The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

Congress approved a short-term spending bill earlier this week avoiding a shutdown and keeping the government running through December 9. GBTA was pleased to see language included that will allow TSA to continue to fund increased personnel, however, a long-term solution is necessary.

Travelers crave price transparency, according to Christopher Elliott in a USA Today piece where he wrote that there is still not enough transparency in airline pricing. Hugo Martin of the LA Times also wrote about airline pricing this week, focusing on fees. “The airline industry collects so much revenue from charges to check bags, reserve seats, buy food and connect to the Internet, among other things, that 10 of the world’s biggest carriers have surpassed the $1-billion revenue mark solely from fees,” he wrote.

Skift touched on trust issues and wrote about what sharing economy companies are doing to get over the perceived lack of trust criticism that has stuck with the sharing economy since its start. Speaking of trust issues, Bloomberg reported that corporate pilots were found to skip safety checks on 18 percent of flights.

In airline news, The Oregonian reports that Alaska Airlines started selling tickets this week for flights between Los Angeles and Cuba that will begin in January, 2017.

Skift’s Deanna Ting believes hotels can learn from AirBNB…and vice versa. In other hotel news, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that hotel food is getting healthier, so guests can expect smaller portions and healthier options during their stays.

The Harvard Business Review reports that business travelers are prime targets for hackers. Learn how you can defend your organization.

Your lists for this week include:

Characteristics of a Successful Business Traveler

4 Translation Apps to Ease International Business Communication

Benchmarking Your Risk Management Program

Whether you’re jumping in the car or hopping on a plane, anything can happen from the moment you leave your door to the moment you reach your destination. As global crises increasingly unfold, preparing for the unexpected is paramount, and employers must ensure their travelers are safe and protected.

GBTA recently held a webinar called Benchmarking Your Risk Management Program: Travel Insurance and Assistance Services in which GBTA Foundation Vice President of Research Jeanne Liu and AIG Travel Senior Vice President of Assistance Sales and Client Services Scott Adamski discussed the importance of having risk management tools and training, travel insurance, and assistance services in place.preparingforunexpected

Liu shared that companies must ultimately assist their travelers by making sure the benefits offered align with their needs, educating them of the services available, and providing risk management training, regardless of whether employees are travelling internationally or domestically. Adamski added that companies in the initial phases of developing a program should internally determine where their employees are traveling and what their needs are before conducting preliminary research on various companies that provide insurance and assistance services.

The webinar coincides with the release of a GBTA Foundation study, in partnership with AIG Travel, that revealed a majority of companies provide travel insurance and assistance services to business travelers. Almost all travel professionals (95 percent) feel providing insurance or assistance services to employees are valuable for international trips and 76 percent agree they are valuable for domestic trips.

GBTA members may view past webinars in full on the Hub.

Here are a few of GBTA’s upcoming webinars:

  • Replay: GBTA BTI™ Outlook H1 2016: India (Tuesday, October 4 – 3:00 PM India Standard Time)
  • Global Travel Price Outlook: Getting the Most from Your Travel Spend in 2017 (Wednesday, October 5 – 10:00 AM ET)
  • Events and Marketing Teams: Collaboration or Chaos? (Thursday, October 6 – 2:00 PM ET)
  • Single-Use Virtual Payments: Benefits and Barriers (Tuesday, October 11 – 2:00 PM ET)

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

Amadeus' Jay Richmond Talks Complexity, Data & Integration with GBTA

During Convention this summer, Jay Richmond, Head of Business Travel for Amadeus North America, sat down with GBTA’s Ed Barrett at the Broadcast Studio to talk travel technology. Jay flagged complexity, data and integration as the key areas to address in the coming years.

Jay also shared a challenge coming quickly down the pipeline that will center on airline ancillaries and merchandising. Each airline is taking their own approach to how they want NDC to talk to their systems and make their offer, he said, adding that being able to bring that back together in a way that is shopable, comparable and bookable is going to be very important.

View the full video here:

Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

Executive Discussion: Preparing for Millennials and Handling Crisis Management

During Convention, I had a chance to talk with Tom Tulloch, Managing Director of North America for Pi, at the GBTA Broadcast Studio. Tom shared the technology company’s plans for the upcoming year focusing on growth and innovation around Pi Travel.

He also shared some general challenges the industry faces in today’s world. Tom believes we are not really prepared for this incoming generation of Millennials who have different travel and purchasing habits, and says one of the best ways to do so is to hire more Millennials. He also touched on crisis management in today’s dangerous times – an issue of utmost importance to the business travel industry.

View the full video here:

Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

GBTA India Business Travel Symposium Features Panel Discussions on Hot Topics, Latest Industry Research and Robust Networking Opportunities

GBTA recently hosted its flagship Business Travel Symposium in India. Nearly 300 attended the successful event for a day filled with education, research and networking. The Symposium also featured a tradeshow floor for attendees to see the latest business travel products and solutions exhibitors had to offer.


GBTA India Regional Director Gaurav Sundaram kicked the day off with a presentation on the GBTA Foundation’s business travel forecast for the region showing India is poised to be a top six business travel market by 2019. With continued double-digit business travel spending growth on the horizon, if India continues on its current path, it will be a world leader in business travel for decades to come. india-symposium-pic-1

Neal Rogers, APAC-MEA Travel Head, CSC, moderated a panel on best practices for self-booking technology. Self-booking technology is a global phenomenon that currently has limited market share in India, but is growing exponentially. Experts from Unilever, Serko, Amadeus and Thomas Cook evaluated customer perspectives and discussed industry capabilities that could lead to greater acceptance during the session.

Program management best practices were highlighted in the next session moderated by Chandresh Natu, APAC Procurement Lead, AON Hewitt. Panelists from Jones Lang LaSalle, Adobe Systems, Accor India and United Airlines Business Services Pvt Ltd., talked about how client and supplier relationships in India can be antagonistic, but focused on emerging trends on developing collaborative partnership models.


GBTA Global Board Member Bhart Sarin led a Procurement Master Class to share global perspectives on procurement best practices. Bhart noted that a robust strategic sourcing and procurement program is key to long term financial success.

Procurement was the focus of an afternoon session as well as Bhart moderated a panel of representatives from Wipro Limited, Hilton Worldwide, AON Hewitt and Ernst & Young for a discussion on best practices in procurement and strategic sourcing. The session set out to determine the maturity model of strategic sourcing practice in India and evaluated opportunities for Indian multinationals to develop powerful global managed travel programs through implementation of the best practices discussed.


Gaurav returned to the stage to lead the final panel on payment systems and expense management best practices. Experts from Wipro Travel Services, dnata, CSC and Diners Club International joined him to answer questions around whether card payment systems and expense automation offer opportunities for Indian clients to save costs and improve ROI and whether these products drive optimal control, better reporting and improved ROI.

GBTA was thrilled to have so many engaged participants and looks forward to continuing to bring the region quality education, networking and support on advocacy issues important to the business travel industry. Next year GBTA plans to host two Symposiums in India – one in Delhi and one in Mumbai. We will also host educational programs throughout the region including our Fundamentals of Business Travel and Advanced Principles of Business Travel courses designed to power the careers of business travel professionals and provide localized travel management education in India. As membership in India continues to grow, there are many exciting events on the horizon.  

Video: iCars President Talks Duty of Care

Shortly after the company announced its plans for national expansion, iCars President Ed Silver joined GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez at the Broadcast Studio at Convention this summer. The business travel industry is constantly evolving, and it is not news that in recent years, the sharing economy and technology have led to massive disruption in the ground transportation sector.

Recent research from the GBTA Foundation found one in five (22 percent) business travelers don’t even know if their company travel policy allows the use of ride-sharing type services. Given the continuously changing travel landscape, there are a number of considerations that individual business travelers as well as corporate travel departments need to account for when approving use of sharing-economy options. Personal liability, security or broader duty of care concerns top the list.

Ed shared iCars focus on meeting this duty of care element for the corporate travel professional and the importance they place on trust and security.

View the full video here:

Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

Week in Review

Marriott International and Starwood have completed a $13 billion merger as of today, Buying Business Travel reports, making the new hotel company the owner of 30 hotel brands. Skift notes Marriott International is now the world’s largest hotel operator and plans to prioritize combining the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs.

According to Skift, Google has announced a new mobile app that integrates with Gmail to source reservations and travel recommendations. The Google Trips app is able to collect past and upcoming flight, hotel, car rental and restaurant reservations from users’ Gmail accounts to offer personalized recommendations. The same outlet reports The Standard has launched a same-day booking app strictly for independent hotels. The app will enable guests to make last-minute bookings at The Standard Hotels and at least 16 other independent hoteliers.

USA TODAY notes seven of the nation’s busiest airports experienced delays on Monday as a result of a storm. Northeast fliers in the U.S. faced slowed flights and delays throughout the day to due to thunderstorms, heavy rain and poor visibility in the region. The same source reports Phoenix is expected to see flight delays in early October, due to a runway closure at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. One of the airport’s three runways will be undergoing construction for a month, squeezing the airport’s nearly 1,200 daily takeoffs and landings onto two runways.

A pilot of a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane accidentally pressed the hijack warning button on Tuesday, finds Bloomberg. After pressing the button, one of the pilots verbally confirmed the distress call with the airport tower, rather than immediately reporting the call as a mistake. The control tower was informed of the mistake after the plane was parked, but authorities are still treating the incident as a crisis.

According to Skift, JetBlue is considering investing in larger planes, as it evaluates flying to Europe. The larger aircraft have more range and would enable the airline to fly to more destinations in both Europe and South America. Travel Daily News reports Qatar Airways is expected to increase its capacity to Brazil and Argentina by 40 percent. The airline will be upgrading its existing aircraft to accommodate an additional 99 seats per day from Doha to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.

Following last week’s news of Emirates imposing ancillary fees for advanced seat selection, a new study finds global airlines generated $40.5 billion in ancillary fees and charges in 2015. TIME reports United Airlines generated the most ancillary revenue with $6.2 billion in fees, followed by American in second and Delta in third.

Although the TSA has boasted shorter security lines this summer, Skift reports long security lines could return in October without better government funding. Many of the staff hired to handle security lines this past year may be cut if Congress doesn’t agree on a budget by the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year. GBTA’s Shane Downey also weighed in on the issue, noting long-term solutions and predictable funding over a five-year stretch are necessary.

According to Skift, a recent report from GBTA in partnership with AIG Travel investigated finds evacuation of business travelers in trouble is a top priority for employers. The report also finds a majority (53 percent) of companies provide both travel insurance and assistance services to their business travelers. Another study from GBTA finds average compensation for U.S. travel buyers saw a moderate 1.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2016 reaching $114,000. Despite a modest increase, 73 percent of travel buyers report being satisfied with their compensation.

This week’s list is from Skift: 3 Charts Showing Google Search’s Impact on Travel Brands in 2016

Video: CWT CEO Talks Technology and Pace of Change

Recently the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) and the Carlson Family Foundation, released new research showing almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) travel professionals indicate their travel program does not have a mobile strategy in place. Given today’s increasingly mobile world, this isn’t likely to last. Travel professionals agreed, as almost two-thirds (64 percent) of those who have not adopted mobile strategies as part of their travel programs plan to do within the next two years.

During our annual Convention this summer, GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick caught up with new CWT President and CEO Kurt Ekert at the Broadcast Studio. The two talked about the pace of change in the business travel world today and Kurt shared that keeping up with that change meant delivering a consumer-grade experience within the confines of a managed travel program.

He also shared his insight on future opportunities for CWT and the industry as a whole as it continues to tackle risk management in an uncertain world.

Watch the full video here:

Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

Potential Return of Long Security Lines Loom Large If Changes Aren’t Made

This spring as the busy summer travel season approached, long security lines at airports were becoming a serious issue. People were being asked to arrive at the airport earlier and earlier as wait times continued to swell.

An influx of funding, collaboration between TSA with airports and airlines and increased enrollment in TSA PreCheck helped bring wait times back down to a reasonable level throughout the summer, even as more travelers took to the skies.

Facing the threat of returning to long security lines, we expect Congress to provide TSA flexibility to keep the recently increased number of airport security screeners on board in the near term. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger spoke last week at the A4A Commercial Aviation Industry Summit saying in an ideal world he would have consistent, predictable funding over a five-year stretch to better plan for the future and create a more efficient and more automated system taking advantage of technologies available in a way that energizes the private sector to invest in developing the necessary products. This is really tough to do when you work three months at a time on a budget though, he added.

For business travelers, time is money, and unreasonably long wait times can cut into productivity or even cause missed flights, which lead to missed meetings and deals. The latest GBTA Foundation outlook forecasts 502 million U.S. business trips to take place in 2016 – a majority of which involve air travel. That is no small number and an efficient security experience is incredibly important for these travelers.

While short-term solutions, like increasing personnel over the summer, are important and necessary, long-term solutions are what is needed. GBTA has long been a strong supporter of risk-based security programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to facilitate a better travel experiences. Recent GBTA research shows business travelers agree, with nearly universal satisfaction (90 percent) with PreCheck. Legislation has been passed to improve traveler access to these programs, but TSA has yet to move forward with implementation of allowing multiple third-party vendors to market and enroll people.

Technology is another major area that needs to be addressed. TSA officers are not trained directly by the equipment manufacturers meaning they may not fully understand the full functionality of and how to correctly operate the machines they do have. TSA also needs to take a hard look at its current strategy for research and development as well as procurement of new technology to make sure new technologies are being implemented where they are needed most and upgraded technology doesn’t sit unused.

Another area that requires attention is the 9-11 Aviation Security Fee. A portion of the money taken in from this fee is diverted to help pay down budget deficits rather than being put towards improving security. At a time where the uncertainty and randomness of attacks across the world has put many on edge, it is more important than ever that all available funds are invested in improving security and ensuring are skies remain a safe place.

TSA handled the impending security line crisis this summer well, but it will require cooperation between TSA, the government and industry to truly create a forward-looking system for the future that ensures safe and efficient security across the country.

GBTA Pleased TSA Funding Language Included in Continuing Resolution

The Senate filed a Continuing Resolution (CR) today that would keep the government running through December 9 of this year avoiding a government shutdown on October 1. The CR includes the following language on funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): cr-language

GBTA is pleased to see this language included, which will allow TSA to continue to fund increased personnel that were put in place to address the extremely long security lines slowing down travelers across the nation this past spring. If this bill doesn’t pass those additional screeners will go home on October 1, and long lines will return.

While this is a necessary short-term measure, GBTA calls on Congress to initiate long-term reforms necessary to ensure the safety of the nation’s airports.