The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Industry Speakers through Convention History

Through the past few decades of hosting our annual Convention, a range of speakers spanning various industry sectors have graced our stage. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of GBTA Convention, and in order to celebrate, we have been sharing a series of Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts looking back on our history.

Starting with the aviation and airline industry, the NBTA International Convention & Exposition in 2008 featured an airline CEO panel with former Air Canada President and CEO Montie Brewer, former British Airways CEO Willie Walsh, and former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson. Incidentally, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian joined us nearly ten years later at GBTA Convention 2017, along with Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci who discussed his philosophy on handling difficult situations in the public eye.

In 2009, Southwest Airlines President & CEO Gary Kelly joined a panel with Larry Kellner, former Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, which ceased operations in 2012. The two discussed airline fees, capacity cuts, and the state of the aviation industry.

On the ground transportation front, Lyft Chief Business Officer David Baga and Dav El Chauffeured Transportation Network President and CEO Scott Solombrino tackled crucial questions about the future of the industry, including a possible future with driverless cars, during GBTA Convention 2016 in Denver. A year prior, former Zipcar President Kaye Ceille and Enterprise Holdings Chief Strategy Officer Greg Stubblefield took part in a panel on differentiating brands in the sharing economy.

As for hospitality, Airbnb Head of Business Travel David Holyoke, AccorHotels’ Markus Keller and NH Hotels CCO Fernando Vives participated in a 2017 panel on the evolution of the lodging industry and key strategies in driving success. In 2013, Best Western International President and CEO David Kong spoke on a panel about the power of value creation through branding and technology to challenge traditional business travel approaches.

Other notable industry speakers include former Expedia President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Cvent Founder & CEO Reggie Aggarwal, Concur CEO Steve Singh, Expedia Chairman and Senior Executive Barry Diller, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, Carlson Wagonlit Travel CEO Doug Anderson, Google Director of Travel Partnerships Dave Pavelko, Travel Leaders Group Founder Michael Batt, and Amadeus North America CMO Scott Alvis.

Visit the GBTA Blog every Thursday for more throwback posts, and share your favorite Convention memories with us on Twitter by tagging @GlobalBTA.

Innovation Series Competition: Gaest, GermFalcon, Waylo

Three innovators, Gaest, Waylo, and GermFalcon, recently competed in the second webinar of the GBTA and Phocuswright Innovation Series, a multifaceted program designed to bring the business travel industry’s most impactful innovators to GBTA Convention 2018. Nine companies go head-to-head for the ultimate title of the “Best Innovator in Business Travel” in addition to a spot on the Expo Floor. After presenting a six-minute pitch to a panel of judges, the winner’s fate rests in the hands of the audience.

CEO & Co-Founder Anders Mogensen kicked things off by delving into the idea behind Gaest. Described as a sharing economy service in a B2B environment, Gaest is an online community marketplace for listing, discovering and booking meeting spaces for professional needs. The service is currently active in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, Belgium, Australia and Mexico, with plans to expand globally.

Similar to other sharing economy services, hosts provide rentable spaces on the platform, which users may book for various needs whether it be board meetings, workshops or job interviews. Interestingly enough, Anders mentioned how the usage of the platform has gone beyond their initial thoughts. Rooms have been booked for a private tattoo session, live musical performances, yoga classes, and religious services.

Next, President & Co-Founder Elliott Kreitenberg explained how GermFalcon aims to change the pattern of getting sick after a flight. In just three minutes, GermFalcon is able to disinfect commercial airplanes with a proven 99% kill of bacteria and viruses including Ebola and MRSA. The product is no larger than a flight attendant’s food and drink cart, and has retractable wings with germicidal UVC lamps that target seatbelts, seatbacks, armrests, tray tables, overhead bins, window shades, floors and more.

Lastly, Waylo CEO & Founder Angik Sarkar walked through StayScience, a hotel price prediction engine that aims to slash corporate hotel expenses. The company is on a mission to leverage artificial intelligence to simplify corporate hotel bookings and reduce expenses while increasing hotel choices. By predicting what a room will cost in the future, the engine is able to offer a lower upfront rate than alternate platforms like online travel agencies. The price prediction accuracy is at 95%, but for the 5% of cases where the company is wrong, Waylo absorbs the loss.

At the end of the webinar, the audience selected their favorite innovator in a live polling session. Participants chose GermFalcon as the winner, who will move on to exhibit at Innovation Row at GBTA Convention 2018. In addition to exhibiting, the winners of the three webinars will face off in an exclusive Innovation Series finale.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. Don’t miss the remaining webinar in the series:

Podcast: Recruiting and Retaining Talent Without Breaking the Travel Budget

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel, explores the link between travel policy and employee recruitment and retention. Learn about the latest GBTA research on the topic then hear from Dan Ruch, Founder and CEO of Rocketrip, as he shares his take on traveler-centric solutions companies can embrace without hurting their bottom line. Krista Pappas, VP of Business Development for Lola, closes out the show with a discussion on why the travel experience matters and what travel policy has to do with that.


Do you have a good story to tell when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent without breaking the travel budget? Comment below or share your story via email with Colleen Gallgaher at GBTA and you may be featured on a future episode of The Business of Travel.

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!

Throwback Thursday: Snapshots from the 2010s

Eleven weeks remain until GBTA Convention 2018 commences in San Diego. With our 50th anniversary of Convention coming up, we have been posting weekly Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts sharing pieces of history from our annual event. We have also been recapping the evolution of the travel management industry and the general travel industry. This week, we take a look at photo highlights over the past eight years.

2010 – Former GBTA staff member Hank Roeder poses with speaker Condoleezza Rice


2011 – Photos from our annual Convention in Denver  


2013 – Photos from GBTA Convention 2013 in San Diego

GBTA’s Kevin Maguire presents at the Monday general session 

Musician Jewel performs 


2015 – Photos from the GBTA Cares Service Project during GBTA Convention 2015

In 2015, GBTA partnered with Clean the World, a non-profit organization that distributes hygiene products to impoverished people to prevent hygiene-related illnesses. Volunteers came together to assemble hygiene kits that were later distributed to those in need  


Visit the GBTA Blog every Thursday for more throwback posts, and share your favorite Convention memories with us on Twitter by tagging @GlobalBTA!

Podcast: What Does GDPR Even Mean Anyways?

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel, talks all things GDPR. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to go into effect this Friday, May 25, 2018. First up, Ed Barrett, GBTA’s chief marketing officer, talks about what GDPR is, how it impacts organizations and details GBTA’s steps toward GDPR compliance.

Next on the podcast, Hannah Jaffee, GBTA research analyst, shares data from a joint research project with Cvent designed to gauge how professionals in the travel, meetings and events industries are feeling about GDPR and their companies’ readiness.  She also shares insight from the research on what travel professionals are currently doing around GDPR and best practices for compliance in a post-GDPR world.


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!

Looking for more resources on GDPR? GBTA members can download these webinars for free when logged into our GBTA Hub:

GDPR: What Travel Professionals Outside Of The EU Should Know

GDPR: What It Is And What It Means For Your Travel Programme

There is also still time to register for today’s webinar presented by GBTA and Cvent:

Gearing Up for GDPR - Confidence, Concern, and Best Practices for Compliance
Wednesday, May 23 at 2pm ET

GBTA Testifies at House Homeland Security Subcommittee Hearing, Addresses TSA PreCheck Program and the Economic Impact of Travel Ban

Today, I testified on behalf of GBTA at a hearing held by the Homeland Security Committee’s House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security. The purpose of the hearing, Addressing The TSA Checkpoint: The PreCheck Program and Airport Wait Times, was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA PreCheck program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.

It cannot be overstated how important travel is to the U.S. economy... or any economy. As we always say, ‘Business travel drives business growth’. Companies invest in business travel to drive new business, create new jobs and build shareholder value.

As the busy summer travel season ramps up, GBTA is concerned past travel problems in screening as well as past statements and policies on foreign visitation will impact the rest of 2018 and beyond. The nation’s businesses spent $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips including roughly 144 million round trip flights. Because of this mass of travelers, GBTA has made secure and efficient travel a key platform of GBTA’s legislative policy and has been a supporter of TSA PreCheck since its first iteration as Registered Traveler.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Katko (R-NY) asked about cooperation from TSA and areas for improvement and growth. Our interaction with TSA has been terrific, but the reality is some of these areas we must accelerate, particularly the marketing of the programs to corporations.

Rep. Katko also added that PreCheck should not be used to manage traffic at airports, especially under the guise of risk-based security.

Regarding managed inclusion, GBTA believes its continued practice undermines the impetus to enroll and calls into question the entire premise of the program, which is prescreening travelers who through background checks have been identified as “safe” before they arrive at the airport. It’s time to finally put an end to this practice, which confers all the benefits of PreCheck without requiring any of the burdens.

TSA PreCheck cannot be the sole answer to long security lines. Accurate travel numbers, well thought out policies and solid analysis of historical data and forecasts, like the “GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast” are key to TSA’s ability to adequately staff checkpoints.

Ranking Chair Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) asked what message do the President’s policies and rhetoric send international visitors.

We are at a time of conflicting and sometimes seemingly contradictory views on how the business travel marketplace is trending – and what the future holds. On one hand, as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back, some would argue that business travel is healthy. But other underlying factors have a decidedly more negative impact on the future of business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.

GBTA projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent due to global uncertainty driven by current administration policies.

We have an obligation as a country to address the issues and to give companies that are driving the economy the support they need.

Watch the full hearing.

Podcast: #LadderUp – Live from the GBTA Ladders Summit

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel hits the road and records on location in Miami at the GBTA Ladders Summit. The Summit brings together members of the Ladders program – GBTA’s unique spin on a mentorship program – designed to bolster the future leaders of our industry.



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!

Innovation Series Competition: Tripgrid, Lumo, Stay22

Tripgrid, lumo and Stay22 recently went head-to-head in the first part of the GBTA and Phocuswright Innovation Series, a multifaceted program designed to highlight the business travel industry’s most impactful innovators. During the three-part series that culminates at GBTA Convention 2018, nine innovators will compete for a spot on the Expo floor as well as the ultimate title of the “Best Innovator in Business Travel”. After presenting a six-minute pitch to a panel of judges, the winner’s fate rests in the hands of the audience.

When it comes to organizing travel, Tripgrid Co-Founder and CEO Jake Hoskins believes in building a better system to combat the challenges organizations currently face. He explained how many companies rely on a manual data entry process that can result in constant mistakes due to human error. Additionally, a lack of standardization prevents travel managers from having instant access to all their travel.  

Jake described Tripgrid as a productivity workspace designed for internal employees who coordinate business travel. The platform features a unified global feed that provides transparency into the travel schedules and reservation data of an entire organization. Users are able to automate the process of importing reservations, as well as assign unique permissions to enable select individuals to gain access to their team’s travel itineraries. Similar to a spreadsheet, Tripgrid features completely customizable modals and a template-based interface that enables users to input the data most valuable to them.

Next, Lumo Co-Founder Bala Chandran walked through how his company alleviates a common problem that business travelers encounter: flight delays. Over the past decade, the flight delay experience has largely remained unchanged, mostly because travelers lack visibility into delays until the last minute after they have already arrived at the airport.  

Lumo aims to change that. By predicting flight delays in advance of airport arrival, travelers can proactively manage them. The program sends an alert to passengers ahead of their flight, notifying them of a potential high delay risk. Travelers are then able to choose and book an alternate reservation based on a scale that ranks flights from a low to high delay risk.

Last up, Stay22 CEO and Co-Founder Andrew Lockhead explained how his company aims to change the business travel space. In recent years, behaviors have shifted and travelers now crave a “do-it-yourself” experience where they can book their own flights and accommodations. This presents a problem for travel managers who want to do everything in their control to keep travelers from booking out of policy.

Stay22 aims to improve the traveler experience while reducing costs and introducing a balance between budget and giving travelers a choice. By partnering with alternative accommodation providers, the platform offers business travelers access to over 5 million rooms around the world.  

At the end of the webinar, participants had the chance to select their favorite innovator in a live polling session. The audience selected Lumo as the winner, who will move on to exhibit at Innovation Row at GBTA Convention 2018. In addition to exhibiting, the winners of the three webinars will face off in an exclusive Innovation Series finale.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. Don’t miss the remaining two webinars in the series:

Week in Review

On Tuesday, passengers aboard a Delta flight were required to evacuate the plane due to smoke filling the cabin, USA TODAY reports. According to a Delta spokeswoman, the smoke was created because hydraulic fluid dripped onto a power unit.

In response to requests from a few members of Congress, the U.S. DOT is set to audit the FAA’s investigations of Allegiant Air and American Airlines, Skift notes.

The TSA typically screens anywhere from 2.2 to 2.3 million passengers per day, but is anticipating larger crowds this summer reaching upwards of 2.7 million passengers on peak days, USA TODAY writes. In order to reduce the hand searching of bags, the agency has begun asking travelers to remove certain objects, including snacks.

According to Tnooz, Trivago acquired TripHappy to further boost the hotel search experience. The startup uses artificial intelligence to present “relevant location and neighbourhood information” while consumers are searching for hotels.

A new survey reveals fraudulent hotel bookings hit $5.2 billion in 2017, Hotelmarketing’com notes. Conducted on behalf of The American Hotel & Lodging Association, the survey also finds that nearly one-quarter of consumers report being misled by travel resellers on the phone or online.

Air France was hit by a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday of this week, The Voyage Report writes. As a result, the airline posted a notice that more than one out of every seven planned flights (15 percent) would be cancelled.

It’s no surprise that hotel companies have a range of brands – Marriott has 30, Wyndham has 20, Hilton has 14, AccorHotels has 24. The question Skift poses this week is can hotel companies have too many brands?

What are the most impactful trends facing today’s business travel industry? This week’s The Business of Travel podcast looks at the biggest trends and features clips from the final sessions of our recent conference in Toronto. Tune in here.

According to USA TODAY, airlines had their second-most profitable year ever in 2017, raking in nearly $15.5 billion.

The airline seat of the future will clean itself! Bloomberg reports an aircraft seating company is developing a seat infused with a disinfectant that can destroy nearly ever germ on contact within seconds.

A new report suggests that NYC renters paid an extra $616 million thanks to Airbnb, Hotelmarketing’com notes.

Throwing it Back to the Early 2000s

The 50th anniversary of GBTA Convention is just a few months away now. As we continue our look back on the history of the Association over the years, this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday takes a look at the early 2000s.

The beginning of the new century brought 4,700 attendees to NBTA’s 32nd Annual Convention in Los Angeles. Darker days were soon ahead for the travel industry and the United States as a whole. September 11, 2001, was a tragic day that forever changed the United States, global business relations, and corporate travel. Corporate travel managers worked day and night to get travelers home after the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights. In an NBTA survey of corporate travel managers, 25 percent of respondents reported that more than 200 travelers from their companies were left stranded.

Although flyers faced cancellations, delays and previously unheard-of airport security checks, once air transportation was reauthorized, a majority of corporations did not suspend travel. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to an NBTA member survey indicated that they had no plans to suspend domestic travel, and 58 percent were planning to only reduce travel for the time being.

NBTA quickly acted on behalf of its members, calling for immediate government aid to the U.S. aviation industry. NBTA also called for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FAA, and the Security Task Force to quickly increase air transport security, considering the implementation of new security measures the first and most crucial step toward restoring confidence in the aviation system.

Airport security disruptions, budget cutbacks, military action in Iraq and changes in airline rules and services all proved challenging for corporate travel managers in the wake of the September 11 attacks and throughout the early to mid-2000s. Consequently, corporate travel policies were repeatedly rewritten.  According to a March 2003 NBTA survey, more than 70 percent of corporate travel managers reported their budgets were flat or had been reduced. “The freedom of selection has been curbed for a lot of business travelers,” said Kevin Iwamoto, NBTA President and CEO (2001-2003). “The profile of the business traveler has forever changed.”  

The increasingly global marketplace began to play a significant role in the evolution of corporate travel in the 21st century. More than ever, business travelers were now visiting destinations around the world to represent their companies. To help members adapt to the international shift in corporate travel, NBTA expanded its global offerings to include association affiliates in Canada, Mexico and Asia Pacific and educational and networking events in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Mexico and the UK.

USA Today Article - NBTA Interview 2004

As business travel finally returned to pre-9-11 levels in 2006, passenger security remained a concern for travelers, and NBTA continued to serve its members by voicing support for programs that provide strong security and facilitate business travel. NBTA also lauded the February 2007 implementation of the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP), aimed at providing travelers with a single, easy-to-use point of access for travelers seeking to rectify misidentification issues and instances in which they are incorrectly delayed or denied boarding scrutiny at U.S. airports. NBTA offered suggestions to improve the system in October 2007.

NBTA also served as a business travel industry advisor and advocate as the U.S. government took steps to improve programs that process and screen international air travelers. These programs include the implementation and expansion of the Model Ports programs, which seeks to make the process of entering the United States more streamlined and welcoming, and expansion of the visa waiver program to include eight more nations, which enabled travelers from those countries to travel to the United States for business without obtaining a formal visa.

The 2000s also saw some incredible speakers at the annual Conventions including President George Herbert Walker Bush, President Bill Clinton, Al Gore, James Carville and Mary Matlin, CNN anchors and entertainers like Cindy Lauper.

Throughout the decade, NBTA also established its political action committee (PAC) to support pro-business travel legislators on both sides of the aisle, formed an alliance with Meeting Professionals International to encourage cooperation and networking in the meetings and corporate travel industry and celebrated its 35th annual Convention in Dallas.

Stay tuned every Thursday for more throwback posts. Interested in submitting your own memory for a chance to be featured at #GBTA2018 in San Diego? Here’s how. You can also share your Convention memories with us on Twitter using #TBT and tagging @GlobalBTA. Visit the GBTA Blog every Thursday for more throwback posts!