The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Visionary CEOs Take Center Stage to Discuss Future of Travel

GBTA kicked off the second day of Convention with CBS’ Travel Editor Peter Greenberg interviewing Doug Parker, CEO, American Airlines Group and American Airlines.

Parker discussed American Airlines’ outstanding second quarter earnings - the best second quarter earnings in the airline's history. "We couldn't be happier with the results," he said. "Through the merger we built a route network that is the best in the world and customers are enjoying our product."


He also talked about the inherent challenges with integrating two airlines saying, “Our goal is to integrate first and then innovate. It is a slow process but worth the time in order to do it right.” Parker echoed the opinion of other airline CEOs who have spoken over the past two days when he called for a national aviation policy.

Following Parker, Steve Singh, CEO of Concur spoke to attendees about his views on the future of travel, the concept of the perfect trip and the importance of working together as an industry.   


When talking about how to create the perfect trip, Singh said it will take the industry coming together as a community working together on an open platform that relies on the ingenuity of others. With or without us it's going to happen, because the world won't wait for us, he said.

“Innovation of singular companies can be inspiring but it is nothing compared to innovation of communities,” Singh added.

Attendees then headed off to hear Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter who was the afternoon’s featured speaker.

Top 10 Quotes From Biz Stone at GBTA Convention

On Tuesday, Biz Stone co-founder and co-inventor of Twitter spoke for the nearly 7,000 GBTA attendees about the lessons he has learned, the importance of change, creativity and spectacular failure. He was so entertaining and insightful I decided to share this blog post through his words. Here are the top 10 quotes from Biz Stone's Convention appearance yesterday. 


"In order to succeed spectacularly you have to be willing to fail spectacularly."

"Creativity is a renewable resource."

"If something isn’t fun then people won’t use it and it won’t become important."


"It takes 10 years and a lot of hard word to become an overnight success."

"My philosophy has always been people first, technology second."

"The first year everyone said Twitter was useless. So is ice cream.  Should we ban ice cream and all joy?!  So it was fun, we were having fun."

[When talking about Twitter] "It’s not a triumph of technology. It is a triumph of humanity."


"Twitter is the Seinfeld of the internet. It’s a website about nothing. I thought great--Seinfeld’s awesome!"

"Opportunity can be manufactured; you don’t have to wait-- you can just make it. People always think you have to wait for an opportunity to happen. You can be the architect of your own circumstances."

"There is a compound impact to helping people. The earlier you get started the better the impact you’ll have over time. In helping others you do truly help yourself."

Hot Topics Today at Center Stage: Risk-Based Security & Future of Travel

Day three of GBTA Convention featured TSA Administrator John Pistole in a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and Google’s Director of Travel Partnerships, David Pavelko sharing his vision of the future of travel.

Administrator Pistole talked about TSA’s transition from a one-size-fits-all agency to a risk-based, intelligence agency allowing greater efficiency and said how proud he was of his workforce for adapting and embracing these changes. He talked about finding balance and reducing risk.


Administrator Pistole said his toughest challenge comes when they implement new security measures and have to decide how to communicate the reason for doing these things, but not how they are doing things. He highlighted the efficiencies TSA has achieved through risk-based programs like TSA PreCheck.

David Pavelko, Google’s Director of Travel Partnerships, then took the stage to talk about the future of travel. He showcased IPITA (Intregrated Proacitve Intermodal Travel Assistant) - a virtual travel assistant that aims to optimize travel planning, booking and navigation, using real-time maps and geo-specific information revolutionizing the way we consume travel. This technology will be realistic within the next 10 years, he said.

Pavelko told attendees that today 82 percent of research is done online for travel products, one-third of digital travel sales will be mobile by 2017 and 81 percent of internet traffic will be video by 2018.

Customization is key and wearable technology available today and in development will help keep you connected to the web and connected to your experience at the same time he added.

“We are all really lucky to be in this industry,” Pavelko said. “Travel is a core human behavior.”

Convention closed out on an entertaining note with comedian Jason Alexander sending attendees off with a laugh.

Kevin Spacey Entertains & Inspires GBTA Convention Attendees

Featured speakers at previous GBTA Conventions have included the likes of President Bill Clinton, President George Bush, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Former Secretary of State Condoleezaa Rice and on and on. Kevin Spacey opened his session by poking fun at the fact that GBTA has run out of politicians to speak at Convention.

“I’m not a real politician, I just play one on television,” he joked. Kevin added  that he was intrigued to speak at GBTA as he initially thought it must stand for, “God Bless The Actor!”

Kevin continued entertaining the packed room with celebrity impersonations, shared stories about his unconventional path to success and discussed the importance of taking risks. Kevin spoke eloquently about the value of perseverance and urged attendees to follow their dreams and take risks despite what others may say. SpaceyImpersonations 

Kevin talked about the risk he took to release House of Cards on Netflix turning the traditional TV show model on its head. He said he figured if you give people what they want, when they want it and in the format they want it – chances are they won’t steal it.

“My refusal to take no for an answer led me on a remarkable journey,” Spacey said about his successful career. SpaceySelfie 

He concluded telling the travel industry professionals in the room, “you are the unsung heroes of a billion different journeys,” and thanked them for their leadership and care they take to get us all to our next exciting and sometimes unexpected destinations.  

CSI Creator and Executive Producer Talks to GBTA First Timers

On Sunday, nearly 500 first-time attendees made it to the First-Time Attendee Orientation and Luncheon to meet others in the same position as themselves looking to navigate their first GBTA Convention.

After GBTA executives and Board members recounted their first Convention experiences and gave their advice for making the most out of Convention, attendees were treated to featured speaker Anthony Zuiker. Along with being an inspiring and entertaining speaker, Anthony is also the creator and executive producer for the extremely successful “CSI” franchise.


Anthony said that every day he goes to work he remembers to dare to dream and embraces the idea that you really can change the world with a brilliant idea. He talked about the importance of relationships, collaboration, being good to people and surrounding yourself with good people. The most important element for success is to truly love what you do, he said.


Many of the first-timers on-site were eagerly making connections and looking forward to the week to come. A few shared their thoughts on what they hoped to get out of Convention:

Arnaud Lessard of the Holiday Inn Express Cambridge said he was looking forward to the relationship building and the opportunity to spread the word about the brand alongside many of his Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) colleagues.

Marisa Maughan of The Declan Suites San Diego is excited for the chance to showcase her hotel through photos and descriptions for so many people who would not otherwise have the chance to do a face-to-face onsite at the hotel in San Diego.

Shaylah Phelps of Destination Hotels & Resorts said she was really excited to network, meet new people and just to learn.


First-timers left the session invigorated and ready to take on their first GBTA Convention!

GBTA Kicks Off 2014 Convention

GBTA kicked off its Welcome Session with GBTA President & CEO Donna Kelliher ringing the official opening bell this morning before Bill Glenn, president and CEO, American Express Global Business Travel took the stage.


GBTA Executive Director and COO, Michael W. McCormick interviewed Glenn about American Express’ newly announced American Express Global Business Travel joint venture. The joint venture is with an investor group lead by Certares, resulting in the single largest investment in a travel management company to date with a $900 million capital infusion.


Glenn told the crowd he is excited about this opportunity. His focus will be to capitalize on the great customer service that American Express is known for and is at the heart of what they do. He told the crowd that this new company will allow them to be creative, innovative, nimble and fast to market. McCormick asked how the money will be spent to which Glenn responded that it will be spent on technology and expanding their global reach through partnerships.

Following Bill Glenn, Jeff Smisek, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of United Airlines, took the stage to be interviewed by McCormick. This is the second appearance Smisek has made at the GBTA Convention. His first interview was at the GBTA Convention in Denver 2011. Today, Smisek told the crowd that safety and security is the base of their business.


When talking about being a leading airline versus being the largest airline he noted that what is important is having a very attractive network with reliable service and a competitive product.

McCormick asked about the increasing competition from Middle East Airlines. Smisek said that Middle East carriers have an advantage with no unions, no labor costs and a government that is in favor of aviation unlike the U.S. government, which treats the U.S. carriers as an ATM machine with numerous taxes and fees.

As the morning session wrapped up attendees headed off to education sessions and eagerly awaited the afternoon lunch session with Kevin Spacey.

CEOs and Industry Leaders Talk Travel at Center Stage

The afternoon began with CBS’ Travel Editor Peter Greenberg interviewing Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines. Anderson discussed transparency in airfares, safety and security in light of recent events and Delta’s loyalty program.


When discussing the business operations at Delta, he told attendees, “We want to be in a position to offer a high quality product for every traveler at every price point.” Greenberg asked him if he could change one thing about Delta, what would that be. Anderson responded that he would want all of Delta’s innovations, modifications and investments that take time to be put in place to be done right now. He sounds like a consumer!

The Executive Leadership Panel: A View Across the Distribution Landscape was moderated by Michelle “Mick” Lee, founder and CEO, WINiT—WomenInTravel; managing director, global head of general services and travel, Citi. She was joined on stage by Donna Kelliher, GBTA president and CEO, travel and corporate services, Dominion; Pam Codispoti, executive vice president and GM, American Express; Cindy Allen, vice president, TMC Services, Concur; Leslie Hunziker, senior vice president, investor relations, Hertz Global Holdings; and, Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president, Best Western.


The prominent industry executive leaders shared their views on the challenges and opportunities facing the travel distribution landscape today. The panel discussed the need to rethink business as usual, the benefits of being agile and the need to take calculated risks.



Attendees then headed off to a lunch session to hear two-time Academy Award Winner, Kevin Spacey.

GBTA Cares: Clean the World

GBTA Convention 2014 is officially underway in Los Angeles! Starting on Saturday with Convention Kick-Start, attendees had the chance to choose from an array of offerings including educational opportunities, workshops, networking events and more.

As part of the Kick-Start events, more than 40 volunteers joined together for the annual GBTA Cares Service Project. This year GBTA partnered with Clean The World, a national non-profit organization working to distribute donated hygiene products to impoverished people to prevent hygiene-related illnesses.


Volunteers helped pack each kit with bar soap, bottled shampoo and conditioner, bottled lotion, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a disposable razor, a wash cloth and an inspirational note card. When all was said and done, the volunteers assembled 2,112 kits that will go to those in need including domestic homeless shelters.


Volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to kick-start their Convention experience with a tangible, hands-on charitable opportunity.


Are you already in Los Angeles?  How do you plan to kick-start your Convention experience?

GBTA Convention First Timers Luncheon to Feature CSI Creator and Executive Producer Anthony Zuiker

The First-Time Attendee Orientation & Luncheon is always a highlight of Convention for new attendees. This year it will take place on Sunday, July 27 from 11:30-1:30. Not only will attendees get briefed on how to navigate their first Convention experience, they will also learn the ins and outs of the benefits of GBTA membership.

GBTA Board members will provide an overview of the world class resources being a GBTA member offers including networking, education, advocacy, industry research and career advancement, and will also share how GBTA has helped grow their career.

In addition, first-time attendees will be treated to a talented and innovative featured speaker, Anthony Zuiker. Anthony is best known as the creator of TV’s hugely successful “CSI” franchise, but don’t cue The Who soundtrack just quite yet: He’s also one of the most creative and multifaceted storytellers today, working with both Hollywood and global brands.


After more than 13 seasons on network television, the original “CSI” is still one of the most watched TV shows in the world, and with an overall deal at ABC Studios, Zuiker is pushing the envelope on both scripted and reality television.

Zuiker’s first foray into the reality genre, “Whodunnit?” just finished its first season on ABC, and centered on amateur sleuths working together to solve high-concept crimes, conceived by Zuiker, for a chance to win $250,000. In true Zuiker form, the show also featured an integrated storytelling experience across multiple platforms.  In partnership with Hyperion, Zuiker launched a line of “Whodunnit?” companion novels, and following the conclusion of the first season, Zuiker continued to engage the show’s fan base on Twitter through a nine “episode”, interactive mystery series called #Twitdunnit.

Zuiker’s production company Dare to Pass also recently sold the drama project The Bounty to ABC.  The script centers around one victim’s quest for justice and healing after her only family is murdered.  After a national frenzy erupts, she inspires America to create the largest bounty in history for the killer’s capture.

A pioneer in bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Zuiker worked with Internet security giant Symantec to entertain and educate global audiences on the threat of cybercrime through one of the biggest online brand storytelling experiences to date, “Cybergeddon.” The groundbreaking digital blockbuster launched globally on Yahoo! in September of 2012 in 25 countries and 10 languages. The project caught the attention of the International Digital Emmy Awards, and in April of 2013, Zuiker was recognized as the recipient of the 2013 Pioneer Prize at MIPTV in Cannes.

Who says learning cannot also be fun and interesting? First timers are sure to enjoy and learn from Zuiker’s engaging presentation.