The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

Business travelers spend a lot of time in the air. According to CNN's Business Traveller, climate change might make your flights even longer. In other topical news, Nancy Trejos of USA Today shares the latest on what travelers need to know about the Zika virus.

The FAA bill made a lot of news this week as the initial proposal from the House would transfer the nation's air-traffic control to a non-profit company. Politico reported yesterday, however, that the House Republican leadership is shelving plans to pass an overhaul of the FAA, and will instead revert to a short-term extension of the FAA's authority, which must be renewed by the end of March.

GBTA research made news this week as both Skift and Travel Daily News reported on a new study showing business travellers in the UK, France and Germany use a variety of traditional and alternative channels to book their trips. Skift also launched a new corporate travel newsletter this week, which highlighted another GBTA research study showing travel buyers have much more success negotiating valued add-ons and amenities into their hotel and ground transportation contracts than their airline ones. Amadeus_MostValuableAddOns

In hotel news, The Malaysian Insider shared that Tokyo, Sydney and Singapore are the top three cities with the most expensive business hotels in the Asia Pacific region. In the United States, Business Traveler reported there are about 5 million hotel rooms in more than 52,000 properties across the country with another half million rooms under contract, according to the January 2016 STR Pipeline Report. Hotel Marketing shares a report on how to use hotel data to make predictions on heads in beds, to develop strategies to fill in during low periods and to build customer personas, among other uses.

As a business traveler, chances are you are signed up for at least one or two rewards programs. USA Today's Road Warrior blog talks about the new rules of travel rewards programs and how to play the game in this new era.

Ben Mutzabaugh of USA Today reports that Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport wants TSA to do a better job of handling the crowds passing through security and has told TSA to shape up or ship out.

Your list for this week comes from CNN: Five cool technology leaps about to change aviation for good.

Deadline Coming Fast for Nominations for Project ICARUS 2016 Sustainability Outstanding Achievement Awards

In early January, GBTA announced the opening of the call for nominations for the fourth annual Outstanding Achievement Awards for Sustainability in business travel and meetings across North America.

Through these awards, the GBTA Foundation looks to recognize travel buyers, suppliers, intermediaries, individuals and groups who can demonstrate outstanding leadership, innovation and commitment to delivering best in class sustainability programs, products and services across North America. Awards are split into the following categories:

  • Travel Supplier – including air, rail, hotel, ground providers etc.
  • Travel Intermediary – including technology partners, TMCs, Card providers, GDSs etc.
  • Travel Buyer – business travel and meetings buyers
  • Travel Team – meetings and events teams

The deadline for nominations is closing fast. The final date to submit an application is March 14, 2016 – just a few weeks away. Recipients will be announced and presented with a specially commissioned bronze Project ICARUS award at The Masters Honors Summit & Gala to be held April 10 – 11, 2016 at Trump National Doral® in Miami, FL. For more information, and details of how to be considered for one of these prestigious awards please visit the Project ICARUS website or contact me at

CBP Announces Additional Enhancements to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization

GBTA has been closely following developments with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as steps have been taken to continue to strengthen this important security program. The VWP is a critically important element in America’s efforts to protect our homeland. Since its inception in 1986, it has evolved into a comprehensive security partnership with our closest allies and prevents tens of thousands of unauthorized visitors from entering our country every year.

Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced additional enhancements to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), as part of the continued implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act).

Below is an excerpt from the release. View the full versionClick here for a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions. As a result of the law, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries listed under specified designation lists (currently including Iran and Sudan) at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan.


As part of the implementation, as of today an updated ESTA application form is now available. The new form contains additional questions to address the travel eligibility requirements called for in the Act as well as a FAQ for who is effected and what steps said people should take.

According to reports, DHS continues to review the security of the Visa Waiver Program, the threat environment, and potential vulnerabilities. These recent measures are the latest in a series of actions over the past 15 months to strengthen the security of the VWP and ensure the Program’s requirements are commensurate with the growing threat from foreign terrorist fighters, many of whom are nationals of VWP countries. And the new issuance stresses that Individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates.

Current ESTA holders should check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP’s website, If a traveler needs to speak to someone immediately, they may contact the CBP information Center, or their closest U.S. embassy or consulate. Information on visa applications can be found at  

Week in Review

USA Today reported on two risk-based, trusted traveler programs this week. Bart Jansen wrote that travelers from Germany will be able to join the Global Entry program for trusted travelers, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection announcement. Charisse Jones reported on a GBTA study showing business travelers with TSA PreCheck not only have a much better experience getting through airport security, they also have better air travel experiences in general.


Speaking of security and airport screening, federal authorities have ended extra Ebola screening for travelers arriving from West Africa following a health declaration that the outbreak was over. Department of Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson told USA Today that border officers will continue routine monitoring of all arriving travelers for illness. The Chicago Tribune reported on another illness - the Zika virus - and its impact on business travel.

The Economist talks about the resilience of hotel demand in London despite the impact of room-booking apps, which it says have had little impact in the city. Hospitality Net takes a look at the booking patters for independent hotels finding out who is booking, when they are booking and how they are booking.

In airline news, complaints are up. The Palm Beach Post reports that complaints for U.S. airlines jumped 30 percent in 2015, according to the Department of Transportation. CNBC writes that while in theory airlines love cheap oil, in practice most airlines are less than thrilled because of the impact on their business travel units. The Los Angeles Times reports that airlines have raised fares for the second time this year. Finally, Tnooz writes about a new app called Dr Now, which can connect an air passenger to a land-based doctor.

Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times writes about the cost of travel declining and says it isn't all because of cheaper fuel prices. Martin writes that travelers are enjoying big savings on rental cars citing price wars among competitors and increasing competition from ride-sharing services.

Looking to do business in Cuba? The United States and Cuba have taken another step toward making that possible by signing an agreement to restore scheduled air service, according to Travel Daily News. F

inally, your list for this week shows you how to behave in a business meeting in 18 countries covered in USA Today's Road Warrior blog courtesy of GetVoIP.  

New Survey Finds Satisfaction Significantly Higher for Business Travelers Enrolled in TSA PreCheck

Navigating airport security is one of the most important parts of the modern travel process, yet, at times, it can be the most frustrating. Every day, as business travelers enter security lines at airports, their blood pressure increases as they wait in line to take off their shoes, remove their belts and place laptops in their own separate bins.

Everyone can appreciate the need for effective security procedures, but, for many, this appreciation does not alleviate the aggravation that is felt while inching through a slow line.

A new survey, the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ in partnership with American Express, spotlights a better way to help alleviate stress during the security screening process. According to the survey, those business travelers who have enrolled in one of the nation’s largest risk-based security programs – known as TSA PreCheck – report a significantly better air travel experience than their peers who have not.


We asked over 800 business travelers whether they’re satisfied with the current process for getting through airport security. Two thirds (66 percent) of business travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck said that they were satisfied with the security process. By comparison, 47 percent of business travelers not enrolled in the program reported satisfaction.

Similarly, those enrolled in TSA PreCheck are more likely to be satisfied with traveling on an airplane – 66 percent – compared to 54 percent for those not enrolled.

In this survey, we also examined who has signed up for the program. In this area, Baby Boomers are more travel savvy than their younger colleagues — 51 percent of Baby Boomers (55+) surveyed are enrolled; compared to 37 percent of Gen Xers (35-54) and just 32 percent of Millennials (18-34). One consideration for this is that veteran road warriors likely have decades of business travel under their belt and are acutely aware of the value TSA PreCheck brings to their travels.

At GBTA, we strongly support risk-based programs. Checkpoint screening delays and long Customs lines at airports cost travelers time and money, and reduce business opportunities. Risk-based programs like TSA PreCheck and Customs Border Protection’s Global Entry allow business travelers to move through security quickly and avoid travel hassles and delays.

At the same time, these programs better allocate staffing, equipment and administration, and also reduces the need for budget and fee increases – all of which can help contribute to a more seamless airport experience for business travelers around the world.

Keeping Business Travelers Safe in an Uncertain Time

Today, GBTA released a new poll showing continued resiliency in business travel following the Paris attacks. More than 90 percent of U.S. and European business travel buyers now report that their company’s travel to and within Europe has remained largely unaffected by the Paris terrorist attacks. This shows increased levels of resiliency since the immediate aftermath of the attacks, when GBTA surveys indicated that nearly three-quarters of travel buyers believed that their company’s travel would not change or would only be slightly reduced.

The poll also shows that European travel buyers have become more certain as time has passed that travel should continue without interruption. Today, 90 percent of European travel buyers say that they believe that it is important that travel continue as usual despite the recent terrorist activity, compared with 79 percent in the days following the attacks.

Business travel will go on though as it is a driving force of our global economy, but knowing how to keep your business travelers safe in emergencies is paramount for travel buyers. GBTA worked with DocuSign, Inc. to develop a case study showing how they implemented their duty of care plan in the wake of the Paris attacks.

An e-signature and digital transaction management company based in San Francisco, DocuSign had four travelers in Paris and a dozen more scheduled to travel to Paris as the November 13 attacks unfolded. The case study details how they took action almost immediately to ensure the safety of their travelers by using traveler reports to determine the number and location of employees in and on the way to Paris, by contacting employees to confirm their safety and by engaging a third-party security firm to evacuate employees in France, among other steps.

The case study also identifies important steps companies can take to ensure the safety of your travelers in uncertain times:

  • Have an Actionable Plan in Place
  • Know your company culture and traveling population
  • Evaluate and mitigate your risk
  • Identify your resources
  • Develop an actionable plan
  • Monitor and benchmark your plan

View the full case study here. Also, check the GBTA calendar for updates on new webinars throughout the year from the GBTA Risk Committee highlighting hot topics in risk management.

GBTA Pleased FCC, DOT Created Federal Interagency Working Group on Aviation Communications Safety and Security Issues

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed to establish a Federal Interagency Working Group to more effectively collaborate and coordinate with other relevant agencies on issues that intersect their respective domains, including the safe and secure use of consumer communications onboard domestic commercial aviation.

Today GBTA issued this statement about the new Working Group:

“The formation of this working group is a significant milestone in the necessary efforts to address the changing risks associated with expanded use of broadband capabilities in commercial aviation. The Global Business Travel Association has been working closely with agency officials and Hill staff urging federal agencies to proactively assess the safety and security of enhanced cell phone usage and high speed broadband access on planes. We advocated for the need for interagency efforts to guard against siloed activity in examining short- and long-term security threats.

We are pleased that our concerns have been recognized and acted upon. GBTA will continue its efforts to ensure the business traveler remains safe and this interagency working group will be key to this mission. GBTA will assist the working group in any way that we can to ensure the safety and well-being of travelers is considered before moving forward with the implementation of new technology.

We must continue to not just ask ‘can we do this’, but we must also ask ‘should we do this?’ – especially as it relates to matters that impact one of our most important assets – a safe and secure aviation system.”  

The Masters Honors Summit & Gala

Last week I wrote about GBTA’s new initiative called The Masters Honors. A major component of this unique recognition program is The Masters Honors Summit & Gala. Designed to elevate the business travel profession by recognizing the travel management professionals who are most engaged in moving our industry forward, this event will be held April 10-11 at the Trump National Doral in Miami, FL.


The summit will kick off with an opening reception on Sunday night followed by a full day of education led by internationally acclaimed facilitator Joe Pines. Joe is an author, speaker and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups alike. His published work has changed how the business world thinks. He has consulted with hundreds of companies, bringing value to tactics, strategies and game-changing, industry-disrupting innovations. Joe’s discoveries—the new frontier, the new economy, the new consumer sensibility and now the new ways digital technology enables us to fuse the real and the virtual—make him one of the greatest business landscape explorers of our time.

Networking events will be interspersed throughout the day giving industry leaders in attendance the critical opportunity to share best practices and new ideas. The event will conclude with the annual GBTA Foundation Gala.

Honorees are invited to attend the summit where they will be officially recognized as they find themselves among the movers, shakers and opinion leaders in the business travel industry. It will be the perfect backdrop for further professional development for these leaders as they leave with actionable solutions to enhance their company’s travel programs.

Coming this week, the list of honorees will be unveiled as GBTA will name more than 100 travel management professionals to the inaugural class of The Masters Honors – representing the top 4 percent of GBTA direct members across the association, globally.

7 Key Takeaways on Business Traveler Attitudes

The latest GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express, was released todayand is full of valuable information on business travelers’ feelings about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual travel behavior. This is the fourth round of this survey, which covers overall trip experience, travel policy, expense tracking and management, business travel safety, social media experiences, technology for business travel and the economic environment.

Here are just a few of the survey highlights:

  • The Index recovered from its third-quarter dip, increasing 3.3 percent from Q3 (95.1) to Q4 (98.2), almost fully recovering to its second-quarter status (98.7). This means the overall trip experience for business travelers improved during this time period, due primarily to improvements of the expense tracking and management component as well as the overall trip experience and travel friction component.
  • Almost all (95 percent) business travelers with TSA Preü® feel it has expedited their travel experience. Those with TSA Preü® are significantly more likely to be satisfied with their ability to get through airport security (66 percent) compared to those without it (47 percent), and are also more likely to be satisfied with their experience traveling on an airplane in general (66 percent compared to 54 percent) as well.
  • In the past three months, on average, business travelers took an airplane for three of their four business trips. When it came to making decisions about which airline to fly, convenience and cost top the list for business travelers.


  • Business travelers’ thoughts and experiences about expense reporting improved this quarter as the expense tracking and management index component increased significantly (6.3 percent) from Q3 to Q4 going from 95.1 to 101.1, surpassing even the baseline of 100 established in Q1. The survey also revealed that satisfaction with completing expense reports is highly correlated with the requirements and methods of submitting reports and receipts. So, the more business travelers are satisfied with their company’s policies and practices for expense reporting, the more satisfied they are with their ability to complete expense reports, in general.
  • Nearly one-half of U.S. business travelers (49 percent) are required to follow stated travel policies, while roughly one-third (34 percent) are encouraged to follow general guidelines and one in six (17 percent) have no travel policy whatsoever. When it comes to travel policies, more than three-quarters (78 percent) feel it is important for them to be able to acquire and use travel rewards and perks at their own discretion.


  • About one-third of business travelers (36 percent) report extending their business trip for leisure travel in the past three months and roughly two-thirds (67 percent) say having the option to do so is important to them. Those extending business trips for leisure time most often do so to explore and enjoy the destination (63 percent) or to visit friends or family members (48 percent).
  • Business travelers continue to believe that access to Wi-Fi is vital to their productivity when traveling (83 percent). Almost as many also say access to technology helps them keep up with other work demands when traveling for business (79 percent), and more than half believe mobile apps enhance their travel experience (52 percent).