The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

This week, GBTA announced Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian as a featured speaker at GBTA Convention 2017, July 15-19 in Boston.

According to Skift, the business travel industry holds its breath as it awaits Trump’s next travel ban. In an online webinar offered by GBTA, immigration attorney Cornia Farias offered companies solutions for preparing for the upcoming order.

GBTA Executive Director & COO Michael W. McCormick also weighed in, stating uncertainty over the travel ban puts business travel and the economy at risk, especially considering $185 million in business travel bookings were lost in the week following the ban.

According to CNN, the Trump administration revealed for the first time that 756 individuals were detained during the first weekend of the travel ban.

USA TODAY reports President Trump was set to issue a revised version of the travel ban on Tuesday.

According to Buying Business Travel, travel buyers should consider how new technologies, such as driverless cars, will affect their travel programs.

Bloomberg shares tips from the world’s most frequent travelers on how to survive the longest flight in the world, which is Qatar Airways’ 17.5 hour flight between Auckland and Doha.

Business Traveler notes New York considers additional airport taxi fees, which could cost travelers $4 or more per trip.

Skift reports Air France - KLM received the union go-ahead to launch a new airline.

Following Delta’s decision to bring back complimentary meals on mostly trans-continental routes, Bloomberg noted travelers are paying for these “free” meals in other ways.

MeetingsNet shares how the five pillars of technology disruption will impact meetings in the near future. According to Business Traveller, Emirates has announced plans to unveil a revamped A380 onboard business and first class lounge.

The same source reports Hong Kong Airlines and Jet Airways have begun a codeshare agreement.

According to TravelDailyNews International, Hertz and Air France renewed their partnership, launching new car rental products and services for passengers.

TravelDailyNews International reports hotel rate shopping service TRIPBAM and TrustYou announced a strategic partnership.

Tnooz notes travel planning service Utrip raised $4 million to build out a consumer and B2B trip planning service.

According to Skift, Airbnb bought payments company Tilt to enable travelers to split trip costs easily.

GBTA Announces Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian As Featured Speaker at at GBTA Convention 2017

Today, GBTA announced Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian will be a featured speaker at GBTA Convention 2017, July 15-19 in Boston. A one-on-one interview with Ed Bastian will take place at Center Stage on Tuesday, July 18.

As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian’s primary responsibility is to champion the company’s employee-driven, customer-focused culture and inspire the spirit of innovation that is the foundation of Delta’s success. An 18-year Delta veteran, Ed was a central part of the team that led the airline from bankruptcy to its current position as the industry’s leader. Named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed is committed to putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.

Held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, GBTA Convention 2017 will bring together nearly 7,000 business travel professionals from more than 50 countries across the globe. It will feature world-class keynote speakers, more than 80 industry-leading education sessions, the largest business travel expo floor, a wide selection of professional development opportunities and much more, providing attendees the opportunity for professional development and to get business done.

Attendee registration is open now. Register by March 7, 2017 to receive up to $500 in savings. More info on programs and speakers will be unveiled throughout 2017. For the latest developments and more information, please visit

Media registration is complimentary and available online. GBTA’s third annual Media Day on July 16, 2017, will feature back-to-back news announcements throughout the morning from top travel companies around the world, giving media an exclusive pass to the latest travel industry news.

Uncertainty Over Travel Ban Puts Business Travel and the Economy at Risk

GBTA Releases Latest U.S. Business Travel Forecast

Earlier this month, GBTA released data showing the dramatic bottom line impact President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries has had on business travel. In the week following the ban, approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence.

Given that for every 1 percent impact on business travel spending annually, the United States gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections, a loss in business travel also leaves a lasting negative impact on our economy.

Every quarter, GBTA releases a U.S. business travel forecast providing projections for the next two years for prospects for domestic and international outbound business travel for the United States. In our last forecast released in October, we noted that ongoing global uncertainty and added heartburn from a presidential election unlike any we had ever seen were causing many businesses to stay in a holding pattern, taking an extremely cautious wait-and-see approach and begging the question of whether many of these companies would be ready when growth picked up.

The current state of uncertainty over the travel ban could cause a similar impact on business travel. The Trump administration has announced they are working on a new executive order that is expected to be released soon. It is still unclear if President Trump will rescind the original order, which is currently on hold after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction.

International outbound business travel was already identified as a weak point for the U.S. business travel market in our outlook before news of the travel ban was released. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel as U.S. businesses found top line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world. It seems clear that this is an area presidential policies should work to bolster rather than diminish.

Cancelled business trips are typically not rescheduled, so every business trip cancelled results in permanently lost travel industry revenues, decreased future employment rates and lost economic benefit to our country.

Our 2016 Q4 GBTA BTI™ U.S. Business Travel Outlook is now available. Completed after the election, but before President Trump took office, the forecast which projects a 4.4 percent increase in business travel spending in 2017 totaling $296.1 billion, following a 0.2 percent drop in 2016, is now very much in jeopardy. This will be especially true if we continue to see losses like we witnessed in the week following the travel ban.

The forecast comes with a lot of downside risk, as some of the policies proposed by the incoming Trump administration are likely to have stimulative impacts on business travel, while others may hamper growth. Ultimately, the direction of these policies will be the largest drivers of business travel performance over the forecast horizon – and currently things are not looking promising.

Looking beyond the executive order on travel, the forecast identifies key policy priorities for President Trump’s first 100 days carried over from the campaign, and looks to assess their potential impact on business travel. We’ll take a look at the areas that could have a positive impact first:

  • Lower Corporate Tax Rates: Lower corporate tax rates would likely boost business spending and investment. Given the strong correlation between profits and business travel, this suggests a positive boost in travel spending, as well, providing the new-found gains are not used to buy back company stock or raise dividend payments.
  • Lower Business Regulation: Cutting the regulatory burden on U.S. companies would help to support more efficiency, higher levels of employment and stronger bottom-line corporate growth – all very positive for the health of the business travel sector.
  • Increased Infrastructure Spending: An increase in infrastructure spending would have a stimulative impact on the U.S. economy in the short-run, which would benefit domestic business travel. There would also be longer-run effects on competitiveness and efficiency of the business travel sector for funds directed towards improving ports, roads and bridges.

The concern lies in whether or not the positive impacts from these policies will be outweighed by the potential negative impacts of the following policy priorities:

  • Protectionist Trade Policy: So-called border adjustment taxes or direct tariffs could drastically restrict the free movement of goods, services and people around the world. This would be particularly negative for international outbound business travel. While such policy could force production to the United States potentially producing a positive impact on domestic business travel, international retaliation would be highly likely and the overall net impact could quite possibly be negative.
  • Cutting the Federal Workforce: Cutting bloat in the federal workforce would likely help to lead to more government efficiency and a diversion of resources into the private sector. While this could be a good long-run policy for business travel, we would expect negative impacts on government spending in the short-run, which accounts for approximately 8 percent of total U.S. business travel spend.

The reality of true policy change, however, will be a slow and volatile process. In the short-term, GBTA urges President Trump and his Administration to make clear their intentions around restricting travel moving forward. Uncertainty is bad for business and bad for the economy.

As we have said, there is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to focus on expanding security programs that facilitate information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travelers, making us all more safe and secure.

The ultimate concern is that the lasting impact of the travel ban, and any future appeals around it, could cause other countries beyond just those named in the ban to think twice about planning meetings and events in the United States. This could create a huge impact as each inbound international business trip increases U.S. merchandise exports to the visited country by $36,000 per year and each overseas traveler spends approximately $5,000 when they visit. Closing our borders sends a message to the world that the United States is closed for business.

Week in Review

According to Reuters, Lufthansa has agreed to increase pay for 5,400 pilots by 8.7% after a long-running succession of strikes.

Skift reports U.S. airlines cancelled fewer flights in 2016 than any year on record.

According to Reuters, Delta has offered to purchase an additional 32% stake in Aeromexico.

Business Traveller notes Qatar Airways will unveil its new business class in March.

The Washington Post reports Delta is bringing back free meals for economy class on domestic flights.

According to Skift, Airbnb officially moved into the luxury space with its acquisition of vacation rental company Luxury Retreats.

The Economist finds business travelers are keener on the sharing economy than their employers, based on results from a GBTA report that found that the number of businesses allowing their employees to use ride-sharing services increased by nearly 15% since June.

According to Financial Tribune, Argentina’s civil aviation authority approved 135 new airline routes on Monday.

Buying Business Travel reports Members of Parliament believe UK’s rail franchise system is failing passengers.

According to Business Traveller, a new report calls for stronger security checks on airport workers.  

Your list for this week comes from Business Traveler USA: Fly Like a Pro: Expert Tips from Avid Business Travelers

How New Leadership Policies Can Affect Your Travelers

A couple of weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, presenting a number of challenges for those in the travel space. Since changes in leadership can result in uncertainty for organizations across the globe, GBTA recently held a webinar to prepare travel professionals in the event of foreign policy changes.

GBTA Risk Committee Chair Erin Wilk moderated a panel of travel security, travel management and immigration law experts as they discussed the implications of foreign policy changes on business travel in a webinar entitled Executive Orders – How New Leadership Policies Can Affect Your Travelers and What You Can Do.

International SOS Regional Security Director Matt Bradley kicked things off by defining what an executive order is from a legally-binding standpoint. He walked through a timeline of events surrounding the travel ban, noting the ensuing chaos for airlines, airports, and organizations due to the lack of clarification in the order’s implementation. Matt shared, “People were on planes, people were landing at international airports, arriving at immigration windows and being detained immediately because they were from certain countries." GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_05

Rotary International Former Global Travel Manager Robert Mintz then offered advice from a travel manager’s perspective on best practices for these types of situations. Erin noted that the practices could also be broadly applied to future incidents. GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_08

To wrap things up, Foster LLP Attorney at Law and Partner Corina Farias shared what organizations can do from a legal perspective in order to protect their travelers. She stressed the importance of being proactive and developing a corporate business action plan to be better prepared in future situations.

GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_09

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.

Week in Review

Last Friday evening, a federal judge ruled to temporarily halt enforcement of Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries. On February 9, a federal appeals court ruled 3 to 0 to maintain the suspension, according to The Washington Post.

Yahoo! News reports airlines began allowing blocked travelers back on board shortly after last Friday’s ruling.

Despite the ruling, the initial impact of the travel ban has already been felt, with nearly $185 million in business travel bookings lost in the week following the ban. Uncertainty surrounding the ban will continue to impact both the business travel industry and the economy.

According to 4Hoteliers, IHG confirmed a card breach impacting a dozen properties nationwide.

Skift reports airline CEOS are optimistic following a talk with President Trump on air traffic control problems, delays, excessive regulations and foreign competition.

According to Skift, Dubai’s airport is set to expand thanks to a $3 billion loan. The emirate is developing a second international airport south of the city, as it prepares to host the World Expo in 2020.

Buying Business Travel notes budget carrier Wow Air will introduce a business class this year.

According to USA TODAY, a winter storm in the Northeast U.S. has been causing major disruptions for fliers this week.

Skift notes AccorHotels plans to test selling flights on its website beginning this spring.

GBTA announced gold medalist Michael Phelps as a featured speaker at GBTA Convention 2017, July 15-19 in Boston.

Business Traveller notes Spirit Airlines is cutting space for carry-on luggage by 25 percent.

According to Business Traveller, Eurostar will begin a trial scheme to “Priority Check” passengers before they reach the station, similar to TSA’S PreCheck for air travelers.

Business Traveller reports the UK and India signed an agreement to ease restrictions on the amount of scheduled flights between the two countries.

On Monday, GBTA submitted comments urging the DOT to permanently ban in-flight cell phone calls on planes. You can also submit comments to the DOT through February 13 – we’ve even made it simple by creating a sample comment you can use.

According to Airport Technology, Amsterdam Airport and KLM have begun testing a new biometric boarding system using facial recognition technology.

Tnooz reports will invest €2 million in travel startups focused on sustainable tourism.

According to Business Traveller, Air France plans to launch its subsidiary carrier "Boost" this fall.  

Your list for this week comes from HotelMarketing’com: 7 Facts About Hotel Technology Spending in 2017

The Ruling on the Travel Ban: A Lose-Lose Scenario for Business Travel and the Economy

New Data Reveals Dramatic Bottom Line Impact

On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments from the Department of Justice and opposing attorneys from the states of Washington and Minnesota before they decide the fate of President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

They can ultimately choose to reinstate the travel ban or uphold the lower court’s ruling on the temporary stay, which would likely result in an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, both scenarios result in a loss for the travel industry and the economy.

Last week GBTA polled both its U.S. and European members to assess the impact of President Trump’s travel ban. In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals reported expectations for their company to reduce business travel over the next three months and 31 percent of U.S. respondents agreed.

Based on the most recent industry data available as of February 8, 2017, the following is the estimated impact:

  • USA system-wide business travel transaction levels month-over-month (January 2017 vs. December 2016) decreased by up to 8 percent depending on industry and sector
  • USA system-wide business travel transaction levels were increasing by +1.2 percent the week before the travel ban but decreased by -2.2 percent the week after the travel ban for a net negative industry impact of -3.4 percent in one week
  • In that week, approximately $185 million in business travel bookings were lost as the uncertainty surrounding travel in general had a rippling effect on traveler confidence
  • In 2016, 87.3 percent of USA business travel was domestic travel, 12.7 percent was international travel. This action had a significant disproportionate impact on international travel
  • For every 1 percent impact on business travel spending annually, the United States gains or loses 71,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in GDP, $3 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in tax collections

We say it time and again. Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large. Upholding the travel ban will clearly cause a rippling effect through the travel industry, ultimately hurting the economy. It also unleashes travel disruption like we saw when the order was first implemented. While the White House’s stated goal was acting in the interest of national security, it did not give the civil servants responsible for implementing the ban any chance to do so effectively. There was too much uncertainty and a lack of clarity around the executive order, leading to general confusion. The net effect was that business travel bookings were delayed or canceled.

There is no question that security is of the utmost importance. However, instead of closing our borders, the United States should continue to pursue and focus on expanding security programs like the Visa Waiver Program, which facilitates information-sharing among governments to ensure properly vetted travelers, making us all more safe and secure.

Upholding the lower court’s ruling is also a losing situation for the business travel industry. The initial impact has already been felt and the uncertainty it will create as we await an appeal to the Supreme Court will continue to make its mark. Advanced bookings will likely slow as travel professionals cannot be sure if and when the ban will be reinstated. Meetings and events may be cancelled altogether.

The cloud of uncertainty could leave a lasting economic impact. Large corporations and small businesses alike will suffer. The biggest driver of our economic recovery of the past seven years from the most recent downturn was international outbound travel. U.S. businesses found top line growth and business opportunity from new markets all over the world.

We urge the Trump administration to pause this travel ban action, reassess its path forward with key stakeholders and preserve both our national security AND our economy for the future.

Silence is Golden



Cell phone calls on U.S. airlines could soon become a reality.

When it comes to cell phone calls on planes, GBTA believes silence is golden. As the late Pete Seeger, a champion of folk music and social change, said, there is a time to speak out and a time to keep silent. Under its authority to ban unfair practices, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should choose the latter approach and ban mobile wireless voice calls during flight on aircraft.

Allowing passengers to make cell phone calls on planes presents a security threat as well as the potential for disruption and a loss of productivity. A large majority - 64 percent - of business travelers in the U.S. oppose allowing passengers to talk on their phones while in flight. Additionally, more than half (51 percent) disapprove, even if airlines designated specific rows where in-flight phone calls would be allowed.

On Monday, GBTA submitted comments to the DOT on their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Use of Mobile Wireless Devices for Voice Calls on Aircraft urging the Department to use its authority to ban the use of calls while in the air. GBTA supports a cell phone ban for reasons of traveler convenience as well as security.

What can you do?

Tell the DOT to Ban Cell Phone Calls on Planes

Individuals can submit their own comments to the DOT and it's an incredibly easy process. Visit the DOT website here. Enter your comment telling the DOT why you think cell phone calls should be banned on planes. You can copy and paste the text below or write your own. Then just enter your name, select "Public Comment(s)" from the dropdown menu under "Category" and click continue.

Sample Comment:

I believe the use of mobile wireless devices for voice calls is detrimental to the traveler and should be banned between the time the aircraft door is closed and the aircraft’s landing. In February of 2014, when the DOT previously issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Use of Mobile Wireless Devices for Voice Calls on Aircraft, 97 percent of the commenters expressed opposition.

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 41712, DOT should find the use of mobile devices for voice during flight to be so disruptive that it would be inconsistent with adequate air transportation. Travel is difficult enough and the DOT should not add to traveler’s misery. When it comes to flying on commercial airplanes in the United States, silence is golden.

Comments are due by February 13 at 11:59pm ET. Submit yours today.

Make Your Voice Heard on Social Media
Share a selfie over your social media channels. Tell us why you don't want cell phone calls allowed on planes, use #NoCallsOnPlanes and tag GBTA on Facebook or Twitter.

Keeping Safe with Some Solid Advice: Travel Risk Awareness Clarified

Travel risk has become more complex yet staying safe is simple if you follow these six basic principles of security: preparation, awareness, low profile, unpredictable routine, communications and layers of protection.

  1. Preparation: There is no substitute and frankly, no excuse for lack of preparation.  Educate yourself about the risks before you travel and plan your mitigation measures.
  2. Awareness: Be aware when you travel.  Criminals look for easy targets.  The alert, confident traveler does not present an attractive target.
  3. Low Profile: Keep a low profile.  Ostentatious displays of wealth or bragging about your important meeting won’t impress the locals, but it will attract an unsavory element.
  4. Varied Routine: Be unpredictable.  If you will be staying somewhere more than a few days try to vary your daily departure time and the route you take to the office.  Look for another coffee shop instead of stopping at the same café every morning.
  5. Communications: Stay connected – to the office, to your family, to your friends.  Make sure your cellphone works by activating an international roaming package for your trip or purchasing a local SIM card to ensure you have voice and data.  Don’t rely on the kindness of strangers when you need to make that emergency call.
  6. Layered Protection: Layer your protection by using all the tools at your disposal.  Security is a mindset, not just a plan on paper.  The same characteristics that make you a successful businessperson, a star student or a world-changing humanitarian can help you prepare and execute an effective security plan anywhere in the world.

Go forth and be safe!  Please visit the GBTA Risk Committee for additional information and resources.

After Court Order, U.S. Authorities Suspend Enforcement of Travel Ban

*Updated Sunday, February 5 at 12:30pm ET*

This blog post is meant to provide you with the latest information regarding President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States of citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. We will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available, so that you can better understand the impact on your travel program.

On Friday evening, a federal judge in Washington ruled to temporarily halt enforcement of the order, effective nationwide. The U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has informed us that all policies and procedures put into place to enforce the executive order have been suspended, and you should act as you did before the executive order was issued.

The State Department has also announced it is rescinding the provisional revocation of visas. The government is working to reinstate cancelled visas. Those with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.

On Sunday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced its decision to deny the motion from the Department of Justice to issue an immediate stay on the Washington State judge's temporary restraining order on the travel ban.

Media Coverage:

Appeals Court Denies Justice Department Motion to Immediately Lift Block on Travel BanABC News

State Dept. reverses visa revocations, allows banned travelers to enter U.S.The Washington Post

Homeland Security suspends travel ban CNN

State Department reinstates up to 60K visas affected by Trump’s travel banThe Blaze

The CBP released the statement below from the Department of Homeland Security on their website:

In accordance with the judge's ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."

This includes actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the Executive Order.

DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure.

At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the President's Executive Order, which is lawful and appropriate.  The Order is intended to protect the homeland and the American people, and the President has no higher duty and responsibility than to do so.

  Please check back often for the latest information.