The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Innovating for Growth

At GBTA Convention 2017 in Boston, Travel Leaders Group took a risk by sponsoring our first-ever Innovation Row, a dedicated space on our Expo to highlight innovative technologies in the business travel space.

GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez chatted with Travel Leaders Corporate’s Gabe Rizzi at our Broadcast Studio about the importance of embracing innovative technologies in corporate travel. Gabe stressed the value of innovation culture, noting that it will “cause corporate travel managers, buyers, suppliers alike, us in the travel management company community to think differently about the problems and the friction that’s happening in the travel space.”

View the full interview:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for further insights and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Convention 2017.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Phocuswright again to highlight innovative startups at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. Keep your eyes peeled for the incoming class of innovators!

Unifying the Ground Transport Market

For the first time in history, we carved out a dedicated space on the GBTA Convention 2017 Expo to highlight innovative startup technologies impacting the business travel industry. Mozio, for example, is a ground transportation aggregation platform enabling travel managers and business travelers alike to book a variety of transport options through a mobile app.

CEO David Litwak stopped by our Broadcast Studio to discuss the inner workings of the platform and how he sees it being incorporated within the business travel community. As Litwak explained, Mozio aims to unify the convoluted market and enable managers to gain visibility into their often-unmanaged ground transport spend.

View the full interview:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for further insights and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Convention 2017.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Phocuswright again to highlight innovative startups at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. Keep your eyes peeled for the incoming class of innovators!

Week in Review

On Monday, Congress brought an end to a three-day government shutdown after Senate Democrats agreed to a funding bill that will keep the federal government open until February 8, The New York Times reports.

Last May, GBTA conservatively projected a loss of $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 due to mounting geopolitical uncertainty. New figures out this week show a slump in U.S. tourism resulting in $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs.

Some hotels have been charging guests for bad online reviews, The Economist notes. The question remains: can hotels legally pressure guests into leaving positive reviews?

According to USA TODAY, biometric boarding would facilitate the security process and prevent stowaways from getting aboard.

Major Chinese airlines have lifted the ban on in-flight smartphone usage, TechRepublic reports. The Civil Administration of China has loosened regulations, making it easier for business travelers to be productive.

Norwegian Airlines set the record for the fastest transatlantic flight last week, Bloomberg notes. The New York to London flight arrived in only five hours and 13 minutes, which was 53 minutes ahead of schedule.

According to HotelMarketing’com, U.S. hotel revenue rose 3% in 2017.

This week’s Throwback Thursday post looked back at GBTA and the evolution of business travel through the 1970s. Airline deregulation was perhaps the greatest 1970s industry milestone that solidified the value of corporate travel management.

TripIt is now capable of tracking the length of security waiting times in real-time, SFGATE reports.

Following in the path of its fellow airlines, Alitalia will begin offering cheaper “Hand Baggage Only” fares on select routes, Business Traveller notes.

According to Skift, American and Delta will begin collaborating again to rebook passengers on each other’s flights during periods of disruption.

Choice Hotels debuted a new booking system for its 6,500 franchisees in order to replace its outdated technology, Skift reports.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has launched enhanced virtual card capabilities, including the ability to create single-use account numbers in real-time, Buying Business Travel notes.

Message From the Office of the GBTA President - January

*This post was also sent as an email to GBTA members.*

Dear GBTA Members,

Happy New Year!  I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.  As we begin the new year, I would like to provide a brief update on GBTA’s current activities.

Convention Theme
The 50th Annual GBTA Convention will be held in beautiful San Diego from August 11-15. As we announced a few weeks ago, the Convention theme this year is Momentum. It reflects how GBTA is providing “momentum” to help the industry address the rapid – and rapidly accelerating – change taking place in the business travel sector. Chief among the driving factors is technology, which is changing everything from our communications with our employees to driverless cars and artificial intelligence. The pace of this change is unlike anything we have seen before. As always, Convention will help us navigate these changes and their ramifications. I hope to see you there.

Call for Proposals
Convention 2018 will feature more than 100 business travel industry education sessions with a minimum of eight time slots – giving you more opportunity to attend sessions than ever before. GBTA’s sessions help attendees improve their knowledge and skills by providing them with opportunities to learn more on virtually every issue currently facing the business travel industry. We welcome any and all suggestions you may have for particular topics to be addressed at Convention. We are interested in new and timely information on industry trends, techniques and best practices. I encourage you to “think outside the box” in regards to the content and delivery to create a session that is informative and engaging. To share your insight or submit a proposal, please click here. All proposals are due by February 2, 2018 at 11:59pm EST.


  • The 15th Annual GBTA Leadership Summit will be held in Portland, Oregon from January 29-30. All Chapter and Affiliate board members are welcome and encouraged to attend this two-day event.

  • The 21st Annual GBTA Foundation Gala Dinner will be held on March 19 in New York City. The Gala Dinner is a prestigious gathering of business travel leaders that provides networking opportunities during the pre-dinner reception and the dessert after party.

  • The annual GBTA Conference Mexico will be held on March 21-23 in Mexico City. The conference will feature thought provoking education sessions, as well as a packed Expo floor highlighting the latest products and technologies impacting the business travel industry.

This is GBTA’s 50th year as an organization, a true milestone worth celebrating. We will be celebrating the momentum we’ve built over the past half century to position ourselves and the industry for the next 50 years – a period that undoubtedly will be even more exciting. I look forward to all the exciting things we have planned this year.

As always, thank you for your continued support and commitment. Please feel free to reach out to me with any thoughts or questions.


Christle Johnson
GBTA President

A Look Back: GBTA Through the 1970s

We kicked off our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts celebrating the upcoming 50th Anniversary of GBTA Convention with a post on the very beginnings of GBTA – or NPTA as it was known then. Today we learn more about the Association’s past and what NPTA looked like throughout the 1970s.

We left off with the National Passenger Traffic Association selecting Bronxville, NY as its national headquarters in 1970. Corporate travel management continued to gain traction throughout the 1970s as costs for business-related travel increased.

1972 Wall Street Journal Article

NY Times Chart 1972

GBTA’s advocacy roots began early as NPTA fought hard early in the decade to give corporate travel departments volume discounts on airfares. A 1972 NPTA report, A Presentation of Facts Relating to the Business Travel Market, was provided to airline management in hopes they would take action on the NPTA amendment to Resolution 80, which was to be reviewed by the Air Traffic Conference. The NPTA proposal called for amendment of Resolution 80 to provide for qualification of the business travel department as a travel agent on a limited basis.

By fighting for this change, NPTA did not seek to hurt the airline industry, saying, “We want the airlines and all other segments of the travel industry to operate in an environment which will allow them profitability. A strong, viable, economically sound air transport system is necessary for the successful conduct of business today.”

The report also included these principles on which NPTA was formed:

NPTA made a big move in 1973 when it voted to admit travel suppliers into its membership. Years later, Roger Solomon, Allied Council President in 1988, would say that this showed NPTA “recognizing that both buyers and suppliers represent a complex set of requirements that must be satisfied in the daily course of business.”

Airline Deregulation was perhaps the greatest 1970s industry milestone that solidified the value of corporate travel management. After Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, when carrier competition soared and airfare options multiplied, it became increasingly clear that travel arrangement should not be left to amateurs, but rather full-time experts.

The NPTA Board of Directors in 1978:

1978 NPTA Board of Directors

Ed Rathke, NPTA President in 1978, is seen here accepting an award from Hertz in recognition of his significant contributions to the development of corporate travel management:

1978 Ed Rathke Receives Award from Hertz Corportation

You can read more about Ed and his time as NPTA president in this 1999 Business Travel News profile on recognizing pioneers in our industry.

Stay tuned every Thursday for more throwback posts. Share your Convention memories with us on twitter using #TBT and tagging @GlobalBTA.

U.S. Tourism’s “Trump Slump” Unfortunately Comes as No Surprise to GBTA

In the initial aftermath of the first two travel bans issued by the Trump Administration and the electronics ban, GBTA conservatively projected a loss of $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent. This projection came out in May in hopes that the Administration would recognize the negative economic consequences of continuing down a path of discouraging travel and portraying the United States as an unwelcoming destination.

Given the cumulative effect of ongoing negative rhetoric and polices that ultimately discouraged international travel to the country, travel fared even worse than our original projections. NBC News reported on new data out today showing the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs.

Globally travel is up, yet the United States’ share of global inbound travel has fallen. The latest data from the National Travel and Tourism Office shows a 3.3 percent drop in travel spending and a 4 percent decline in inbound travel.

From a business travel perspective, things could get worse if the negative perception of United States continues. In an earlier survey of GBTA’s European members, 45 percent indicated their company will be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the United States due to executive orders on travel. As meetings are often planned one to two years in advance, we could start seeing a dramatic impact on meetings travel to the United States beginning in 2018.

It is imperative that we reverse this tide of negative perception. A one percent decrease in business travel spending alone causes the U.S. economy to lose 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes. The Trump Administration could help turn things around by engaging in more positive rhetoric around immigration and visiting the United States. We also continue to urge the Trump Administration to consider the important lasting impact of business travel and enact policies going forward that preserve both our national security and our economy for the future.

Innovating Parking in Business Travel

Last year in Boston, our annual Convention featured an all-new Innovation Row dedicated to highlighting innovative startups in the business travel space.

SpotHero’s Strategic Initiatives Manager Becca Rabinowitz sat down with GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez and Travel Leaders Corporate’s Gabe Rizzi at our Broadcast Studio to chat about her organization’s initiatives, including its recent acquisition of Parking Panda. Becca also discussed how SpotHero fits within travel programs, both from a traveler and a travel manager perspective.

Watch the full interview:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for further insights and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Convention 2017.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Phocuswright again to highlight innovative startups at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. Keep your eyes peeled for the incoming class of innovators!

The Need for Automation in Travel

Artificial intelligence has become top of mind for the travel industry, with many companies now exploring the possibilities of AI-powered processes, workflows and communication. At GBTA Convention 2017, our all-new Innovation Row showcased a variety of startup technologies capitalizing on AI to alter the travel experience.  

One of our exhibitors, Mezi, is an AI-powered virtual assistant capable of booking flights and hotels for travelers, making reservations and more. Mezi VP Johnny Thorsen chatted with GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez and Travel Leaders Corporate’s Gabe Rizzi about the need for automation to accomplish personalization in business travel, and how Mezi achieves this.

View the full interview:


Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for further insights and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Convention 2017.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Phocuswright again to highlight innovative startups at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. Keep your eyes peeled for the incoming class of innovators!

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.

Leave Your Mark on the Industry

Staying updated on the latest trends is crucial any industry, but especially so in the ever-evolving business travel space.

In 2017, over 160 industry speakers presented informative and engaging education sessions at Convention, ranging from the evolution of technology in travel programs to balancing traveler satisfaction with program compliance. Out of the 70+ business travel education sessions we held last year, here are the top 10:

  1. Airline Sourcing:  It's More Than Contract Savings
  2. Tech Trends 2017
  3. Looking into 2018: Where Will Supplier Pricing Be?
  4. "The Hotel Procurement Game is Rigged" and How a Travel Manager Can Beat the Odds
  5. Five Forces that Will Change the Face of Travel and Travel Management
  6. Rapid Fire:  Future of Distribution
  7. The Evolution of Technology in Travel Programs: What You Need to Know to Be Prepared
  8. Tackling Traveler Satisfaction: True Stories From Travel Managers
  9. Balancing Traveler Satisfaction With Program Compliance
  10. The New Science of Influence

Education has long been one of the highest rated reasons to attend Convention, and in order to reflect the shifting needs of our attendees, we unveiled a big change to our education session format this year. All sessions from Monday to Wednesday will now be 30 minutes in length. We also introduced a few new topic areas, including artificial intelligence/machine learning, passenger facilitation, and hot topics.

If you have ever wanted to play an active role in shaping Convention, there’s no better way to do so than to submit a proposal and lead an education session. Our highest-rated presenters have often challenged conventional wisdom and are willing to share real lessons based on their life experiences.

We are accepting proposals for GBTA Convention 2018 now through Friday, February 2. For more information on submitting a proposal and presenting an education session, watch this webinar or head to the Convention website.