The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Inside the Beltway

It’s been a busy and productive week for GBTA inside the Beltway as we work to continue to advance the interests of business travel.

I met with Governor of Virginia candidate Terry McAuliffe (D). His support of a long-range transportation infrastructure investment strategy has been widely praised by Republican and Democratic leaders alike. This issue, along with investment in education, have been the two primary planks in his election platform. This could be a model for other states and is good for business travel and business travelers alike.

I also had the honor of meeting again with Secretary Hillary Clinton as a follow up to her time together with us in San Diego. In addition to talking about the serious issues that we face here in Washington, I thanked her again for her outstanding presentation in San Diego. Her approval ratings in the post-Convention survey were off the charts! Although President Bill Clinton has been a GBTA favorite and is the only repeat general session keynote speaker in our history, I let her know she has bragging rights about her ratings around the house.

San Diego 2013 GBTA Convention

2013 GBTA Convention San Diego

Just yesterday, I met with Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Transportation Security. Chairman Hudson has co-sponsored a bill (H.R. 1204) that is in full Committee now that would require TSA leadership to formally consult with the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) on all aviation security related matters. As you may remember, for the past two years I have chaired the Risk-Based Security Subcommittee of ASAC. This bill would expand the role of ASAC and insure that the business travel industry will continue to have a strong voice in these matters in the future.

Rep. Hudson at GBTA's Legislative Summit earlier this year.

Rep. Hudson at GBTA’s Legislative Summit earlier this year.

Advocating on behalf of our members is an important part of what we do at GBTA, and I will continue to keep you posted about our various interactions and meetings on the Hill.

GBTA Membership: Value You Can Count On

I have been a member of GBTA since 2000.  I know that your membership dues are a solid investment in your career.  Over the years, I have participated as a member on the board of directors, as the chair of the Technology Committee, worked hard on getting my GLP (Global Leadership Professional Program) designation, and attended many, many conventions and other GBTA events.  I know personally that my membership in GBTA has helped me to perform my role at a high level, achieving my personal and professional goals. I am proud of each accomplishment but never take for granted those that stood beside me along the way, including my peers and this Association.  I am a strong believer in the power of networking, making important business connections that can help you get your job done successfully.  I am a strong believer in taking advantage of the educational opportunities that GBTA makes available to each and every member. 

GBTA allows (and encourages) you to connect with others in the global business travel industry online via the GBTA Hub and in-person at GBTA’s many events around the globe throughout the year. The GBTA Foundation provides you with cutting-edge industry research,   including time-sensitive research and the invaluable GBTA Global Business Travel Indexes, providing global industry forecast data. GBTA has become the leader in business travel education.  We offer unparalleled education opportunities offered by the GBTA Academy, which include certification opportunities, continuing education and on-going webinars bringing education opportunities to your desktop.

I recently met a member, Erin Wilks, from Bank of America, at the GBTA All Committee Summit.  We engaged in the most dynamic conversation about her role and how GBTA has helped her become more informed and educated in her career.  So please take a moment and listen to Erin talk about how she benefits from her GBTA membership.

Our global membership base connects you instantly with your peers around the world, enables you to  better understand the business of travel on an international level and collaborate with potential suppliers and buyers.  I am proud to be part of this dynamic organization but mostly because it connects me with people just like Erin Wilks. 

Latest US BTI™ Forecast Shows Positive Outlook for Business Travel, Although Concerns Remain

Every quarter GBTA looks at economic trends and business spending to see where the business travel industry is headed. Our latest report, 2013 Q3 GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States, finds that business travel spending is expected to rise across all categories of business travel in 2014.

Check out the video below for more on what to expect through the rest of this year and into 2014. Here’s a quick preview: The US GBTA BTI™ – a proprietary index of business travel activity – is poised to surpass its highest level since we created the index by the end of 2014.


While the forecast is very promising, the current government shutdown and threat of default have certainly put a damper on business travel industry sentiment. For more on how the shutdown has impacted our industry, check out our latest blog posts on the topic.You can also visit GBTA’s Legislative Action Center to tell Congress and the Administration to find a solution now.

The GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States report is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing Paul Yachnes. For more information, visit

Day 14 of Government Shutdown

As the government shutdown enters into its third week and a quick resolution seems dim, we need you to communicate to your elected leaders the harmful impact on the business travel industry. Coupled with a possible default on the nation’s debt obligations we – the business travel community – need Congress and the Administration to find a solution now. Visit GBTA’s Legislative Action Center to send a message to Congress and the Administration. By getting involved, YOU can change the debate!

On Friday, October 11, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation held a hearing on “The Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Our Economic Security”. GBTA submitted comments for the record, which illustrated the importance of business travel and stressed the negative impact the shutdown is having on the industry.

Photo Credit: RJ Schmidt

Photo Credit: RJ Schmidt

Also on Friday, GBTA published results of a member survey on the impact of the shutdown. Here’s a rundown of media coverage on the survey results:

Six Ways the Government Shutdown Hurts the Business Travel Industry

GBTA revealed results of a member survey today showing the negative impact the government shutdown is having on the business travel industry. The survey found two-thirds are concerned the shutdown will negatively impact their business if it goes on for more than a week. As we near the end of week two, the anxiety only worsens. As of October 8 when the survey was conducted, 40 percent said the shutdown had already impacted them, their company and/or their company’s employees.

The top ways respondents are feeling the impact:

  1. Cancelled meetings or business opportunities in the United States
  2. Increased uncertainty about the economy
  3. Cancelled bookings
  4. Cancelled or delayed contracts with government agencies
  5. Staff reductions due to reduced business activities
  6. Increased concern among travelers about airline delays and cancellations due to possible reduced air traffic controllers

Want to know more specifics? The chart below shows examples of the impact of the shutdown provided by survey respondents.

Impact Example
Lost Employees “Our company has forced support/administrative employees to take leave until other direct client facing employees return to work.”“Some of our employees are government contractors who were issued a stop work order. They may not be paid when they get back.”
Cancelled Bookings “Loss of room night revenue due to cancelled meetings…and loss of room night revenue due to famed attractions being closed.”
Cancelled Meetings “We do installation for government suppliers and those meetings are cancelled because government orders are stopped for the time being.”
Delays in Passports and Visas  “Concern it may have impact on ability to get rush Visas, passports for our international travelers.”


U.S. business travel spending is a major driver of the global economy. Finally surpassing pre-recession levels, U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach $273 billion this year. The shutdown, however, is damaging productivity and leading to lost business opportunities and revenue that can’t be recovered. It is severely impacting the business travel industry and creating uncertainty. Enough is enough.  

Opening Doors All Over the World

I love to take pictures - specifically, pictures of doors.  I have entire collections of doorway photos from India, Germany, France, UK, and now Prague, Czech Republic.  I have always been fascinated by doors, probably because I always find myself wondering what lies behind and in places like Prague especially the history of what lies beyond the door.   Most of us probably share that curiosity.

The pictures below are from my trip to Prague last week, where I attended the GBTA Europe Conference.  The event highlighted what GBTA does best: bringing together many global perspectives on the business travel industry as we open the door to the future.  The keynote speaker, Gerd Leonhard, author and CEO of the Futures Agency, focused on how social, local, and mobile technology is changing the way in which we obtain, digest and use information.  He expects the future to be characterized by a “digital default,” a networked society where everyone is connected and 80% of Internet traffic is through mobile devices.  His was a fascinating discussion and provided much food for thought on how these issues will impact our industry. 

door2 door4  door6

We are encouraged not to lose sight of the past or the present.  But more importantly, we can’t lose sight of the future.  Focusing on the future begs us to re-imagine what might or can be done.   An essential part of our role as travel managers is to re-imagine better ways to do what we do.  We should always be trying to figure out new ways of learning and growing -- for our companies, for our profession, and for ourselves.  The GBTA conference featured presenters from Google to IKEA, each with a different perspective.  These various points of view certainly pushed me to think about different ways in which I do my job and how I might handle new challenges as they arise.  Some dialogue may spur controversy but listening and learning all points of view helps us craft better outcomes.

To me, the conference represented the opening of doors.  I learned about things I didn’t know, and I thought about things I did know – or thought I knew – in different ways.  The more proverbial doors I opened and the more people I met, the more I realized both how different and how similar we are, regardless of where we live.  With this conference and its other activities, GBTA is opening doors all over the globe, enabling us to interact with and learn from our peers. As we come to know each other, the world becomes a smaller place – but not in a negative way.   We are getting closer rather than moving apart.  As an association, GBTA is better united than divided.  As an industry, we are better working together and learning from each other because we all face the same challenges. 

While at the conference, I had my own small world story.  I spoke to one of our attendees, Elizabeth Aston from Amadeus.  She is from Madrid but spent some time in Virginia, not far from where I live.  She mentioned that she had a close friend who had a sailing school in Irvington, Virginia.  I was familiar with that area so I decided to ask my Dominion colleague who is big into sailing if he knew Elizabeth’s friend. Low and behold, he knew Elizabeth’s friend, Arabella, very well.  So, we decided to take a picture together and send it to her. 

Elizabeth and I posing for a photo in Prague.

Elizabeth and I posing for a photo in Prague. 

So, here I am in Prague with Elizabeth who is from Spain and we take a photo to send to her friend in Virginia.  Now I plan to meet Arabella on my next trip to Irvington, Virginia. The world is small, but in a very good way.

We may not always know what lies beyond the doors we enter, but we are best prepared when we have taken the time to learn from one another. Below are some other photos from Prague.  It's such a lovely city.

  prague 10prague 11prague 12prague14

The Latest

I wanted to share some brief information on a variety of important topics to keep you up to date on the latest when it comes to government and business travel.

U.S. Government Shutdown: GBTA Warns Business Travel is High Risk Bargaining Chip. In interviews with Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other leading media, Mike McCormick warned of lost business opportunities, lost revenue and lost productivity, “America’s economy can’t grow without a reliable system supporting business travel. U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach more than $273 billion this year, finally surpassing pre-recession levels. But a government shutdown will have rippling effects through the economy and severely impact the business travel industry. Every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country.” GBTA Press Release

GBTA-TSA Partnership on NEW PreCheck Application Process: Kudos to the Northern Virginia, Virginia, Ohio Valley and New York City chapters for their collaboration with TSA on the October opening of first two PreCheck application centers at Dulles International Airport/Northern VA and the Indianapolis International Airport. TSA made presentations at the VBTA Education Day and an NYCBTA event in late September, and is scheduling education/media opportunities with other chapters as well. GBTA is working closely with the PreCheck offices at TSA headquarters to ensure local chapters are engaged in the opening of additional PreCheck application centers. Additional centers will open this fall. Under the NEW process, applicants go to the centers to submit fingerprints, a short application and an $85 fee. Once the background check is complete, applicants receive PreCheck membership for five years. Fast and secure checkpoint screening is the answer to airport delays and missed flights. Learn more about the application process.

GBTA Speaks: NextGen is Essential. In a Washington, D.C. event hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association, and well attended by media and key congressional staff, Mike McCormick stressed the importance of air traffic control modernization – NextGen – for efficient, safe air travel for busy business travelers, saying “America’s businesses send their employees on more than seven million flights each month. Efficient, safe air travel enables invaluable face-to-face meetings with clients and partners, ensuring businesses can compete effectively in the global marketplace. NextGen is essential to reduce flight delays and system slowdowns that disrupt air travel and business opportunities, and slow economic growth.” GBTA and its members have long supported air traffic control modernization, including sufficient funding for continued NextGen implementation despite threatened budget cuts. Congratulations to the NYCBTA for its excellent op-ed in Crain's New York strongly supporting NextGen, particularly improvements at crowded New York area airports to eliminate bottlenecks during peak flight periods. Mike McCormick speaking at AIA event on NextGen

Mike McCormick speaking at AIA event on NextGen 

FAA Report on PEDs: After more than a year, a 28-member industry-government advisory committee sent a report to the FAA recommending procedures that airlines can implement to ensure increased, safe use of PEDs during flight. Although the report remains confidential and likely won’t be released soon due to the Government shutdown, media reports that the procedures would allow passengers to use e-readers, iPods and laptops for some purposes at altitudes below 10,000 feet, but cell phone calls and Internet use remain prohibited. No information on if or when FAA will act on the recommendations. More to come - stay tuned.

GBTA-Car Rental Tax Coalition: GBTA met with the lead sponsor of the bill to prohibit additional car rental taxes at the state and local level, and continues to work with a diverse coalition to gain sponsors for the bill. Although it’s difficult to predict when another hearing on the bill will be set or if the bill will come up for a vote, GBTA members should urge their representatives to support this common sense approach to reduce unnecessary travel taxes that don’t benefit travelers in any way, but increase travel costs significantly. Take Action.

Reducing USG Travel Spend: With all Congress is trying to accomplish this fall, bills to reduce government travel spending even further are not moving through the legislative process. GBTA will continue to work with travel stakeholders to closely monitor these bills and take appropriate action. Although government agencies must implement management tools to spend travel dollars wisely, blunt budget cuts and severe travel restrictions are short sighted and reduce government effectiveness.

Aviation Emissions Taxes - Global Action: For two weeks in late September and early October, 191 governments come together to address aviation environmental issues at the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal. Among other proposals or “global market-based measures,” participants will consider development of a global trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions. Current thinking is that a global approach will be agreed upon by 2015 or 2016, with implementation in 2020. GBTA supports global approaches but continues to oppose unilateral tax schemes like the European Union emissions tax imposed, but later suspended for non EU airlines, on all international flights.    

The Shutdown and What it Means for Business Travel

On Monday night, Federal agencies began the process of shutting down non-essential governmental operations. The length of the shutdown is unknown. In FY 1996, there were two shutdowns - one of five days and another of 21. To date, House Republicans have insisted on changes to the Affordable Care Act as a condition to continued governmental operations. The Democratic-led Senate and White House have opposed those conditions.

The shutdown will have impacts on business travel. Among others, these include:

  • Cancelled travel by federal employees and contractors - The most obvious and immediate impacts will be travel cancellations by federal employees. In addition, travel by federal contractors will likely be curtailed or cancelled.
  • Passports and Visas - While the processing of passports and visas should not be impacted in the short-term, a long-term delay may impact their issuance. In addition, passport services housed in a shuttered governmental building are likely to cease. During the shutdown in 1995-1996, 20,000 to 30,000 visa application per day went unprocessed as well as 200,000 U.S passport applications.
  • FAA - While air traffic controllers will remain on the job, safety inspectors will be furloughed.
  • AMTRAK - Train service will continue. However, a long-term shutdown will exhaust AMTRAK's operating account and will lead to a shutdown of services.
  • Customs/Border Inspectors - Border agents and inspectors will remain on the job.
  • NextGen - FAA's planning and implementation of NextGen programs have ceased.
  • PreCheck - It is not yet clear how DHS will process PreCheck applications although they will certainly be delayed.

GBTA issued a statement on the Federal Government shutdown today where Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said, “America’s economy can’t grow without a reliable system supporting business travel. U.S. business travel spending is expected to reach more than $273 billion this year, finally surpassing pre-recession levels. But a government shutdown will have rippling effects through the economy and severely impact the business travel industry. Every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country. Enough is enough. The United States must remain open for business.” Read the full statement.