The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Today’s Geopolitical Climate and Innovation Top of Mind at GBTA Convention 2017

Attendance Approaches 7,000 at Record-Breaking GBTA Convention

Alexandria, VA (July 27, 2017) – The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) – the voice of the global business travel industry, wrapped up its 49th annual Convention last week in Boston. Today’s geopolitical landscape and its impact on business travel and duty of care along with the latest innovations in travel technology were the predominant themes throughout the five-day industry gathering that brought together nearly 7,000 travel professionals and industry leaders.

Featured speakers included Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci. Ayci discussed how Turkish Airlines became the “king of the comeback” as he shared his philosophy behind handling difficult situations in the public eye, especially when dealing with tragedy. Ayci also talked about the recent electronics ban and the future of Turkish Airlines.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian talked about the future of flying for Delta and the travel industry as a whole. He shared views on Open Skies, Air Traffic Control (ATC) reform and security. Bastian also discussed the business of Delta highlighting investments in other carriers and the importance of treating the customer the way you want to be treated in today’s social media world.

In the modern travel world, political tension has an immense impact on travel policies and the way businesses conduct transportation on a global scale. During Monday’s Center Stage Panel at GBTA Convention 2017, global business experts discussed the geopolitical disruptions we face today. Moderator Courtney Hammond of Deloitte Consulting LLP, was joined by panelists Tom Derry, Institute for Supply Management (ISM); Michael Gips, ASIS International; Lynn Shotwell, Council for Global Immigration; and Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC. The panel focused on disruption in the movement of people and duty of care.

CNN’s fiery Richard Quest returned this year to Center Stage to moderate a panel on the modern state of lodging in business travel. Panelists included David Holyoke, Airbnb; Markus Keller, AccorHotels; and Fernando Vives, NH Hotel Group. The three discussed how home-sharing platforms like Airbnb fit into the business travel world and what traditional hotel chains are doing to remain competitive. Looking to the future, all panelists agreed that there was space for everyone and that collaborative conversations between the various stakeholders would serve to benefit the customer.

During his service as a four-star general, David Petraeus led military commands in Iraq and Afghanistan before being appointed Director of the CIA. On Monday, General Petraeus spoke with Susan Eisenhower about the United States’ evolving foreign policy and the impact this will have on the future of our country. Petraeus looked back on the different military strategies used by him and Susan’s grandfather, General Dwight D.  Eisenhower, and commented on the new strategies America has introduced in response to new technology.

Barry Diller, Chairman & Senior Executive of IAC and Expedia Inc., commented on the current political climate and its impact on the business industry. He predicted that “for business there’s no reason not to be optimistic”, even in spite of other challenges. Well known for popularizing made-for-TV movies, Diller also touched on his personal philosophy, saying, “I am completely motivated by curiosity”. When asked what he would do if he could start his career over today, he suspects he would still be in the entertainment industry.

As the final speaker on Wednesday, 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps took guests inside the mind of an Olympian and explained the discipline that set him up for success. He said that the greatest “do things when they don’t want to” and are never satisfied until they meet their goals. Although he cited his favorite Olympic moments as his first gold medal in Athens and his close win of the 200-fly in Rio, Phelps seemed even more excited about the future. “Living in the real world is harder than swimming,” he said, but educating the next generation on water safety, working on his own line of swim wear, and spending time with his family is allowing him to “continue the dreams and goals I have outside of competing”.

The sold-out Expo Floor featuring well over 400 exhibitors showcased the latest and greatest in business travel products and services including the all-new Innovation Row. Innovation Row featured first-time exhibitors who are looking to become the business travel industry’s most impactful innovators. Nearly two dozen companies, including Lyft, AIG Travel, Concur and more, also participated in GBTA’s third annual media day sharing their breaking news announcements.

GBTA concluded the event with 6,752 attendees, including more than 1,300 buyers, making this the largest GBTA Convention in history and one of the largest gatherings of travel professionals in the world. Next year’s Convention will be in San Diego, California on August 11-15, 2018.

TSA Announces New U.S. Airport Screening Procedures for Electronics in Carry-On Bags

Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the implementation of stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. This follows extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, and will now expand to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead.

We have heard from many of you, our members, that travelers will be willing to spend extra time at security to prevent an outright electronics ban, so we are pleased to see TSA taking steps to enhance security, while still ensuring business travelers can keep their devices with them throughout their flight. While security is, of course, the top priority, business travelers want to remain productive on trips, and more importantly have been trained to keep their devices close for security purposes because they may contain sensitive company information.

You can read the full release from TSA below:

TSA raising aviation security baseline with stronger domestic security measures

New U.S. airport screening procedures for carry-on bags to better focus on threats

WASHINGTON – To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. Following extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, TSA plans to expand these measures to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead.

Due to an increased threat to aviation security, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced in late June new security requirementsfor nearly 280 airports in more than 100 countries. In an effort to raise the baseline for aviation security worldwide, TSA continues to work closely with airports and airlines to enhance security measures and stay ahead of the evolving threat.

“Whether you’re flying to, from, or within the United States, TSA is committed to raising the baseline for aviation security by strengthening the overall security of our commercial aviation network to keep flying as a safe option for everyone,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia.

As new procedures are phased in, TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image. It is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks, however, through extensive testing, TSA identified ways to improve screening procedures with quicker and more targeted measures to clear the bags.

The new screening procedures in standard lanes are already in place at the following 10 U.S. airports with plans to expand to all airports during the weeks and months ahead:

  • Boise Airport (BOI)
  • Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB)
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

In standard screening lanes, TSA officers will be stationed in front of the checkpoint X-ray machines to guide passengers through the screening process and recommend how best to arrange their carry-on items for X-ray screening. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving. There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on bags.

“It is critical for TSA to constantly enhance and adjust security screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats and keep passengers safe. By separating personal electronic items such as laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles for screening, TSA officers can more closely focus on resolving alarms and stopping terror threats,” said Gowadia.

The stronger security measures do not apply to passengers enrolled in TSA Pre® who are using TSA Pre® lanes. TSA also marked another milestone earlier this month with TSA Pre® now available at 200 airports nationwide. Travelers enrolled in TSA Pre® do not need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, electronics, light outerwear, or belts. The program allows TSA to focus resources on passengers who may pose a high risk to security while providing expedited screening to those travelers who have been identified as low-risk, trusted travelers.


A Look at the Future of Lodging

With the growth of home-sharing platform Airbnb, traditional hotel chains have had to take a step back and rediscover what makes them unique. This was the topic of conversation at GBTA Convention 2017’s Lodging Panel, moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest.

Representing hoteliers was AccorHotels’ Senior VP of Global Sales, Markus Keller, and NH Hotel Groups CCO, Fernando Vives. David Holyoke, Head of Business Travel for Airbnb spoke for the rapidly expanding home-sharing industry. The panel began with all parties saying that there is room for everyone in the hospitality industry. “The customer is going to decide where they spend the night,” Vives said.

However, Quest quickly brought things into perspective as he compared Airbnb’s three-and-a-half million listings to NH Hotel Groups 379 properties and the 99 owned by Accorhotels.

Turning to the audience, Quest posed the question, “How many of you here would put a business traveler in an Airbnb?” Met by a hesitant response he told Holyoke, “Well, now you don’t have enough people because of the duty-of- care argument.” Duty-of-care is certainly a large concern for travel managers and a primary reason that they choose to book stays at well-known chain hotels.

Holyoke sees home-sharing as a compliment to traditional accommodations, not a replacement.  He cites their recent collaboration with cities in order to follow the rules and “be a good corporate citizen”. Especially now that the line between business and leisure is blurring, there is more demand for extended stay options and Airbnb has no problem letting the guests “label it what they want”. And according to Keller, “all competition is healthy,” musing that this tension could propel hotels to update and make needed changes.

At the end of the discussion, Quest asked for final thoughts on the future and how they were each going to coexist in the marketplace. Vives pointed out the importance of staying up-to-date on how new outlets impact the industry and developing products that meet these new needs.

Keller pointed out that their differences shouldn’t be ignored and that “collaborative conversations” between home-sharing platforms and hotels would ultimately benefit the customer. Holyoke finished by saying that they too would welcome collaborative conversations. “It boils down to the fact that there are different types of business travel that will drive different subsets to different accommodations,” he said. If used strategically, these differences can be their biggest strengths.

Looking for more? View the full panel session on our YouTube channel.

Forecasting the Future of Flight with Delta’s Ed Bastian

“When I graduated from college, I never even had set foot on an airplane,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the crowd in his first appearance on Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2017. Bastian is now the head of one of the largest global airlines and spoke with GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick about what the future looks like for Delta and the travel industry as a whole.

McCormick focused the conversation on important advocacy issues including open skies and air traffic control (ATC) privatization. “We are huge advocates of open skies,” Bastian said, “but open skies is not a substitute for free skies – it has got to be fair.” He called open skies an issue for the future of our U.S. industry, and believes the government needs to look into it, weigh in and make certain if it is in the best interest of the United States. Bastian stressed this was not about protectionism and more about enforcing the law. “We are confident we can compete with anyone when given an equal chance,” he added. In regards to privatization, he believes modernization is the goal and that privatization provides the framework to get to that. He said, most importantly, Delta is in favor of having the structure and mechanism in place to actually implement the modernization of our nation’s air traffic control system.

The two discussed Delta’s investments in other carriers and the importance of airline alliances. Alliances provide an umbrella framework to focus on items like loyalty and access to gating at airports. For Delta to make a significant step forward though, they are investing with the customer in mind to eliminate seams between airlines, and that means investments in other carriers.

Additionally, as new developments roll out in safety and security procedures, Bastian envisions airlines engaging more with Homeland Security to optimize safety, making all travelers more secure.

He also commented that the best way to take care of an unpleasant travel experience is to “treat the customer how we would want to be treated”.  Social media plays a big role in the attention drawn to negative experiences and being mindful of that can actually help prevent poor behavior as a company.

When asked what comes next for Delta, Bastian said, “People will continue to be rewarded and supported and that is always number one for us.”  Delta will also continue to accelerate globalization of its network and work to introduce new technology into their business model. They plan on investing $500 million in technology alone, in order to better connect with their customers.

So what makes Delta so different?  “It’s all about our people,” Bastian said. “It’s our competitive strength... the only truly distinct thing about an airline is its people, and that’s what I’m most proud of - the culture of Delta.”

Want more? View the full Center Stage one-on-one interview on our YouTube channel.  

How Turkish Airlines Became the Self-Proclaimed “King of the Comeback” – A Conversation with Chairman Ilker Ayci

Turkish Airlines has been named “Europe’s Best Airline” for the past six years, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had their challenges. A terrorist attack on one of their airports in 2016 led to 45 deaths and more than 230 injuries. At GBTA Convention 2017, Chairman of Turkish Airlines, Ilker Ayci, spoke with GBTA COO Mike McCormick about the tragedy and how the company maintained their composure in order to secure the airport.

Ayci talked about his philosophy behind handling difficult situations in the public eye, especially when those situations result in loss of life. He emphasized maintaining a strong outlook and trusting the contingency plans the company had in place. When asked what led them to reopen the airport just hours after the attacks, Ayci replied, “We all understood what terrorists asked from us: to stop us, to slow down us, to change our attitude, and to scare us, to stop our activity… [Terrorists] can’t change our lifestyle”.

Turkish Airlines chose to continue providing services to its travelers once the problem was isolated, utilizing fast-track lanes to aid in quick flight boarding. He attributed the quick resolution to their close cooperation with relevant parties and authorities in addition to the training the employees had received prior to the attacks.

It was here that Ayci described Turkish Airlines as the “king of the comeback”, as he praised his employees’ response to the attack and steps taken to reassure customers in the aftermath. He emphasized that their hospitality combined with professionalism is what sets them apart from competitors.

Ayci also commented on the recent electronics ban imposed by the U.S., saying that although he understands the national security and safety concerns, he believes the decision was made very rapidly. When asked how his company responded to the ban, he gave examples of ways the airline improved the flight atmosphere by offering laptops and free Wi-Fi to passengers while their electronics were stored away. He reported that Turkish Airlines successfully transported over 81,000 devices in 103 days.

Now, as they look to the future and the launch of their newest Istanbul airport, Ayci is more optimistic than ever. “Let’s touch each other’s hearts,” he mused as he explained the philosophy behind the soon-to-be unveiled, user-friendly airport.

In closing, Ayci stated that if he could sum up Turkish Airlines with one statement it would be this: “Fly good, feel good and widen your world with us”.

Want more than just a recap of this exciting Center Stage panel? Watch the full one-on-one interview on our YouTube channel here.

GBTA Convention Panel Discusses Geopolitical Disruptions and the Future of Global Business Travel

In the modern travel world, political tension has an immense impact on travel policies and the way businesses conduct transportation on a global scale. During Monday’s Center Stage Panel at GBTA Convention 2017, global business experts discussed the two main geopolitical disruptions we face today alongside moderator Courtney Hammond, Principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP.

The Movement of People

The first disruption consists of the complications that arise when transporting business travelers to their destinations. Michael Gips, Chief Global Knowledge and Learning Officer of ASIS International, described the three types of travel restrictions the world has faced recently: the laptop bans imposed by the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump’s travel bans, and travel restrictions imposed by individual corporations through travel policies.

Gips believes that the restrictions that will be of greatest influence to businesses are those from the corporations. He explained that the laptop ban is in the midst of being resolved and in places where it is still imposed, travel managers can be creative by sending their business travelers through different routes or telling them to use alternate devices, like smartphones.

Businesses are also putting a priority on increasing their own safety practices. “The reality is businesses are not going to avoid the necessary movement of their employees to develop their businesses. They’re going to be careful,” says Tom Derry, the CEO of the Institute for Supply Management. Introducing precautions such as new insurance policies and the use of armored cars can increase traveler protection while abroad.

Lynn Shotwell, Executive Director of Council for Global Immigration, highlighted the importance of communicating the business industry's needs to governments around the world, as their policies directly impact commerce and the global economy at large.

Duty of Care, Safety and Security
Once business travelers are at their intended destination, there are still concerns in regards to their safety. While travelers should remember to follow common-sense precautions and stay in contact with their office, Peggy Smith, President and CEO of Worldwide ERC, doesn’t see these practices as interfering with the traveler experience. “The drive to experience something outside of their native environment is much stronger than the inconvenience of taking off your shoes [for security purposes],” she commented.

Finally, when asked to predict what global business travel will look like in year 2025, Shotwell noted we will continue to have face-to-face meetings due to their irreplaceable nature. She also mused that the biggest change could be the countries that sit at the hub of the travel industry. Africa and Asia are becoming more competitive, while Derry mentioned the impact the bullet train that will span Europe and Asia may have in the ease of travel transport. A world of increased connectivity is around the corner, bringing countries that seem universes away closer than they ever have been before.

Tools for Identifying Risk Amongst the Noise

Amidst the current global risks, business travel remains vital to the economy. In spite of its importance, it can be challenging to sift through all available data to make responsible company decisions. So how can travel managers successfully navigate this process?

At the GBTA Canada Conference in April, COO Mike McCormick spoke with Peter Martin, the Vice Chairman of FocusPoint International, about best practices for risk management.

Martin highlighted the importance of being aware of potential risks and determining what the real threats are in a timely fashion. “Education is the cornerstone of all duty-of-care programs” and informing all employees of the latest policies is vital to a smooth work flow.

Another strategy for risk management is remaining alert for issues like car accidents, street crime and health issues, all things that can get lost in the media when a tragedy strikes. While it is extremely important to be aware of terror threats, travel managers must also pay careful attention to other risks that happen more frequently. By having plans for these issues in place and researching travel locations ahead of time, it allows travel programs to better inform their travelers.

To learn more tips for risk management, view the full video here:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s GBTA Canada Conference in Toronto.

5 Tips for Navigating GBTA Convention 2017

GBTA Convention 2017 is right around the corner! To prepare you for The Business Travel Event of the Year®, we’ve compiled a list of five tips designed to help you maximize your time in Boston:  

  1. Order Fast Passes. Skip the lines and gain exclusive access to any one of the Convention Arena Luncheons with GBTA Convention 2017 Fast Passes. Be the first to reserve a table for your colleagues and peers with early access at GBTA Convention 2017.


  1. Personalize Your Agenda. Did you know that you can customize your own schedule with My Convention Planner? View the entire education session schedule and be sure to add these sessions to your agenda in order to streamline your Convention experience so you don’t miss out!


  1. Learn the Expo Floor. GBTA Convention 2017’s Expo floor will feature more than 400 exhibitors. With so many exhibitors packed into just 3 days, it’s crucial to plan ahead in order to maximize your time. Visit the Exhibitor directory in My Convention Planner. With the time you’ll save, you’ll have the opportunity to walk around the Expo floor and discover hidden gems along the way!


  1. Volunteer for the GBTA Cares Service Project. This year’s GBTA Cares Service Project will be done in coordination with Cradles 2 Crayons. By volunteering, you’ll be helping assemble necessity packages for children in need. This opportunity will also provide you ample time to bond with your peers!


  1. Know the Expo Hours. With speakers, 80+ education sessions and 400+ exhibitors on the Expo floor, it’s crucial to know when and where your can’t-miss events start. The Expo floor will be open on Monday and Tuesday from 2:30 – 6:00 pm and from 8:30 – 11:00 am on Wednesday. Take the time to memorize these hours, along with other session hours, so you can plan accordingly.

4 Ways to Optimize Your Employees' Bleisure Travel Experience

In 2016, there were 522 million business trips taken in the United States. So what should you do when one of your employees decides to extend one of these into a bleisure trip?  If they have decided to take a long weekend to enjoy the sights after their meeting is over, it is now up to you to communicate your company’s policy on bleisure travel to them.

As seen in previous posts on the profile of a bleisure traveler and the factors in bleisure travel hotel choice, bleisure travelers are a diverse group of people who continue their stay after a business trip. Thirty-six percent of U.S-based business travelers have done this at least once, so it is important to be prepared when one of your company’s employees decides to take a bleisure trip.

According to GBTA’s study in partnership with Hilton, there are a variety of ways in which companies can improve their employee’s travel experience while aligning bleisure travel with their own goals. Here are four ways you can make the most out of a bleisure trip, both improving the traveler experience and ensuring bleisure travel remains aligned with company goals:

  1. Establish rules for expenses incurred by non-employees

There’s a good chance your employee will bring someone with them, as around 44 percent of business travelers take someone along on the leisure portion of their trip. They may spend more on their flight or hotels in order to make their guests more comfortable, and your company will need to set a precedent for dealing with these potential costs. If you don’t already have rules about this in place, it may be a good idea to add them to your travel policy.

  1. Help insure the safety of employees’ family members

Although your employee has access to the company’s security protection, their family probably does not. Make sure your employees are aware of what is covered by the company and advise them to consider purchasing insurance for their family.

  1. Make travelers aware of the resources available to them on the leisure portion of the trip

Your company may offer protection and other resources to an employee when they are on a business trip, but those same resources might not apply while they are on the leisure portion of the trip. Educate your employees on what is offered to them and in what situations it is available. This prevents unpleasant surprises from occurring while they are on vacation.

  1. Develop a policy regarding preferred suppliers & channels

Encourage your employees to book stays at your company-preferred hotels by informing them of the benefits and loyalty programs they offer ahead of time. Travelers may be able to receive the corporate rate during the leisure portion of their trip, while driving cost savings and ensuring policy compliance.

The best plan is being prepared ahead of time, as around 12 percent of travelers ran into an issue where they needed assistance from their company while away. Ultimately, informing your employees of your company’s policies for leisure travel is the best way to ensure a smooth trip.

Week in Review

According to TechCrunch, the U.S. has lifted laptop bans from passengers flying with Etihad, Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

CNNMoney reports that the laptop ban was also lifted from Qatar Airways, since the airline meets all of DHS’ new security guidelines.

GBTA unveiled its Media Day line-up for GBTA Convention 2017, July 15-19 in Boston. More than two dozen companies will release their breaking news from the GBTA Broadcast Studio in the North Lobby on Sunday, July 16.

According to Skift and a new report by SITA, airline passengers prefer interacting with employees instead of technology, even though 98 percent of passengers fly with at least one mobile device.

4Hoteliers notes that hospitality’s contribution to the UK economy grows faster than any other sector.

USA TODAY reports that TSA Precheck has eclipsed five million members. The program initially began in December 2013 and offers expedited screening for travelers.

According to Business Traveller, Singapore Airlines has unveiled a Highflyer business loyalty program designed to reward small and medium-sized enterprises and their employees.

The same source claims that TSA has begun trialing fingerprint identification at select U.S. airports.

Skift reports that robots at South Korean airports are helping passengers find their gates. The robots also assist with keeping airport floors clean.

According to 4Hoteliers, KAYAK launched a new feature that enables users to search by emoji.

Travel Weekly notes that Sabre has unveiled a personalized flight search capability.

According to Bloomberg, pilots can be grounded at 65. The EU Court of Justice said that “physical capabilities essential to the profession of an airline pilot diminish with age.”

TravelDailyNews International reports that Lufthansa and Fraport signed an agreement on short-term cost savings and further growth.

The same source also shared news of Aeroflot's partnership with Alipay.