence is the driver of change that is resulting in new products and services that business travelers are forcing us to think through and address. Convention 2017 will be a constructive environment for travel professionals to converge, connect, share and inspire one another with fresh ideas, personal experiences and solutions.

This year’s Convention will be held in Boston from July 15-19, 2017. I look forward to seeing you there! Keep your eye out for news in the next couple of days as we announce our first Convention Arena speaker.

Upcoming Events
In addition to Convention, there are so many exciting GBTA events that I am looking forward to. Next month, I will be heading to Orlando for the Chapter Presidents’ Council Leadership Summit. As someone who started their GBTA career at the chapter level and served as president of two different chapters, this event means a lot to me. It brings together over 150 chapter and affiliate volunteer leaders from across the country for two days of learning and collaboration. We will discuss association leadership in today’s world, advocacy efforts at the chapter and national level, making the most of GBTA membership and much more.

We continue our efforts in India with our India Business Travel Workshop Series coming to Mumbai and Bangalore in February and March. These travel manager workshops drive a high level of engagement year-round with the travel management community in India bringing localized education to continue to elevate the profession.

In late March in our LATAM region, GBTA Conference 2017 returns to Mexico City, and for the first time will expand its focus to include Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. This event will not only continue to be at the forefront of business travel events in Latin America, but we will also celebrate the progress that business travel has had throughout the region.

In Closing
Coming off an incredibly successful 2016, I look forward to what 2017 has in store for GBTA and our members. I will continue to update you on our planned events, advocacy efforts, education and opportunities over the coming months. As always, please reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.

Thank you all for your continued commitment to GBTA. I wish you great success in 2017, both personally and professionally.

Week in Review

Yahoo! Finance reports Marcou Transportation Group announced the acquisition of GroundLink and software provider Limo Anywhere.

According to Reuters, a computer glitch forced United to ground all domestic flights for an hour on Sunday evening. This occurs just months after a computer glitch caused thousands of worldwide delays in October.

Business Insider notes low-cost carrier AirAsia X has received FAA clearance to fly to the United States.

According to Travel Weekly, Etihad CEO James Hogan and CFO James Rigney will be stepping down during the second half of 2017.

Buying Business Travel reports Glasgow Airport will introduce a £2 drop-off charge in order to improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion.

According to The Independent, freezing fog in the London area resulted in over 250 flight cancellations from Monday to Wednesday.

Buying Business Travel finds TSA PreCheck has expanded to include 11 new airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, the first UK airline to partner with PreCheck.

According to Skift, Southwest has no plans to introduce a basic economy fare in the future, as promised by CEO Gary Kelly.

The Economist reports Britain will now accept passport photos taken on mobile phones when renewing passports online. Those applying for a first passport are still required to have physical photos countersigned by a professional contact to prove their identity.

According to International Business Times, Australian airports will replace passport checks with facial recognition technology in the near future. This move comes as a result of government efforts to automate 90 percent of air traveler processing by 2020.

Skift reports American Airlines will no longer install in-seat entertainment screens on its new Boeing 737s that arrive later this year. Instead, they plan to offer passengers free entertainment accessible via their mobile devices.

According to Hotel Owner, new research suggests average room rates in the UK dropped by nearly 12 percent in 2016, compared to the previous year.

According to, Emirates Airlines announced plans for a daily Athens-to-Newark flight, rekindling Open Skies tensions with U.S. airlines.

The Business Traveler's Perspective

Business traveler perception is business traveler reality. Regardless of how travel professionals communicate their travel policy, traveler comprehension reigns supreme. If your message doesn’t get across, there may be dire consequences for both your travelers and your company. GBTA Webinar 12.08.16_Page_14

A couple of months ago, GBTA Foundation released a new study, in partnership with HRS, exploring business traveler perspectives of company travel policies, compliance rates, and valued amenities. GBTA recently held a webinar called The Business Traveller’s Perspective: Policy + Preferences in which GBTA Research Manager Kate Vasiloff walked through the results. She demonstrated how communication gaps lead to disconnects between travelers and travel professionals, and, in turn, low compliance rates and financial consequences.

GBTA Webinar 12.08.16_Page_09

Kate also offered a list of recommendations for travel professionals to improve their communication efforts and increase compliance:

  1. Perform internal audits to determine which negotiated amenities your business travelers are using. Take note of which amenities are underutilized, and use your negotiating leverage elsewhere.
  1. Capture data from the back end to better understand traveler behavior. Work with your finance team to require travelers to list itemized expenses for each major category. For example, have them break the hotel category down (breakfast, room service, etc.) to determine which items are actually being used, instead of relying on your business traveler to give a full report on what they did.
  1. Help your travelers make the right choice. One out of five (20 percent) business travelers report not receiving a message when booking out-of-policy. Set up messages and alerts in your online booking tool to inform them.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

Week in Review

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new proposed rule that would require airlines to disclose baggage fees alongside fares in an effort to provide travelers with more transparency. The DOT is currently seeking comment on whether other ancillary fees should also be disclosed with airfare information.

LCT Magazine reports chauffeured car service iCARS and booking service recently completed their merger. The two companies will combine their complementary services and are expected to generate at least $65 million in revenue in 2017.

According to Fortune, Hyatt will acquire wellness hospitality company Miraval in a $215 million deal

Skift notes aircraft-engine maker Safran is set to purchase plane-seat supplier Zodiac in a $10.5 billion all-French deal. Skift shares business travel startup Upside raised $50 million at a $200 million valuation. The startup aims to find business travelers discounts by offering alternate travel routes and accommodation, in addition to flight-hotel bundles.

According to Skift, a new DOT report reveals U.S. flight cancellations and lost bags hit a historic low in over two decades. In November, the country’s 12 largest airlines cancelled 0.29 percent of flights (lowest rate since the government began tracking monthly cancellations in 1995) and mishandled 2.02 bags per 1,000 passengers (fewest since 1987, when the government began monitoring baggage).

According to TravelDailyNewsExpedia’s latest Airplane Etiquette Study reveals the "Rear Seat Kicker" as the most aggravating passenger, followed by inattentive parents and "aromatic" passengers.

According to Reuters, British Airways cabin crew commenced a three-day pay strike on Thursday, shortly after carrying out a two-day strike earlier this month. The airline claims it will fly all passengers throughout the strike.

Business Traveller shares findings from an Ookla study that claims Denver International Airport offers the fastest Wi-Fi among the top 20 busiest U.S. airports.

According to The Daily News, a report by the DOT’s inspector general finds the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t prepared to handle major air traffic control outages.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Delta is ending its only service to Taiwan, with the route scheduled throughout the end of May.

According to Skift, JetBlue now offers free Wi-Fi on all of its flights across 225 aircraft. The service was previously limited to certain flights.

Travel Weekly reports average travel industry pay fell by nearly 3 percent in December to £21,190.

According to Travel Daily Asia, a new study suggests Airbnb and hotels complement, not compete with, each other. The study also found occupancy and rates at Airbnb properties are lower than similar hotel accommodations.

New Year, New Acquisitions

Less than one month into 2017, and we’re already hearing of mergers and acquisitions left and right. This week alone, Hyatt announced plans to acquire Miraval Group in a $215 million deal and iCARS and finalized their merger. In the same vein, Retuers reports Delta will complete its acquisition of a 49 percent stake in Aeromexico by the end of the second quarter.

Last summer, Aeromexico SVP Global Sales Jorge Goytortua Bores sat down with GBTA’s Ed Barrett at our GBTA Convention Broadcast Studio to chat about the airline’s long-standing partnership with Delta. Jorge also explored the myriad destinations Aeromexico serves and shared his excitement for Mexico’s future growth and, in turn, the airline's growth.

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from last year’s Convention.

Week in Review

According to Business Traveller, a report by the National Economic Council finds hidden travel fees are a growing problem, as they accounted for an estimated $22.5 billion in airline revenue in 2015.

Tnooz notes Hilton has joined TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking platform, roughly three weeks after the news of a partnership between TripAdvisor and Expedia.

According to Ars Technica, over 96% of Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones have been returned, and airlines are no longer required to warn passengers about the devices before boarding. The devices remain banned from aircraft.

According to TechCrunch, Uber’s new calendar integration suggests destinations based on meetings and events in your calendar, granted you allow the app to access it.

Skift finds Alaska Airlines now offers free in-flight mobile messaging. Currently in beta, the amenity will be launched at full scale on January 24th.

Business Traveller shares findings from a FlightStats report that claims Alaska Airlines is the most punctual U.S. airline.

According to Travel Pulse, DOT Secretary nominee Elaine Chao is open to the idea of privatizing air traffic control.

Buying Business Travel reports UK business travel spend on Airbnb is on the rise, with spend growing 61 percent between Q3 2014 and Q2 2016.

According to Buying Business Travel, London City airport welcomed 4.5 million passengers in 2016, a record annual passenger traffic number.

Following last week’s two-day strike, British Airways cabin crew call a three-day walkout starting January 19, Buying Business Travel notes.

Tnooz reports Carlson Wagonlit Travel will shut down its travel concierge app Worldmate, four years after acquiring the company in a $20 million deal.

According to Skift, Congress is one step closer to letting government business travelers expense ride-sharing services.

Travel Weekly shares bmi regional will offer business travelers discounts as part of a government campaign to boost the UK’s export trade.

According to Travel Daily News, Pi has unveiled an integration that allows travel managers to access their employee's Airbnb data through the Pi platform.

This week’s list comes from Travel Daily News: Five Technologies the Hotel Industry Can’t Afford to Ignore in 2017

A Seamless Travel Experience

In the not-so-distant future, technology will deliver a more seamless travel experience for us all. You’ll be able to have an app automatically check you into flights, bypass the check-out line when shopping, and have your ride-sharing app suggest destinations based on events in your calendar. Surprise! The not-so-distant future is now, as all these actions are currently possible. According to TechCrunch, Uber’s new calendar integration is now going live, allowing the app to access your device’s calendar and recommend destinations based on your meetings and events.

Last July, Uber for Business Head of Product Greg Greiner joined GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez at our Broadcast Studio to discuss the industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities, as well as the launch of the company’s first enterprise offering. Greg noted that revolutionizing the business traveler experience is the biggest opportunity, but it’s also the biggest challenge.

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from last year’s Convention.

Little Things Add Up

If an emergency occurred at your event right this instant, would you have the proper strategies in place to handle it? When it comes to risk management, little things add up to big protection for both your attendees and organization. GBTA recently held a webinar entitled Risk Management, Safety, & Security – Little Things Add Up to offer practical safety and security measures that organizations can implement for better risk management.

College of Coastal Georgia Speaker & Professor Tyra W. Hilliard talked through the basics of emergency awareness, encouraging participants to focus their energy on preventing and mitigating emergencies as much as possible. Tyra also shared three crucial pieces of advice, before allowing participants to share their own best practices for emergency preparedness.

  1. Keep it above the line
    • Negate the effects and reduce the likelihood of emergencies as much as possible. Do everything you can to prevent risk and prepare to ensure an easier and quicker response and recovery.

GBTA Webinar 12.7.16_Page_08

  1. Worry about the right things
    • Although road traffic is the leading cause of death of U.S. travelers in foreign countries, international meeting planners reported terrorism, economy, health concerns and natural disasters as their top fears.

GBTA Webinar 12.7.16_Page_16

  1. Not “another” thing
    • Don’t think of safety and security as “just another thing” that has to be done. Integrate safety and security into everything you already do, and think of it as a process, instead of a product.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

The Ever-Changing Hotel Industry

With the launch of Airbnb Trips and completion of the Starwood-Marriott merger, 2016 was a big year for the hotel industry across the globe. Hotel brands underwent major changes by re-branding, introducing new technologies, and much more. According to Travel Agent Central, Mexico’s Posadas Hotels & Resorts (Grupo Posadas) introduced La Colección as a re-branding of its Fiesta Americana Resort Collection in myriad beach destinations.

Last summer, GBTA’s Shane Downey had a chance to speak to Posadas Hotels & Resorts’ Rafael Lizarraga at our GBTA Convention Broadcast Studio. The two talked through the company’s plans to enter the U.S. market, in addition to its projected growth in Mexico. Rafael also discussed how their consideration of the environment impacts the construction process and operational efficiency of Posadas.

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from last year’s Convention.

Week in Review

A shooter has wounded and killed multiple people after opening fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida on Friday afternoon, reports Bloomberg.

According to TravelPulse, American Airlines has experienced its third fume incident in the past six weeks. In the most recent incident, seven flight attendants were hospitalized as a result of a cabin odor causing severe headaches.

Buying Business Travel notes British Airways cabin crew have planned a two-day strike on January 10. According to Bloomberg, the airline promises to carry all fliers throughout the strike, with some passengers required to modify their departures.

ABC News reports an hours-long U.S. Customs system outage resulted in thousands of delays for travelers on Monday night. According to Reuters, Lufthansa plans on hiring more than 3,000 new staff in 2017, mainly consisting of flight attendants.

Buying Business Travel notes Kazakhstan has introduced visa-free travel for all EU and OECD countries for up to 30 days.

According to The Nation, The World Travel & Tourism Council urges Asean governments to focus on infrastructure to cater to future traveler demand.

Tnooz shares Ctrip has bought global ground transportation provider TangRen World. The purchase will enable Ctrip to act as a full-service agency for Chinese international travelers.

According to TTG Media, an insolvency firm reports nearly 2,700 UK travel businesses are in significant distress.

Buying Business Travel reports Heathrow has cut its domestic passenger charges by £10 to boost regional growth.

Tnooz claims private accommodation travel bookings are forecasted to reach $106 billion by 2018, accounting for 1/5 of global hospitality bookings.

According to Skift, a new report claims Airbnb is becoming a bigger threat to hotels than expected. In 2015, only 12 percent of business travelers had used Airbnb in the last 12 months, compared to 18 percent in 2016.

Business Traveler reports a new U.S. law will increase the number of U.S. Customs pre-clearance facilities at the Canadian border.

According to PYMNTS, business travelers could be wasting travel managers’ efforts by not following or understanding their travel policy. The study notes that travel policies must be effectively communicated, otherwise a business traveler’s perception of the policy outweighs the reality of the policy.

Businses Traveller notes Qatar Airways has confirmed a new business class seat, which will be unveiled in March.

HotelMarketing’com reports UK mobile usage for travel is set to surpass desktop usage in early 2017.

According to TravelDailyNews, has revealed its top 20 safest airlines for 2017, with Qantas taking the number one spot.

The New York Times reports New York’s JKF airport will receive a $10 billion upgrade. Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a plan to modernize the airport and improve nearby highway and transit systems.

According to Skift, rising fuel costs will soon impact the U.S. airline industry, likely causing travelers to pay more to fly than in recent years. Declining jet fuel expenses have come to an end, with crude oil prices more than doubling from February 2016.

This week's list comes from The New York Times: 52 Places to Go in 2017