The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

How Much Do Expense Reports Really Cost a Company?

Recently the GBTA Foundation released a study, in partnership with HRS, to better understand the expense reporting process at companies across the globe, to learn about the pain points in the process and to identify areas of opportunity to improve existing practices.

One of the key takeaways discovered in the study is the true costs of an expense report for companies.


The average cost to process an expense report for a single night hotel stay is $58 and takes 20 minutes to complete. However, one in five (19 percent) expense reports contain errors or missing information costing an additional $52 and 18 minutes to correct each expense report.

These hidden costs can put a drain on company resources. Companies process an average of 51,000 expense reports each year meaning companies around the globe spend, on average, approximately half a million dollars and nearly 3,000 hours correcting errors in expense reports annually.

The numbers do vary by company size and spend. Companies that have large annual spends or more employees actually spend less time processing a single expense report compared to smaller companies with lower annual spends.


Stay tuned for more info on current expense reporting practices across the globe and pain points in the process.

GBTA Supports DHS Call to Strengthen Visa Waiver Program

Yesterday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a statement saying Congress can help strengthen the Visa Waiver Program by codifying into law recent enhancements already made to the program and by fully funding the Obama administration’s budget request for aviation security.

To be a viable economic driver, travel must first and foremost be safe and secure. Programs like the Visa Waiver Program make travel safer and increase information-sharing among countries. GBTA supports DHS in its efforts to work with Congress to strengthen and put into law existing enhancements that add layers of security to the Visa Waiver Program.

International Departtures Terminal Business Travel Transportation Flight Concept


In the wake of the recent terror attacks, we need programs like this now more than ever. Risk-based security programs like the Visa Waiver Program, Global Entry or TSA’s PreCheck allow governments to focus their limited resources on the people we don’t know while safely facilitating travel more efficiently for those who have passed stringent background checks.

Here are some facts about the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Security is, and always has been, paramount and the Visa Waiver Program is a pivotal contributor to national security.

  • This program protects the American homeland through individualized pre-screening of travelers, greater information sharing, enhanced international partnerships with law enforcement and intelligence services and more secure passports for participating countries.

  • No Visa Waiver Program traveler may be admitted to the United States until all security checks are completed, including checks conducted on all travelers, regardless of a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

  • ESTA is a robust security measure in itself. Before an ESTA is approved, it is checked against multiple national security and law enforcement databases and INTERPOL’s international databases.

  • According to the DHS, since ESTA’s inception in 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has denied nearly 6,000 ESTA applications as a result of vetting against the U.S. government’s known and suspected terrorist watch list. During the same period of time, CBP denied more than 165,000 ESTA applications submitted by individuals with passports reported as lost or stolen. Just this Fiscal Year, since October 1, 2015, 227 ESTA applicants have been denied as result of security concerns.

  • DHS continuously works to improve and enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program. Last year DHS announced additional data fields required for the ESTA. This summer more new requirements were put into place requiring participating countries to use electronic passports for all travelers flying to the United States, to use the INTERPOL lost and stolen passport database to screen travelers crossing the borders of any Visa Waiver country and to allow more U.S. federal air marshals on international flights to the United States.

Tell your Congressional leaders that we, as a country, should continue to champion policies such as the VWP that keep travel safe and secure.

GBTA Poll Shows U.S. Business Travel to Europe Remains Resilient Despite Paris Attacks

Last week GBTA President Christle Johnson issued a note to members expressing GBTA’s deepest sympathies for those impacted by the Paris attacks and noted that the business travel industry is resilient and we will continue to work together and stand strong. On Friday, the Chair of GBTA’s Risk Committee reflected on the Paris attacks and duty of care on the GBTA Blog and also provided resources for members.

In addition, GBTA surveyed U.S. travel buyers last week about their company’s travel to Europe and issued the statement below this morning regarding the survey:

GBTA Poll Shows U.S. Business Travel to Europe Remains Resilient Despite Paris Attacks

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. business travel buyers say their company’s travel to Europe will remain largely unaffected by the recent attacks on Paris, according to a poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in the days following the attacks. A majority (57 percent) reported “no change” and another 16 percent reported only “slight reductions” in their company’s travel to Europe. Only 10 percent reported that they have temporarily suspended travel to Paris.

The vast majority of U.S. business travel buyers – 93 percent – believe that it is important that travel to Europe continue as usual despite the recent terrorist attacks on Paris.

“This initial survey shows the resiliency of business travel in the face of these horrific attacks,”said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. “However, corporations, governments and the business travel industry must continue to work closely together to ensure a global travel system that is both safe and secure.”  

This survey of GBTA members was conducted online between November 18 and 20, 2015. In total, 169 U.S.-based travel buyers participated in the survey.

GBTA Risk Committee Chair Reflects on Paris Attacks and Crisis Preparation

The following is a guest blog post from the chair of our Risk Committee. Erin reflects on the Paris attacks and the understanding that travel security risks exist everywhere and that anything can happen anywhere in the world at any time. You will also find more links below her post to resources created by the GBTA Risk Committee and already available to Members in the GBTA Hub.

The Importance of Travel Risk Management
By Erin L. Wilk

Senior Vice President, Global Travel Safety Program Manager for Bank of America

I currently have the privilege of serving as Chair of the GBTA Risk Committee. On Friday, November 13, I was headed to the airport to depart for a business trip. When my phone rang and I was briefed by my team who sits in London in regard to what had just transpired in Paris, I knew we were in for a long weekend. We immediately activated our traveler accounting and crisis response and reporting processes and I was reminded how quickly the world that we live in, which is not always kind, can change.

Events like this are a grim reminder that travel security risks exist everywhere and that anything can happen anywhere in the world at any time. Mali was another reminder today. Many of you have heard me share in GBTA webinars or convention education sessions that, “if it has not happened to you yet, it will.” An incident like this highlights the importance of critical travel risk management components – traveler tracking, medical and security assistance services that can be deployed if needed and clear and concise communication streams with your travelers. With the right tools and processes in place, a crisis management plan can be executed quickly; if unprepared or unpracticed, the lack of planning and preparation can absolutely impact your ability to adequately take care of your companies’ assets, operations, employees and travelers. If you had a plan in place, you were most likely grateful for it last Friday. If you did not have a plan, my charge to you is to do the diligence necessary to get one in place and to know how to use it. The reality of the world we live in is that something like this will happen again. While the details, the location and the particulars may be different, the need to respond quickly and efficiently will remain the same.

I have just spent the past few days in Washington, D.C. at the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) annual briefing at the U.S. State Department, where Paris was discussed at great length and these points were driven home. In his address, Secretary of State, John Kerry, reminded us of the importance of resiliency as well as the importance of sharing information and best practices, particularly between the public and private sectors. I therefore also urge you to build a diverse network and make use of those relationships – with your colleagues, industry partners, suppliers and your own employees. They will play a significant role when working through an event like Paris.

A lesson I have also learned over the past seven years of developing, implementing and now managing the Global Travel Safety Program for Bank of America, is the importance of real and accurate intelligence. This is never felt more than in the midst of a crisis. We are fortunate to have three leading travel risk management (TRM) suppliers currently serving on the Risk Committee. The perspectives they are able to offer from their expertise, and the vantage point of their clients, is invaluable. As a result, we wanted to share with you their security and advice information in regard to Paris:

Additionally, in December, these area TRM suppliers will be opening their doors to our GBTA direct members for an unprecedented “behind the scenes” visit of their facilities and service offerings. For access and convenience, three (3) separate locations and dates are being offered and I strongly suggest you take advantage of this unique opportunity. Each session will include travel risk, medical and security information provided by senior leadership, as well as a tour of the respective operations center. Personally, I have toured all three sites and know that our members will be wowed by what they experience. I am also confident that participants will walk away more informed about travel risk management and with a better understanding of how medical and security assistance services truly operate in action.

Due to the increased interest following the Paris attacks, space is limited so we are asking guests to RSVP to the host of their selected site by Friday, November 27, 2015.

Travel Risk Management Supplier Visit Opportunities – December 2015
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
International SOS 3600 Horizon Blvd
Suite #300
Trevose, Pennsylvania 19053

Two Sessions Available

9:00am – 12noon EST
1:00pm – 4:00pm EST

RSVP to:

Thursday, December 3, 2015
185 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Two Sessions Available
9:00am – 12noon EST
1:00pm – 4:00pm EST

RSVP to:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Europ Assistance
4330 East West Highway
Suite 1000
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Two Sessions Available
10:00am – 12noon EST
2:00pm – 4:00pm EST

RSVP to:

The Risk Committee encourages GBTA members to make use of their association contacts and resources:

Additional GBTA Resources (You will need to log-in to GBTA Hub to access these documents and webinars.)

Security Guidelines For Domestic And Foreign Travel
Travel Risk Management Strategies — How To Select A TRM Partner For Your Program
Travel Risk Management
Incorporating Event And Meeting Risk Management Into Your Hotel Program
Security Services Request For Proposal
“C’est La Vie?”: A Step-By-Step Guide To Building A Travel Risk Management Program
Traveler Tracking & Risk Management Solutions

Introduction To Travel Risk Management Mitigating The Risks Of International Travel For Women: What Organizations Can Do

Blog Post
10 Duty of Care Tips from GBTA's Risk Committee



Message from the GBTA President on the Paris Attacks

*This post was originally sent as a member email on November 19.*

Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened last week when I heard the news of the Paris attacks. I had just returned home from GBTA’s Europe conference in Frankfurt when the incidents occurred. My heart breaks for the victims, as well as for their families and loved ones. The attacks were vicious and completely senseless, robbing far too many innocent people of their futures and traumatizing even more. Once again, we have witnessed the world’s resolve to stand against terrorists strengthen as nations unite in support of France. This was not just an attack on Paris, but an assault on our modern way of life.

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

French President François Hollande understandably closed his country’s borders and declared a state of emergency, leaving thousands of travelers stranded in France. As a strong and unified business travel industry, GBTA and its Members have been doing everything we can to provide resources to the travel community in this time of need.

For example, GBTA’s Risk Committee is updating our database of resources and tips to help you and your company better prepare for emergencies and fully understand your duty of care responsibilities to your travelers. This information will be available on the GBTA Blog on Friday. GBTA will also host a webinar featuring members of the Risk Committee on this same topic in December.

GBTA’s Research team has reached out to many of you with a lightning poll survey to help assess the immediate impact these attacks have had. If you received the survey, I ask that you please take the time to let us know what your company is doing, so GBTA can fully understand the impact of these events.

The business travel industry is resilient and we will continue to work together and stand strong. We will exercise caution and care – as we always have – to keep our travelers safe. As we move forward to recover from the events of Paris, I ask all of you to continue to engage with GBTA sharing your expertise and contributing your ideas and input in every way possible.

One thing is certain… we will never stop traveling. Travel drives the global economy, but more importantly connects us all in the most fundamental, essential and powerful way. Thank you for your help in continuing to make this possible.

Again, my sincerest condolences to the victims, as well as their families and loved ones. We stand together!

Mandating Sustainability: New White Paper Details Impact Recent EU Accounting Directive to Have on Travel Buyers

In 2014, the European Council adopted Directive 2014/95/EU establishing mandatory environmental, social and governance reporting requirements for companies of significant public relevance with more than 500 employees. The EU member states are currently transposing the Directive into national law and mandatory reporting will be enforced beginning in 2017. This new Directive makes reporting of non-financial data mandatory for over 6,000 EU companies.


The GBTA Foundation’s Project ICARUS partnered with atmosfair to create a white paper detailing its implications for business travel carbon emissions reporting. The white paper, EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive: Implications for Business Travel Reporting, analyses current reporting practices and gives an indication of how prepared the business travel industry is for this new regulation. It also offers solutions on how travel buyers can prepare for the new reporting requirements.

With nearly 6,000 companies impacted, Project ICARUS wanted to create a resource to help travel buyers navigate the implications this new directive presents. The directive should not be seen as a burden on companies, however, but rather an opportunity to increase European companies’ long-term competitiveness and Europe’s long-term sustainable growth practices.


From the white paper you can get a clear indication of whether or not this directive applies to your company and what information needs to be reported. It also highlights the opportunity presented as this directive is a strong signal form the EU to accelerate the pace to achieve Europe 2020 strategy towards inclusive, smart and sustainable growth. The aim is to make Europe a global leader in establishing a new economic model that combines long-term profitability with social justice and the protection of our environment.

Looking beyond compliance, many companies are seeing the potential relevance and importance of reporting on the “six capitals,” namely financial capital, manufacturing capital, human capital, social and relationship capital, intellectual capital and natural capital.

For travel buyers, case studies in France and the UK where mandatory CSR reporting already exists show that changes in business practices will result from this reporting because what gets measured, gets managed. Some examples of sustainability-driven changes to travel practices include the introduction of green travel policies and embracing electric vehicles and car sharing. Travel suppliers and TMCs have a great opportunity to provide green products and services that support travel buyers in their efforts to reduce their company’s carbon footrprint from travel while maintaining the quality of business relationships and the safety of their travellers.

Download the report and find more resources from Project ICARUS here.  

A Look into The Future of Travel Distribution

Day two of GBTA Conference 2015 Frankfurt in partnership with VDR began with for the first ever GBTA Media Briefing. Buzzing, energetic and full of conversation, international journalists had the opportunity to meet with a range of suppliers learning about the latest in business travel.


Back at Centre Stage, the day opened with a Presidential handover from Torbjörn Erling to Gehan Colliander, marking a new chapter for GBTA Europe.

Gehan said, “As a buyer, I value the GBTA membership and believe there is no other comparable association in the market in representing the buyer's needs.”

EuropeConference_Pres handover

Shortly after, Gehan, head of global travel for Boston Consulting Group, took her place on The Future of Travel Distribution panel alongside Rob Greyber, president of Egencia, and Oliver Quayle, SVP products, partners and marketing for KDS. Lotten Fowler, general manager of the Swedish Business Travel Association, moderated this panel with a focus on how the distribution eco-system is changing, how these changes affect each of the players in the chain and what impact this has on the corporate buyer and their travel programme. Data and how it can be leveraged was a hot topic, but Gehan warned that,  “we have to be careful about how we use data.”


Attendees also shared their thoughts on the panel over Twitter. Here are a few of their thoughtsl: EuropeConference_FODPanelTweets

Stay tuned for more exciting happenings from our record-breaking conference in Frankfurt!

Trio of Industry Titans Take Centre Stage For “A View From the Corner Office” at GBTA Conference 2015 in Partnership with VDR

Attendees at GBTA Conference 2015 Frankfurt were treated to a jam-packed afternoon Tuesday featuring top-notch, global information with sessions on Centre Stage highlighting advocacy, research, and industry insight from a CEO panel.

Building on the message delivered at GBTA Convention 2015 Orlando, ECPAT talked about its vision – a world in which no child is bought, sold or used for sex, and its mission – to protect every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking. GBTA is encouraging the business travel industry to adopt and implement ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking. Attendees signed our EPCAT wall in support.


Next up, GBTA VP of Research, Joe Bates, and HRS VP of Global Solutions, Jason Long, took the stage to share the findings from a GBTA Foundation whitepaper on expense reporting around the globe. The session acknowledged that regardless of region, industry or company, expense reporting is never a favourite part of the job. The presenters laid out current practices in expense reporting, detailed pain points and highlighted opportunities for improvement.

Finally, Tuesday’s Centre Stage activities wrapped up with A View from the Corner Office – The CEO Industry Outlook. Alan Rich, CEO of Chrome River; Bill Glenn, CEO of American Express Global Business Travel; and Patrick Diemer, Managing Director and Chairman of AirPlus International came together on stage. Moderated by GBTA’s Mike McCormick, these distinguished industry leaders provided their personal insights into the current state of business travel industry transformational trends such as big data, the rise of mobility, the sharing economy and developments in technology.


“We're focused on delivering value across the chain: corporation, travel manager and traveler," Glenn said. EuropeConferenceDay2_CEOPanel2

“All this data is useless if companies do not have someone to analyse it,” Rich added.

Sticking with our Conference theme of #SharingEurope, here are attendee thoughts shared over twitter on the CEO panel: EuropeConferenceDay2_TweetsCEOPanel

Stay tuned for more from day three at GBTA Conference 2015 Frankfurt!

Riding The Wave of Change with Brand Guru Dietmar Dahmen and a Record Number of Attendees

GBTA Conference 2015 | Frankfurt in partnership with VDR officially kicked off on Monday. Dirk Gerdom, President of VDR, and Christle Johnson, GBTA President, welcomed over 1,000 delegates. This record number represents a strong growth in delegate numbers and sponsor support this year, making it the largest and most diverse industry gathering of its kind in Europe. Europe_Opening_Christle

“The next days are a unique opportunity to become actively involved in the issues that are currently affecting, but also unsettling our industry,” Dirk told the audience as a preview of what is to come over the three-day conference.


During the official opening, Torbjorn Erling, Global Meeting & Travel Manager, IKEA Group and GBTA Europe Advisory Board Chair, was presented with the prestigious GBTA Direct Member of Year Award, previously announced at GBTA Convention 2015. Mr Erling’s leadership, passion and ability to think creatively has helped GBTA navigate the European business travel marketplace. Europe_Opening_Torbjorn

Next up, the energetic Dietmar Dahmen opened Centre Stage showing Frankfurt delegates his dynamic presentation, Riding the Wave of Change, looking at the nature of change and giving attendees strategies for how to adapt keeping their personal brands relevant to ensure future success. Dietmar told the captivated audience, “The real challenge is not the fight. The real challenge is the speed of the fight.” He challenged everyone to embrace change.


Sticking with our Conference theme of #SharingEurope, here are just a few of the tweets our attendees shared during Dietmar's lively session: EuropeTweetsDayOne

Business travel professionals recognize the importance of taking time to invest in education and in building their networks. The next couple days here in Frankfurt will give them the perfect opportunity to do just that. Stay tuned for the latest updates from Frankfurt.

Group Business Travel Spending Exceeds Individual Travel Spend in the United States

GBTA’s recently released quarterly U.S. business travel forecast, GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States, showed the growth rate for business travel spending in the country is slowing. The study also looked into both group and individual business travel.

Individual business travel soared in 2014, growing 6.7 percent, but total spending fell 0.3 percent over the same period. This is likely because many overnight trips were displaced by day trips. Our forecast shows this trend will reverse somewhat this year with volume growing slightly (0.6 percent) and spending increasing 2.8 percent. Both volume and spending will continue to increase in 2016, growing 3.1 percent and 4.3 percent respectively.

Our outlook revealed that group business travel significantly outperformed individual travel for the second year in a row with spending growing 7.1 percent in 2013 and another 6.1 percent in 2014. More notably, spending on group business travel exceeded spending on individual business travel for the first time since we began tracking this activity in 2008.

It is no surprise that individual travel recovered much more quickly than group business travel following the Great Recession – group travel takes more long-term planning and higher levels of group travel generally indicate more optimism in the economy. It’s clear now that group travel has been resurgent over the last two years though and is now the healthiest segment of business travel activity.


Average spend per group business trip is also on the rise. Beginning at $553 per trip in 2008, spend grew steadily each year until hitting a speed bump in 2013 and dropping down to $660 from $669 the previous year. In 2014, spending got back on track hitting nearly $700 and we expect it to hit $718 spent per group trip in 2015.


Overall spending on group business travel will continue to exceed spending on individual business travel this year and next.

Stay tuned for another post from our latest U.S. business travel forecast that focuses on international outbound travel.