The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

BREXIT UPDATE: UK Rejection of Withdrawal Agreement Increases Chance of No-Deal

GBTA Calls on its Members to Prepare for Brexit Uncertainties

Executive Summary

Seemingly every day new information on Brexit is coming out, yet uncertainty is greater than ever. Several votes were held recently on Tuesday, January 29, in the UK Parliament on amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, two of the proposed amendments succeeded.  The first amendment saw Members of Parliament (MPs) voting against a no deal outcome – it is worth noting that while most MPs are against a no-deal Brexit, this amendment isn’t binding on the Government, and MPs cannot alone prevent a no-deal outcome.  

The second saw MPs supporting the “Brady amendment” to reopen negotiations with the EU and which “requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border. However the EU has reiterated its refusal to reopen negotiations stressing once again the need to step up preparations for a no-deal scenario.

While GBTA has stressed that a Withdrawal Agreement on how the UK will leave the EU is essential for the business travel industry. However, given these latest developments, GBTA is concerned that a “no-deal” is becoming increasingly likely as we near the Brexit date of 29 March 2019 and recommends that travel managers/buyers start conducting preparedness activities in view of assessing the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on their travelers


What Does a No-Deal Mean for Business Travel?

The UK and the EU have prepared a number of guidance documents to help business prepare for a no-deal scenario and GBTA calls on its members to carefully assess the impact on business travel.


Basic Air Connectivity

While Brexit contingency planning for the aviation sector is relatively advanced, if not properly managed, risks still exist that would undermine air connectivity and efficiency, which are critical to the business travel industry.

Aviation is one of the few areas where the European Commission and the UK Government have been forthcoming with their contingency planning.

  • The EU has committed to grant first, second, third and fourth freedom traffic rights to UK air carriers so they can continue to fly over the EU and make technical stops in EU territory, as well as serve direct routes between the respective territories.
  • These rights are only valid for 12 months as of 30 March 2019 and only if the UK reciprocates the same commitment for EU airlines. Fortunately, the UK has agreed to unilaterally grant permits to allow EU airlines to continue providing their services in the UK.

However, this basic air connectivity agreement in the case of a no-deal does not cover all aspects of the UK’s current aviation relationship with the EU.

  • No intra-EU flights: In essence, planes departing from the UK will be able to fly over the EU or into one EU country and back, but will be stopped from flying from one EU country to another. So, a UK air carrier can operate a normal flight from London to Paris but not from Paris to Madrid.
  • Uncertain third country air agreements & connecting flights: The future of the UK’s air traffic rights with third countries and the applicability of Open Skies agreements it benefits from through EU membership is also unclear. Although the UK has managed to conclude bilateral air agreements with some countries (such as the U.S. and Canada), it is unclear how many agreements with other countries the UK will be able to secure. The possibility of UK and EU carriers operating connecting flights departing from the UK is therefore uncertain.
  • Non-EU airline ownership: EU rules stipulate that carriers must be owned and controlled by more than 50 percent of EU investors in order to retain their ability to fly freely in the bloc. In a no-deal scenario, with the UK non-longer considered as an EU country, certain airlines (British Airways, Iberia, IAG) would also lose their rights to fly. It is unclear how Member States have been preparing for this scenario.
  • Unclear air traffic control systems: Additionally, in a no-deal scenario, the UK would no longer be able to directly participate in the EU’s Single European Sky (SES) initiative, which was designed to increase the efficiency of air navigation services across the EU. This could lead to flight delays for passengers.
  • Border delays: In a no-deal scenario, we can expect immediate impact on border delays: an additional 90 seconds of border checks on each passenger would translates to hours of delays disembarking any flight, and days of delays at Channel ports.


Visa-Free Travel for Short Stays

EU has issued a proposal to exempt UK nationals from visa requirements when travelling to EU countries. After 29 March 2019, visa-free travel between the UK and the EU would therefore continue but would only apply for short term travel (90 or 180 days).

In a no-deal scenario, if a UK citizen wants to reside or work in a EU Member State after Brexit, they would need to apply for a residence or work permit. The EU has, however, agreed to continue to grant all UK nationals legally residing in a EU Member State on 29 March 2019 the right to be considered as legal residents of that Member State without interruption (on the condition that the UK does the same for EU residents).


How should business travelers prepare for the upcoming uncertainty?


Uncertainty is the Only Certainty

The situation surrounding Brexit is still changing, with many options on the table, including extending the negotiation period to leave time for a second referendum, re-negotiating the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement or even pausing the whole exit process until further notice. With all these options to be considered for the future of the deal as well as Brexit itself, GBTA cautions its members to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.


Preparedness Activity

GBTA recommends that travel buyers begin to prepare through the lens of assessing the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on their travelers.

This includes:

  • Pulling a list of current and future purchased flights that may be grounded as a result of British carriers not being able to operate beyond simple in and out flights.
  • Exchanging information with airlines on the current state of their contingency planning for a no-deal
  • Pulling a pre-trip report to assess the number of potentially impacted travelers
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest developments and align with your TMC to ensure operational support in the event of a no-deal
  • Informing travelers of the potential implications of a no-deal on air travel with the UK, as well as the information above and listed below internally within the organization around the end of February:
    • Driving licenses
    • Passports
    • Mobile Roaming
    • Health





Your driving license may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU.
You may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. An IDP is a document that when carried with your driving license means you would be able to drive outside of the UK including in EU countries. There are different types of IDP required within the EU. Which one you need depends on which country you are driving in.

The IDP will cost £5.50


You’ll be considered a third country national under the Schengen Border Code and will therefore need to comply with different rules to enter and travel around the Schengen area.

According to the Schengen Border Code, third country passports must: have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country, and have at least 3 months’ validity remaining on the date of intended departure from the last country visited in the Schengen area. Because third country nationals can remain in the Schengen area for 90 days (approximately 3 months), the actual check carried out could be that the passport has at least 6 months validity remaining on the date of arrival.

Travel to Ireland is subject to separate Common Travel Area arrangements which will be maintained after the UK leaves the EU. British nationals travelling from the UK don’t need a passport to visit Ireland.

Mobile Roaming

The costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated after March 2019.

This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed. The availability and pricing of mobile roaming in the EU would be a commercial question for the mobile operators.

However, some mobile operators (3, EE, O2 and Vodafone - which cover over 85% of mobile subscribers) have already said they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming after the UK leaves the EU.


In the absence of a Withdrawal Agreement the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cease after March 2019. The EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment should you need it while visiting one of those countries.

There would be attempts to put some kind of emergency measures in place for UK citizens or to agree reciprocal deals with individual EU countries, but it is impossible to say at this point what the outcome might be.

Podcast: Data is the Foundation of All Negotiations

This week’s episode of The Business of Travel focuses on all things to do with travel data. We discuss the sheer amount of data available and how technology is changing the game. Several industry experts on the supplier side joined us to share their insights as well as two GBTA buyer members who shared their best practices on how they use data to build better travel programs.

Featured experts on this week's podcast episode include:

  • Andres Fabris, Founder & CEO, Traxo

  • Mat Orrego, CEO & Co-Founder, Cornerstone Information Systems

  • Mike Daly, Senior Vice President of Sales, Freebird

  • Peggy Studer, Vice President Marketing, RoomIt by CWT

  • Jami Stapelmann, Executive Director for Global Travel and Meetings, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

  • Leslie Andrews, Global Travel Category Manager, CDK Global  



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!

Newsletter: febrero 2019

GBTA ofrece una sólida agenda de eventos en América Latina para 2019

La inversión anual de América Latina en viajes corporativos es de $51,4 mil millones de dólares. Por ejemplo, Brasil es el décimo país a nivel mundial con mayor inversión en Business Travel y se espera que para 2019, su inversión sea de casi $31 mil millones de dólares.  Perú, por su parte, es el país anfitrión #39 en tener mayor cantidad de reuniones internacionales de negocios a nivel mundial. En 2018, Chile, Argentina y Colombia representaron los países Latinoamericanos con mayor crecimiento en inversión en viajes de negocios. En Costa Rica, más de 20 compañías de Fortune 500 y otras 250 multinacionales están aprovechando las habilidades del país para impulsar el crecimiento y la eficiencia.

De ahí que no es casual que GBTA tenga preparada una agenda de eventos de mucho peso en la región para 2019 en las ciudades de mayor importancia para el segmento de Viajes Corporativos. Todos los asistentes pueden esperar obtener una valiosa actualización mediante una variedad de sesiones educativas de alto nivel.

En 2019, la serie de eventos se iniciará en Santiago de Chile, seguido por São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, San José, Buenos Aires y Lima. Adicionalmente, habrá días educativos en otros mercados clave de México, Brasil y Argentina y en ciudades como Bogotá y Ciudad de Panamá.

Lo siguiente es el programación de eventos:

GBTA Business Travel Management Workshop – Santiago, Chile, 25 de abril de 2019

Conferencia GBTA 2019 – São Paulo, Brasil, 27 de mayo de 2019

Conferencia GBTA 2019 – Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 16 de septiembre de 2019

Conferencia GBTA 2019 – San José, Costa Rica, 24 de septiembre de 2019

Conferencia GBTA 2019 – Buenos Aires, Argentina, 22 de octubre de 2019

Conferencia GBTA 2019 – Lima, Perú, 15 de noviembre de 2019


Convención GBTA 2019 se realizará en el centro de convenciones más grande de Norteamérica en Chicago

El McCormick Place, el Centro de Convenciones más grande de Norteamérica, ubicado en la ciudad de Chicago, recibirá este año a cerca de 7000 profesionales en viajes de negocio. Los profesionales vendrán de más de 50 países y traerán más de 400 compañías exhibidoras, a la edición número 51 de la Convención GBTA, del 3 al 7 de agosto.

La movilidad en un ambiente de mucha aceleración, una experiencia de viaje más personalizada y la atención de riesgos en un dinámico contexto tecnológico, ambiental y geopolítico, son parte de los temas y soluciones cuales se hablarán en lo que se considera el evento del año en viajes de negocio.

Durante la Convención, se llevara a cabo el 3 de agosto, el WINiT Summit 2019 en Chicago. WINiT Summit 2019 reunirá a profesionales de todos los niveles con el meto de cambiar positivamente las carreras y vidas de las mujeres en industrias relacionadas con los viajes de negocio. Encuentre más información en:


GBTA México presenta su nueva mesa directiva

Por Carlos Galván, de Factor Meetings

GBTA continúa avanzando y tomando fuerza como la asociación más grande de viajes a nivel global. Su estructura organizacional en México, evoluciona para aprovechar de manera óptima el conocimiento de los viajes de negocios.

Como parte de esta evolución, se nombró a Paola García como Directora Regional de México y a Jessica Ordaz en Proyectos Especiales. El intento es poderles ofrecer a los Travel Managers y a todos nuestros socios comerciales, experiencias diferentes y propuestas de valor que sin duda, harán que GBTA tome un giro diferente en México.

Con el objetivo de fomentar el conocimiento y profesionalización de los miembros compradores, se creó el “Board de Travel Managers”. Ellos representarán y serán la voz de todos los miembros activos de la asociación, y a la vez, participarán en proyectos que ayudaran al desarrollo e implementación de los programas educativos agendados durante 2019.

Como presidente está Roció Ceballos, Travel Manager de PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers), como vicepresidente Nancy Goycochea, Travel Manager de la Cruz Roja Internacional y como junta de comité: Elisa Sánchez Llanes, Travel Manager de Deloitte; Eduardo Villa Travel Manager de Elementia, Victor Ibañez Travel Manager de Holcim.

En la región de Monterrey, está Catalina Cavazos Travel Manager de Metalsa, Paolina Huerta Travel Manager de Femsa y Luis Bueno Travel Manager de Exiros.

También se creó el “Board de Proveedores”, que actuarán como un recurso para los miembros de GBTA, aportando información y material de investigación sobre la industria de los viajes corporativos, liderado por Beat Wille Country General Manager de BCD Travel.

Minimizing Risk for Pregnant Travelers

Pregnant travelers face numerous considerations that most travelers do not need to bear in mind. However, with planning and preparation, pregnant women can safely travel to most locations. Expectant mothers should schedule an appointment with a travel medicine specialist at least four to six weeks before travel. The travel medicine practitioner may need to collaborate with the obstetrician to coordinate care and ensure the best travel plan. For women in their third trimester, or those who will be overseas during their third trimester, consider locating a medical facility at the destination that can manage pregnancy complications, delivery, caesarean section, and neonatal problems.

Pregnant travelers, like all travelers, should ensure that they have health insurance that covers them while they are abroad. Be sure the policy covers pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and care of the infant if the baby is delivered overseas. Evacuation insurance, including coverage for pregnancy-related complications, is also recommended, especially if traveling to a remote area.


Because some vaccines carry the risk of side-effects that could potentially affect the fetus, carefully review the risks and benefits of each immunization. Ideally, all women who are pregnant should be up-to-date on their routine immunizations prior to pregnancy. In general, pregnant women should avoid live vaccines and becoming pregnant within one month of having received one; however, no harm to the fetus has been reported from the accidental administration of these vaccines during pregnancy.

If not previously received, the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended during pregnancy to protect women and provide antibodies to the newborn. This vaccine should be given in the second or third trimester. Pregnant women traveling during the influenza season at their travel destination should be vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine. This can be administered in any trimester and is especially recommended for those with chronic diseases and an increased risk of influenza-related complications. Individuals should consult with their physician before obtaining any vaccination.


Malaria can be much more serious in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. Malaria during pregnancy is associated with many complications including high rates of maternal and fetal mortality. Due to increased risk of severe disease, pregnant women should avoid or delay travel to malaria-endemic areas. If travel is unavoidable, expectant mothers should take precautions against mosquito bites and consider prophylactic medication.

Zika virus transmission can occur between currently infected pregnant women and their fetuses; research suggests Zika virus infection during pregnancy may result in “congenital Zika syndrome,” which describes a pattern of conditions found in babies infected with Zika virus in utero. These include microcephaly (an abnormally small head) and damage to the developing brain, eyes, muscles, and joints. Babies born with congenital Zika syndrome may not display all these conditions.

Pregnant women should take strict precautions against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects in areas that are endemic for arboviruses such as dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika virus, and tick-borne encephalitis. Preventive measures include use of bed nets, use of insect repellents, and wearing protective clothing.

Pregnant women are also more likely to acquire respiratory diseases and urinary tract infections. These illnesses may also be more severe in pregnancy. Pregnant women should ensure they are taking basic health precautions such as good hand hygiene.

Food and Water Safety

Pregnant women may be more vulnerable than non-pregnant women to dehydration after developing traveler’s diarrhea or other gastrointestinal infection. Pregnant women should strictly maintain hand hygiene and make prudent food and beverage choices. Pregnant women should only eat food that is cooked and served hot, and avoid cold food or dishes that have sat at room temperature. Expectant mothers should not consume undercooked meat or fish, unpasteurized dairy products, or anything containing ice. Only eat fresh fruits and vegetables that you have peeled and washed yourself. Drink only bottled and sealed beverages. Carbonated beverages are considered safer. Do not use iodine-containing compounds to purify water, as they could cause negative effects to the fetal thyroid. If diarrhea develops, drink plenty of safe fluids.

Environmental issues

Pregnant women may be more affected by air pollution than non-pregnant women. Additionally, as body temperature regulation is less efficient during pregnancy, temperature extremes may cause additional stress and heat stroke or heat prostration, or harm to the fetus. High temperatures may also cause fainting. Pregnant women should seek air conditioned facilities during extreme heat.

Travel to altitudes of 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) is usually safe, if ascent is gradual. A remote location and the possibility of dehydration pose a greater risk for the pregnant traveler. Planned travel to altitudes above 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) should be discussed with the travel clinic physician and obstetrician.

Transportation Issues

Some airlines have rules restricting travel toward the end of pregnancy. Know your airline’s restrictions. Some airlines require a letter from a medical provider stating that the woman is fit to travel and with the expected delivery date to confirm the length of pregnancy. Generally, international flight is not recommended after 35 weeks and domestic flight after 36 weeks. Some contraindications to airline travel during pregnancy include anemia and a high-risk pregnancy. While flying, pregnant women should wear the seat belt low around the pelvis; move around frequently, stretch, do isometric leg exercises, wear graduated compression stockings to help improve blood circulation; and drink non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration.

Most cruise lines restrict travel beyond 28 weeks of pregnancy, with some restrictions as early as 24 weeks. Some cruise lines require a letter from a medical provider stating that the woman is fit to travel and with the expected delivery date to confirm the length of pregnancy. Pregnant women should check their specific cruise line’s restrictions. Pregnant women on cruises should be aware of the risk of motion sickness, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disease, and the risk of falls on a moving vessel.

Week in Review

Eight airlines have flaws in their e-ticketing systems that could expose passengers’ personal information, TechNewsWorld reports. The airlines are sending unencrypted check-in links, which could allow hackers to view or change passengers’ flight booking details or boarding passes. The airlines in question are Southwest Airlines, KLM, Air France, Vueling, Jetstar, Thomas Cook, Transavia, and Air Europa.

China Airlines cancelled 26 flights departing from or arriving in the country from Friday through Sunday, Focus Taiwan writes. The airline cancelled the flights due to a pilots’ strike.

Thomas Cook is conducting a “strategic review” of its airline and may consider selling it, BBC notes.

From using a privacy filter on your laptop to using a juice-jack protector, The New York Times shares tips for safeguarding your information while traveling.

Luggage-storage service LuggageHero recently raised $1.45 million in funding to expand its operations in the U.S. and Europe, Phocuswire writes. The service enables travelers to book storage space for their luggage or bags on an hourly basis.

Are you looking for a new way to compare hotel prices on your computer? According to HotelMarketing’com, Google’s new Price Insights feature allows users to compare the price of one hotel to the price of others in the same location. Users can also see how hotel rates fluctuate by day.

Gillian Keegan, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chichester, recently shared her unique perspective on the outlook for the business travel industry in a post-Brexit world.

According to BusinessGhana, Berlin-based Germania Airline filed for bankruptcy and cancelled all of its flights with immediate effect.

Amtrak is looking to extend its service to the Long Island region, Business Traveller writes. The company has reached an agreement with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “jointly study ways to extend Amtrak service beyond New York’s Penn Station to Long Island.”

United announced it will retrofit more than 100 planes as part of a move to add 1,600 premium seats on nearly 250 jets, AP News reports.

Message from the Office of the GBTA President

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

Dear GBTA Members,

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and were able to slow down and enjoy time with your loved ones. The year is off to a busy start and we are excited about what is to come in 2019.

GBTA Convention 2019
Registration is open for Convention, which will be held in Chicago, IL on August 3-7. This year’s Convention theme is Evolve. As travel has evolved and increasingly connected our world, so has our Association. GBTA continues to provide a platform for travel professionals to share best practices, policies and solutions to the industry’s greatest issues.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more on speakers and sessions to expect at this year’s Convention. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with industry experts and your peers —register today.

WINiT Summit 2019 - Chicago
Last year we announced our exciting acquisition of WINiT and this year WINiT Summit will be held in conjunction with Convention on Saturday, August 3. This one-day event will bring together professionals of all levels for the sole purpose of positively changing the careers and lives of women in travel-related industries. It will feature first-in-class women’s leadership content delivered by a diverse collection of speakers representing a range of industries, experiences and perspectives. More than an education experience, WINiT Summit attendees will be inspired through productive discussions about the challenges and successes women experience along their career journey.

Colonel Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Ret.) will serve as the closing keynote speaker. She will share her experiences paving a new path and culture in the military. She has over 21 years of experience as an officer, leader and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. She has had the honor of commanding a fighter squadron, flying as a USAF Thunderbird pilot, serving as a White House Fellow and serving as an advisor to the First Lady of the United States. Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss this!

Chapter Update
I have great news to share on the chapter front—every affiliate has committed to become a GBTA Chapter! Not only that, but the GBTA Board just approved a motion to add a new Chapter, the Oklahoma Chapter. For a complete list of Community member benefits, please click here.

I am excited about what lies ahead for GBTA in 2019. As always, thank you to our members for your continued support and commitment. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or questions you may have.

Best regards,

Christle Johnson
GBTA President

Podcast: No Appetite for a No-Deal Brexit

Last week, GBTA and ITM hosted the inaugural Strategic Meetings Management Symposium in London featuring keynoter Gillian Keegan, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chichester. A travel industry veteran, she shared her unique perspective on the outlook for the business travel industry in a post-Brexit world.

On today’s episode of The Business of Travel, hear excerpts from her remarks followed by a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. Mike and Gillian discuss how she got into politics from the travel world, the path forward for Brexit and the impact on business travel and business in general.



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!