The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Last week, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the third iteration of Trump’s travel ban. According to Skiftthe Trump administration is now appealing the judge’s order.

NPR reports passengers flying to the U.S. will face heightened security screenings and new questionnaires.

LCT Magazine notes Marcou Transportation Group, owner of Dav El | BostonCoach, acquired Florida-based Boca Raton Transportation.

According to The Hilla coalition of travel groups is urging Congress to pass a TSA modernization bill. The legislation would speed up deployment of new screening technologies at security checkpoints and reduce travel delays.

CNET reports a Samsung phone began emitting smoke on a flight from Delhi to Indore. Due to the lack of fire extinguishers on board, the crew placed the phone in a tray of water to get the fire under control.

USA TODAY notes American and Southwest cancelled 13,000 flights due to natural disasters in September.

According to Business TravelerLondon City has released images of what the airport will look like after the completion of a £400 million development project.

4Hoteliers reports Airbnb announced co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk will become Chairman of Airbnb China.

The Economist notes hotels are employing fewer concierges. Since 2014, the number of luxury hotels that employ a concierge dropped by 20%.

According to TravelDailyNews InternationalSingapore became the most powerful passport in the world based on the Passport Index, which ranks passports based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.

USA TODAY reports airlines gauge the success of basic economy by how many passengers avoid it.

Skift notes Lyft continues a steady rise in popularity among business travelers.

According to Business TravellerApple Maps added seven new airport maps in the latest update to iOS 11.

Buying Business Travel reports Ryanair delayed its new baggage policy to January 15. The airline is cutting checked bag fees and increasing hold baggage weight in efforts to encourage less carry-on luggage.

According to TravelDailyNews Internationalan IATA forecast predicts air passengers will nearly double to 7.8 billion in 2036.


Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience – Part 2

Last week on the blog, I wrote about how managed travel programs and organizations as a whole can work to improve the business travel experience for their travelers. While common sense says this is an important thing to do, our stats also back it up. Check out this earlier post on why the business travel experience is so important. Hint: It has to do with employee retention, recruitment and results.

In a recently released study, the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, identified the information travelers want to avoid stress on the road as well as what technological amenities will enhance the traveler experience.

Communication plays an important role in the overall traveler experience. When asked what travel information is most useful for reducing stress, safety, transportation and information about the destination topped the list for many. There was a bit of variation by region though:

APAC

Europe

LATAM

 

North America

Understanding how to best deliver and make these types of information available to travelers is key. Travel managers discussed different channels used to communicate with their travelers. Most make travel information available on the company intranet, others hold quarterly webinars or send newsletters/emails, while others don’t communicates on a proactive basis, but instead wait for travelers to contact them with questions. Technology also makes an important contribution to business traveler satisfaction.

Technology enables the travel process to be a more efficient one. From the ability to book through an online booking tool, to staying connected with the office via email, to enhancing the travel experience with a mobile app and submitting electronic expense reports instead of paper ones – technology has become fundamental to the work travel managers do.

Business travelers around the world indicated a variety of different technological amenities. Mobile payment and mobile expense reporting along with itinerary management apps and safety tracking apps were near the top of the list for most business travelers. This one also varied from region to region:

APAC

Europe

LATAM

North America

It comes as no surprise that business travelers identify so many tech areas that can enhance their travel experience. We now live in a mobile age where travelers expect to access information on the go as well as be able to perform tasks they couldn’t do through a mobile device years ago. Implementing the right technology will support and enhance the activities travelers have to do to prepare for and conduct their travel.

How can travel mangers know if their travelers are satisfied with their business travel experience? Measure it! Measure more than just satisfaction with suppliers. You should also ask about their overall travel experience as well. Identifying opportunities and addressing challenges can only strengthen the travel program in the long run and help business travelers achieve their business goals.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being. Register today: Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish) The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET

 

MONICA SANCHEZ

Monica Sanchez joined the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in 2013 as a Research Project Director. She is responsible for managing and developing Foundation partner research studies in the United States and Globally. Prior to working for GBTA, Monica worked at Experian Marketing Solutions developing consumer behavior models. Monica has more than 10 years of market research experience. Her main areas of expertise are questionnaire design and predictive modeling. She is interested in cross-cultural questionnaire design and its impact on data results. She holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Monica’s favorite season is the Fall when she likes to go hiking and camping with her family.


TMCs Support Companies in Improving Traveller Experience

The GBTA Foundation recently released a study in partnership with Sabre Corporation on creating a frictionless travel experience. The study explored traveller friction around the globe from the business traveller perspective as well as through the lens of managed travel and human resource professionals.

Depending on an organization’s culture and resources, a travel program tends to first focus on controlling cost and developing policies and procedures. It then moves to implementation of technology and finally, traveller well-being. Of course, it does not always happen in this order, nor are traveller well-being initiatives only seen in mature travel programs, but controlling costs unfortunately many times outweighs looking out for the well-being of employees who are constantly on the road.

Globally, business travellers reported on the top pain points they face while travelling, how much the quality of their business travel matters when it comes to job satisfaction and getting results, and the amenities and technology that they look for to improve their travel experience as well. Learn more about the survey results here.

In addition to the results of our global survey, I had the opportunity to conduct in-depth interviews with travel buyers and travel management company (TMC) and human resource personnel. Three of the TMC interviewees agreed to let me share parts of our conversation to better understand how TMCs work to support the business travel experience. Answers below are paraphrased based on phone interviews.

How can a TMC Support Traveller Well-Being and Improve the Traveller Experience for Clients?

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: One thing we track and provide to our clients is traveller mileage and who is travelling the most, so we can flag those travellers as individuals who might have issues. While we have not had many requests for it, we worked with one specific client on a traveller-centric dashboard that is all about travellers and the traveller experience – how many miles they are flying, how many hotel night stays, where they typically go to, etc. We also conduct satisfaction surveys that are simple to complete and address the travel experience. Our motto is business travel your way, so our value proposition in the marketplace is providing customized solutions to our customers.

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: As a TMC, I believe we have two customers: the head of procurement and the final traveller. While the contract may not be with the traveller, they are still a direct customer. Each time a traveller goes abroad it can create stress and anxiety, so we need to be very reliable and the traveller has to know that whatever happens, we will have a solution. We can deliver a high-level of support before, during and after travel 24 hours a day. We conduct a satisfaction survey after every trip for every traveller.

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: We strongly believe it is our role to help our clients achieve the best possible travel experience while on business trips. We have created dedicated teams available 24-7 to monitor all flights to anticipate negative experiences and to report on hotel quality. We have an app to handle the whole trip experience from booking to expenses. Through new technologies, travellers are constantly monitored to ensure maximum support and protection in the case of exceptional events where travellers will be informed and updated through an alert service. Travellers are also provided with information on necessary hotel features such as WiFi, laundry, fitness center and points of interest.

Do TMCs Get Involved in Developing Travel Policy for their Clients?

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: We make a concerted effort to explain to our customers how to build a very efficient and effective travel policy. Our advice is to keep it simple as we often see very complex travel policies that no one but travel agents can understand, so travellers end up lost.

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: We constantly meet with our clients to analyze their business travel program and the results they are seeing, so that we can suggest alternatives and improvements to their travel policy, spending behaviors, supplier agreements and more. We strive to support our clients in finding the best balance between the cost of services and quality of services in full compliance with their organization’s business strategy.

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: We definitely give advice, and that advice is primarily about incremental value. How much value, incrementally, are you getting for the complexity of the procedure or policy you are looking to put in place? We counsel them to think about what are they getting out of the travel policy and what is the objective of their travel program? A lot of people think policy is about cost control, but in today’s climate, we are seeing policy is less about cost control and more about risk control.

Talk About the Future

Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa: All of our new IT solutions including our apps, online booking tool and expense management tools are inspired by ongoing feedback from our clients, so we can be ready to meet all of their future needs. A lot has changed in recent years and probably the most important is that there is an alignment in the customer experience and the traveller experience. Travellers are asking for new, more flexible solutions, so our clients are asking us to provide that. We often see new ideas, features and services coming from the consumer side, so we are part of an advisory board for an Italian incubator to monitor new ideas and digital transformations coming down the line.

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel: One area we are seeing a greater focus on as part of traveller well-being is health and safety, which typically centers around trying to manage risk on a trip. When we first created this type of program for a client three to four years ago, we thought it would be a one-off, but now between 30-40 percent of our new customers have a risk component they want us to assist with. On the booking front, I see the industry moving away from traditional booking paths into chat. We will also see more powerful apps and rather than companies creating new apps, there will be increased functionality and use of the mobile web. You will be able to do the same thing in different channels and have more of an equivalency between the different channels. Finally, with data privacy laws, I think you will see rather than personalize solutions because you have that individual’s data, there is going to be a lot more done by deriving information.

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert: Now, more than ever, our customers don’t want just travel tools – they want end-to-end tools. We no longer speak just about travel, we talk about travel and expense.

Get to Know Our Experts

Antoine Boatwright, Hillgate Travel Antoine joined Hillgate Travel in early 2014 and is responsible for infrastructure as well as internal and client facing application development. More than just delivering on requirements from around the business, he is a proactive owner and driver of digitisation. He is often asked to present at events as well as contribute opinion pieces to industry press. Antoine has 25+ years of global experience with Logica, Dell and Oracle world-wide in such diverse industries as space, energy, utilities, telecoms, manufacturing and Business Travel. His roles have spanned technology, sales, marketing and operations. As such, he brings more than just technology thought leadership to his current role. He brings a knowledge of what it takes to win and keep business globally. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics (BSc, MSc) and the University of Reading (MBA) and is fluent in four European languages (English, French, German and Spanish).

 

Eric Ritter, VoyagExpert For the past ten years, Eric has been CEO of VoyagExpert, one of France’s leading independent travel agencies and a member of the GlobalStar network. VoyagExpert has three centers dedicated to business travel in France.    

 

  Enrico Ruffilli, UVET Global Business Travel Spa Enrico is the CEO for Uvet Global Business Travel Spa, the Italian leader in business travel management. He has led the company since 2001 when he was appointed CEO of the newly founded company between Uvet Spa and American Express. Born in Milan, Enrico began his career after receiving a master’s degree in Statistics and an undergraduate degree in political science with a concentration in statistics. He also served on the Board of Directors of the following companies: First Italia Srl, ITN Spa, Itn Srl, Travel Company Srl, Uvet network Spa, Made in Uvet Srl, Jakala Spa, Uevents Srl, Ufleet Srl, Flygpoolen, Avexia-Uvet France Spa.

 

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: Want to Learn More? The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveller well-being.

Register today: Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish) The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET

 

ABOUT MONICA SANCHEZ

Monica Sanchez joined the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in 2013 as a Research Project Director. She is responsible for managing and developing Foundation partner research studies in the United States and Globally. Prior to working for GBTA, Monica worked at Experian Marketing Solutions developing consumer behavior models. Monica has more than 10 years of market research experience. Her main areas of expertise are questionnaire design and predictive modeling. She is interested in cross-cultural questionnaire design and its impact on data results. She holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Monica’s favorite season is the Fall when she likes to go hiking and camping with her family.


TMCs 101 – If, Why, and How to Use TMCs

What value can a travel management company (TMC) bring to your program? How do you find a TMC that fits your programmatic and organizational needs? What’s a reasonable agreement? These are just some of the many questions that individuals in the managed travel space may have.

Regardless of size or spend, bringing on a TMC can be an arduous process. To assist with the process, the GBTA Foundation recently partnered with U.S. Bank to outline the “Top 5 TMC Questions Asked and Answered.” The one-pager outlines useful tips for professionals just starting out in travel management, like how to decide when to bring on a TMC or how much savings to expect.

GBTA also held a live Q&A webinar featuring veteran travel managers, enabling participants to walk away with a better understanding of how their travel program could benefit from a TMC. While there is certainly no one-size-fits all approach to finding and choosing a TMC, individuals can benefit by hearing the experiences and advice of industry veterans.

Kate Vasiloff led the webinar, during which Rackspace’s Eddie Martinez and Finastra’s Mauro Ruggiero provided invaluable insights. Here are a couple key takeaways:

Be picky and know what your non-negotiables are. Stick to your wishlist items and don’t compromise. If a TMC can’t fulfill an important need, it’s okay to move on. If something doesn’t sound right or feel right for your program, there’s someone else out there who will fit better, be more flexible, and have a suite of offerings better suited for your organization. A partnership that doesn't mutually benefit everyone doesn't have staying power.

Bringing on a TMC will help you reclaim the value of unused tickets. When TMCs manage booking channels, agents are in the know when tickets are booked and reservations are made. TMCs have good relationships with airlines and their vendors, meaning they can help recoup some of the lost money from changed tickets or missed tickets.

Don’t be shy about asking TMCs to get creative. There are a variety of models available, and you should reach an agreement that will benefit both your program and theirs. If you drain them at the negotiating table, they won’t be willing to work with you in the future.

During the negotiating process, ask for free features like customized reporting. Some TMCs will attempt to charge you per transaction, so ask for tangible benefits that will improve your travel program in advance.

TMCs are an extension of your company. When you bring on a TMC, there is an immediate impact. You now have a full team of subject-matter experts behind you who you don’t have to train – you can simply bring them on, and they’re ready to go.

Ask the tough questions. There’s no question too small or too niche. TMCs have heard it all, and they’re happy to have the opportunity to demonstrate their potential to you.

Reserve the right to keep asking questions and keep changing. At the end of the day, the TMC that works is the TMC that changes and grows with you.

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

Shortly before it was set to take effect, two federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Trump’s third travel ban, reports Mother Jones.

According to USA TODAY, United Airlines estimates hurricanes cost $210 million in revenue with 8,300 canceled flights.

Travel Trade Daily reports Singapore Airlines added Android Pay and Apple Pay as payment options for their mobile app.

Buying Business Travel notes JetBlue announced it will end relationships with over ten online travel agencies.

According to Skift, hundreds of flights were cancelled across Europe as Storm Ophelia took hold in Ireland.

TravelDailyNews International reports Yapta has delivered $100 million in combined travel savings to its enterprise customers.

Buying Business Travel shares findings from a new report that suggests travellers’ exposure to risk is increasing.

Business Traveller notes China Airlines is set to launch a non-stop service between London and Taipei. The average flight time is around 13 hours.

Skift claims self-driving cars are likely to be tested on Manhattan streets next year.

According to Business Traveller, Boeing and Airbus have accepted Qantas’ ultra-long-haul challenge. Both manufacturers are attempting to make modifications to their aircraft to make 20-hour passenger flights viable.

Travel Agent Central reports U.S. travel buyer compensation is up 5.5 percent year-over-year.

Corporate & Incentive Travel highlights the costs and benefits of managing small meetings.

According to The National, Etihad launched a hand baggage only trial where travelers can purchase lower fares if they refrain from checking bags.

Buying Business Travel notes Delta introduced an auto check-in feature through its app. The functionality automatically checks in passengers 24 hours prior to their flight.

TechCrunch reports Airbnb plans on opening a home-hotel hybrid in Florida in 2018. The 324-unit building would be Airbnb-branded, and tenants would be able to rent their listings for up to 180 days per year.

According to Buying Business Travel, Virgin Group is investing in Hyperloop One, a train concept that would enable passengers to travel from Edinburgh to London in just 50 minutes. Travel Industry Wire notes Toronto and New York signed a city-to-city partnership to boost travel between the two destinations.


The Convergence of First-Time Exhibitors

Nearly three months ago marked the final day of our 49th annual Convention in Boston. GBTA Convention 2017 featured over 400 exhibitors, including nearly 100 first-time exhibitors, giving both buyers and suppliers the unique opportunity to establish new relationships as well as fortify existing ones.

GBTA has long been a proponent of face-to-face meetings and communication, so we set out on foot to speak with some of our first-time exhibitors on why they decided to participate in the world’s largest gathering of business travel professionals.

“Even though our market is everyone, we’ve found that GBTA is a great place to exhibit as it allows us exposure to a diverse range of clients. We’re talking to everyone—both traditional buyers as well as other exhibitors. Basically everyone on the floor. Medieval Times offers business travelers a unique option for entertainment, for those seeking something outside the ordinary and we offer deals such as discount ticket programs for companies and their employees…free for anyone who decides to sign up.”

– Mario Barreiro, Medieval Times | First-Time Exhibitor  

“This is the major leagues. What we’ve found is that GBTA is the perfect storm that brings together meetings and events clients and potential partners to collaborate with…we’re talking to everyone, suppliers who have their venues on our platform and corporate buyers who want to use their products. We bring them together in an easy to use platform. We decided to exhibit because we think our services fit a unique space in the meetings industry—typically, those meeting planners and organizations looking for smaller scale meetings that are typically invisible."

– Richard Wilder, Bizly | First-Time Exhibitor  

“[GBTA Convention 2017] is a great place to exhibit because it allows us to connect with existing clients, meet new ones, and meet with other suppliers to explore and develop partnerships. TripLingo helps companies support their international travelers with critical safety tools, language translation and culture guides, and tools that drive significant savings around international travel- particularly on roaming costs.”

– Jesse Maddox, TripLingo | First-Time Exhibitor


Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience – Part 1

The GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Sabre Corporation, set out to explore the topic of traveler friction around the world. The recently released study looked at traveler friction from both the business traveler perspective and also from the perspective of the managed travel and human resource professional. The objective was to identify the main challenges business travelers face during their travel experience while learning what managed travel programs and organizations as a whole can do to make this experience a better one.

The study asked business travelers what perks or amenities impacted their business travel experience. By and large, convenient and comfortable hotels, non-stop flights, booking flexibility and paid time off for long trips most frequently topped the list – although there was some variation from country to country in the Asia Pacific region.

 

It makes sense that hotel convenience and comfort rises to the top as business travelers have to trade the comfort of their homes with a new setting every time they travel. It is where they rest after a long business day away from home or continue to do work once meetings are over. Working to make sure the hotel meets the travelers’ expectations and needs will go a long way in ensuring a positive experience.

We also wanted to learn what optional purchases travelers are making to improve their experience, regardless of whether they are reimbursed by the company or not. Answers varied slightly from region to region, but Wi-Fi or hotel high-speed internet were common purchases as were seat upgrades and international mobile calls and texts.

Travelers are most likely to mention these kinds of optional purchases can improve their productivity while on the road. Of those who purchased upgrades, we asked which ones their companies paid for.

By analyzing how often travelers pay for these amenities and services out-of-pocket and how much it costs the company, travel managers can identify opportunities on top of cost savings to include these during negotiations with suppliers, as they can bring added value to the travel program. Traveler managers should also be sure to provide guidance to their travelers on what amenities are already included or can be reimbursed.

For more from the report, GBTA members can download Creating a Frictionless Travel Experience for free on the GBTA Hub.

Webinars: The GBTA Foundation and Sabre will also host four regional webinars on this research. The webinars will focus on how the travel experience impacts overall job satisfaction of employees; understanding what key areas have the most impact on overall satisfaction with business travel; and identifying technology and travel policies that help drive and enhance traveler well-being.

Register today:

Europe – Monday, November 6 at 9am ET
Asia Pacific – Wednesday, November 15 at 6am ET
Latin America – Wednesday, November 15 at 9am ET (presented in Spanish)
The Americas – Wednesday, November 15 at 2pm ET


Wisconsin BTA Hosts Travel Talk Roundtable with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

*The following is a guest blog post by Ann Brennan, executive vice president of GBTA – Wisconsin*

This past August, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the Wisconsin Business Travel Association hosted our first ever, “Travel Talk Roundtable” with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Senator Johnson’s Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security, the principal department responsible for immigration, counterterrorism, and border security. Many of the issues before Senator Johnson’s Committee are key priorities for the business travel community. We were joined by GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and Vice President for Government Relations Andrew Meehan.

Wisconsin BTA members shared the business travel community’s concerns, including cost containment, traveler security, duty of care, and air traffic control reform.

Senator Johnson delivered remarks on a broad range of issues including aviation security and the importance of effective engagement on Capitol Hill. He also noted the change in threats to aviation security and the challenges posed by ISIS.  Senator Johnson believes that the best thing Congress can do is to provide a secure homeland and grow the economy.

The group also discussed a bill passed in late July that would increase the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge from $4.50 to $8.50. The Passenger Facility Charge is a fee that consumers pay when they purchase airlines tickets. GBTA has expressed concern that taxes and fees currently comprise nearly 25% of the cost of airline tickets. The proposed increase would result in a $3.2 billion tax hike on travelers.

WI BTA members also raised the issue of air traffic control reform. GBTA supports a House bill (H.R. 2997)  that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and move air traffic control operations out of the federal government and into a not-for-profit entity. Senator Johnson expressed an understanding of the cost and efficiency concerns with the status quo.

Wisconsin BTA looks forward to inviting our elected officials to our annual Travel Conference in January.

 


World Travellers and Companies as Global Citizens

*The following is a guest blog post by Kati Ihamäki, GBTA member and Finnair’s Director of Corporate Sustainability*

The business sector and the way companies operate have a major impact on the future of the Earth. We can’t simply focus on minimising the impacts of our operations — instead, we must find opportunities for developing our operations, growing responsibly and benefiting society.

Companies and individuals who operate in a sustainable manner can thus change the world for the better. A company may not directly be able to influence things such as national legislation, but a sustainably operating company will introduce new practices and approaches into the social environment it operates in. Likewise, an individual citizen and consumer can make choices that help steer the product offering towards better sustainability. Companies want to contribute to be sustainable members of society and global citizens. Companies take on responsibilities and exert influence well beyond their geographical boundaries – their sphere of influence includes countries where their products are used, or where they have subcontractors or where they source their raw materials from. Sustainability throughout the entire sourcing chain has become a key indicator. This also applies to the travel industry – the entire travel chain and the infrastructure it requires. Social and environmental impact knows no geographical boundaries.

According to the old saying, leaving is more important than arriving. However, what about your destination and the method by which you travel? Sustainable travel, ‘staycationing’ and ecotourism are on everyone’s lips, but how seriously do people actually take these when planning their vacation? In business travel, you can hardly choose your destination, but the mode of transport and choice of hotel also leave a mark.  If you are interested in sustainability, where do you find reliable information?

Although there is a plethora of different eco labels, certificates and calculators available, the calculation methods and evaluation criteria applied for them vary dramatically. Fortunately, travel industry operators have joined forces to develop tools for travellers to help in deciding their destination based on sustainability or their mode of transport based on the level of emissions. We are unlikely to ever achieve a single, comprehensive label that would cover all aspects of sustainability, but these tools will help travellers make choices based on facts that matter to them personally.

Environmental considerations are often mentioned in connection with travel – carbon and water footprints, amount of waste generated and energy consumption. Different modes of transport can be compared using emissions calculators, just like hotels’ environmental performance can be evaluated based on their environmental footprint. The problem may be in that the calculators used by different airlines are not based on the same methods of calculation. Therefore, comparison between airlines is tricky, although destinations can be ranked based on the flight route calculators.

There are still no foolproof ways of comparing different modes of transport, but progress is being made through a concerted effort by stakeholders. In an ideal situation, when using a booking application, the customer should be able to not only compare the prices, but also the travel time and emissions. Although there is still some way to go before this is achieved and the emissions calculations are only estimates, development work is underway.

If you want to do your share and contribute to sustainable development projects, you can do so by, for example, donating your frequent flyer points or even participating in projects on-site. These alternatives are offered by airlines, hotels, travel organisers and NGOs.

In order to promote responsible business travel, Project ICARUS will be running the industry's only Sustainability E-learning Certificate program through a series of educational e-learning sessions starting Tuesday, October 24.

Kati Ihamäki has been the Director of Corporate Sustainability at Finnair since 2008. She has been passionately designing and managing Finnair’s corporate responsibility strategy and integrating sustainability issues into Finnair’s competitive strategy. Previously, Kati worked as Finnair’s Alliance Director for oneworld affairs; Manager for Bilateral agreements; Controller for Service and Quality for Stations abroad.

In her current role, Kati leads the development and execution of company-wide strategic sustainability initiatives, while integrating corporate responsibility into business-critical processes throughout the company.

Kati’s responsibilities include ensuring that sustainable development efforts enhance Finnair’s business performance and support the company’s strategy along with the long-term interests of multiple stakeholders. Kati’s work ensures that Finnair's current and future operations are sustainable and in line with the relevant values, norms and regulations. Additionally, she is responsible for the continuous development of Finnair’s corporate responsibility reporting and communication.


Compensation for Travel Buyers Up 5.5 Percent Year-Over-Year

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase in 2017, reaching an average of $107,000, according to new findings released today. Median salaries are also up, increasing 7.5 percent to $98,000.

The GBTA Foundation’s 2017 Compensation and Benefits study delves into salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. travel buyers and reveals differences in compensation based on a variety of factors including experience, region, position, company travel spend, and gender.

COMPENSATION DISPARITIES

The largest gap in compensation can be attributed to position level. Directors and executives earn an average of $146,000, which is 40 percent more than managers’ average compensation of $105,000. Similarly, managers earn 33 percent more than entry-level/experienced buyers ($79,000).

Income also varies based on region. On average, buyers earn more in the Northeast ($119,000) and West/Pacific ($115,000) than in the South ($99,000) and Midwest ($97,000).

Surprisingly, there is no major difference in compensation between those who have an associate’s degree or less and those who have a bachelor’s degree. This contrasts with last year’s study, which revealed a difference in compensation between the two education levels.

The study also revealed GTP® Certification holders earn an average of $112,000, which is nearly six percent higher than their counterparts who lack it. The Global Travel Professional® (GTP) Certification is designed to raise industry standards, enhance work performance and recognize individuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline.

SATISFACTION

Although nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of buyers are satisfied with their compensation, satisfaction levels have remained flat since 2014. In line with the past three years, only 11 percent are dissatisfied with their compensation.

BENEFITS

In addition to bonuses and salaries, buyers are offered a variety of benefits intended to improve the quality of their overall health and well-being. Virtually all companies provide health insurance (98 percent), dental insurance (96 percent), vision insurance (92 percent), life insurance (91 percent), and a defined contribution plan (e.g. 401k) (91 percent), though few are fully funded.

Tax-advantaged health accounts are widespread, and a majority of buyers indicate their company offers health savings accounts (82 percent) and flexible spending accounts (80 percent).

Three out of five (62 percent) companies allow buyers to work from home and even more (73 percent) are granted flexible work schedules. Additionally, more than one-half (55 percent) offer gym memberships or discounts.

During special circumstances, most buyers are permitted to take additional leave. Companies frequently provide bereavement (93 percent) and maternity leave (83 percent), and one-half (51 percent) provide paternity leave. Although this is consistent with last year’s findings, the portion of companies that offer paternity leave is higher today than in 2014 (32 percent) and 2015 (38 percent).

METHODOLOGY

The study is based on an online survey of 272 travel buyers currently residing in the United States who are employed full time. The survey fielded from June 21-30, 2017.

This study shows the annual change in compensation among the same sample of survey respondents. In other words, respondents were asked about their compensation both in 2017 and 2016. This study does not compare this year’s survey respondents to last year’s respondents. As a result, the 2016 compensation figures in the chart above are different from those reported in last year’s 2016 Compensation and Benefits study. This reflects that a different sample of buyers took this year’s survey.

MORE INFORMATION The study, 2017 Compensation and Benefits: A Survey of Buyers in the Business Travel Industry, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.