The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

By The Numbers: Travel Policy Communication

Two weeks ago, the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with HRS, released a report identifying business traveller perspectives on company travel policies, compliance and valued amenities. Here’s a quick breakdown of highlights from the report:hrs-on-travel-policy-comm-infographics_v3

*Click image to enlarge


The Future of Marriott's Brands

A couple of months ago, Marriott International became the largest hotel chain in the world after closing on a $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. With 30 brands now under one umbrella, there has been much speculation over Marriott's plan to manage them all.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Marriott began implementing a strategy in which it differentiates brands based on whether they are “classic” or “distinctive.” The hotel chain also began grouping hotels in categories, such as luxury, premium and longer stays. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has announced all 30 brands are expected to remain in place. marriott_brands  

Image Courtesy of Marriott 

In July, Marriott’s Brian King sat down with GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez at our GBTA Convention Broadcast Studio. The two chatted about the ways in which Marriott embraces innovation, as well as the biggest challenges the industry will face in the coming year. King discussed how the introduction of new supply globally contributes to a crowded marketplace and makes it difficult for brands to cut through the clutter.

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

How Safe Are Your Hotels?

Are your employees trained to recognize and avoid threats while traveling? What perils will your business travelers face and what protective measures do you currently have in place?

Top executives from iJet, International SOS, and New York Life Insurance Company addressed these questions and shared ways in which companies can safeguard their business travelers in a recent webinar hosted by the GBTA Risk Committee. iJet’s Edward Clark kicked the webinar off by discussing risk profiles and myriad factors companies must take into consideration when managing risk. He mentioned every trip has a unique risk profile comprised of business assets that must be protected from various threats, hazards and barriers. gbta-webinar-11-17-16_page_10

International SOS’ Tim Daniel shared top tips for travel managers, stressing the importance of the RFP process to validate various safety features. Daniel also encouraged managers to seek input from colleagues and leverage geospatial tools to track travelers. The presenters ended the webinar with tips for travelers, recommending they research destinations before traveling and opt for hotel rooms located between the second and sixth floors, away from public areas like the lobby, and near emergency exits. gbta-webinar-11-17-16_page_17

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.

VIDEO: The Generational Divide and Business Traveler Satisfaction

Earlier this year the GBTA Foundation released a study in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel exploring the drivers of business travel satisfaction. In the video below, GBTA researchers Jeanne Liu and Kate Vasiloff discuss the study findings, diving into the generational divide when it comes to travel satisfaction.


Qatar Airways Gains Approval to Purchase Latam Stake

Late last week, Brazil’s competition regulator Cade approved Qatar Airways’ stake purchase in Latam Airlines. Earlier this year in July, Qatar Airways agreed to acquire up to 10 percent of Latam’s shares, granted they moved forward with a $613 million capital increase.

Around the same time, GBTA’s Nancy Tudorache had an opportunity to chat with Latam Airlines’ Pablo Chiozza at the GBTA Convention Broadcast Studio. The two discussed the LAN and TAM merger and how Latam Airlines came to be, in addition to the airline’s global focus and top priorities. Pablo mentioned their clients are a top priority, stating “this industry is all about serving the client.”

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

GBTA Foundation Continues to Deliver Quality Education for Travel Professionals Across Latin America

The GBTA Foundation just wrapped up the successful delivery of its Fundamentals of Business Travel Management course at the Belo Horizonte Othon Palace Hotel in Brazil. The event was made possible by the support of GOL Airlines. As part of an innovative and comprehensive program to further develop the travel management profession in Latin America, the Fundamentals course is designed as a guide to cover the key facets of managed travel.


The Fundamentals curriculum includes a full range of basics – safety, policy, trends, performance and more. Participants in this course gain a career boost and a better understanding of business travel management. Specific topics addressed included an overview of travel management, travel technology and managing the relationship with suppliers. Nearly 20 participants engaged in sharing best practices for travel management finding it a productive and informative day that also allowed them to build their networks with others on both the buyer and supplier side.


GBTA was pleased to welcome many participants from the Travel Managers Group of Minas Gerais State (GVMG) – an industry group that has been very active in supporting our last two GBTA Conferences in Brazil as well.

Photo Courtesy of GVMG

Photo Courtesy of GVMG

Education is a key component of the GBTA Foundation’s efforts to help boost the business travel profession in Latin America. We are excited to be able to offer another Fundamentals course next month in Curitiba on December 12. Due to high demand, we are working with our sponsor GOL Airlines to schedule two more Fundamentals courses in the first half of 2017 in Goiania and Fortaleza. Stay tuned for more info!

Together We Are Stronger - Advocating for Business Travel

During GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in partnership with VDR last week, GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and VDR Executive Director Hans-Ingo Biehl delivered a speech from Centre Stage focused on our collective advocacy efforts in the EU as we work to deliver a pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels. europe-mike-and-ingo-speech

Here is a transcript of the full speech:

MIKE: Last year, Ingo and I announced the launch of our advocacy initiative on behalf of the business travel industry in Europe. Our collective efforts have resulted in delivering a very effective pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels.

We knew the time had come for us to make this investment in our collective future. We began with not a moment to spare as immigration worries, terrorism events and global economic upheaval threaten the future of not just our industry – but every other industry – as business travel drives business growth globally.

Brexit was something the experts said wouldn’t happen. Just this past week, the United States capped one of the most turbulent elections in recent history and against all polls elected a hotelier named Donald Trump.

And although it might feel like these are isolated events or unusual times, the future likely holds even more uncertainty as more countries face elections as part of an overall global political realignment.

INGO: It is for these reasons that we as a group, as an industry, must remain connected and active in our efforts to ensure safely vetted business travelers continue to have access to European markets. As we can attest, free movement of people is essential to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in Europe.

With the current terrorism threats and a refugee crisis, enhancing security must remain a key priority for European authorities. However, we must continue to remind them to support legislative proposals that continue to allow the efficient movement of low risk business travelers entering and exiting the EU.

MIKE: But unfortunately, some of these discussions both in Brussels and the United States are taking a worrisome direction. For instance, if the EU was to re-introduce trip-by-trip visa requirements for U.S. business travelers - and this could actually happen - this would severely impact your ability to do your job, place further stress on consulates’ resources and set back the current strategic relationship between the EU and the United States.

This is part of a much larger debate on issues ranging from the future of the sharing economy to the implementation of Brexit – we’ll have more on that in a minute for you as we host a Brexit debate here on stage.

INGO: This is why we are here this week, meeting and discussing business travel topics and future messaging to our politicians to ensure business travel continues to grow and remains safe, yet efficient.

With our different opinions, experiences and beliefs, we are a microcosm of the entire global economy. We will have debates and disagreements. But, the one thing we must not forget is that Together We Are Stronger.

Thank you!

A Milestone in Sustainable Travel

Just last week, Alaska Airlines used a wood-based biofuel to power a cross-country flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C. The flight was powered by a jet fuel blend containing 20 percent renewable biofuel made from the leftovers of logging. The airline reports it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 142,000 metric tons of CO2 annually simply by replacing 20 percent of its entire fuel supply at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with the biofuel.

Earlier this year at GBTA Convention, Alaska Airlines’ SVP of Communications & External Relations Joseph Sprague said, “As much as anything, I just think it suggests that Alaska Airlines is being innovative. It’s putting itself out there, on sort of the cutting edge, and willing to go to new places to spread our brand around North America.”

Although Joseph was referencing their recently introduced nonstop service from L.A. to Cuba, the sentiment could be broadly applied to the airline. GBTA’s Ed Barrett had the opportunity to catch up with Joseph at our Broadcast Studio, and the two chatted about Alaska Airlines’ service to Cuba, as well as the implications of the merger with Virgin America.

View the video in full here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

Calling for Safer, Smarter and Balanced Visa Policies

European policymakers have a key role to make business travel safer and more efficient. We look forward to joining forces to ensure that business travel remains a catalyst for economic development in Europe.

Week in Review

The Verge reports Airbnb is transforming from a short-term rental company into a full-scale travel agency. The company launched a new initiative called Airbnb Trips that enables travelers to experience new cities from a local’s perspective. According to The New York Timesthe platform allows travelers to partake in activities ranging from stargazing outings to historical tours.

Bloomberg shares United will begin selling a basic economy fare in January. Fliers who purchase "basic economy" tickets board the plane last and are not entitled to overhead bin space. The new category was created to make United competitive against low-cost carriers like Spirit.

According to USA TODAY, European carrier easyJet plans on establishing an operating company in the European Union to keep its intra-EU flight rights once Britain officially leaves the EU.

Skift reports business travel in Europe’s largest markets continues to grow despite Brexit. A new outlook from GBTA forecasts business travel spending in Western Europe is expected to increase 6 percent in 2016 to $210.7 billion USD and another 4.7 percent in 2017.

According to Bloomberg, three of the busiest airports in the U.S. will be testing new, automated security-screening technology this Thanksgiving season. The automated bin systems are expected to improve airport screening efficiency by moving nearly 30 percent more passengers in a given period.

USA TODAY reports Alaska Airlines powered a cross-country flight using a wood-based biofuel. The commercial flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C. used a jet fuel blend containing 20 percent renewable biofuel made from wood scraps.

According to Buying Business Travel, Edinburgh Airport announced plans to expand over the next 25 years. The airport plans to increase the aircraft parking area and extend a terminal building to accommodate more passengers and facilities.

A new report from Rotten WiFi shows U.S. and Thailand airports lead the global trend for fast and free Wi-Fi.

Tnooz reports Jambo, an app enabling business travelers to connect with other professionals while on a trip, won Marriott’s startup accelerator.

Buying Business Travel reports HRS’ Jason Long unveiled research showing a perception gap between travellers and buyers at GBTA Conference 2016 | Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR. According to TravelDailyNews, the GBTA study, in partnership with HRS, identifies business traveller perspectives on company travel policies, compliance and valued amenities. Four out of five (79 percent) business travellers report their company’s travel policy has the greatest impact on their decision when booking travel for work. The study also identifies ways business travellers wish to be contacted regarding travel policies, in addition to regional and generational differences in desires.

The GBTA Foundation, in partnership with BCD Travel, launched two updated global resources designed to help travel professionals assess and build their travel programs. The Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool and the Managed Travel Index® provide travel professionals with recommendations based on their current programs.