The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


GBTA Unveils Global Leaders Directory 2014

I’m excited to announce that today GBTA unveiled an important new networking resource for the industry – The Global Leaders Directory 2014. The Directory is the very first of its kind for the business travel industry!

This new resource will enable you to connect with key leaders in our industry: directors, corporate officers and members of various committees, task forces, and advisory boards around the world. The Directory contains contact information for hundreds of travel professionals as well as LinkedIn profiles for you to access.

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When we started compiling the “Who’s Who” list of our global volunteer leadership network, it struck us just how global GBTA has become and just how many people are helping to drive our vision. The leaders included in this directory promote the sharing of ideas and information needed to support the on-going growth of our organization, as well as the continued expansion of the global business travel industry.

On behalf of all of our members, I want to thank all those that have worked tirelessly in taking this project from a really good idea to a really great resource. Volunteers are the life blood of this organization. Without their contributions, GBTA and the business travel industry would not be where we are today. So, as well as acting as an effective resource for our members to maximize their global network, this directory also acts as a celebration of our volunteer community.

We hope this resource proves a valuable tool that serves as an additional connection to an extended and vibrant global network of travel professionals. Members can find it on the GBTA Hub and nonmembers may access it at gbta.org.


Traveling Home

Here is our third blog post in our series from the finalists from the GBTA Ladders Program.

Every few weeks, I find myself boarding an airplane.  Like so many of you, I’m sure, it’s a ritual of sorts.  You’ve done it so many times…arriving at the airport, parking your car, navigating the shortest TSA lines, making your way to the gate and onto the plane…that I doubt you give it much thought.  Those flights are usually early in the morning or late at night and those business trips are something most of can’t live without.

I think a lot about trips.  I run sales and marketing for a product called TripCase.  In fact, we refer to our product as the place where trips live.  The trip we take when we board an airplane and soar across the country or world is habit-forming and somewhat addictive.   As frequent business travelers, we love to travel, to plan our next trip and navigate the airline frequent flyer programs.  It’s the reason so many of us have been in the travel business for so many years.  Just imagine being tethered to a desk…escaping only for an annual family vacation? Aghhh!  I was asked to write this blog about anything I’d like.  The timing was ironic.  I had just returned from a Sabre airline conference in Vancouver and it was my first time visiting that beautiful city.  The conference was a good one, but upon returning to Texas where I live, I found out my grandmother had passed away.  She was a wonderful woman who lived a very long life.  Her passing was expected, as her health had deteriorated over the last several years. 

As a result, I found myself this week planning a trip for which there was no airplane, no meetings, no excursions, no colleagues, and no agenda other than to celebrate the life of someone my family dearly loved.  I was traveling home, to a place that I grew up.  I was slowing down for two days and taking a trip for which there was no airplane and no routine.

As a business traveler, I feel like I’m always in a rush.  I’m hurrying to the gate, to the meeting, to get home, to beat traffic and to see my children before they go to bed.  Often when I board a plane, I don’t so much as glance at the people around me.  I don’t know whether they are going home, going away or coming back to a place they called home or haven’t seen in years.  This self-imposed sense of urgency is what makes business travel stressful, at least for me.  It’s why I suspect people blow up at the flight attendants or anyone else that stands in front of them and the destination for which they are headed. 

All the data I’ve seen indicates that the very definition of a business trip is changing.  The lines are blurring.  No business trip is strictly business and vacations are often interrupted with work.  So this past trip, full of family and people I hadn’t seen in years, was an opportunity to reflect on the way I travel for business.  I’m going to slow down a bit on my next business trip and I’d encourage you to do the same.  Arrive at the airport early, don’t sweat the traffic, see something you’ve never seen, try a restaurant that you’ve been recommended, and speak to the people around you.  Remember that trips are business…but travel is personal.  In short, love not only the trips you take, but the journey you’ve been given.

Will Pinnell is the Director of Mobile at Sabre.


Navigating the Wonderful World of Corporate Travel: The Advice I Wish I Had Received Eight Years Ago

As promised, here is the second blog post in our series from the finalists from the GBTA Ladders Program.  Great Advice!  Thank you, Damar!

I’m sure you figured out from the title that I have been part of the corporate travel industry for almost eight years now.  I had the privilege of spending the first seven with GDSX and the last year with Concur by way of acquisition.  Over time I’ve had the opportunity to consider lessons learned and would like to share that guidance with you.

Go to Our “Super Bowl”

This is really not an exaggeration — the annual GBTA convention is the pivotal event for the corporate travel industry every year.  Every major and minor player is in attendance, and you can guarantee that some of the richest information is shared over the convention’s four-day run.  Whether through press releases, education sessions, in-depth exhibition floor discussions, or late-night chats in hotel bars, you can gain a wealth of knowledge.  Add to that your ability to network and rekindle past friendships, and the convention is well worth the cost.  The downside: It’s a massive event.  Plan your time carefully.  Figure out whom to see and make an appointment.  Strategically choose the parties you will attend and be sure to thank the hosts.  But most of all — have fun!  (Caution: If you are working a booth on the exhibition floor you may need to limit your “fun” a bit more than those who are not.  Discussing the benefits of your product offering may not be as impactful if you are exhausted and functioning on too little sleep.)

Who You Know Is as Important as What You Know

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “This is an incestuous industry. . . .”

However, it is true.  I have seen that once you go through the experience of learning the intricacies of corporate travel — as an agent, automation expert, ops manager, etc. — you have a valuable skill set.  Most people are smart enough to stick around and offer their assets to another company that could benefit from them rather than start over in a new industry.

Knowing that, you have to be darn sure you manage your reputation. Don’t burn any bridges!  We are so interconnected that it is standard procedure for someone to call up their old friend — and your previous coworker — and ask what type of employee you were.  The former competitor that you were locked in a bitter rivalry with may someday be your colleague!  (Shout out to my new friends from TRX.)

Network at every opportunity and make sure you add your new contacts to LinkedIn — it will help you connect the dots to others you need to know.  Always, always, always know who you are talking to; it is no fun to find out the lady you just offended by your off-color joke is the one who will make the buying decision on your software.

Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow

Learn as much as you can as fast as you can.  Go to your local Business Travel Association chapter meetings. Keep up with industry news, attend webinars, and check into industry certifications such as the CMM or GLP. Take the opportunity to pick the brain of the person  down the hall who’s been around the block a couple times. .  But don’t stop with what the present state of the industry is; figure out how to shape its future.  Even if you don’t agree with them, follow the blogs or posts of those people who like to stir the pot: Craig Fichtelberg, Scott Gillespie, and Miriam Moscovici, to name a few.  They will get you thinking in new and different directions.

Pay attention to the startups in the industry.  It is fascinating to know that industry veteran Steve Reynolds and a relative newcomer like Evan Konwiser both have made significant contributions to our industry over the past few years.  Realize that niche opportunities exist and are waiting for savvy businesspeople to seize them.

Take every chance to recruit people from outside the corporate travel ecosystem.  Fresh blood means fresh ideas; our industry will benefit from the diversified experiences.  Our success and ability to adapt is directly proportional to the diversity of our people.

Be True to Yourself

I want to leave you with one last bit of advice.  Find your purpose and never compromise your core values.  At the end of the day that will determine your peace and happiness, and our whole industry will be better for it.

Good luck!

Damar Christopher is a Director of Client Services for Concur | TMC Services


GBTA's Legislative Symposium: Why Advocacy Matters

Earlier this week, GBTA applauded a House decision to reject new fees on business travelers and fully fund the Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (“NextGen”). We are pleased with the continued investments in the FAA and NextGen, which will help ease congestion in the skies, reduce delays and continue to keep the U.S. economy moving.

Taxes and fees are important issues for GBTA as business travelers already carry a heavy burden of fees and taxation. In fact, GBTA research shows fees levied on travel-related services last year increased the total tax bill for business travelers by 58 percent. Supporting the Administration’s request to increase Passenger Facility Charges to $8 for every passenger on top of last year’s doubled TSA fee, could have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

In addition to fighting taxes and fees, GBTA’s 2014 legislative priorities include improving airport screening, fixing the nation’s travel infrastructure and keeping the U.S. open for business. GBTA advocates policies that benefit the business travel industry. Along with GBTA members across the country, we educate members of Congress, their staff and agency officials about issues important to the business travel industry.

A big part of how we do that is through the Legislative Symposium. Next month, some of your colleagues will be exercising their fundamental right for representation. A group of motivated business travel industry subject matter experts will attend the GBTA’s 14th annual Legislative Symposium on June 24 and 25. While in Washington D.C., they will meet with their elected officials and discuss issues that are important to the industry. They will be the voice of the industry!

Past successes have included the adoption and expansion of trusted traveler programs like Global Entry and PreCheck, stopping the tide on taxes on travelers and advancing the upgrading of the nation’s air traffic control system.

Here is the funny thing, these subject matter experts, the ones making the difference – they are you – our members! You know more about business travel than anyone in the nation’s Capitol. Your attendance and participation at this year’s Legislative Symposium can be the difference in Congress helping or hurting the industry.


Concur CEO Coming to GBTA Convention's Center Stage

I was very pleased when Steve Singh, Concur CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, accepted our invitation to be a featured speaker at this year’s 2014 GBTA Convention. As the chairman of the GBTA Foundation, Steve is no newcomer to GBTA events.

Thoughtful and innovative, Steve embodies entrepreneurial thinking and his vision about the future of travel distribution will provide invaluable insight for attendees in all facets of the business travel industry.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve earlier this year at GBTA’s The Masters Program 2014. Check out the video below with highlights from the event where Steve shared with us details about what Concur is, how cloud computing will revolutionize business travel and the future of taking a mobile-only approach.