The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

According to Buying Business Travel, the Supreme Court partially reinstated Trump’s travel ban on Monday. Citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who do not have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity” in the U.S. are barred from entering the country. A 120-day ban has also been placed on refugees who do not have ties to the U.S.

BBC reports that the travel ban is officially in effect, and the Trump administration has set guidelines for the “bona fide relationship” condition. Those with business or educational ties to the U.S. are exempt from the ban. Additionally, citizens of the affected countries who have a spouse, parent, child, fiancé or sibling in the U.S. will potentially be let in. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, in-laws, grandchildren and extended family do not qualify.

The Associated Press reports that DHS demands more security on international flights to the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kelly rolled out a new set of security measures on Wednesday that could lead to the lifting of the current electronics ban and prevent its expansion to flights from Europe.

According to Bloomberg, airlines and airports may struggle to meet deadlines for implementing the new security requirements.

Buying Business Travel notes that American Express GBT acquired London-based events agency Banks Sadler.

Business Traveller claims that Nepal will receive a second international airport. The project is estimated to cost $203 million USD and take four years to complete.

According to Travolution, Barcelona’s council has threatened to eject Airbnb after accusing one of the company’s executives of illegally listing a unit on the site.

Skift reports that Google is expanding its Waze carpooling service throughout California.

According to TravelDailyNews International, new research suggests efforts to improve employee well-being may also increase travel policy compliance.

According to USA TODAY, a House panel has asked the FAA to set minimum legroom requirements on airlines.

Business Traveller notes that Dubai Airport has announced plans to introduce biometric screening and automated border control gates.

Fortune reports that Amtrak has named former Delta CEO Richard Anderson as its new president and CEO.

According to Skift, Booking.com is expanding beyond hotels and into flights, cars and restaurants.

4hoteliers shares findings from a bleisure study that outlines the key factors that travelers consider when choosing bleisure lodging.

According to The Independent, thousands of British Airways passengers had flights cancelled due to an unprecedented 16-day strike by cabin crew.


Week in Review

According to Business Insider, Qatar Airways wants to buy a 10 percent stake in American Airlines. On Thursday, the airline received an unsolicited notice from Qatar of its intentions to invest.

CNBC notes that American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said Qatar Airways’ proposal makes no sense.

Buying Business Travel reports a coalition of travel groups have called on the European Commission to act against consolidation and distribution changes.

According to Buying Business Travel, American Airlines has abandoned plans for a 29-inch seat pitch, opting for a 30-inch seat pitch instead.

Registered exhibitors for GBTA Convention 2017 have the chance to win VIP seats to Convention Arena Luncheon featuring speaker Michael Phelps.

According to The New York Times, Uber Founder Travis Kalanick has resigned as CEO.

Skift reports that mobile travel bookings will reach 40 percent of online sales in 2017.

Business Traveller reports InterContinental Hotels Group has revealed plans to launch a new midscale hotel brand.

Tnooz notes hospitality management software provider Cloudbeds has raised $9 million to accelerate hospitality tech platforms.

According to Hospitality Technology, hotels are largely unprepared when it comes to payment security.

Buying Business Travel notes Marriott has changed its cancellation policy from 24-hours to 48-hours.

According to USA TODAY , Qatar Airways was chosen as the world’s best airline in 2017 by Skytrax’s annual World Airline Awards.

Bloomberg reports that Etihad Airways now lets passengers bid online on empty adjacent seats for “neighbor-free” flights.

Skift claims that Malaysia Air is mulling new aircraft orders to refresh their brand.

According to TravelDailyNews International, Vienna, Seoul and Barcelona top the charts when it comes to the number of meetings held in 2016.

TravelDailyNews International notes that GBTA commends Chairman Shuster for progress on FAA authorization and ATC reform. The Chairman has introduced legislation that would reauthorize the FAA and move air traffic control operations into an independent, not-for-profit organization.

Skift reports that Beijing’s new $12.9 billion airport will be a battleground for global airlines. The airport will be able to host 45 million passengers annually when it first opens in 2019 and has the capacity to handle 72 million a year.


3 Key Factors in Bleisure Travel Hotel Choice

*For a better understanding of what a bleisure traveler is, take a look at our first post in this series, “Sit Back, Relax, and Stay Awhile: A Quick Guide to Bleisure Travelers”.

After someone has decided to extend their work trip into a bleisure trip, they have one more question to answer: will they stay at the same place for both the business and leisure portions of their trip, or choose a new hotel?

The GBTA Foundation’s recent study in partnership with Hilton, “Extending Business Travel into Leisure Time”, breaks down the components that go into a traveler’s bleisure lodging plans.

Do travelers consider the same factors in choosing bleisure lodging as they do in business-only trips? Let’s take a closer look at the decision-making process these travelers go through:

Decision Factor #1-Price
It is no surprise that the price of the accommodations affect whether or not travelers change locations. 48 percent of people who stay at the same hotel for both business and leisure cite price as one of the reasons why. This may result with savings for the company, if travelers utilize an affordable hotel for both bookings.

Price even has the potential to strongly impact the initial decision to extend a trip to begin with. According to the study, 93 percent of bleisure travelers are likely to extend their trip if they will receive a discounted weekend rate at the hotel and 88 percent say a discount will sway their decision to pick one hotel over another.

Decision Factor #2-Loyalty/Rewards Program
Another key factor is the potential to earn or use points from a hotel loyalty program they are a member of. Ultimately, this can influence travelers either way depending on whether or not the hotel booked for the trip participates in their loyalty program. One-third of those surveyed cited this as a reason to stay at a hotel, while one-fourth indicated that loyalty programs are a reason why they switched to a different hotel.

This opens up a great opportunity for companies to market their preferred hotels to their employees, as most chains offer loyalty programs and may simply not be promoting them. Encouraging employees to sign up for these programs on the front-end may increase the likelihood that they book a stay with the company’s preferred properties.

Decision Factor #3-Amenities

Some travelers may also want to change (or hold on to) their room type, food options, or other amenities such as a pool or great view. The most popular benefits that influence travelers’ decisions are rooms, at 72 percent, and food options, at 71 percent.

So how can companies make the most of this process? An overwhelming majority of business travelers (82 percent) stay at the same place for both the business and leisure travel portions of their stay. Travel programs can take steps to motivate  employees to stay at company-preferred hotels during bleisure travel by informing their employees of their preferred chains, encouraging them to enroll in loyalty programs for those preferred chains and, if possible, helping them receive an extended corporate rate.

At the end of the day, it is important for companies to weigh the costs and benefits of allowing or encouraging employees to book bleisure trips with specific vendors or through specific channels and decide what works best for their travel program.

Stay tuned to the GBTA Blog for more from GBTA Foundation’s Bleisure study in partnership with Hilton.


The Importance of Technology in the SME Market

Having the right resources makes all the difference. And in the business world, resources can set apart competitors, strengthen a struggling organization and allow employees to do their jobs more efficiently.

For SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) these resources are extremely important, as their travel managers typically have other roles and responsibilities they are attempting to balance as well. Having access to tools that provide quick updates on information are key in allowing these travel managers to focus on duty of care and fulfill their roles.

At the GBTA Canada Conference in April, GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick spoke with Kathy Bedell, senior vice president of BCD Travel, about the SME market. Bedell discussed how developing technology will give travel managers the ability to better serve their employees saying, “the access that we have now to real-time data allows them to make changes to their programs immediately.” She added that it will increase compliance and ease the travel process.

View the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Canada Conference 2017.


Near, Far, Wherever You Are- Learn How to Stay Safe Around the World with GBTA’s Risk Radar Webinar

Business travel gives employees the opportunity to visit new and exciting countries, but the changing world climate makes it important to stay updated on shifting risk levels. While it’s impossible to predict every dangerous situation abroad, there are proactive measures that can be taken to send your team out with their best foot forward.

GBTA’s Risk Committee recently hosted a Risk Radar webinar that offered a “continent-by-continent” breakdown of information to aid in navigating business travel to potentially dangerous areas. Hosted by Senior VP of BCD Travel, Kathy Bedell, this presentation included valuable information for planning any sort of global business trip.

The webinar featured an overview of some of the world’s most intriguing travel destinations, including places like Russia and Turkey. The panel gave insight into the risk level of each location and included tips on how to best navigate the environment. Matthew Bradley of International SOS emphasized the fact that it’s important to give attention to areas such as the Northern Triangle, as the level of petty and violent crime is considerably higher there.  

Next, focus was placed on preparing to send employees overseas. Specific attention must be given to groups who may be at a higher risk level abroad, including the LGBTQ community, women and certain racial groups. Preparing employees for their travels ahead of time is an important practice, as it sets the stage for a successful trip abroad.

So, what are some practical strategies for improving travel risk education?

  • Implement a Travel Risk Mitigation Plan. Being proactive is vital in preventing a small issue from quickly escalating when abroad. Utilize resources such as GBTA’s Travel Risk Management Maturity Model (TRM3) tool to aid you in constructing your own.
  • Know what groups hold extra risk in certain locations. Be aware of individuals who may be at a higher risk when traveling. Be strategic about where you send your employees and equip them with necessary resources.
  • Be aware of changing political climates. Stay up-to-date on global news and research the destination before you send a team there.
  • Know what countries will be bordering you. “You don’t lie in bed next to someone with the flu without catching a cold”, and this principle certainly demonstrates how vital it is to be aware of geopolitical tumult in the areas surrounding your destination.
  • Stay up-to-date on travel rules and regulations. Always pay attention to policy shifts, such as the recent laptop and travel bans.

Matthew Westley, the Director of Risk Consulting at Drum Cussac, concluded the presentation by encouraging executives to build confidence amongst their employees in regards to their travel locations. He said the most important practice is to “encourage people to take reasonable, practical measures” to increase their safety, without creating a culture of fear. Empowering employees to be educated and aware of their surroundings is key to a successful and safe trip.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:


Week in Review

According to The Washington Post, President Trump announced revisions to parts of Obama’s Cuba policy on Friday. The new policy prohibits commercial dealings with Cuba’s military and somewhat limits U.S. citizens from freely traveling to the island.

Buying Business Travel notes Heathrow baggage issues that affected passengers on Thursday morning have been resolved. Some passengers departed on flights without their luggage due to the baggage system failure.

According to Buying Business Travel, British Airways’ IT failure from last month will cost the airline £80 million.

Business Traveler states Hong Kong International Airport is set to receive nearly $900 million in upgrades ahead of the opening of its third runway in 2024.

Buying Business Travel claims the Las Vegas Convention Centre received approval for a $1.4 billion renovation that will add 600,000 square feet of new meeting space to the building.

According to CNNMoney, airline passenger complaints skyrocketed in April. The U.S. Department of Transportation fielded 1,909 complaints against U.S. airlines in April, up 69 percent from March.

TravelDailyNews International reports air traffic management modernization efforts in Europe have been taken to the next level.

Bloomberg claims the U.S. is seeking ways to head off a full laptop ban on airline flights.

According to 4Hoteliers, Hilton opened its 100th hotel in Greater China.

The GBTA Foundation released a new study in partnership with Best Western Hotels & Resorts that explores the Hotel RFP process through the eyes of a travel manager.

The Economist reports younger business travelers are more likely to extend trips for fun, and companies should encourage them in doing so.

According to Buying Business Travel, Jaguar Land Rover gave $25 million and a fleet of vehicles to Lyft. The funding will support Lyft in developing and testing driverless cars.

Skift notes Scandinavian airline SAS is creating an Irish subsidiary to fly shorter routes and compete on costs with low-budget airlines.

According to Skift, Amadeus' hospitality division is making bigger hotel deals as it chases a breakthrough.

4Hoteliers shares why hotels are getting on board with sustainable development.

According to Business Traveller, the impression that the United States is closed for business could have a big financial impact.

The Independent reports AirHelp has unveiled its ranking of the most punctual airlines with the best service in the world.

According to Buying Business Travel, Manchester Airport reported record passenger growth in May, witnessing 11.9 percent in growth compared to the previous month.

Tnooz claims Expedia is enabling hotels to highlight landmarks and local experiences as part of their online listing.


Contest: Win an Exclusive GBTA Convention 2017 Prize

Exhibitors, now's your chance to win two (2) VIP seats to Convention Arena Luncheon on Wednesday, July 19 featuring speaker Michael Phelps, one of the most decorated athletes in the history of swimming!

How to Enter:

  1. Register to exhibit at GBTA Convention 2017 by Friday, June 30.
  2. Follow @GlobalBTA on Twitter.
  3. Retweet when prompted. Prompts will be sent via @GlobalBTA over the next two weeks and contain messaging along the lines of "Retweet for a chance to win."
  4. One lucky winner will be randomly selected to win!

See the official rules here.


First Responder to Boston Marathon Bombings, Dr. Natalie Stavas, to Keynote First-Timer Luncheon at GBTA Convention 2017

Although she may be a doctor, Natalie Stavas began her morning on April 15, 2013 by putting on a pair of running shoes, not a white coat. And yet, that day would end up being one of the biggest medical challenges of her life, as she neared the end of her fifth Boston Marathon and ran towards the sound of explosions.

This year, first-time GBTA Convention attendees will have the privilege of hearing from Dr. Stavas, a first-responder to the Boston Marathon Bombings. A physician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Stavas has dedicated her career to preventing childhood violence & improving the health of urban communities.

In response to the question of what compelled her to head into the commotion that morning she replied, “You run towards that which you fear, that which challenges you, that which is oppositional.” Running towards chaos actually makes chaos more manageable.

The First-Time Attendee Orientation & Luncheon will also give guests the opportunity to talk with industry veterans who can guide them through the ins & outs of navigating the conference and share helpful pointers. Additionally, GBTA Board Members will speak on the unique benefits of membership, including the outstanding network of professionals, world-class resources, and career advancement opportunities.

First-timers are sure to enjoy the insights from Dr. Stavas and our board members. This year’s luncheon will be on Sunday, July 16 from 11:30 am-1 pm in Room 216. See you there!


Improving the Hotel RFP Process

The GBTA Foundation released a new study in partnership with Best Western Hotels & Resorts today that explored the Hotel RFP process from the eyes of a travel manager. A large majority (81 percent) of the travel managers interviewed are very involved with the Hotel RFP process, while 56 percent say they rely somewhat or a lot on a TMC to conduct the RFP process.

Each year, most travel programs work closely with their hotel suppliers to negotiate rates and amenities, so they can find the best partners in this space. Typically, 12 percent of the properties are dropped and 13 percent are newly signed as preferred providers. Three-quarters of companies issue the same RFP around the globe, while 21 percent have customized RFPs for different regions. Overall the process lasts an average of 3.2 months.

In general, most travel managers are satisfied with the RFP process (66 percent), and those who rely somewhat on a TMC for this task have notably higher levels of satisfaction (75 percent). The 33 percent of overall travel managers dissatisfied with the RFP process note several factors driving their dissatisfaction including how long it takes, no tangible benefits from going through the process every year and lack of resources to dedicate to the process.

Companies with larger travel spending also have higher levels of satisfaction with the RFP process possibly because they are able to solve some of the complaints mentioned and have greater resources. More organizations with higher travel spend of $30 million or more (67 percent) claim to rely on a TMC somewhat or a lot compared to those with travel spend of less than $30 million (50 percent).

In 2012, the GBTA Foundation and the GBTA Hotel Committee worked to develop a Hotel RFP template to try to standardize the process. Two-thirds (66 percent) of those surveyed are aware of the template, while two in five (40 percent) say their companies currently use it. Organizations with travel spend of $30 million or more are more likely than those with lower travel spend to not only know about the GBTA Hotel RFP (80 percent vs 60 percent) but also more likely to use it (59 percent and 26 percent respectively).

When looking at specific modules like the Groups/Meetings module and the Corporate Social Responsibility module, a majority of survey respondents indicated they use those modules for informational purposes only, rather than as part of the decision making process.

The top three reasons travel managers use the GBTA Hotel RFP template are the ability to add user-defined questions, the fact there is no cost associated with its use and the ability to choose which modules to use. Most travel managers use the Blackout/Fair Dates (85 percent) and the Safety and Security (82 percent) modules.

“The results of this study confirm the value that TMCs bring to the RFP process, as this is one of their core areas of expertise. By relying on a TMC to assist with the RFP process, travel managers are able to focus on other areas of responsibility, and ultimately deliver more value to their travelers and suppliers alike,” said Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Best Western Hotels & Resorts. “This study is valuable as it truly allows us to better understand the Hotel RFP process from the perspective of travel managers, which will ultimately help brands such as Best Western implement changes to improve the process.”

How can travel managers and suppliers make the Hotel RFP process a more efficient one? Use TMCs for time-consuming activities related to the RFP process while staying involved in the decision-making process. Understand there is not a one-size fits all approach and while yearly reviews may work for some programs, others may be successful with every-other-year reviews.

Travel programs should analyze their decision making process to understand the key elements relevant to them, organize them in tiered levels of importance and identify the top elements as essential to making decisions. The bottom-tier elements may not necessarily need to be collected every year. With this method, travel managers can save time and resources and suppliers will know which data is truly needed to develop strong partnerships with travel programs.  

More Information: The report, Hotel RFPs – The Decision Making Process, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.

Methodology: This GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 161 travel managers who are Direct members of GBTA in the United States and Canada. It was conducted in February of 2017.


Sit Back, Relax, and Stay Awhile: A Quick Guide to Bleisure Travelers

Conferences in Singapore. Meetings by the Eiffel Tower. Conventions at Disney World. When work trips take place in interesting locations, business travelers may want to utilize their vacation days and extend their stay.

Last year, nearly one-third (37 percent) of North American business travelers extended a work trip for leisure. These individuals, called “bleisure travelers” incorporate a mini-vacation into their stay to capitalize on the fact that they are already packed and away from home. Additionally many companies are investing more heavily in employee well-being, so as a result we may see more business travelers that have the flexibility to take bleisure trips.

So what characteristics make up these “bleisure travelers”? And is there a certain demographic that is more likely to habitually extend their trips? The GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Hilton, recently released a new study, “Extending Business Travel into Leisure Time – Bleisure Study” that explores the persona of a bleisure traveler.

Business travelers are a diverse group, so it’s no surprise that bleisure travelers are as well. They work for a variety of companies, in different types of positions, and are spread across the continent. On average they:

Interestingly, Millennials are the age group most likely to take bleisure trips. As of yet, it is not clear whether this is because of their transitory life events or simply their preferences. It is also important to note that travelers with children are equally as likely to extend their trip as travelers that don’t, so the Millennials’ life stage is not the sole reason for their frequency of travel.

Findings show that travelers’ primary motivation for extending a trip is location, location, location. 43 percent said their reason for staying is that their trip was in a place they liked to spend their time, while 38 percent said it was a new destination that they wanted to see. Other reasons included having a desire to take time away from home and work, wanting to visit friends and family, and the fact that it’s a less expensive way to take a vacation.

One thing is clear, however. Once you start taking bleisure trips, it’s hard to stop! When business travelers were asked how probable it was for them to take a bleisure trip in the future, 46 percent of those who had already taken one in the past year indicated that there was a high possibility they would take one again. On the other hand, 56 percent of travelers who haven’t taken a bleisure trip in the past year gave low ratings on their probability to take one in the future.

Bleisure travelers get the best of both worlds and are able to fully enjoy the locations they are sent to, rather than only seeing the inside of a conference room. Who says business travel has to be all work and no play?