The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

GBTA, VDR Launch Registration for European Conference in 2017

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry, and its German partner association VDR, the German Business Travel Association, announced that registration is open for GBTA Conference 2017 Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR.

The conference will take place 28-30 November 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany at The Forum at Messe Frankfurt. This year’s theme, Convergence, addresses the industry-wide disruption caused by the merging of various functions, roles and policies. From the changing role of the travel manager to the emergence of new and transformation of existing players in the market, these disrupters have paved the way for the evolution of business travel.

We are thrilled to be working with VDR yet again to put together a phenomenal program for our conference attendees. Business travel professionals who attend will certainly benefit from our world-class speakers, tailored education sessions and countless networking opportunities.

“Our joint partnership enables us to create the largest business travel event of its kind in Europe,” said Dirk Gerdom, President of VDR. “We are proud to host this event and bring attendees an exceptional program for the fourth year in a row.”

Attendee registration is now open and available online. Register by 20 June 2017 for up to 755 in savings. For the latest developments, please visit

Media registration is complimentary for qualified media. GBTA will also be hosting a Media Cocktail Party giving reporters the opportunity to hear breaking news directly from key industry suppliers. Please contact Nikki Stimson at for more information on media registration.

Week in Review

Buying Business Travel reports Manchester flights would “operate as normal” following a terror attack at the MEN arena on Monday night.

According to Business Traveller, Virgin Australia and Air Canada’s codeshare agreement has officially begun, and travelers may now buy tickets for codeshare flights on select routes operated by both carriers.

Buying Business Travel reports passengers travelling out of Gatwick on Friday were forced to fly without luggage due to a fault with the airport’s baggage system.

According to the TSA, PreCheck has expanded to include seven additional domestic and international airlines.

Digital Journal reports UK-based Car Rental Choice has launched its online services in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

4Hoteliers notes TripAdvisor has unveiled a new iOS app to help travelers compare hotel prices.

According to Skift, Best Western has acquired Sweden Hotels, a collection of 59 hotels across Sweden.

Skift reports that a laptop ban is unlikely on flights leaving U.S. airports. A spokesperson says the DHS is not actively considering expanding a ban to domestic flights or flights leaving the U.S. to other countries.

According to USA TODAY, the FAA is ordering airlines to remove unsafe seats from small, regional airplanes due to the risk of neck injuries in survivable crashes.

Bloomberg reports Peach will become the first Japanese airline to accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

According to Buying Business Travel, consumer watchdog Which? revealed UK’s most delayed airlines by analyzing data from over 850,000 inbound flights across 35 airlines at UK airports.

Tnooz reports Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) plans to acquire eWings, an online business travel management platform focused on the German market.

According to TravelWeekly, a US homeland security hearing on Tuesday examined Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) efforts to establish a biometric exit system. GBTA welcomes the Traveller Verification System, as it would improve airport security and better facilitate travel.

Business Traveller notes car-rental company Enterprise will be heading to Vietnam.

GBTA Executive Director & COO Mike McCormick joined BNN to talk about the impact that Trump’s travel and electronic bans will have on global travel, business travel and the U.S. economy.  

This week's list comes from TravelPulse: Air Travel 101: How to Get Through a Long Flight

Breaking Through to Connect with Corporate Travel Buyers

Generating appointments with in-demand travel buyers can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Since 80 percent of GBTA Convention buyer attendees are decision makers in managerial, directorial, executive or C-level positions, CMO Ed Barrett recently led a webinar entitled Breaking through to Connect with Corporate Travel Buyers – Keys to Success.

Travel buyers partake in a range of activities when attending the largest gathering of business travel professionals in the world. Aside from professional education and development opportunities and networking with industry peers, 64 percent of travel buyers come to Convention to meet new suppliers.

So, how do you stand out in a sea of competition? Here are just a few ways you can break through to connect with corporate travel buyers:

  • Connect your solution to travel buyers’ key issues. Whether it be ensuring traveler duty of care or improving policy compliance, determine the issues that matter most to the buyer and construct messaging that conveys how your solution can help solve their challenges.
  • Offer value to non-customer travel buyers through free tools, reports, or evaluations that would better enable them to overcome complications in their program.
  • Seek to serve first and sell second. Be a resource and connect your travel buyer to other suppliers who can help them achieve their program objectives. You will be viewed as a genuinely helpful individual and a valuable resource.
  • Educate, don’t sell. Make your products easy to adopt, not easy to sell. Understand the buyer’s pain points and how your product can alleviate them. Buyers are more receptive to being helped and educated than being given a salesy, run-of-the-mill pitch.
  • Stay continually connected with the people you’ve interacted with over the course of your career. Continue to stay connected with those in your circle by simply checking in and seeing how things are going year-round, even when you are not needed. Since people frequently transition into different positions, someone who is your customer now can be your boss later, or vice versa. By proving yourself to be helpful year-round, people will think of you when an opportunity arises.
  • Ask for introductions. If you are on good terms with someone who knows a specific travel buyer you are trying to reach, ask for help. People are usually willing to accommodate you if you simply ask for assistance.

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

The United States is projected to lose $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures in 2017, including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent. According to GBTA, $250 million will be lost in spending from inbound business travelers from Europe and the Middle East.

The Verge claims Trump’s laptop ban on European flights is reportedly off the table.

According to Skift, four out of five travelers considering U.S. travel say a laptop ban won’t change their plans.

According to Bloomberg, IATA warns a wider laptop ban would cost passengers $1 billion

Buying Business Travel reports Air Asia plans to launch a low-cost airline in China.

USA Today reports Delta will begin testing facial-recognition technology at its new self-service bag drop stations.

According to TravelDailyNews International, Greyhound has announced a partnership with Google Maps that will enable customers to plan trips more efficiently and connect to Greyhound schedules and other transit options.

Buying Business Travel notes London City has unveiled plans for a digital control tower, making it the first UK airport to do so.

TravelDailyNews International reports China’s biggest mobile payment service WeChat has launched in Toronto.

According to TravelMole, Flight Centre has acquired a 25 percent stake in business travel and technology agency 3mundi.

BBC reports Canada’s Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has introduced legislation that will set a national standard for how passengers are treated by airlines.

According to Buying Business Travel, transport services in Greece were hit by a series of strikes across the country.

According to Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Travel Leaders Group has acquired Corporate Travel Services, Mexico’s largest independent travel management company.

Business Traveller reports Qantas expands digital boarding passes beyond its domestic routes. According to CNN, United Airlines says its cockpit door access information was made public.

United States Projected to Lose $1.3 Billion in Travel-Related Expenditures in 2017

First, there was Brexit. Next came the Trump Administration’s first travel ban, which cost the United States $185 million in business travel bookings in one week. It was followed by a second travel ban, which like the first, was halted by court orders. After that, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) barred passengers traveling from 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern and African countries from bringing laptops and other large electronics into the cabin as carry-ons. Hours later, the United Kingdom followed suit issuing their own electronics ban on inbound flights from six countries, impacting six UK airlines and eight foreign airlines. Now an expanded electronics bans on flights into the United States from Europe appears imminent.

Using first quarter ticketing data from the Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), publicly available travel data and GBTA’s economic research and models, GBTA developed an ‘uncertainty forecast’ for 2017 showing the impact this mounting geopolitical uncertainty is having on the economy. There is no question that uncertainty is bad for business travel and bad for the global economy.

GBTA projects a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent. That includes $250 million lost in spending from inbound business travelers from Europe and the Middle East. The even greater concern is that the longer-term impact on business travel will become even larger as companies begin to host meetings and events in other destinations. In an earlier survey of GBTA’s European members, 45 percent indicated their company will be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the United States due to executive orders on travel.

U.S. GDP will take a nearly $300 million hit. More than 4,200 jobs could be lost along with $175 million in wages and $70 million in tax collections. Europe is forecast to lose over $250 million in air fare spending and the Middle East will lose over $80 million in air fare. This devastating economic impact could take years to recover from.

It is not unprecedented for the negative perception around government policy to result in real economic losses. Before the controversial HB2 ‘bathroom bill’ in North Carolina was repealed, an AP analysis projected the law would cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years. A survey from the tourism group Visit Indy revealed Indiana’s religious objections law may have cost the state as much as $60 million in hotel profits, tax revenue and other economic benefits.

As we await the verdict on a possible expansion of the electronics ban, we have yet another uncertainty factor. While it is certainly different from the travel ban executive orders, and there is no doubt that the electronics ban is based on a clear security threat, it is the cumulative impact of anti-travel policies that leave the perception to many that the United States is closed for business. It goes without saying that GBTA strongly supports all efforts keep our skies safe, but we encourage TSA to pursue alternative options to effectively reduce the risk of terrorism.

As companies across the world have ramped up their risk management programs in recent years, business travelers are taught to keep their devices on hand and in sight at all times for security purposes as they may contain sensitive company data. Now business travelers will need to be equipped with new information and ways to keep their company data safe.

If it is in the best interest of security, business travelers are willing to comply with these types of measures, however, most business travelers would much rather accept a far more rigorous screening at the airport than part with their devices. Nearly half of business travelers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying. Not allowing them to bring their devices on the plane reduces productivity and that comes with a cost to the tune of nearly $900 million if expanded beyond Middle East countries to Europe.

Business travel drives lasting business growth and is a leading indicator for jobs and the economy at large. Continuing to enact policies that discourage business travel will cause a rippling effect across the travel industry and the overall economy. We urge the Trump Administration to consider the important lasting impact of business travel and enact policies going forward that preserve both our national security AND our economy for the future.


GBTA used its proprietary economic model to determine the travel forecast for international inbound travel from Europe and the Middle East given typical business travel determining factors including GDP, oil prices and other economic variables. Comparing that forecast to ARC’s 2017 Q1 ticketing data yielded an “uncertainty-driven” difference or loss. GBTA also used publicly available ticket pricing data from industry sources, the Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Organization SIAT survey and GBTA proprietary economic impact data to develop the loss estimates.

Week in Review

According to Buying Business Travel, the U.S. will likely impose a laptop ban on flights from the UK and Europe.

Bloomberg reports European airlines are bracing for the expansion of the electronics ban.

Newsweek states U.S. airlines and Homeland Security officials met to discuss the possibility of the laptop ban expansion.

According to Skift, Southwest Airlines is poised for a big move to Amadeus’ reservations system for domestic passengers.

Bloomberg reports that U.S. hotels plan are planning a lobbying push over the Priceline-Expedia monopoly.

TravelDailyNews International shares findings from a report that claims European airports experienced strong passenger growth during Q1.

Business Traveller notes LAX prepares for its largest ever airline relocation. A third of the carriers operating at the airport will move operations during a five-day period from May 12 to May 16.

The same source reports Perth Airport is set to get a new integrated passenger hub to allow for smoother connections.

According to Buying Business Travel, Expedia has bought a majority stake in London-based rail technology firm Silverrail.

According to Skift, Emirates says laptop and travel bans are hurting its bottom line. The company claims profits fell by more than 80 percent last year due to a slump in demand linked to political turmoil and tougher travel restrictions to the U.S.

Hotel News Resource notes IATA began rolling out a worldwide safety audit program that will enable airlines to review their safety processes using a worldwide standard.

TravelDailyNews International reports ALTOUR has signed a deal with HRS to offer corporate travel clients increased global access to hotel inventory and discounted rates.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, Bing has revamped the user interface of its hotel search results with a new carousel.

Los Angeles Times reports hundreds of passengers were left stranded in Florida after Spirit Airlines canceled nine flights due to pilots’ failure to show up.

According to Buying Business Travel, Stansted Airport experienced an IT failure on Tuesday, forcing passengers to miss their flights.

4Hoteliers notes Amadeus announces plans to boost its presence in Indonesia.

Innovation Series Competition: 30K, Groups360, Distribusion

Nine innovators recently competed for a spot on the Expo Floor at GBTA Convention 2017 during the multi-faceted Innovation Series. The interactive program enabled innovators to present their pitch to a panel of judges and participants who, at the end of the webinar, selected a winner to move on and exhibit on the all-new Innovation Row. During the last webinar of the series on May 9, 30K, Groups360 and Distribusion went head-to-head.

The Innovation Series and Innovation Row are sponsored by Travel Leaders Group, as they share GBTA and Phocuswright’s desire to highlight innovation and startup technologies shaping the business travel space.

CEO and Co-Founder Alex Jawad jumped right into things by explaining how 30K personalizes the flight search experience. Traditionally, flights are compared based on commonalities like price, number of stops, and duration, but 30K aims to change that. He explained how users can connect their frequent flier profile with online booking tools for personalized search results that incorporate redeemed miles and loyalty benefits. Users are then able to compare flights not only based on price and duration, but also redeemable miles and benefits like airport lounge access or priority check-in. Alex says that by listing the underlying value of each flight, you can ensure that the traveler is truly getting the best deal.

Next up, Groups360 CEO Kemp Gallineau walked through a step-by-step process of GroupSync, a tool that aggregates supplier data to provide meeting planners with an objective and transparent view during the sourcing process. With GroupSync, planners can search for meeting space by entering physical attributes like rooms needed, preferred destinations, and minimum meeting space required. The tool then immediately filters out hotels and destinations that don’t meet the criteria, thus cutting out lead time and any associated workload. It also gives market scorecards based on how well a property fits a planner’s needs. Meeting planners can quickly compare properties to one another and directly send RFPs within the platform.

Lastly, Head of Marketing Pierre Becher described how B2B aggregator Distribusion connects intercity bus operators to travel sellers. Although buses are one of the main modes of transportation in many countries, Pierre says major platforms still refrain from selling intercity bus products due to a fragmented market. Distribusion identified this hole in the market and set out to connect bus operators with various travel sellers, including GDS, tour operators, and online travel agencies. Intercity bus operators can then increase sales by distributing their products to thousands of sellers, and sellers can rejoice in offering customers additional ground transportation options.

At the end of the webinar, participants had the chance to select their favorite innovator in a live polling session. The audience selected 30K as the winner, who will move on to exhibit at Innovation Row at Convention. In addition to exhibiting, the winners of each webinar (Airmule, Waygo, and 30K) will face off in an exclusive education session at Convention.

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.

What’s In Store for Visa Reciprocity between the United States and Europe?

Recently, GBTA reported that the European Parliament called upon the European Commission to reintroduce a visa requirement for Americans traveling to Europe unless political issues over visa reciprocity between the regions are resolved. In its response to the European Parliament published last week, the European Commission argued that suspending visa reciprocity with the United States would be counterproductive to the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens, given the significant progress and positive momentum already achieved through a diplomatic approach.

The European Commission reported that the United States reconfirmed its commitment to admit the five EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania) into the Visa Waiver Program provided each country can meet the necessary U.S. statutory requirements. GBTA welcomes this progress and looks forward to June 2017, when these five EU Member States, which are not yet part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and the United States are expected to endorse a way forward on the issue.

In parallel, last Wednesday in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee held a hearing regarding the Visa Waiver Program to examine Visa Security and paths of entry into the United States. This comes in the wake of recent comments from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly, during a speech at George Washington University, who stated that the DHS needs to take a “hard look” at the Visa Waiver Program. The Secretary is concerned that as ISIS continues to diminish, many of the fighters are returning to their countries of origin, most of which are European countries in the Visa Waiver Program. The Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing for ways to strengthen VWP to mitigate the risk that former ISIS members would exploit the VWP and travel to the United States to carry out attacks.

This approach was echoed by Michael Dougherty, Acting Assistant Secretary of Border, Immigration, and Trade Policy Office of Policy for DHS, during the hearing, who said that the Department’s intention is to start discussions on identifying additional ways of making visa free travel to the United States more secure than it is now.

"The VWP is great for American businesses and it can actually help strengthen national security in some cases by improving information sharing between the United States and our allies,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) who chairs the Homeland Security Committee Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry to the United States. “At the same time, we have to work very hard to ensure this program does not help violent extremists enter our country."

GBTA supports the Department’s goal to continue and strengthen visa free travel to and from the United States. Our hope is that their vision continues to be to enhance security through the expansion of the VWP. We look forward to working with the House Homeland Security Committee and DHS as they review enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program. This vital international program encourages cooperation in the fight against potential attacks by allowing intelligence and information sharing of potential terror threats among the participating countries. It spurs job creation and economic growth, while remaining the gold standard of security and efficiency in balancing the need to protect travelers while facilitating global business travel.

In parallel, GBTA continues to urge government officials on both sides of the Atlantic to work together and come to a resolution that does not put a halt to visa-free travel that currently exists. At a time when transatlantic cooperation and stepping up our common efforts in the fight against terrorism is more important than ever, the reintroduction of visa requirements could seriously damage the relationship between these two strategic partners.

Message from the Office of the GBTA President

*This post was also sent as an email to GBTA Members.*

Dear GBTA Member, I recently had the honor of attending the GBTA Foundation Gala and celebrating the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary. The gala highlighted the groundbreaking research the Foundation has conducted on behalf of the industry. That research has made the Foundation a global thought leader in the business travel industry. Its insights and assessments have been invaluable to GBTA’s members, business travel professionals around the world and the industry as a whole. I can’t imagine where we would be without the Foundation’s work.

The Foundation’s research provides the basis for much of the cutting-edge educational programming that GBTA offers. We draw upon the Foundation’s work to develop and deliver high-quality training to power the careers of business travel professionals at every level.

I want to highlight some of GBTA’s upcoming and ongoing educational opportunities.

Global Leadership Program (GLP) The Gala Dinner was held in conjunction with the delivery of the new GLP course through the University of Virginia’s Darden School Foundation. The first delivery, Strategic Data-Driven Business Leadership, was a two-day Executive Education program that focused on quantitative information, analytics and design thinking to promote superior strategic insights, enduring customer relationships, the development of iconic brands and the delivery of peak performance.

The second GLP course, Critical Thinking, Intuition and Innovation, will be held on July 15-16 in conjunction with GBTA Convention. The third GLP course, Enterprise Leadership, will be held September 10-12 in Minneapolis and the final course, Finance for Non-Financial Executives, will be held November 12-14 in Chicago. For more information, or to register, please click here.

The GLP Designation Program Kick-off  will be held on July 15-16 at Convention.

Online Education
We have already delivered over 20 webinars and it’s only May! View the calendar of upcoming webinars and visit the GBTA Hub to view archived webinars.

Education at Convention
In addition to more than 80 education sessions offered at Convention, you will have the opportunity to take the Fundamentals of Business Travel Management and Advanced Principles of Business Travel Management courses.

GBTA will also be launching a new program highlighting our GBTA Tools and Resources, with demonstrations of our various RFPs, reports and benchmark and assessment tools.

Global Education
GBTA continues to offer on-going education in all regions of the world. It amazes me that we are so prolific in our offerings and opportunities. We offer everything a business travel professional needs and wants. Consider the great work being done in India. We have already conducted 3 sessions of our Business Travel Workshop Series in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Gurgaon. We will be offering two other sessions in India in the coming weeks in response to the great demand we are seeing in the country.

We have recently announced two new conferences there as well—the first in New Delhi on August 18 and the second in Mumbai on October 6th.

I encourage each of you to take advantage of the many, many educational opportunities provided by GBTA. You will benefit greatly from your time and effort.      

Week in Review

On Tuesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on U.S. airline customer service featuring representatives from United, Alaska, Southwest, American and the Consumers Union.

According to Skift, members of Congress urged executives to improve their customer service and questioned airlines’ overbooking practices.

GBTA released a statement on the hearing, sharing results from a poll in which 64 percent of travel buyer members felt the “Passenger Bill of Rights” does not adequately protect the business traveler.

According to The Hill, a Senate subcommittee held a similar hearing on airline customer service on Thursday. Senators raised questions about ancillary fees, overbooking procedures, and legroom on planes.

Buying Business Travel reports Lufthansa has introduced direct sales links with two TMCs, cutting out the €16 GDS booking charge.

According to 4Hoteliers, Sabre is investigating a breach in their reservations system that serves over 32,000 hotels and other properties.

Business Traveller notes automated TSA screening lanes are coming to New York’s JFK. Head of security at Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airports says the automated lanes improve passenger-screening efficiency by nearly 30 percent.

According to Skift, the European Union has decided not to suspend visa-free travel arrangements with the United States and Canada.

Business Traveller reports mishandled bag rates reached a record low last year. A new report estimates an average of 5.73 bags per thousand passengers were mishandled in 2016, compared to 6.53 in 2015.

According to Business Traveller, Qatar Airways now offers free stopovers in Doha. The promotion enables transit passengers to enjoy a free one-night stay in the city.

USA TODAY reports American Airlines plans to take away more legroom from economy passengers. The airline plans to reduce legroom by up to two inches in the economy cabin of its new jets arriving this year.

According to 4Hoteliers, the Australian government will develop a second airport for Sydney after a decades-long debate.

USA TODAY states Southwest will end its practice of overbooking. CEO Gary Kelly announced the company’s decision to cease overbooking on Thursday morning.

Business Insider reports that Airbnb added a search filter allowing business travelers to look for “Business Travel Ready” listings.