The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Message From the Office of the GBTA President - Year End Wrap

*The following was also sent as an email to GBTA members.*

Dear GBTA Members,

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect on our accomplishments while simultaneously looking forward to the new opportunities presented by a new year. In that spirit, I want to celebrate the last days of 2017 and hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.

As we approach the New Year, I want to take a brief look at many of the “firsts” that GBTA had this year. These starts give us a preview of what to expect in the coming year.

A look back:

GBTA had a great year with many successes throughout the world. We sponsored a series of high-profile conferences:

•The 2017 Canada Conference was our most successful conference ever in the country. It had record-breaking attendance and a sold-out Expo floor. The ever-popular GBTA Broadcast Studio made its first appearance in Canada where more than 25 senior level business travel professionals were interviewed.

•GBTA Australia held its first conference in Sydney under a new partnership with btTB. The event focused on the intersection of procurement and travel.

•GBTA India is concluding its highly successful first two years of operations. We hosted two conferences in 2017 – the first in New Delhi and second in Mumbai, and we have made great strides in raising our profile and awareness of what we have to offer.

•Our signature event, GBTA Convention, celebrated its 49th year in Boston in July and saw record-breaking attendance as well as a sold-out Expo floor. We conducted 93 interviews in our broadcast studio and aired two live interviews (with Ed Bastian of Delta and Susan Eisenhower of the Eisenhower Group) on Arena Stage. For the first time, Bloomberg Television featured us live with the Erik Schatzker and Barry Diller interview as well as with several live spots from the Expo floor. In addition, we secured our first big media partnership with the Boston Globe.

•And just last month, the GBTA Europe Conference featured yet another sold-out Expo floor, including an over-subscribed Innovation Row. For the first time, the Expo floor featured a new entrants’ pavilion. The Europe conference has grown in both attendance and scope over the past several years, with a growing number of partners and sponsors throughout the continent.

One of the major reasons behind the success of these conferences has been the cutting-edge analysis of GBTA Research. Our stellar research team conducted a bevy of studies this year on wide-ranging topics affecting all aspects of business travel. Among the highlights were new, groundbreaking studies on risk management as well as our highly anticipated annual updates to our global business travel forecast, pricing projections and economic impact studies.

In addition to its strong methodology, GBTA’s research is accessible and well publicized. It is specifically designed to be useful and actionable. It provides the basis for many of the education sessions we offer throughout the world. GBTA Research has become the go-to industry standard for members of the global print, broadcast, and social media, with thousands of references in 2017 alone.

A look ahead: 

Our ongoing success and new beginnings in 2017 position us well for 2018. We will kick off the New Year with our 15th annual Leadership Summit in January, held this year in Portland, Oregon. The event brings together more than 150 Chapter & Affiliate volunteer leaders from various parts of the country for two days of professional development, networking, and collaboration to improve GBTA’s 39 Chapter and Affiliate organizations. I hope to see many of you there.

I am also excited about changes we are implementing for our 50th annual GBTA Convention, to be held in San Diego in August. In response to feedback from our members, we are restructuring the education offerings and adding more timeslots to enable attendees to participate in more sessions than ever before. The new 30-minute sessions will be packed with valuable information and takeaways to make business travel professionals of any level better at their jobs.

Once again, I continue to be amazed at the dedication and hard work of our GBTA members and our many volunteers. Your efforts have been the principal reason for the success and growth of the organization and the business travel industry. I am proud to be the organization’s President and look forward to a very productive 2018.

My best wishes for a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season.

Best regards,

Christle Johnson
GBTA President

Week in Review

It’s been a slow news week with the holidays, but we have a couple of stories to share to keep you updated on the latest business travel news.

Since President Trump has taken office, he has been in an ongoing battle with the courts regarding the legality of his travel bans. Most recently, an appeals court ruled that the third iteration of his travel ban is illegal, ThinkProgress reports.

Flights were temporarily suspended at Glasgow airport today due to significant snowfall across the UK, according to BBC News. The heavy snow, ice and winds are also causing other travel disruptions in the region, such as road closures and ferry closures.

Buying Business Travel notes Eurostar is offering passengers access to Amazon Prime Video content through the train company’s new app.

New York City officials are considering tacking on fees for ride-sharing vehicles due to “exacerbated traffic congestion in Manhattan”, Business Traveller reports.

According to Buying Business Travel, Hyatt introduced a 48-hour minimum cancellation policy across all its hotels, applying to bookings made or altered starting January 1, 2018.

Business Traveller notes Beijing is now offering six-day visa-free stays to travellers transiting through the city.

That’s all for this week. We’ll see you in 2018!

Week in Review

After a brief hiatus, the Week in Review is back! This week started off with a massive power outage at Atlanta’s international airport on Sunday leading to over 1,150 canceled flights and the issuance of a ground stop by the FAA, USA TODAY reports.

On Monday, an Amtrak train in Washington derailed off a bridge resulting in multiple fatalities, according to NBC News. The train was traveling at 80 MPH in a 30-MPH zone and was not using positive train control, a technology that can prevent derailments caused by excessive speed. 

Skift reports that President Trump called for infrastructure improvements following the Amtrak accident. In the past, he has stated he will introduce a $1 trillion proposal to update airports, roads, and other public infrastructure.  

In other ground transportation news, The State Journal-Register notes Illinois’ $1.95 billion high-speed rail project is in its final phase after seven years of construction.

The business travel community continues to embrace the sharing economy, with 51% of companies allowing the use of ride-hailing apps in their travel policies. GBTA released a series of infographics this week that highlight app-based, ride-hailing usage in corporate travel, ground transportation quick facts and travel manager concern for various ground transportation options.

According to Commercial Property Executive, Choice Hotels will acquire WoodSpring Suites in a $231 million deal, adding 240 extended-stay hotels to its portfolio.

Also in acquisition news, TravelDailyNews International reports NOVUM Hospitality acquired one of Frankfurt’s largest conference hotels which boasts 396 rooms and 14 event spaces.

Digital Trends shares news of a growing email scam that cost Japan Airlines nearly $3.39 million USD. An airline employee was tricked into making payments to bank accounts created by fraudsters.

Travelers can now send messages to hotels directly from their Google search results, according to Hotel News Resource. Hoteliers may activate this feature by signing into their Google My Business page and navigating to the chat tile.

On Wednesday, Congress passed a controversial tax bill, which many travel companies are enthusiastically backing, Skift reports.

After the UK officially leaves the EU in 2019, British passports will return to their blue and gold design, Business Traveller notes.

Traveling this holiday season? TravelDailyNews International reveals the most stressful US airports based on flight cancellations.

From the shocking news of Brexit to multiple travel and electronics bans, Skift looks back on how corporate travel became much more complicated in 2017.


Your list for this week comes from Skift:

25 Travel Moments that Mattered in 2017

Travel Manager Concern for Ground Transportation Options

Today, we release the third, and final, in a series of infograhpics on the latest ground transportation statistics. Today's infographic looks at concern among travel managers when it comes to various ground transportation options.

View the previous ground transportation infographics here:

Ground Transportation Quick Facts

App-Based, Ride-Hailing Usage in Corporate Travel



Will Removing Regulations Hurt Business in the Long Run?

Last week, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality. Net neutrality was the regulation that ensured internet websites and services were treated equally by internet service providers. Internet broadband providers are insisting they will not do anything to harm the overall user experience for internet customers and those in favor of the repeal, including the large telecommunications companies, felt it was an unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation that discouraged investment in broadband networks.

In a completely separate move, the Department of Transportation removed two regulatory proposals as part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to reduce regulations and promote business. The first proposal from 2011 proposed to collect detailed information about airline fees on 19 services including priority check-in, baggage, in-flight entertainment, food and seat assignments. The January proposal from this year would have required airlines and ticket agents to disclose upfront all fees for the first and second checked bags, and for carry-on bags adjacent to the fare.

The reasoning behind both of these decisions was removing regulations will reduce costs and encourage business growth. But, what if it doesn’t? What if, instead, the unintended consequences of these decisions hurt a broad array of businesses in the long run – particularly small businesses? How will this affect a company’s ability to optimize their travel expenditures to drive future economic growth?

Our concern is that these unintended consequences will not benefit the business travel industry. Changes in net neutrality could potentially lead to restricted access for certain travel sites or steeper barriers to entry for travel start-ups.

Lack of transparency in airline fees has a much more immediate direct impact on the industry. The benefit of transparent fees and knowing the full cost of an airline ticket upfront is a no-brainer for business and consumer travelers alike. When it comes to the business of travel, lack of information can prevent third-party sellers from being able to provide their clients with the full cost of airfare – a lose-lose situation for ticketing agencies, travel managers and the companies that foot the bill for business travel.

Why should the Administration consider the business travel impact when making these decisions? Because business travel drives lasting business growth. Business travel is a major economic driver, with every 1 percent change in business travel spending resulting in the U.S. economy gaining or losing 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.

GBTA will closely monitor the impact of these decisions over time, and will work with the Administration to encourage pro-business travel policies for the good of our entire economy.

App-Based, Ride-Hailing Usage in Corporate Travel

In a follow-up to yesterday's infographic on ground transportation quick facts, today's infographic showcases app-based, ride-hailing usage in corporate travel.

Stay tuned to the GBTA blog for more on the latest ground transportation stats.

Ground Transportation Quick Facts

A recent survey of North American travel managers revealed the following quick facts when it comes to ground transportation:

Stay tuned to the GBTA blog for more on the latest ground transportation stats.


Business Travelers Welcome “Sufficient Progress” Declaration

GBTA Urges EU and UK Brexit Negotiators to Quickly Start Discussing Future Relationship

More than a year has passed since Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom officially started, which gave both the EU and the UK until March of 2019 to decide on the conditions of the UK’s departure from the EU. Following numerous negotiation rounds between both governments, it seems that a way forward has finally been found on phase 1 issues, namely Citizens’ rights, the Northern Ireland border and the financial settlement.

With this “sufficient progress” achieved, the EU expressed its readiness last week to enter discussions on a transition agreement and “its desire to establish a close partnership between the Union and the United Kingdom”. This is good news welcomed by the business travel industry. But the devil is in the details and full clarity on the transition and the future EU-UK relationship, which are highly likely to impact how business travel operates between the EU and the UK, is yet to be found.

Uncertainty is never good for business. That is why following last week’s Council of the remaining 27 Member States, GBTA urges European institutions to officially start the discussions on transition and on the second phase of negotiations quickly in order to give more time, clarity and certainty for the travel industry to prepare and adapt to all these expected changes.

  • Air transport is one of the key issues to be addressed for the business travel industry. If the UK doesn’t remain in the common aviation area after it officially leaves the EU, there will be obstacles for UK airlines to operate in the EU and with the rest of the world. This could reduce connectivity, travel choices and therefore business travel opportunities. Depending on the UK’s membership to the European Agency for Aviation Safety (EASA), divergence in security or air traffic rules could also appear. Michael Huerta, head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration traveled to London and Brussels last week to talk with both sides on the importance of clarity on whether the UK can retain its role in EASA. Huerta said it is important to have this clarity early in the new year as it will be “absolutely critical” to understand how aviation safety will be governed in the UK.

  • As for travelers, they could face longer queues and delays if it the UK decides to introduce restrictive border checks or even specific working visas for citizens of certain EU countries to reduce influx of economic migrants. However, any visa regime between an EU Member State must be negotiated at the EU level, meaning that the UK cannot take a specific approach for one EU country – or it would face retaliation measures from the EU.

  • The financial upheaval and pending changes to trade and immigration rules would also raise many concerns in corporate management and travel offices – causing some postponement, and even outright cancellation, of business trips. It may also trigger travel budget constriction as management seeks to hedge the uncertainty.

To manage these uncertainties and potential changes to the way business travel will operate in the EU and in the UK, transitional arrangements will be needed to enable the industry to have enough time to adapt to new regulatory and economic environments.

The true impact of Brexit on the business travel sector will only be fully revealed as time passes. But GBTA will be involved every step of the way keeping you up to date on how this will impact our industry and advocating on your behalf for the best interests of our industry.

Creating End to End Solutions

Concur’s Goetz Reinhardt joined GBTA’s Mike McCormick at our Broadcast Studio during last month’s Europe Conference to talk industry trends in expense management coming in 2018. Goetz believes these three will be prominent in the year ahead:

  • Use of paper receipts for expense reports will decrease dramatically.

  • Realization that more integrated, connected and smart solutions are really important.

  • The emergence of more connected and integrated end-to-end solutions, not only for expense management, but also on the travel side.

Goetz and Mike also discussed mobile strategies and solving for traditional pain points for business travelers and their companies. View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Europe Conference conducted in partnership with VDR.

Duty of Care: What Travel Buyers Need to Focus On

During GBTA’s recent conference in Europe, Xavier Carn of International SOS and Control Risks joined Mike McCormick at the Broadcast Studio to talk risk management and what travel buyers need to pay attention to when it comes to meeting their duty of care responsibilities.

Xavier said it is important for buyers to embed in their travel management process the ability to evaluate and asses their risks, and also to design policies to help mitigate those risks as well. He also shared information on updates coming to the International SOS Travel Risk Map in 2018, and discussed the importance of communicating and taking action during the first hour of a crisis.

Watch the full interview here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Europe Conference conducted in partnership with VDR.