The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

GBTA Poll Shows Vast Majority of Companies Have Effective Risk Management Plans

Following the tragic terror attacks in Brussels, GBTA and our European partner associations conducted a lightning poll of our global members to assess the immediate impact and learn more about their company's risk management plans. Below is the press release we issued today on the results.

GBTA Poll Shows Vast Majority of Companies Have Effective Risk Management Plans

Business Travel is Resilient Despite Attacks in Brussels

More than 72 percent of global travel buyers report that their company has a risk management plan in place, according to a poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and its European partner associations. In addition 81 percent found their company’s risk management plan to be effective directly following the terror attacks in Brussels.

“Risk is a part of doing business and in the past year we have seen duty of care rise to the forefront as the number one issue for our members, so it is not surprising to see so many have risk management plans in place,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “Still, with 28 percent reporting their company either doesn’t have a risk management plan in place or they are unsure if there is one and 13 percent who found their plans ineffective after the Brussels attacks there is clearly still work to do. While 80 percent would normally be seen as a great success rate, when lives are at stake, we need to do better. GBTA will continue to work with members and provide resources around risk management.”

In addition, the poll revealed 90 percent of travel buyers said their company’s travel within Europe would see no change, or would only be slightly or moderately limited.

“We live in a global economy and even when faced with terror, we cannot live in fear,” McCormick continued. “Businesses still need to do business and people will still need to travel, so it is imperative to plan, prepare and stay informed so that your business can make prudent decisions about its travel program.”

Methodology: This survey was conducted online from March 23-28, 2016. In total, 301 participated in the survey, spanning 10 countries in Europe and the United States.

The Critical Need for Duty of Care

Once again, last week, the world watched in horror as scenes from another terrorist attack unfolded. Three attacks, coming just days after one another, were all in popular, busy sections of cities, where commuters, tourists and business professionals carried on with their day-to-day lives.

Of course, as the world watches and mourns, life for bystanders must get back to normal. For business travel professionals, the uncertainty and randomness of such incidents only reinforces the need to improve pre-approval processes for business travellers and extend duty of care to ensure all measures are taken to protect those traveling on behalf of an organization.

A new survey sponsored by Concur focused on the business travel behavior of travellers in the United Kingdom, Germany and France. The study, sponsored by Concur and called Booking Behaviour: The Business Traveller’s Perspective, found that more and more companies are incorporating a pre-approval processes into the travel booking experience. While these can range from a quick verbal approval to a more stringent process, the rationale behind such approvals are twofold. One, it helps managers stay looped in with regards to travel expenses, dates and plans. Two, it further establishes duty of care for business travellers who are traveling on behalf of their companies. Knowing that employees are safe and accessible is more important now than it has ever been.

According to the new study, “pre-trip approval can be an important component of a managed travel programme. Having in place a pre-trip approval process can enable companies to fulfill their duty of care responsibilities, ensure travel policy compliance, and limit costs. About half of business travellers in each country say their company requires them to get pre-trip approval for domestic business travel, and two-thirds say it requires them to get pre-trip approval for international business travel." ConcurPreApproval

As the recent terror attacks remind us, there are few corners of the world that are truly safe anymore – even for generally cautious business travellers. Having an approval process in place that lets an organization know where its resources are – and can react, respond and regroup after such an event occurs – gives everyone added piece of mind. Compliance rates for a company’s pre-approval process were found to be high. Business travellers in all three countries admitted to adhering to their company policy most of the time or always.

There is no guaranteed way to ensure that business travel remains completely safe in today’s world – regardless of if they are traveling domestically or internationally. What the recent study from Concur found, however, is that there is recognition on both the part of the organization and the traveller that measures should be taken and adhered to so that the whereabouts of those traveling can be known quickly should anything happen. This is one aspect of a larger duty of care plan travel buyers can have in place to ensure the safety of their travellers to the best of their ability.

Week in Review

GBTA was deeply saddened to hear the news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels Tuesday morning. Dozens of innocent people were killed in an attack that was more than just an attack on an airport and a metro system, but an attack on all of us and our way of life. We have updated the latest news from Brussels as well as risk management resources in a separate blog post. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of those impacted by the attacks.  


According to Skift, U.S. and foreign carriers flew more than 895 million passengers through U.S. airports in 2015 – a new record. In another record, Business Traveler reports that the 1 millionth customer went through the U.S. Preclearance facility on March 17 at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Frequent fliers on Alaska Airlines can now use their Alaska Airlines miles to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck screening making the risk-based program accessible to more travelers, writes the Alaska Dispatch News.

In more aviation news, Skift reports on a new business class seat that creates a responsive environment, tailored to passenger travel preferences, which seamlessly links to passenger personal electronic devices. Meanwhile, Business Traveller reports that United Airlines will implement a tight ten-abreast seating configuration in economy class in 19 of its aircraft that previously featured a nine-across layout.

CNN’s Business Traveller discusses how low-cost airlines have become not only a fixture of the travel industry but an essential element of contemporary life and asks what’s next now that the market has matured.

In hotel news, Starwood accepted Marriott’s amended $13.6 billion buyout offer and Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson believes there is a tremendous opportunity for a combined loyalty platform. Travel Agent Central also reports that both Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International have announced plans to open hotels in Cuba.

Hugo Martin of the Los Angeles Times writes about how hotels are using perks to battle online travel agencies and push guests to book directly on their websites. Skift asks what AccorHotels’ entry into the sharing economy means for the future of hotels?

I leave you with two lists for this week:

Avoid These 6 Situations When Traveling on BusinessForbes

5 Companies That Are Changing The Dynamics of Business TravelHuffington Post

For Travel Buyers, Negotiating Hotel Contracts Offers the Biggest Bang for the Buck

Where do travel buyers get the most valuable add-ons for the lowest cost to their organization? According to a new survey of over 100 travel buyers across North America sponsored by Amadeus, it is hotel contracts where travel buyers can provide the most sought add-ons for their travelers at the lowest cost to their organizations.

The survey, Valuable Vendor Contract Add-ons: Prioritizing + Communicating = Saving found that free Wi-Fi was seen as the most valuable hotel add-on – with 99 percent of respondents saying it was valuable. Last Room Availability (97 percent), free breakfasts (96 percent), and fixed rates (95 percent) were all deemed highly valuable as well. These four add-ons were negotiated into hotel contracts over 80 percent of the time.


While travel buyers are generally successful in negotiating the most valuable add-ons into hotel contracts, they also spend the least amount of time negotiating these contracts. The Amadeus-sponsored survey found that travel buyers spend from two hours on an individual property contract to five hours to negotiate with a hotel chain. Negotiating a contract with a chain hotel costs about $260.*

Negotiating airline add-ons are much more challenging for travel buyers, by contrast. The most valuable add-on – no fees to make changes or cancellations to an itinerary – was either always or often negotiated into a contract only 25 percent of the time.

Travel buyers were more successful in negotiating name change waivers for tickets and ticket credits, having these add-ons appear 61% of the time. The third most valuable airline add-on, waiving checked bag fees, was only negotiated into contracts always or often only 15 percent of the time.


Even though the most valuable add-ons are rarely included in the final airline contract, negotiations with airlines are far more difficult and expensive. The average airline contract costs about $850 to negotiate despite the fact that travel managers cannot get as many add-ones for their travelers.

What is driving the difference between hotel and airline contract negotiations? There are a number of factors at play within the business travel industry, but one possibility is that fewer options exist with airlines compared to hotels, both in number of suppliers and number of potential amenities, which may contribute to the increased difficulty negotiating with airlines.


*This statistic was derived using a figure from GBTA’s annual Compensation and Benefits survey
showing the average Travel Manager earned $110,000 in 2015.

Statement & Information on Brussels Attacks

*Updated March 28 at 10:20 AM ET*

Today, GBTA issued the following quote from GBTA President Christle Johnson:

“GBTA is deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks this morning in Brussels,” said Christle Johnson, GBTA president. “Dozens of innocent people were killed in an attack that was more than just an attack on an airport and a metro system, but an attack on all of us and our way of life. On behalf of GBTA, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the people of Brussels and to those directly impacted by these attacks. Today we stand with the people of Brussels.”

Below find the latest information and resources on the attacks:

General News:

How to check on family and friends: Facebook is offering an "I'm Safe" service. The emergency line that has been set up in Belgium is: +32 02753 7300

3 more face terror charges in Brussels; death toll rises - USA Today

Brussels Airline Decamps After Terrorist Bomb Wrecks Main Hub - Bloomberg

Tensions Erupt in Brussels, and Police in 4 Countries Make Arrests - The New York Times

Brussels Attacks: Naim al-Hamed Reportedly Is 5th Suspect - NBC News

Police Raids Underway in Belgium as Manhunt Continues for Brussels Attacks Suspects - ABC News

Brussels Air restarts some flights from alternative airports in Belgium - USA Today

Brussels bombings: EU ministers to meet - The Guardian

Brussels attack: Man wanted in subway bombing - CNN

Fliers see bigger security presence at U.S. airports - USA Today

Stepped-up security is becoming a cost of doing business in an age of terrorism - The Washington Post

2 Brothers as Brussels Attackers; 3rd Suspect is Sought - The New York Times

First Brussels Bombings Victims Named as Stories of Survival Emerge - The Guardian

ISIL Claims Responsibility for Brussels Attack that Killed Dozens - USA Today

Live: At Least 31 Dead in Brussels Train Bombings - Le Monde

Brussels Airport to Remain Closed Wednesday - Yahoo News

Terror attacks strike Brussels - Politico

Brussels Attacks: Live Blog - Politico Europe

Brussels terror: 34 killed in explosions at airport, subway station – CNN

Brussels explosions: David Cameron condemns 'savage' attacks – BBC

Death Toll Rises in Brussels Blasts - Travel Mole

Live: Bombings in Brussels: At Lease 8 Wounded French - L'Express

Brussels Attack: Ohio Business People React - The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Statements: Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on the Attacks Today in Brussels, Belgium

Belgian Prime Minister calls for solidarity

Statement by President of the European Council Donald Tusk following the terrorist attacks in Brussels

President Duda offers condolences to families of Brussels attacks victims

Obama on terror attacks: 'We stand in solidarity' with Belgium

Increased Security: U.S. Officials, Travelers on Alert After Brussels Blasts – NBC News

Major US airports, transit systems ramp up security after Brussels attacks – Fox News

London Airport Steps Up Security - Travel Mole

NY, Washington ramp up security after Brussels attacks – Agence France-Presse Global Post

NYPD Increases Security in Response to Brussels Attack – NBC New York

D.C. Metro Increases Security After Brussels Terrorist Attack – Georgetown Patch

MCO: Expect increased security at airport in response to Brussels attacks – Orlando

Duty of Care Resources:

Europe Travel Alert - U.S. State Department

Security Message – U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium

Security Advice to Travellers - French Government

Keeping Business Travelers Safe in an Uncertain Time – Case Study from Paris Attacks

Preparing for Crisis in Today’s Risky World – Recap from GBTA Risk Committee Webinar

10 Duty of Care Tips from GBTA’s Risk Committee – GBTA Blog

Additional GBTA Resources (You will need to log-in to GBTA Hub to access these documents and webinars.)

Documents Security Guidelines For Domestic And Foreign Travel

Travel Risk Management Strategies — How To Select A TRM Partner For Your Program

Travel Risk Management

Incorporating Event And Meeting Risk Management Into Your Hotel Program

Security Services Request For Proposal

“C’est La Vie?”: A Step-By-Step Guide To Building A Travel Risk Management Program

Traveler Tracking & Risk Management Solutions


An Ounce Of Prevention: Planning Support For Global Travelers And Expatriates Introduction To Travel Risk Management Mitigating The Risks Of International Travel For Women: What Organizations Can Do

Week in Review

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney asks how the airlines should spend their windfall driven by dramatically lower oil prices and years of cost-cutting and huge consolidation. He talks with GBTA’s Mike McCormick among others to find out ways the airlines could use that money to reinvest and improve the traveler experience. The Huffington Post reports that airfares will be lower this year thanks to the falling oil prices, according to an IATA forecast. GBTA has been making a similar prediction, but believes the overall cost of airfare will continue to rise given increasing ancillary fees.

When it comes to the customer experience and flying, TSA certainly has an impact as a traveler’s first impression at an airport usually involves getting through security. Yahoo! Finance asks if TSA PreCheck is worth the money? It cites a GBTA study showing a vast majority of business travelers are highly satisfied with the hassle-free nature of the program in the case for PreCheck. WWLP News went straight to a TSA staffer to get tips for a smooth screening experience at the airport.

Travel buyers have been closely following the GDS surcharge implemented by Lufthansa in late 2015. The Lufthansa CEO is now telling Tnooz the revenue impact has been neutral and they expect other airlines to follow suit.

Millennials are a mystery to many, but Travel Daily News reports on a PwC consumer survey showing Millennial travelers may not be as different as you think when it comes to loyalty and hotel brands. Tnooz writes about another tipping point with Millennials saying a Sabre report shows they may become the largest hotel spenders as soon as 2017.

In other hotel news, Tnooz reports on the rising importance hotels are placing on satisfying their customer’s Wi-Fi needs.

Earlier this week, USA Today ran a special “transportation face-off.” They compared the costs for travelers when it comes to Uber, taxis, rental cars or public transit saying travelers who fail to scout this out could be making a costly mistake. In other money-saving tactics, Travel Pulse writes about how to save money on last-minute business travel.

Finally, your list for this week comes from Luxury Travel Magazine, which gives you the five top places to mix business travel with leisure.  

FAA Reauthorization – What’s Next?

Last week the Senate released its version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill – the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. The bill, introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), would extend the agency’s authority through September of 2017.

This extension is far shorter than the six-year House bill, which was rolled out by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) last month. In addition to the length, the major difference is the Senate version would not seek to privatize air traffic control services as the House Bill did creating a point of controversy.

As in the House, the Senate version avoids a hike in passenger facility charges (PFCs) keeping fees at $4.50 per enplanement and instead authorizes an additional $400 million for the Airport Improvement Program. GBTA has long been a vocal opponent of hiking PFC fees as the business traveler already faces an overbearing burden from taxes and fees and GBTA is very concerned that they are approaching the tipping point that will ultimately push business travelers to stay at home.

There are also several areas in the Senate bill providing consumer protections to be aware of that may impact your travelers as they hit the road. The bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to review airlines’ decisions to delay or cancel flights, especially during weather-related events. It mandates that airlines and ticket agents disclose luggage, flight change, cancellation and seat choice fees in a standardized, easy-to-understand format.

It also requires the DOT to investigate instances in which an air carrier changed a passenger’s itinerary so the passenger was forced to depart more than three hours earlier or later, as well as cases in which a new itinerary includes more stops. Finally, it requires airlines to refund baggage fees if bags are delivered beyond a specified time frame and to refund other ancillary fees.

Also included in the Senate and the House bills is an issue very important to GBTA. Last week, GBTA thanked Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) for legislation to combat human trafficking on commercial air flights. The Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act would require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement.

Last year GBTA partnered with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism, to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel and to educate the travel industry about the warning signs of sex tourism and child exploitation. Unfortunately, our industry is being exploited in helping this horrific practice and GBTA believes the introduction of this language into the FAA bill will play a huge role in the travel industry’s ability to put an end to this.

The FAA Reauthorization bill is being marked up in the Senate today, but it is unclear the likelihood of whether or not it will ultimately pass through Congress. The FAA’s authority currently expires on March 31, but the House passed a short-term 3-month extension on Monday. The Senate will likely follow suit giving Congress until mid-July to agree on a more long-term bill.

GBTA will continue to closely follow events with the FAA as they unfold and keep you up to date on what aspects of it matter most to business travel.

Week in Review

What's new for the business traveler? Charisse Jones at USA Today writes about the latest in packing apps designed to take a load off business travelers, so you'll never have to pack and schlep your bags around for a business trip again. You'll also be covered once you arrive at the airport, according to another USA Today story on a new service that checks you in for your flight automatically. Once you arrive at your destination, Business Traveller tells us robots working in the travel industry will help improve the level of service you receive.

Are you enrolled in a Trusted Traveler Program? Bart Jansen reports that an increasing number of travelers are arriving at U.S. airports leading many more citizens to join trusted traveler programs to get through checkpoint lines faster. When it comes to airport security lines, TSA is warning travelers that the longer lines may be here to stay as the agency tries to do more with less, according to a CBS New York report.

Skift talks new tools and designs this week. Dennis Schaal reports on a new tool from Google with its official launch on mobile of a feature that enables users to conduct side-by-side price comparisons of flights and hotels for various destinations within a country. Marisa Garcia writes about the designers that have mastered the better first-class cabin. Hugo Martin of the LA Times talks about another kind of new design - Boeing has invented a self-cleaning airplane bathroom.

In GBTA news, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger will be a featured speaker at GBTA Convention 2016 in Denver this July. Also, MPI and GBTA recognized the latest CMM recipients from the 2015 Dominican Republic class.

This week I leave you with both an infographic and a list:

Tnooz - Airport Experience and Digital Travel by 2018

Buying Business Travel - 5 Tips When Travelling to Emerging Countries   

Check back every Friday for a round-up of the week's latest business travel news.  

Enhancing the GLP Program

The Global Leadership Professional® (GLP) program has been a hallmark of the GBTA Academy for 15 years. The GLP Program is the only masters-level course for travel professionals and it uses an interdisciplinary approach that addresses both the opportunities and challenges of conducting business in today’s environment. Since its beginning, we have seen more than 280 travel professionals complete the Certificate of Professional Development (CPD), and another 100-plus achieve the industry’s highest designation, the GLP.

GLP logo

This week we are announcing several new enhancements to the GLP program based on feedback from our members. Over the years, we have modified and expanded the program to meet the demands of our industry and the changing needs of our members. We continue to survey our members, and in particular our GLP participants, to ensure we are delivering the highest value possible.

Our goal with these enhancements is to continue to deliver the highest level of professional development, while being sensitive to the ever-increasing demands on your personal and professional time and budget.

The primary change is the replacement of the 5-day GLP course with an additional 2-day session. We have worked closely with the Wharton faculty and administration to incorporate the key content from the 5-day session into four 2-day courses, along with deep dives in specific topic areas.

Beginning this year, requirements to receive the Certificate of Professional Development, issued by The Wharton School and GBTA Academy, will be the completion of four 2-day courses, covering the four competencies of finance, marketing, management and leadership. If you have already completed a 5-day course, however, you may count that as one of the four courses required.

I am also pleased to unveil our 2016 schedule:

Through the survey results, you have asked us to deliver the same value and experience you have come to expect from the GLP program at a more affordable price and in a way that means you spend less time out of the office. This change delivers just that.

Under the new pricing structure, 2015 pricing at $1,000 per 2-day course will be available through May 2. After that date, the price for each 2-day course will be $1,150.

GLP Savings
Additionally, the delivery of the GLP Designation will move to an every other year delivery. This will allow the proper time for members to complete the CPD and then be prepared to begin their GLP Designation. The next GLP Designation cohort is scheduled to begin in 2017.

We are excited about these changes and are confident it will allow us to continue to deliver you the high level of professional development you have come to expect from the GLP program. Our goal is to deliver dynamic training and education to industry professionals and elevate the future of the business travel profession. I look forward to seeing you in a GLP session or two this year!

Week in Review

In business travel news this week, the Chicago Tribune reported that Senator Charles Schumer wants to require the FAA to establish seat-size standards for commercial airlines to keep passengers from being packed in like sardines. Also according to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. has banned all air travelers from using electronic cigarettes on domestic and foreign airlines flying to, from or within the United States. Senator Claire McCaskell is focusing her efforts on hotels and has introduced a bill that would require hotels and online booking sites to disclose during the booking process any fees that are typically charged at the end of a stay, reports Skift.

Tnooz reporting from last week's Business Travel Show in London on companies like Airbnb and Uber fitting into the business travel space. GBTA's Catherine McGavock shared GBTA stats on a panel showing 75% of Millennials had taken an extended stay in the past year and also talked about the opportunity for travel managers and suppliers as the big data phenomenon drives organisations to target individuals at the time they are making decisions.

Tom Newcombe of Buying Business Travel writes about 'bleisure' travel and the issue of duty of care for travel buyers when it comes to travelers extending their business trips for leisure.

In airline news, Airbus has filed a patent to eliminate individual seating options in favor of one large customizable bench that could help solve the issue of obese fliers. One issue - the bench seats can't recline, says Jelisa Castrodale in USA Today. Also in USA Today, Ben Mutzbaugh writes that U.S. carriers appear set for a dogfight over newly opened flight rights to Havana. The TSA Blog addresses Twitter questions to @AskTSA in more than just 140 characters explaining Real ID and what a traveler can do if they lose their ID.

The mosquito-borne virus Zika ha been dominating the news lately and this post highlights the webinar hosted by GBTA's Risk Committee on Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue: The Other Mosquito-Borne Illnesses. While understanding the new virus may seem like a daunting task for businesses, the blog post points out that education is the best foundation and will result in better preparation for companies and their travelers.

Will robots replace humans working in hotels or work with them? Tnooz tackles this question and discusses the untapped possibilities for combining the capabilities of robots and humans to create an unforgettable guest experience in hotels. In more technology news, USA Today reports on in-vehicle wi-fi and other new tech options coming to your rental car.

In case you missed it, Travel Weekly reported on GBTA's announcement that Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be a featured speaker at GBTA Convention 2016!

Finally your list for this week comes from CNN - 7 new start-ups making business trips less stressful.