The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week In Review

The Week in Review keeps you up-to-date on the latest business travel news.

This week, GBTA has been at the ITB Asia conference where we unveiled our latest business travel spend report on China and Asia Pacific. Most notably, as Travel Daily Media reported, nearly 40% of business travel spending will come from Asia Pacific. Read our recent blog post here with more on our findings.

On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Aviation Consumer Protection hosted a panel discussion and debate on a number of key issues, including cell phones on planes and ancillary fees. USA Today’s Bart Jansen covered and shared remarks from participants, including GBTA’s Director of Public Policy Shane Downey, who noted our most recent tax study found a 1% increase in fares would result in a 0.5% decrease in passengers taking flights.



On the Ebola front, the virus hit the business hub of New York last week after Craig Spencer, a New York-based physician who recently returned from the West African country of Guinea, tested positive.  USA Today’s Charisse Jones reported that travel industry professionals remained confident that it would be business-as-usual for New York City. GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick reiterated the need for caution, not panic.

The Dallas Morning News reported this week that American Airlines and US Airways will stick to a miles-based frequent-flier program when they merge in 2015. This is in lieu of a dollar-based frequent-flier program that focused on spend for a ticket and related fees.

Visual learners will love Inc’s recent infographic-heavy post on the dos and don’ts for international business travel. Some of our favorite tips: stick to business dinners and don’t pour wine back-handed in Argentina, steer clear of high heels in China and never eat before the host does, and make sure you give an even number of flowers to your host in Italy.

Qantas Airways just made business travel even more appealing with upgraded amenity kits. According to Business Traveler, the fashion-forward Kate Spade and Jack Spade travel pouches will be filled with selection of ASPAR goodies. Look for them on flights between Australia, London, Dubai, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.



Traveling to Europe for business soon? Expect to pay a premium for your hotel room if you stay in London. Buying Business Travel reported this week that the average room rate in London was £134.63 in September, nearly a £10 higher than the average rate for Paris (£125.44), which came in second. New York City, however, ranked highest among major cities worldwide.

Week in Review

The Week in Review keeps you up-to-date on the latest business travel news. Last week’s GBTA poll on how North American businesses are reacting to the Ebola situation continues to make news with coverage in Roll Call. GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick once again spoke with the New York Times about the importance of getting the situation under control. Ebola continues to be a fluid situation in the states: the Los Angeles Times reported that the two Dallas nurses and the NBC cameraman are recovering nicely, but CNN reports a new case involved a New York-based doctor who recently returned from Guinea.  

Shifting away from Ebola, Reuters reported U.S. airlines have raised their domestic fares by $2 on average last week, marking the first industry wide increase in half a year. We predicted this increase in our most recent U.S. BTI Report.


The Atlantic’s City Lab chatted with Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman about the state of U.S. Passenger Rail. In this candid interview, Boardman discussed ridership growth, why they need huge amounts of federal taxpayer money to maintain costly long-distance operations and on-time performance woes.


Looking to beef up your smartphone with useful Business Travel apps? Check out CIO’s list of the 15 Must-Have Android and iOS Apps for Business Travel. We’re partial to the list at GBTA, mostly because it includes our BTI numbers and a quote from GBTA Vice President of Research Joe Bates.  

Lots of people are taking issue with Olive Garden these days, but business travelers are not among them. CNBC reported that Olive Garden took the top spot in a new set of restaurant rankings, according to a quarterly report from Certify analyzing corporate expense spending. Chick-fil-A, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Dunkin' Donuts rounded out the list.  

In conference news, GBTA hosted our 3rd annual successful GBTA Conference Latin America at the beginning of the month. This week, we announced a record-setting 403 travel professionals from 11 Latin American countries and the U.S. attended the event. Read more at Hospitality Net.

Argentina Flag


Travel Biz Monitor previewed next week’s ITB Asia Conference, featuring GBTA. We will be on hand to preview our latest economic forecasts of business travel spend for China and the Asia Pacific region, as well as offer new insights to support professionals looking to expand in the Asian travel market.

Finally, some fun futuristic news for you: the Chicago Tribune reported on what passengers want for future travel. According to a new report by Airline Passenger Experience Association, passengers want to be thoroughly connected and wired in the next ten years.

China Business Travel Spend Continues Growing at Double Digit Paces

Today we released our latest forecast for the Chinese business travel market – and it continues to grow at a double digit pace. In fact, GBTA forecasts China’s total business travel spend to grow 15.9 percent in 2014 to $262 billion USD and another 18 percent in 2015. The unprecedented growth in China’s economy has propelled the country’s business travel market to represent roughly 20 percent of global business travel spending. As previously forecasted, we expect China to surpass the United States at the world’s largest business travel market by 2016.

Much like the rest of the world, China’s economy experienced a sluggish first quarter of 2014, but economic activity rebounded in Q2 largely thanks to improving exports, stronger household consumption and stimulus-driven local government infrastructure spending.

The improving exports are significant. Many media discussions call the housing sector China’s economic Achilles’ heel believing that China’s rapidly rising debt-to-GDP ratio and falling housing prices will lead to a debt-inspired collapse of the Chinese economy forcing a recession among its key trading partners. Unlike the U.S. housing collapse in 2006, however, China’s situation is dramatically different as there is less leverage, more equity and more policy weapons to soften the blow of falling asset prices. The real estate market bears watching, but its imminent collapse is unlikely. Given that as much as 40 percent of the economy is dependent upon exports, strengthening exports is welcome news, as GBTA believes its importance is underestimated and overshadowed by the current media focus on real estate risk.

In spite of these ongoing challenges, the economy will continue to advance at rates above 7 percent through 2015. GBTA expects China will see a continuation of robust domestic business travel spend growth in 2014 and 2015, growing 16 and 18 percent respectively. The continuation of this robust growth is unsustainable in the long run though unless levels of domestic consumption are boosted. Chinese authorities are focused on maintaining these current levels of economic growth while continuing to execute a long-term strategy to rebalance the economy to be less dependent on exports and investments and more focused on consumption.

After a few years of tepid growth, China’s international outbound (IOB) travel is also beginning to improve. GBTA expects IOB spending in China to grow 16 percent in 2014 and an additional 19 percent in 2015 to $13.4 billion USD.

To support the enormous growth of travel – both business and leisure – in China, infrastructure growth is necessary and China is answering the call. Over the last decade China’s largest airports have doubled in size and the construction of additional airports continues including Beijing’s second international airport, slated to begin this year and open in 2018.

In addition to airports, data from Lodging Econometrics shows 70 percent of the total room pipeline in Asia Pacific can be attributed to China as Beijing alone currently has 95 projects totaling 13,574 rooms. There is evidence, however, that the balance in the supply and demand for hotel rooms in China may be shifting as supply start to catch up with demand.

GBTA is a strong proponent of further developing the travel management profession in China and the entire Asia-Pacific region given this dramatic growth in business travel. Today, we are partnering with ITB Asia to host the GBTA Business Travel Forum in Singapore. It will be a full day of educational sessions, keynote presentations and panel discussions primarily for corporate travel buyers focused on expense management, best practice solutions, adoption of new technology such as self-booking tools, payment solutions, travel policy compliance, travel risk management and more.

Week in Review

The Week In Review post is back this week to keep you up-to-date on the latest news stories on business travel.

Once again, Ebola continues to dominate the news cycle. Two Dallas nurses who treated an Ebola patient tested positive for the virus. CNN reports one of the nurses was diagnosed the day after she flew on a commercial flight. The Washington Post reported that enhanced screening began on Thursday at key international gateway airports, including Dulles International in Virginia, Chicago’s O’Hare International, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Newark Liberty International. This is in addition to New York’s JFK airport, where began enhanced screenings last week.

ebola blog  

For business travelers, we’re seeing precautions, not panic. As GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick told Joe Sharkey of the New York Times, “Given the source of the disease and the destinations you’re talking about, from a business travel perspective, it’s been a relatively small impact so far.”

This message was confirmed after the GBTA Foundation polled North American travel managers and found that the majority of businesses have not yet been impacted by Ebola. Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today were among the media outlets who covered the poll. Read our blog post for more on our findings.  

For GBTA members looking for more information about Ebola and the risks involved, mark your calendars for Risk Radar: Managing the Medical and Security Implications of the Ebola Epidemic – How will you protect your travelers?, next Wednesday, October 22, at 12 p.m. ET. The webinar is the first installment of a special Risk Radar webinar series brought to you by the GBTA Risk Committee, and it will examine the Ebola outbreak from both a medical and security perspective to help participants develop a comprehensive understanding of its implications to travelers.  In addition, iJET is also offering an online webinar series: Ebola Global Crisis webinars.  

We received some personal news from TSA Administrator John S. Pistole when he announced he would be retiring at the end of the year.  Mike McCormick, who has worked closely with Administrator Pistole as a member of the Aviation Security and Advisory Committee (ASAC) and the ASAC Risk-Based Security Subcommittee, issued a statement thanking him for his highly effective leadership and work implementing a risk-based security philosophy.  

Earlier this week, the GBTA Foundation released a study on satisfaction rates of travel managers in both the United States and Latin America with their Travel Management Company (TMC). Travel Weekly’s Danny King reported that costs are top of mind for US travel managers, while Latin America travel professionals were more concerned about global services and the assurance of client safety and security.  

We will keep you posted on any Ebola developments as well as the rest of the business travel news you need to know.  Travel safe!

Ebola Not Yet Affecting Business Travel, GBTA Foundation Poll Finds

Update (February 10, 2015):  In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa, the World Health Organization plans to implement reforms to “improve its ability to respond more quickly to the next outbreak of a lethal infectious disease,” The New York Times reports.  

Ebola has been top of mind in the news lately, but it seems to be ‘business as usual’ for most US businesses. The GBTA Foundation polled travel managers earlier this week to better understand how Ebola was affecting business travel.

Nearly 80 percent of the 421 managers who responded said international business travel has either not been impacted at all or has not been impacted much during the past month. Likewise, more than 90 percent of managers said that domestic business travel has either not been impacted at all or has not been impacted much during the past month.

Although business travel behavior has remained largely unchanged, caution appears to be the name of the game. More than three-quarters of travel managers said they either have or plan to provide their road warriors with tips on staying safe.

It is also imperative that the government and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide accurate and timely information to the public.

GBTA will continue to be vigilant and monitor Ebola for our members. In additional to following the fluid situation, we will be holding a webinar for our members, Risk Radar: Managing the Medical and Security Implications of the Ebola Epidemic – How will you protect your travelers?, next Wednesday, October 22, at 12 p.m. ET. The webinar is the first installment of a special Risk Radar webinar series brought to you by the GBTA Risk Committee, and it will examine the Ebola outbreak from both a medical and security perspective to help participants develop a comprehensive understanding of its implications to travelers.

For more information on Ebola and Business Travel, check out my recent post, Ebola & Business Travel: What You Need to Know.

Satisfied With Your TMC?

Today, the GBTA Foundation released a study showing travel managers in both the United States and Latin America report high levels of satisfaction with their Travel Management Company (TMC). Not surprisingly, cost and savings were considered key factors in both regions when it comes to considering what TMC to use.


The study, “What Drives Travel Manager’s Satisfaction with TMCs – A Latin American & North America Study,” sponsored by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), surveyed more than 500 corporate travel managers in North America and Latin America to identify what drives satisfaction levels of travel managers in relation to their primary TMC. Travel managers were asked to rate their level of satisfaction in the areas of  cost savings, services, innovation, technology, online booking tools, program management, safety and security and global services.

In North America, cost and savings were seen as the most important drivers for satisfaction, followed by online booking tools, innovation and technology. Latin American travel managers, however, placed a high priority on global services, citing these services as a key driver alongside safety and security services. Proactive security alerts, travel tracking and security consultation were the most important elements of safety and security services among travel managers in North America who use these services through their TMC. For Latin America, 84 percent of travel managers who use their TMC’s safety and security services indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied.

When it comes to savings, air savings was ranked as the most important element related to cost savings. Overall, 61 percent of travel managers in North America and 55 percent of travel managers in Latin America were satisfied or very satisfied with the savings they realized as a result of working with a TMC.

For services, technology and program management we saw a difference between the two regions. In North America, call center services and traveler satisfaction measurements ranked as most important, while in Latin America on-site services topped the list. In North America, travel managers are most concerned with the ability to drive technology development and ease of use and service support; in contrast, for travel managers in Latin America, a range of products and quality are the most important key drivers of satisfaction. In North America, having a single point of contact to resolve problems is the most important aspect of a TMC’s program management services. Measurement of objectives and program performance ranked as most important in Latin America.

TMCs understand innovation according to the report. Just over half of all the travel managers surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the innovation they see from their TMC.

Travel managers in North America are reportedly having better experiences with online booking tools through a TMC. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of travel managers in North America are satisfied or very satisfied with their online booking tool, compared to about half (51 percent) of Latin American travel managers.

The report gives a better understanding of what travel managers value in their TMC relationship. Roughly four out of 10 travel managers who responded to this survey said they are likely to change TMCs within the next year. By understanding what drives satisfaction levels, TMCs can focus on what specifically drives the most value in a travel program.

Want to learn more? The GBTA Foundation will hold a webinar, What Drives Travel Managers' Satisfaction with TMCs?, on October 29 at 2 pm ET featuring Barbara Barnard, senior vice president, U.S. Corporate, CWT and Joe Bates, vice president of Research, GBTA Foundation.

Business Travel Spending Increases Create Continued Economic Optimism

As you may have seen we just released our third quarter business travel forecast on Tuesday. Very much in line with last quarter’s forecast, U.S.-generated business travel spend is expected to increase by 6.8 percent to $292.3 billion in 2014.

The forecast showed business travelers spent an estimated $72.8 billion on U.S.-originated business travel during the second quarter of 2014, a 7.1 percent year-over-year growth despite a slight year-over-year reduction of -0.1 percent in the total number of trips taken in that quarter. A similar trend was seen across the 2014 calendar year in group business trips – travel to business meetings or conferences. The number of trips is expected to dip 3.3 percent, while spending on group business travel is expected to increase by 5.9 percent.


The continued strong demand in business travel spending is a positive sign for our economy. Companies are continuing to make investments in growth by spending money to put their people on the road. As always, business travel drives business growth.

However, the increase in spending does not come without any concerns. Travel costs are expected to increase 2.9 percent this year and an additional 3.5 percent in 2015, led by rising food and beverage costs, hotel prices and airfares. These rising prices play a role in the increase of business travel spending. It’s too soon to tell how it will play out, but we are paying attention to this dynamic as companies plan their 2015 budgets so we can see whether increased prices across the air and hotel sectors will have an impact on business travel demand.

There is still reason to be optimistic though. Households and businesses are feeling good about the near-term future and their spending behavior will soon begin to reflect that sentiment. In addition, businesses are poised to step up their investment in equipment, information technology and structures, which will be accompanied by gains in business travel spending.

Another positive indicator is international outbound (IOB) travel. GBTA forecasts U.S. IOB to grow in volume by 5.6 percent in 2014 and another 6.5 percent in 2015 – a key indicator of the global economic recovery.

For now, the story is continued confidence in the overall economic recovery. We will pay close attention over the next quarter to determine if this rising optimism will stay on track.

Week In Review

Looking to catch up on the latest in business travel news? Find it here each week, in the Week in Review post.

The Ebola outbreak continues to dominate the news cycle. The New York Times and Buying Business Travel reported on announcements that enhanced screening of passengers will begin as select U.S. and UK airports. NBC News shared survey results showing a majority of Americans want flights banned from Ebola countries. USA Today talked about what you can expect when it comes to Ebola and air travel. You can find a more comprehensive list of articles and resources on Ebola and business travel right here on the GBTA blog.

Despite very serious issues like this, business travel keeps on ticking. On Tuesday, GBTA released its quarterly U.S. business travel forecast predicting a nearly 7 percent increase in business travel spending in 2014 to $292.3 billion. Charisse Jones of USA Today wrote that U.S. businesses are spending more on work-related travel, as employees pack more time and tasks into their corporate treks. Amy Langfield of CNBC said that business travelers are traveling less, but spending more.


Skift reported on technology’s role in disrupting and changing the meetings industry.

The New York Times’ Matt Krupnick talked about business travel and Airbnb. He interviewed GBTA’s Mike McCormick about how creative and innovative options drive innovation across the marketplace.

When it comes to air travel, if you feel like your seats are shrinking, USA Today says it’s not your imagination. They ask whether it’s time for minimum airline seat standards. They also reported on the world’s largest passenger airplane getting more routes in the United States. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) became the latest U.S. airport to land service on the Airbus A380 last week, joining seven other U.S. airports that already have regular flights on the double-decked airliner. Chicago is where things are at though as Business Traveler reported that O'Hare International Airport has regained its status as the world's busiest airport for flight operations.

Photo Credit: Simone Ramella

Photo Credit: Simone Ramella

On Wednesday, GBTA announced it is adding capacity for its upcoming conference in Berlin this November as a record number of attendees are expected. Concur Co-Founder and COO Rajeev Singh will take the stage for a keynote at the conference to share insights on how the business travel industry can meet the changing needs of customers as they seek greater visibility and insights into their corporate spend while delivering a better travel experience for the business traveler.

Find yourself spending more time at the airport lately? Well, Mashable reports that U.S. airline delays and cancellations are up slightly from last year's peak travel season.

Ebola & Business Travel: What You Need to Know

Anytime you turn on the news lately, you cannot help but hear more about ebola. There has been a lot of uncertainty and questions about travel and ebola, so we have gathered as many resources as possible in this post for you to share with your travelers on the topic.

Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs & Border Protection (CBP) announced that they will begin new layers of entry screening at the five U.S. airports that receive more than 94 percent of travelers from the Ebola-affected nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

New York’s JFK International Airport will begin the new screening process this Saturday. The enhanced entry screening at Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta international airports will be implemented next week. Click here for a fact sheet from the CDC and DHS detailing the new screening process.

CDC Infographic


Credit: CDC Infographic

More News on the Advanced Screening:

Five U.S. Airports to Enhance Screening for EbolaUSA Today

U.S. to Begin Ebola Screenings at 5 AirportsThe New York Times

Why One Public Health Expert Thinks Airport Ebola Screening Won't WorkNPR

Online Resources:

Mark your calendars for Risk Radar: Managing the Medical and Security Implications of the Ebola Epidemic – How will you protect your travelers?, next Wednesday, October 22, at 12 p.m. ET. The webinar is the first installment of a special Risk Radar webinar series brought to you by the GBTA Risk Committee, and it will examine the Ebola outbreak from both a medical and security perspective to help participants develop a comprehensive understanding of its implications to travelers.

Additional webinar series from iJET:
Ebola Global Crisis Webinars

Information from ISOS:
International SOS (ISOS), a medical and travel security services company, has created a video sharing what business travelers need to know about ebola. ISOS tracks the latest news on ebola here.

Ebola Facts Education materials in multiple languages to understand and spread awareness of ebola

Information from the CDC:

Facts About Ebola in the US - Infographic
Guidance on Air Medical Transport for Patients with Ebola Virus Disease
Signs & Symptoms
Questions and Answers on Ebola

Why Europe Cannot Ignore This:
More Cases of Ebola In Europe Unavoidable: WHOHuffington Post
According to the article, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that Europe would almost certainly see more cases of Ebola after a nurse in Spain became the first person known to have caught the virus outside Africa.

Ebola in Europe: What Went WrongThe Daily Beast

Other Helpful Articles on Ebola & Travel:
F.A.Q on Ebola and TravelThe New York Times
Advice for Business Travelers – ISOS
What Travelers Need to Know About the Ebola Virus
What Role Do Airports Play in All of ThisPolitico Morning Transportation
Why hasn’t the U.S. closed its airports to travelers from Ebola-ravaged countries?Washington Post
Ebola Patient in Dallas Hospital DiesUSA Today
Second Possible Ebola Case Reported in TexasHuffington Post

What’s Next?
On Friday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a field hearing on how the government is coordinating its response to the Ebola outbreak.

Looking to learn more? Tune in to a webinar, Risk Radar: Managing the Medical and Security Implications of the Ebola Epidemic - How will you protect your travelers? on October 22 at 12 p.m. ET. The webinar is the first installment of a special Risk Radar webinar series brought to you by the GBTA Risk Committee, and it will examine the Ebola outbreak from both a medical and security perspective to help participants develop a comprehensive understanding of its implications to travelers.

Travel Managers Find Satisfaction, Cost-Savings with Dynamic Pricing Model

Last week, the GBTA Foundation released a study looking at travel manager awareness, adoption rates and satisfaction with dynamic pricing models for hotels. Dynamic Pricing for hotel corporate rates has been around for approximately 10 years, but the adoption of this pricing model has been a slow one.

The study, Dynamic Hotel Pricing – Has Its Time Come?, sponsored by Hilton Worldwide, surveyed nearly 200 travel managers and delves into why current adopters use this pricing model and why non-adopters do not.

Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of the survey respondents have “adopted” the dynamic pricing model and are currently using it with at least one hotel company. All current adopters noted they were likely to continue using dynamic pricing agreements and are generally satisfied with the service. In fact, two-thirds of the respondents indicated they are likely to enter into a new dynamic pricing agreement with at least one additional hotel in 2015. The majority of adopters reported it is the only discount available at hotels for travel managers who book a lower volume of rooms.

Dynamic Pricing Study 2014 - Hilton - FINAL (2)

Dynamic pricing can allow corporate travelers to obtain a discount on rooms, particularly in a market where companies do not have sufficient volume to negotiate a set rate. Travel managers using a dynamic pricing model cited cost savings, access to more types of rooms and transparency of rates as their top three benefits of using the pricing structure.

Dynamic Pricing Study 2014 - Hilton 2

When it comes to the non-adopters, the study found there is room for education, particularly among travel managers from companies with a hotel spend of less than $5 million annually and low volume need. Travel managers with these companies represent an untapped market, as they stand to benefit the most from the dynamic pricing structure, yet are the least likely to have heard of dynamic pricing.

The majority of non-adopters who have been offered dynamic pricing said that concerns about confusion, price fluctuation and uncertainty prevented them from adopting dynamic pricing. The research indicates that effective communication would provide managers with increased clarity about dynamic pricing that could be converted into higher adoption rates.

Industry trade reporters also weighed in on the study. Business Travel News reporter Michael Baker wrote most travel buyers who have adopted dynamic-pricing agreements in their hotel programs are satisfied with the results, according to the study, and a Successful Meetings article called dynamic pricing: the next trend in business travel.