The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

This week in business travel, Skift reported on the Lufthansa Group airlines plan to implement a booking surcharge starting next week for any bookings made outside of direct channels. They cited a GBTA poll of its members that showed one-half of travel buyers who currently offer Lufthansa as a preferred carrier plan on decreasing their spending with the airline group. The Hill's Keith Laing chimed in as well writing that travel groups seek to ground airline's third party ticket fee.

In the hotel world, Buying Business Travel's Rob Gill reports that London hotel rates are set to rise again during the second half of 2015. Similarly, Travel Daily News reported that U.S. hotels are gearing up for a healthy 2016 as strong advance bookings are providing a positive long-term outlook.

Hilton is working to further improve their guest and staff relations by adding another feature to embed technology into the hotel experience with a digital key available on their loyalty app for Hilton HHonors members, according to Skift. Also in Skift, United Airlines wants to improve its customer experience by becoming more flyer-friendly and delivering on its original promise of "the friendly skies." According to USA Today's Road Warrior Blog, British Airways is bucking trends in seating customers by widening their airline seats.

Want to see technology in action? At the Glasgow airport holograms are replacing security agents to talk passengers through the process as they wait in security lines.

GBTA's annual business travel outlook this July showed Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market. FTN News shares seven trends in Asia Pacific corporate travel management and Tnooz asks why some travel companies thrive in China. The Straits Times says airfares are set to rise next year despite lower oil prices in the APAC region, especially Singapore, citing a GBTA, CWT joint study.

Most companies deal with social media. CNN covers how airlines do it in their story, "The turbulent world of airline Twitter accounts."

Tnooz reports on Google's new Think with Google Travel Dashboard that highlights recent and year-over-year trends based on Google data across the car rental, air and hotel verticals in the United States and also shares 10 tips for travel search marketing.

Check back every Friday for a round-up of the latest news in business travel.

One-Half of Travel Buyers to Cut Spending with Lufthansa Once €16 Per Booking Surcharge Goes Into Effect on September 1

GBTA recently conducted a survey of travel buyers living in the United States and put out the release below this morning revealing its findings.

In June, the Lufthansa Group airlines announced that it plans to add a surcharge to tickets purchased anywhere other than its websites, service centers and airport ticket counters beginning next week on September 1, 2015. A poll of Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Members shows 50 percent of travel buyers who currently include Lufthansa in their travel program as a preferred carrier plan to decrease spending with Lufthansa once this fee takes effect.

Additionally the poll showed 51 percent of all respondents definitely or probably will not use Lufthansa as a preferred carrier if the Lufthansa Group moves forward with the fee.

As the voice of the business travel industry and the corporate travel buyer, GBTA continues to hold its position that this planned strategy will negatively impact corporate travel programs. It is a direct price increase to managed travel programs with no corresponding benefit. It could also ultimately lead to decreased price transparency if carried out by not only Lufthansa, but other airlines in the industry.

Business Travelers View on the Economy

By GBTA Foundation

Recently, the first ever GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ in partnership with American Express revealed how business travelers across the globe feel about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual behaviors related to travel. A key finding of the study revealed travelers are optimistic about the health of their industry, though less hopeful about the overall state of their country’s economy.

With the exception of Mexico (67 percent), a minority of business travelers in the other countries surveyed believe the overall health of their economy is excellent (35 percent or less “agree” or “strongly agree”). In particular, travelers from Brazil (23 percent) and Canada (22 percent) are the most pessimistic.


On the other hand, travelers tend to be more optimistic about the health of their industry than their country’s economy. More specifically, at least half of travelers from Mexico (65 percent), the U.S. (54 percent), the UK (52 percent) and Canada (50 percent) feel the overall health of their industry is excellent, compared to less than half of travelers from Australia (46 percent), Germany (43 percent) Brazil (41 percent) and Japan (36 percent).

In addition, travelers are fairly confident in the financial performance of their companies. When asked whether their company is in excellent financial shape, a majority of travelers globally agree (55 percent or higher); however, only 47 percent of Brazilian travelers and 39 percent of Japanese travelers believe this to be the case.

Similarly, a majority of travelers across the countries surveyed (about 60 percent or more on average), except Japanese travelers (41 percent), “agree” or “strongly agree” their company’s management feels that business travel is very important to the overall financial performance of their company.

Although individual companies cannot do much to improve the health of the overall economy, communicating regularly with employees could help improve business traveler sentiment – knowledge is power.

Week in Review

Last weekend, an air traffic control glitch caused major delays hitting Washington, D.C. and New York especially hard. GBTA called for a top-to-bottom review of the air travel disruption calling it an unacceptable outcome and pressing for a close examination of the long-term planning process.

In better news for consumers, Slate reports that airline ticket prices are getting cheaper. Alison Griswold writes that when the Consumer Price Index for July was released, it showed that the index for airline fares fell a striking 5.6 percent from June to July—the biggest one-month drop since December 1995.

The Washington Post reported on a new pilot program that will allow you give federal agencies feedback on how well they served you. In the coming weeks, passengers at Reagan National, LaGuardia, Los Angeles International and San Francisco International will see kiosks where they can give immediate feedback on their TSA experience.

JFK airport is trying to manage your expectations about waiting in lines by using beacons to monitor mobile phones so signage can display accurate wait times in hopes of reducing passenger frustration and to notifying staffing if areas in the terminal are becoming congested, so staff can identify and rectify bottlenecks before they escalate.

Curious about the U.S. government’s expedited screening programs for frequent fliers? Quartz breaks down the various programs and answers any questions you may have about the process and eligibility.

Danny King of Travel Weekly reports on a new study that shows more American consumers who book travel online are shopping those trips on their mobile devices, then booking them on the desktop websites for OTAs, hotels, airlines and car rental companies.

Marketplace asks why hotels are doing so well right now and writes that “life is sweet if you’re a hotel chain right now” reporting that demand is up and supply is short so hotels can charge more.

Finally, your lists for this week come from Business Insider with 16 packing tips every business traveler should know and CNN with 7 ground-breaking travel accessories you should have.

GBTA Calls for Top-to-Bottom Review of Weekend's Air Travel Disruption

Earlier this week, GBTA issued a call for a top-to-bottom review of the air travel disruption that caused cancellations and delays of flights across the nation. We issued the following statement:

Over the weekend, an air traffic disruption caused by a ‘technical glitch’ resulted in more than 3,400 delays and 640 cancellations of flights across the nation. This is an unacceptable outcome, which caused considerable hardship to tens of thousands of travelers across the nation.

In the wake of this disruption, there should be a top-to-bottom review of how technical upgrades are implemented, including a close examination of the long-term planning process. A situation like this should never happen again.

Just as important, this outage should serve as a wakeup call to Congress on Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which expires on September 30th.

The traveling public needs a reliable air travel system. We cannot afford to go through a repeat of the last reauthorization process, which took over 20 short-term extensions and four years.

When it comes to air travel, long term planning is dependent on long term funding. This is something desperately missing and is hindering the upgrade of the nation’s air traffic control.

Week In Review

The Week In Review is back today after a short hiatus to keep you up to date on the latest news in business travel. Skift’s Dan Peltier highlighted 8 charts on where next generation of big-spending business travelers will come from according to the GBTA Foundation’s annual forecast for business travel.

USA Today reports on a study recently obtained and reported on by the AP showing air traffic controllers are suffering from chronic fatigue due to their schedule and making mistakes because of it. In other airline news Skift reports that DOT numbers show baggage complaints are on the rise for U.S. passengers and Business Traveller writes that Emirates will operate the world's longest non-stop flight when it launches a service from Dubai to Panama City in February. Also, according to Orlando local news Senator Bill Nelson is not happy about airline fees.   

The Globe and Mail asks, “Should you use Uber for Business?” The story cites a GBTA study that found that one in four travel buyers say their companies don’t allow their business travellers to use ride-sharing companies and many companies don’t have policies yet.

Chris McGinnis of the Travel Skills blog reports on the new 2016 Global Business Travel Price Outlook from GBTA and CWT, which says hotel rates are likely to show increases worldwide as demand overtakes supply. The study also reveals hotel prices in the U.S. in cities where tech and entertainment industries are dominant will have the highest projected increases. McGinnis asks about another driver of price change though - room supply - and writes about its potential impact.

Travel Pulse highlighted another GBTA study in partnership with American Express that focused on global business travel trends. The report surveyed more than 3,800 business travelers across the globe highlighting technology’s central focus for business travelers today as well as satisfaction across a variety of travel-related items.

Your list for this week provides you with part one of a series of tips to healthier business travels from Business Traveler.  

GBTA Election Update - Notice of Special Election

*The message below was originally sent on Monday, August 10, as an email to GBTA Members as an official notice of the upcoming Special Election.*


Election of Directors;
Vote on Proposed Bylaw Amendments

Notice of Special Meeting and Special Election

There will be a Special Meeting of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Inc. (“GBTA”) that will be held in person and telephonically on September 15, 2015, from 9am to 9:30am Eastern Time in Alexandria, Virginia at 123 North Pitt Street. Dial in information will be provided closer to the meeting. In-person attendance for the meeting is not required. Please add to your safe sender list to ensure you receive all future election communications.Election of Directors


In preparation for the upcoming voting opportunities, please take a moment to review the election materials and platform statements in the Board of Directors Election Brochure 2015.

If you are a GBTA Direct or Allied Member, you may vote in this election.

Voting by electronic means will be held from 9am Eastern Time on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 to Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 5pm Eastern Time. Results of the elections will be announced on Friday, September 25, 2015. Individuals must be valid Direct or Allied Members of GBTA to be eligible to vote.

The open Board positions in the 2015 Election are as follows:

  • President for a term of two years
  • Vice President for a term of two years
  • Three (3) Direct Member Directors at Large for a term of three years
  • One (1) Allied Member Director at Large for a term of two years

Bylaw Amendment Proposal

A Bylaw proposal has been submitted for review and approval by the GBTA Membership. This proposal has been endorsed by the GBTA Board of Directors. If you are a GBTA Direct Member, you may vote on these proposed changes on this ballot.

These consensus recommendations were reached by an independent Bylaw Coalition, unanimously approved and presented to the Board as follows:

  • Retain legal counsel who specializes in association bylaws to review and update the bylaws in their entirety for full compliance with current New York State law and related best practices.
  • Create a new type of Member called “Indirect Member” for all industry-specific consultants and TMC outsourced buyers. This member type would retain Direct Member benefits, but would not have voting privileges.

    Clarification: There are many consultants and outsourced travel managers that act in buyer roles yet work for suppliers. In order to recognize their opportunity to work as an industry buyer, while also preserving the integrity of the Direct Member category, this member type was created. The sole difference between a Direct and Indirect Member is that the Indirect Member will not have voting rights nor can serve in a leadership position reserved for Direct Members (i.e. Board of Directors).


  • Include language in the bylaws that make it explicit that Members have equal rights consistent with their
    respective status (i.e., Direct Member, Allied Member, etc.) regardless of where, globally, that person works.
  • Remove term limits from elected Board Members and Officers. It was ultimately the belief of the Coalition that it was in the best interest of the Members to allow their votes to decide the tenure of an elected leader, and not term limits, thereby retaining high performing leaders.

    Clarification: This change does not alter the process by which Board Members must continue to be elected by their peers but simply allows them the right to run for office without limitation of terms.


  • Remove “C-level” title from any volunteer positions. Ultimately the coalition believed that the “C-level” title was inappropriate for a volunteer association officer and ultimately might discourage potential candidates from participating in an election.

You can review more information to understand these proposed changes in detail:

Thank you for your time and attention to these matters.

Best regards,

Michael W. McCormick
Executive Director and COO

GBTA Election Update - Notice of Special Election

*The following blog post also went out as an email from the GBTA President and CEO to all GBTA members at 4 p.m. ET on August 7, 2015.*

Dear GBTA Member,

Thank you, as always, for your time and participation in GBTA. As promised, I want to update you on the next steps as we move forward with a Special Meeting and Special Election. As I said in my note last Friday, we did not meet the quorum requirement in the election at Convention. As a result, we need to hold a Special Meeting of the Direct Members and a Special Election to move the business of the Association forward and to elect a new Board of Directors as soon as possible.

Your comments, suggestions and messages of support for GBTA were greatly appreciated over the last week as we go through this process. We hear you and we know you care. It is extremely important that we all take the time to vote during the Special Election. Your voice is heard best by voting for the leaders that will represent you on important GBTA matters.

After much discussion this week among current GBTA leaders and with legal counsel, the Board of Directors met today to review next steps. The Board has approved a process to move forward with a Special Election to begin on September 15, 2015 with voting to conclude on the 24th of September. This extended 10-day window for voting will ensure that every Member around the globe has sufficient time to cast his or her vote.

Next week, you will receive an official notice regarding the upcoming Special Meeting and Special Election that will include voting instructions. Leading up to the Special Election, GBTA will also resend candidate platform statements as well as information on the proposal to amend the Bylaws.

As you may already know, since 2013, we have worked with a third-party election services firm, Election Services Corporation, on GBTA election matters. ESC will facilitate and validate this Special Election as well.

Your vote will help determine the future leadership and direction of the Association. The success of our Association is driven by you, our Members, and we need and appreciate your continued support. I strongly encourage you to participate.

How to Spot Human Trafficking at Airports

By GBTA Foundation

At GBTA Convention 2015, the GBTA Foundation announced a partnership with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism. GBTA is working to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel by 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.

You may have signed our Board at GBTA Convention in a pledge to support action to end child prostitution and trafficking or you may have read our post about other ways to get involved.


A recent BBC story delved into the stories of the victims of human trafficking showing the horrors they face.

CNN also recently ran a story on how airports can be used as hubs for human trafficking and gave seven telltale warning signs that someone is being trafficked. Among the signs are a traveler who is dressed inappropriately, someone tattooed with a barcode or someone who can’t provide details about their destination or flight information. See the article for the full list.

You can also become more aware of the issues and put in place best practices to know the signs and continue to build your knowledge about the issue using the GBTA toolkit.