The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Blurred Lines Between Business and Leisure Travel

GBTA Convention featured considerable talk about the blurred lines between business and leisure travel.

Consumers have come to expect an amazing experience when it comes to booking reservations for vacation travel. Now, they want this same experience when it comes to booking business travel. That was the conclusion of a panel Tuesday morning.

Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President, Best Western Marketing and Sales, led the  panel, and she was joined by Douglas Anderson, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Scott V. Alvis, Chief Marketing Officer of Amadeus North America; and David Pavelko, Director of Travel Partnerships for Google.

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The three panelists agreed that the industry is undergoing a technological revolution. Business travelers are looking for a booking experience similar to the consumer experience. Mobile is king. And having great content and integration with other software is an absolute must.

Travel providers are responding by developing user-friendly mobile applications that are more tailored and provide users with the right information at the right time.

Douglas Anderson noted that 50 percent of all venture capital funding invested in travel over the last 10 years was invested in 2014 alone adding that if you think change is the norm now, hold on to your hats – technology will continue to to transform the travel distribution landscape.  


A Travel Policy Void

New research from the GBTA Foundation sheds light on the impact that ride-sharing companies are having on the business travel industry. While one in four companies do not allow their travelers to use ride-sharing companies, many have no policy in place, creating risks for companies and travelers alike.

A panel Tuesday at GBTA Convention in Orlando addressed what companies can do to close the gap as well as how to ensure a level playing field in the marketplace.

The panel was moderated by GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick, who was joined by John Rose, Chief Operating Officer of iJET International; Scott Solombrino, President and CEO Dav El / Boston Coach Chauffeured Transportation Network; and David Seelinger, Chairman and CEO EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services.

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Panelists said that amazing new technologies have come to market, but travel buyers need to take steps to ensure that they have sound policies in place to ensure Duty of Care.

John shared his perspective that taxis represent the greatest exposure to risk, whether it’s through an accident, bad experience or risk of credit card fraud.

Scott and David raised questions about the safety and security of ride-sharing companies, and called for robust background checks with fingerprints, as well as providing for fair treatment of employees.

They also called for a “level playing field” to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace, and urged travel buyers to put in place policies that protect their employees and their companies.

All in all, the ground transportation industry is one of dynamic change. Over the next few years, technology will continue to change the marketplace, and the hope is that it will be in ways that protect consumers and provide higher levels of service.


Tuesday's Theme of Convention: Technology's Impact on Travel

By GBTA Events

Tuesday morning, Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President, Best Western Marketing and Sales, led a fascinating panel on the Future of the Travel Distribution Landscape at GBTA Convention 2015. She was joined by Douglas Anderson, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Scott V. Alvis, Chief Marketing Officer of Amadeus North America; and David Pavelko, Director of Travel Partnerships for Google. DistroPanel

The three panelists agreed that the industry is undergoing a technological revolution.  Business travelers are looking for a booking experience similar to the online consumer experience.  Additionally, there is a blurring of the lines taking place between business and leisure travel.  Travel providers are responding by developing user-friendly mobile applications that are more tailored and provide users with the right information at the right time.

GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick led a second morning panel on Ground Transportation in a Sharing Economy. McCormick was joined by John Rose, Chief Operating Officer of iJET International; Scott Solombrino, President and CEO Dav El / Boston Coach Chauffeured Transportation Network and David Seelinger, Chairman and CEO
 of EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services. GroundPanel

During the panel, McCormick detailed new data showing many companies may not have a policy in place regarding ride-sharing companies.  Panelists said that amazing new technologies have come to market, but travel buyers need to take steps to ensure that they have the right policies in place to ensure Duty of Care. They also called for a “level playing field” to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace.

Several GBTA Members were honored during the afternoon session. GBTA Member Torbjörn Erling of IKEA was named GBTA’s Direct Member of the Year and Marie Downey of United was awarded GBTA’s Allied Member of the Year honor.

GBTA Board Member Scott Solombrino also delivered a touching tribute to longtime GBTA Member, American Express’ Ed Gilligan, who passed away earlier this year. “Ed was a hero to his clients, to this industry and to me,” said Solmbrino. “And I know he’ll never be forgotten.”

The session wrapped up with Nina Easton of Fortune conducting an entertaining interview with Silicon Valley Icon and Philanthropist Steve Wozniak. The co-founder of Apple Computer who was integral in the launching of the personal computer industry chatted about wanting to be an engineer since he was a young boy, bonding with Steve Jobs over their love of pranks and why he wanted to build a personal computer. WozPic

When asked about technology’s impact on business travel, he said the one thing that won’t change is the importance of socialization – people are social, so the need for business travel will always be there.


Southwest & Etihad Talk Competition, Service and the Future of Airlines

Yesterday, GBTA Convention kicked off its first industry session at Center Stage with Charisse Jones of USA Today asking hard-hitting questions from Southwest Airlines’ Gary Kelly and Etihad Airlines’ James Hogan. The interviews focused on the future of airline competition, Open Skies, antitrust issues and the characteristics that each CEO felt set their airline apart.

First up was Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Southwest Airlines. Charisse started right off addressing the elephant in the room asking about airline competition and the current U.S. Department of Justice investigation into possible collusion by U.S. airlines. Gary replied any accusations of collusion were false and that Southwest was complying with the DOJ and fully complying with all antitrust laws.

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Gary went on to talk about growth of the airline, being a maverick in the industry, and whether or not the Southwest effect on fares still exists before telling the audience why his airline still doesn't and has no plans to charge bag fees.

“Nobody likes bait and switch. Nobody likes hidden fees,” said Kelly. “We want to be as simple and straightforward and pleasant to do business with as possible. We feel like we earn more customers by not charging the bag fees. We think we would lose a billion dollars in revenue after netting in the additional bag fees if we changed our policy. Who wouldn’t want to be the only competitors doing a certain thing? I think it’s a gift. I love our competitors for it.”

Next, James Hogan, President and CEO of Etihad Airways, took the stage. Charisse again started off strong asking about the dispute in regards to Open Skies. While he couldn't address the issue in regards to the other Gulf airlines, he said what Etihad brings to the market is competition and fantastic choice in regards to products and services.

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Service, respect for the customer and innovation through technology are paramount, according to James. He added, "one of the great things about travel in this era is that the consumer can find out so much about your business so in our culture, we don't have passengers, we have guests ...and how you communicate to the guest is fundamental."  


Convenience, Cost-Savings and Customer Experience

Monday on Center Stage at GBTA Convention, Guy Langford of Deloitte & Touche LLP moderated a panel on differentiating branding in a sharing economy featuring two executives from more traditional and well-established companies and two new entrants from companies clearly playing in a sharing economy. The panelists included executives from NH Hotel Group, Enterprise Holdings, Zipcar and Airbnb who discuss strategies around branding and differentiation for companies trying to succeed in this shifting marketplace. BlogBrandingPanel

What constitutes the sharing economy?

Enterprise Chief Strategy Officer Gregory Stubblefield said the sharing economy in his business has been around for multiple decades, saying Enterprise shares more than one million vehicles in North America alone in any given week.What's really changed and why there's so much activity around the sharing economy concept, he added, is that business travelers and customers want access, convenience and low cost.

Kaye Ceille, president of Zipcar, said sharing for them is viewed more in terms of efficiency saying they have learned the average North American car sits idle for more than 23 hours a day. When Zipcar was born, it was with the thought that if they could get people sharing cars it would be more efficient, both in terms of time and money.

Guy concluded that sharing is more about access and the cost savings.

Bleisure
When asked about shifting from a primary focus on a leisure-oriented audience to adding a business-oriented one, Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy for Airbnb, talked about combining business and leisure, or "bleisure". He said it's more about blending than about corporate versus leisure or hotels versus homes. He admitted to staying 7 of his last 12 days on a business trip in Airbnb rentals and five in hotels. He believes this has to do with business travels looking more for discovery than for indulgence.

Investing in Tech Vs. Bricks and Sticks
Rufino Pérez Fernández, Chief Commercial Officer for NH Hotel Group talked about the impact of technology on his company's business model. "In the end, technology is not what really matters," he said. Technology is for innovation and then innovation sells an experience. "If you are doing something that doesn't enhance the experience, it doesn't really matter."

The Three C's
A main takeaway from the panel was technology is becoming a cornerstone of delivering on the customer experience and companies can either disrupt or be disrupted as they strive to deliver on the three C’s: convenience, cost-savings and customer experience.


Kevin Bacon Talks Six Degrees at GBTA Convention

Monday at GBTA Convention actor, director and musician Kevin Bacon took the stage at Convention Arena. Bacon entertained a packed crowd sharing stories about his career in the entertainment industry; the genesis of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game and his Six Degrees Foundation, which connects celebrities with deserving grass-roots charities. He concluded by talking about how travel creates “connections” among people and how he tries to live by the idea of “doing what [he] can with what [he’s] got."

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Sticking with our Convention theme of #Sharing, here are just a few of the tweets our attendees shared during Kevin's performance.

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Competition and the Sharing Economy Highlight Monday at GBTA Convention

By GBTA Events

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) – the voice of the global business travel industry, kicked off its first industry session at Center Stage with Charisse Jones of USA Today asking hard-hitting questions from Southwest Airlines’ Gary Kelly and Etihad Airlines’ James Hogan. The interviews focused on the future of airline competition, Open Skies, antitrust issues and the characteristics that each CEO felt set their airline apart.

Blog_Hogan

“Nobody likes bait and switch. Nobody likes hidden fees,” said Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Southwest Airlines. “We want to be as simple and straightforward and pleasant to do business with as possible. We feel like we earn more customers by not charging the bag fees. We think we would lose a billion dollars in revenue after netting in the additional bag fees if we changed our policy. Who wouldn’t want to be the only competitors doing a certain thing? I think it’s a gift. I love our competitors for it.”

Blog_GarySouthwest

Next on Center Stage, Guy Langford of Deloitte & Touche LLP moderated a panel on differentiating branding in a sharing economy featuring two executives from more traditional companies, Enterprise Holdings and NH Hotel Group, and two executives from companies clearly playing in a sharing economy, Airbnb and Zipcar. A main takeaway from the panel was technology is becoming a cornerstone of delivering on the customer experience and companies can either disrupt or be disrupted as they strive to deliver on the three C’s: convenience, cost-savings and customer experience.

BlogBrandingPanel

GBTA President and CEO Donna Kelliher announced the launch of GBTA’s All Access Membership which launched this week.  All Access members can join their local chapter and GBTA in a single transaction.  The new membership will integrate technology platforms, allowing for more efficient and effective communication and networking.

The final featured speaker was actor, director, and musician Kevin Bacon. Bacon entertained a packed crowd with stories about his career in the entertainment industry; the genesis of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game and his Six Degrees Foundation,  which connects celebrities with deserving grass-roots charities. He concluded by talking about how travel creates “connections” among people and how he tries to live by the idea of “doing what [he] can with what [he’s] got.”

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GBTA Calls for New Dialogue on Expanded Business Traveler Bill of Rights

Every year at GBTA Convention, I have the privilege of giving attendees an update on the advocacy issues affecting our great industry. Below you will find the speech I plan to deliver this afternoon.

As you may have seen, the sharing economy hit the campaign trail. Just a few weeks ago, some of the most prominent 2016 U.S. Presidential candidates publicly waded into the discussion about what role sharing economy companies will play in driving our economy. In a recent speech outlining her economic vision, Secretary Hillary Clinton praised the sharing economy for creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation. But she also said it is raising hard questions about workplace protections for contractors such as ride sharing drivers. Candidates like Governor Jeb Bush has frequently used social media to promote ride sharing to connect with voters.

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Jeb

 

The sharing economy is seeing significant growth in the business travel marketplace. But the companies behind that growth and the candidates’ messages have failed to address a core requirement for buyers – DUTY OF CARE.

You can start with the terms and conditions for ride sharing services. To use the service in many markets, riders and their companies assume nearly all the risks. Now, we know that the vast majority of ride sharing trips are without incident. But to ensure responsible sharing, we need to identify and tackle issues that can arise. State and local regulators are shining a spotlight on critical insurance gaps. Coverage issues arise because drivers use personal cars for commercial activity, but often do not have commercial insurance, licensing or background checks.

The ride sharing companies are certainly aware of these issues, and we appreciate when responsible brands work to find constructive solutions. But, at times their strategy with state and local government can be best characterized as catc-me-if-you-can. Our chapters around the world have watched this approach result in conflict in their local markets.

We all know disruptive business models have the potential to transform industries. But sharing is not an excuse to operate in a regulatory vacuum.   A core mission of GBTA is to promote the safety and security of travel.  As an industry, we need to, and will, take sharing economy issues head-on.

But sharing is not the only issue that is making headlines. Aviation is another industry that’s always and forever in the spotlight.  As we heard this morning from Etihad and Southwest, new economies, markets, regulations and technologies are impacting aviation. Open Skies has become a flashpoint for global carriers and battles continue over pricing and distribution issues.

The business travel industry needs a healthy, profitable aviation sector.  And today, that’s what we have.  That is good news for business travelers.

As a result of a better outlook, the industry has stepped up its game with new planes and improvements to gates, Wi-Fi, menus and in-flight entertainment.

However, there will always be tension between buyers and suppliers and as a result GBTA policies will sometimes align with airlines on policy issues…and sometimes they will not. Earlier this year, we worked closely with airlines to defeat an attempt to double passenger facility taxes on your travelers. But we also recently announced our opposition to Lufthansa Group’s plans to add a ticket surcharge. GBTA views surcharges like these as a direct price increase to managed travel programs with no corresponding benefit.

With consolidated market power and broader global issues, GBTA will always ensure the interests of the buyer and their companies are well represented. Simply put, there must continue to be a mutually beneficial relationship between buyers, suppliers and travelers.

So, this year, we will begin a new dialogue with our members, committees and partners on an expanded business travel bill of rights. GBTA will be seeking input from you on matters ranging from transparency of fares to the availability of service to the pitch of seats. We strongly believe this is the most constructive path forward.

With profitability comes market responsibility. There always must be credence given to the companies that pay the bills and the employees that fly the miles.

And that leads us to TSA…

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As you know, TSA continues to face enormous challenges. Posing as passengers trying to beat the system, Homeland Security “Red Teams” were able to get banned items through checkpoints 67 out of 70 times. That is simply unacceptable.

Now, despite the headlines, there is hope for a more efficient, more effective risk based TSA operation. The recent confirmation of the former Coast Guard vice admiral Peter Neffenger as the new TSA Administrator is encouraging. Neffenger served as the incident commander for the 2010 BP oil spill, the largest and most complex cleanup in history.  He’ll need to draw down on everything he learned to be successful as he and Secretary Johnson take on the task of remaking TSA.

This is part of an overdue and critical effort to protect one of most important assets: a safe and secure aviation system.

I can’t leave here today without giving a special thanks to the GBTA Government Relations Committee and all of our activists who come our Legislative Symposium. Your continued hard work to advocate and protect the interests of GBTA members is critical. Let’s give them a big round of applause.

Thank you all for your support! Let’s have a great Convention!


Global Business Travel Spending to Hit Record High of $1.25 Trillion in 2015

By GBTA Foundation

Today at GBTA Convention, the GBTA Foundation unveiled its Annual Global Report & Forecast finding global business travel spending will hit a record $1.25 trillion USD in 2015, 6.5 percent growth over 2014. Growth will remain strong through 2019, with business travel projected to grow 6.9 percent in 2016, 6.0 percent in 2017, 6.4 percent in 2018 and 5.8 percent in 2019.

The study, sponsored by Visa, Inc., showed a large majority of business travel spending in 2014 occurs in a few dominant markets. In fact, over two-thirds of total business travel spending continues to occur in the U.S., China and Western Europe. Currently Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market with 39 percent followed by North America with 27 percent and Western Europe with 24 percent. GBTA expects that by 2019, Asia Pacific will have gained another 3.5 percentage points in market share, while the United States and Western Europe will lose 2.7 percentage points and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

The GBTA Foundation also identified five newly emerging markets often overlooked because they aren’t as large as the traditional powers or the BRIC markets. Their rapid growth however, all but assures these five countries will become the business travel markets of the future. The five countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland and Turkey.  

The top 15 business travel markets for 2014 were:

Top15_2014

For Convention attendees who want to learn more, an education session in room 304AB at 11:30a.m., Global BTI Outlook: Global Trends and Forecast 2015-1019, will dive deep into the study and provide a fresh view of the business travel industry.


GBTA Partners with ECPAT to Fight Child Exploitation in Travel

By GBTA Foundation

Earlier today at GBTA Convention, the GBTA Foundation announced it is joining the fight to stop child exploitation by working with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism.

The GBTA Foundation will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with ECPAT against the trafficking and exploitation of children. In making this commitment, the GBTA Foundation will work with ECPAT to educate the travel industry about the warning signs of sex tourism and child exploitation. Working together, our industry can make a significant impact in ending child exploitation.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 100,000 children have been sexually abused and exploited in the United States in the past year, and millions more are exploited around the world.This statistic is both staggering and sobering.Travel infrastructure is sometimes used in trafficking and exploitation, through commercial airlines and buses used to transport children, online classifieds used to lure travelers, and hotel rooms which can be the site of abuse.

GBTA is working to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel. GBTA is encouraging the business travel industry to adopt and implement ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking.

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Get Involved

Many GBTA Chapters, Affiliates, and Allied member companies have already signed the code and invested time and effort into developing programs to implement its guidelines. At GBTA Convention, there are four easy ways to join the fight:

  • By signing your name on the roaming GBTA boards, which will be located throughout the Convention Center this week.
  • By tweeting your support of the code with #ECPAT
  • By sending an email to isupportthecode@gbta.org
  • By attending an education session Tuesday, End Child Exploitation and Trafficking – Call to Action, at 10 a.m. in room 306AB, and hearing from a panel of experts.

Know the Signs

GBTA is calling on its members to become more aware of the issues and put in place best practices to know the signs and continue to build their knowledge about the issue using the GBTA toolkit available at www.GBTA.org/ECPAT.