The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

A federal appeals court in California allowed the Trump administration’s third travel ban to go into partial effecton Monday, NPR reports. The government may now bar foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the country if they have no ties to the United States.

In other policy news, Business Traveller reports Trump has banned independent travel to Cuba and prohibits citizens from staying at hotels and restaurants with connections to the Cuban military. As a result, multiple U.S. airlines are curtailing or abandoning their Cuba flights.

Chicago has become the first U.S. city to mandate “panic buttons” for hotel staff, according to Business Traveller. The pendant-style devices are designed to protect housekeepers from sexually aggressive guests.

According to Buying Business Travelhome-sharing platform Airbnb acquired Accomable, a service that helps disabled travelers find accessible accommodation.

Also on the acquisition front, TravelDailyNews International reports Summit Hotel Properties plans on acquiring four hotels for $164 million.

This Thanksgiving holiday will be the busiest season in the past 12 yearsBoston Business Journal notes. AAA predicts nearly 51 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year.

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific will be rolling out in-flight Wi-Fi across all its wide-body fleet of aircraftBusiness Traveller reports.

According to ReutersAirbnb put an automatic rental cap on its properties within central Paris, forcing hosts to comply with France’s 120-day yearly limit on short-term rentals.

Ride-sharing app Lyft is set to enter Canada as its first foreign marketSkift reports.

Buying Business Travel notes low-cost carrier Easyjet introduced a new baggage policy.

According to BloombergEmirates unveiled its upgraded first-class cabins on Sunday. The new cabins are fully enclosed and “inspired by Mercedes-Benz.”

Heathrow’s Plaza Premium lounges now accept mobile payments via AlipayBuying Business Travel reports.

4Hoteliers notes Marriott is introducing mobile check-in for over 300 hotels across Asia Pacific.

According to USA TODAYFour Seasons introduced a chat program that allows guests to text hotel employees any time before, during or after their stay.


DOT Launches Forces to Flyer Initiative

Today, the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, announced a new initiative to support military veterans as they prepare for careers as airline pilots. Forces to Flyers is a three-year program aimed at helping our veterans receive the training they need to become certified as new commercial pilots, preserving and increasing air service to rural and small communities, and assisting veterans in finding employment.

The United States is facing a pilot shortage. This is not a problem that can be solved by simply hiring. Safety and training are of paramount importance. The Forces to Flyers Initiative leverages an experienced and trained workforce, our nation’s military veterans, to help them transition into careers as airline pilots. It provides a unique job training opportunity for our nation’s veterans and addresses our nation’s pilot shortage.

GBTA strongly supports this initiative to help address the pilot shortage and continue to facilitate air travel for business and leisure travelers alike. Air travel is vital to business travel as corporations send their travelers on more than 40 million trips a month – most of which include air travel. Keeping business travelers in the air is vital to the U.S. economy.


Coming Soon: A New gbta.org

As many of you already know, GBTA is unveiling a new and improved website this winter. We asked what you wanted to improve your user experience – and we got the message loud and clear! We decided to have a little fun with this project and have staff and Board members read aloud some of the issues with our current site on camera – Mean Tweets style – a la Jimmy Kimmel.

And there was more input…

We heard you and cannot wait for you to experience our new site later this winter. The all-new digital platform would not have been possible without your input. It will be easy to use, mobile-friendly, streamlined and most importantly, make searching for information simple.

With its new features, gbta.org will be an even stronger support system for buyers, suppliers and all visitors to the platform. The new platform is just the beginning, so please keep your continued honest feedback and suggestions coming.

We cannot wait to share this true team effort with you all very soon. Stay tuned for future updates!


Active Shooter Situation: A Look at How to Respond

The recent Las Vegas attack, where at least 59 people died and more than 500 others were injured by an active gunman on the 32nd floor of a hotel, has re-ignited the thought in everyone’s mind around active shooter preparedness and the best way to respond in emergency situations. The definition of an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.

As the shooting from the Las Vegas hotel began, some people initially thought the gunfire was actually the sound of fireworks going off. Others ran or took cover, jumping over fences and hiding behind walls to attempt to flee and guard themselves from the shooter.

Knowing that an active shooter situation can arise while traveling home or abroad, everyone should have an idea of how best to respond during an active shooter situation.

What should you do when there’s an active shooter situation?

According to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) Program at Texas State University, in the event of an active shooter, people should “avoid, deny and defend” if possible.

AVOID: Avoid the shooter by initiating a plan to exit the area quickly.

DENY: Make your location not easily accessible. This can be by creating a barrier to block the shooter, or becoming inconspicuous.

DEFEND: As a last resort, defend against the attacker. This is a last effort for survival.

In addition to this, people should remain vigilant in all situations; i.e., being aware and alert of their surroundings, identifying nearby exits and backup exits when arriving at a location, remaining alert should something go amiss during an event (for example, if the music stops in the middle of a concert), and listening to first responders’ instructions to safely escape the emergency situation.


Week in Review

According to BloombergMarriott CEO Arne Sorenson says Trump’s divisive languages and policies are pushing travelers to Canada.

Business Traveler notes Air Canada now offers alternative payment options for its international customers.

4Hoteliers reports Singapore Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 debuted this week.

According to SkiftStorm Herwart’s high winds disrupted travel across Central Europe on Sunday, leaving five dead and several injured.

Fortune notes United Airlines just started the longest nonstop flight from the United States. The 15- to 18-hour flight covers an 8,700-mile distance and is scheduled to run from Los Angeles International Airport to Singapore Changi Airport.

Skift notes Wall Street Journal launched an online travel site powered by Upside.

According to Travel WeeklyUK hoteliers witnessed a rise in domestic demand over the summer.

The Sun reports European airline Finnair wants to begin weighing passengers before flights in order to streamline operating costs. The airline currently relies on outdated estimates from the European Aviation Safety Agency and wants to figure out an exact weight and balance of the aircraft.

According to U.S. News & World ReportGary/Chicago International Airport opened a new $3 million flight center aimed at corporate travel.

A new study finds corporates lack visibility into travel spend methodsPYMNTS.com reportsAccording to Skift, the same study found that business travelers rarely use virtual payments, which is a sign of companies’ slow adoption.

Bloomberg notes United is nearing a deal to acquire as many as 40 used Airbus Jetliners.

USA TODAY shares tips on how to fight back against the “beyond our control” excuse often given by airlines, hotels or cruise lines.

Business Traveller reports Qantas Frequent Flyer members will soon be able to earn points through Uber rides.


What Happens After Something Happens?

As recent events have shown us, emergency preparedness can often be the difference between life and death. Over the past few months alone, we have witnessed the utter devastation caused by multiple natural disasters in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas and California. The question that comes to mind is: what happens to your employees who are traveling for business when an incident occurs?

The coordination of response and recovery efforts is one of the most complex situations an organization can face and reiterates the critical importance of being prepared and having a plan in place. GBTA Risk Committee Chair Erin Wilk was recently joined by iJET International’s George Taylor and Carnival Corporation & plc’s Nina Markowitz, two industry leaders who were involved in response and evacuation efforts during the recent hurricanes.

After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit, destruction was evident everywhere. Homes were destroyed, airports ceased to function, communications were restricted, and finite government resources were quickly depleted. Navigating to impacted areas for relief efforts always proves to be a challenge because of the damaged infrastructure, but this time, Carnival stepped in to help. Since Carnival is a private company, they were one of the first independent vessels to enter and aid with relief efforts.

Nina explained that because they were adept at handling the storm and their operations were minimally impacted, they were in a position to help others. Carnival worked with Fortune 500 companies to identify impacted employees and safely extract them from precarious situations.

During the same time frame, iJET International had close to 900 client personnel affected by the natural disasters. Most organizations had developed tailored plans to mitigate risk (thanks to iJET’s help), but like many things, not all plans are foolproof. Due to the magnitude and life cycle of the hurricanes, some plans were simply unsustainable. As George put it, “In some cases, plans are built to identify the problem, solve the problem and then recover” over a one- to two-day period. In this case, three hurricanes hit various regions over a nearly 35-day period, rendering some plans useless.

That’s why George says it’s always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario and build plans suited for the long haul. In addition, he stressed the importance of rehearsing plans well ahead of time, fully training employees, and designating a leader who is authorized to take action when disaster strikes. Erin suggested working with an integrated risk provider because they have built the relationships needed to navigate the aftermath of these occurrences. As she said, “Making a phone call to a stranger isn’t going to get your employees the support they need when a crisis is actually happening.”

When these events happen and these disasters strike, more than often, your employees are likely experiencing other things in other parts of the world related to crime, political instability, terrorism or civil unrest. But your employees probably also lost their glasses on a domestic trip or need a prescription refilled…The rest of the world continues to happen too, and our teams and our plans need to be able to withstand that. – Erin Wilk

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.