The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

On Sunday night, President Trump announced his latest travel ban which affects travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, Buying Business Travel reports. The new travel restrictions will take effect on October 18.

GBTA’s Mike McCormick states that the initial travel bans enacted in January and March have created the perception that the U.S. is closed for business. Although our nation’s security is of the utmost importance, the White House must work to counter that perception to prevent further losses in business travel and on our economy.

According to Travel and Leisure, Etihad has launched a “fly now, pay later” program, giving customers up to five years to pay for a flight.

Buying Business Travel notes that AccorHotels’ economy brand Ibis has rolled out a new guest welcome program centered on mobile technology.

Reuters reports that Etihad has hired Tony Douglas as its new CEO. Douglas was previously the head of London’s Heathrow airport.

According to Buying Business Travel, a new survey reveals more than half of business travellers expect to be cashless by 2027. Additionally, 73 percent predict they will be using driverless shuttle services between the airport and their lodging within the next decade.

Lodging notes that hotels are partnering with digital wallet companies to accommodate Chinese travelers. Chinese travelers are projected to take 150 million trips in 2017 alone.

USA TODAY reports that major U.S. airlines are now offering free mobile messaging as a perk.

According to Skift, Hilton is planning on creating a handful of new brands, including a “hostel on steroids”.

Buying Business Travel reports that Airbnb is now linked with Anvil’s employee travel monitoring system, enabling organizations to maintain duty of care for travelers wishing to use their services.

According to USA TODAY, airlines could generate $30 billion a year by expanding in-flight broadband for passengers to work, shop or indulge in entertainment.

Business Traveller notes that baggage storage service Luggagehero launched in London.

Skift reports that Yotel is getting $250 million from private investment firm Starwood Capital to fuel its expansion.

According to Buying Business Travel, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshai has apologized for the mistakes the company has made.

Travel Ban Expanded to Include Chad, North Korea and Venezuela

Travel Ban Expanded to Include Chad, North Korea and Venezuela

Restrictions Tailored By Country

Yesterday the President and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced enhanced global security measures that included adding Chad, North Korea and Venezuela to the list of countries subject to travel restrictions. Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia are again included in this order, while restrictions placed on the Sudan have been lifted.

The restrictions for foreign nationals who were subject to the suspension of entry under section 2 of E.O. 13780, and who lack a credible claim of a bonda fide relationship with a person or entity of the United States took effect September 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The restrictions and limitations take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on October 18, 2017, for all other foreign nationals subject to the suspension of entry under section 2 of E.O. 13780, and for nationals of Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

The restrictions do not apply to  lawful permanent residents, any dual national of a country designated, any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa or any foreign national who has been granted asylum; any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States, among other exceptions. Individuals with valid visas are also exempt. View the FAQ and fact sheet from the White House.

The following statement may be attributed to Michael W. McCormick, Global Business Travel Association executive director and COO.

“The White House has now established clearer criteria and a process for evaluating the admission of foreign visitors into the United States as well as a willingness to engage with other countries to assist them in meeting the mutual beneficial goal of safe travel. Through this process, the federal government was able to raise the level of security for travel into the United States through constructive bilateral engagement.

However, the damage from the previous executive orders has been done. The initial comprehensive January and March travel bans have created the perception that the United States is closed for business. While security is paramount, the White House should now work to counter that perception. The resulting losses in business travel and trade have left a lasting negative impact on our economy."  

Week in Review

Mexico City International Airport suspended operation for several hours on Tuesday due to a 7.1-magnitude earthquake, reports Business Insider.

According to CBS Chicago, airlines began resuming flights to Puerto Rico on Friday, following Hurricane Maria’s devastation of the island.

Travel Leaders Corporate shares news of Travel Leaders Group’s acquisition of Raleigh-based TMC Travel Management Partners.

TechCrunch reports that Uber has lost its license to operate in London.

According to Bloomberg, Boeing has landed an $11 billion deal from Turkish Air, signaling the carrier’s rebound following last year’s terrorist attack in Istanbul.

TravelDailyNews International reports passengers will face new delays and cancellations during a new ATC strike in France.

According to USA TODAY, airlines charged $7.1 billion in baggage and changed reservation fees in 2016.

Mashable reports that Airbnb has added in-app restaurant reservations to its platform on its quest to take over travel. GBTA announced a partnership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) to deliver meeting and event focused education at GBTA Conference 2017 Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR.

According to Skift, travel agents are increasingly using global distribution systems to book hotels.

4Hoteliers notes that the total value of hospitality projects in the UAE reached over $71 billion in September 2017.

According to Business Traveller, the FAA is using outdated information on aircraft evacuations.

Buying Business Travel reports that London has been named the most popular business travel destination.

According to Business Traveller, Heathrow Airport urges the government to scrap the Air Passenger Duty (APD) on all domestic UK flights. Newly-released research reveals that UK air passengers pay at least an extra £225 million a year in taxes on domestic flights than their European counterparts.

Air Transport World notes that Virgin Australia has begun testing a pop-up, mobile luggage check-in system. The service enables passengers to check in and drop off baggage in a remote location away from the airport.

Business Traveller reports that Qatar Airways rolled out a global chauffeur airport transfer service.

According to USA TODAY, fliers may soon board more international flights with a picture rather than a passport, thanks to biometric technology implemented by Customs and Border Protection.

Business Traveller reports that the Civil Administration of China is relaxing its restrictions on mobile device usage on flights, allowing individual airlines to determine their policies.

Skift notes that European regulators are investigating Lufthansa’s controversial travel agent surcharge.

According to USA TODAY, Frontier Airlines has been fined $1.5 million for subjecting passengers to long tarmac delays in Denver last December.

Top 5 TMC Questions Asked and Answered

In 2016, organizations invested significantly in business travel, with global business travel spend approaching $1.3 trillion. However, as companies increasingly invest in business travel, they must equally invest in a managed travel program that balances employee needs with corporate goals. Unraveling the intricacies of travel management can be daunting without a travel management company in tow, so the GBTA Foundation partnered with U.S. Bank to outline the considerations involved in choosing a TMC.


  1. Do I need a TMC?

Overall, it would be very difficult to manage a travel program without partnering with a travel management company (TMC). If your travel spend is over $250,000 annually and/or large enough to negotiate with airlines and hotels, your program will likely benefit from retaining the services of a TMC.


  1. What value does a TMC bring to my travel program?

TMCs can add value to your travel program in a number of important ways. Data tracking and spend reporting provides a better understanding of the volume of business conducted with each supplier, giving you greater leverage at the negotiating table. When TMCs manage preferred booking channels, agents know when tickets are booked and reservations are made. This allows for the value of unused tickets or missed reservations to be reclaimed and for travelers to have a direct line to assistance should travel mishaps or changes occur. TMCs also help travel managers stay informed of industry trends by providing access to resources and education to ensure company policies fully address the needs of their travelers.

  1. How much savings can I expect from using a TMC?

A TMC can help save organizations anywhere from 5% to 50% of its travel spend, depending on the starting maturity of your travel program and the volume of your travel. Partnering with a TMC can help travel managers steer travelers to preferred vendors offering pre-negotiated rates. Though programs just starting out have a greater potential for savings, a TMC can still help a more mature program reign in out-of-policy travelers and save money. Using TMC-captured data on traveler behavior enables you to offer more accurate volume projections and negotiate lower rates with suppliers. It is important to keep your company’s culture in mind when bringing on a TMC — getting stakeholder support and clearly communicating the logic behind new practices to your travelers is paramount. Compared to travel programs with mere guidelines, those with fully-mandated travel policies report greater success and savings.

  1. How much will it cost to retain the services of a TMC?

While some companies pay TMCs a flat monthly management fee assessed on a case-by-case basis, by far, the most common fee structure for a TMC is per transaction. These transaction fees vary widely (e.g. $5 for hotel and car reservations made online to $35 for an international flight made by calling an agent). Typically, airline bookings are more expensive than hotel or ground transportation reservations, international flights are more expensive than domestic, and calling an agent is more expensive than booking through a TMC’s online channel. Travel managers should clearly communicate these differences to travelers in order to minimize superfluous expenses, like calling an agent to make a simple reservation when a booking online would suffice. While it is tempting to balk at the expense of a fee tacked on to every transaction, it is important to remember this charge covers all the services the TMC provides, not just the single transaction.

  1. There are a lot of TMCs; how do I pick the right one for my program?

The first step in choosing a TMC is to internally determine your top five or ten goals for your travel program, like increasing traveler tracking and security, better capturing spend data, or securing better-negotiated rates with suppliers. Once you have defined your goals, start having conversations with TMCs, explain your programmatic objectives, and listen to their plans for helping you achieve them. Be sure to include TMCs of different sizes and scopes in these initial discussions – these factors can play a role in the strategy they develop for you. For example, if your organization does a lot of international travel, you may want to look for a global TMC or a TMC with many global partners. While a large TMC may have many partners, a smaller TMC may be able to be more nimble to accommodate your specific needs and goals. Based on the information gathered, narrow the field down to five or fewer candidates and continue with more detailed discussions. A relationship with a TMC should be based on transparency. Any TMC worth working with should walk you through their customized roadmap for your program and thoroughly explain the logic behind their recommendations, including what each party stands to gain or lose. Each side must be honest and realistic with the other about their goals and abilities in order to foster a successful, mutually beneficial partnership.

Download the one-pager here. The GBTA Foundation will host a complimentary webinar, in partnership with U.S. Bank, on October 5, 2017 at 2pm ET featuring experienced travel managers who will wade through the numerous questions and factors involving TMCs. Participants will explore how TMCs can help, determine if their program is ready to bring on a TMC, and more. Register today: TMCs 101- A Live Q&A with Veteran Travel Managers on If, Why, and How to Use TMCs.

Week in Review

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, flights began resuming service on Tuesday, reports USA TODAY. Over 16,500 flights were cancelled due to the natural disaster.

According to AINonline, regional airports were working to minimize issues on Wednesday, such as lack of power and sufficient fresh water.

According to the Los Angeles Times, airlines say that examples of ‘price gouging’ during Hurricane Irma were aberrations. Delta capped the prices for all flights out of Florida and the Caribbean at $399, and United capped fares out of Florida at the same rate.

The Washington Post reports that American Airlines expanded its travel alert to include more than 50 airports, offering special fares to individuals traveling to or from areas impacted by Irma until September 17.

If you would like to assist GBTA members impacted by Hurricane Irma, please consider contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, Google is rolling out tabs to hotels’ knowledge panels on mobile devices. The tabs enable users to view hotel rates and reviews without being taken elsewhere.

Skift notes that business travelers are weighing the ease of biometrics against privacy concerns.

Successful Meetings reports that Bizly has launched a new platform that promises an RFP-free booking process for small meetings.

According to 4Hoteliers, hotel booking data for 2017 shows a 97 percent increase in hotel bookings in India compared to the same time last year.

The same source notes that Ctrip has launched “Hotel Plus” to upsell hotel services. The function allows hotels to upsell catering, airport transfer, and other services when prepaid room bookings are made.

Business Traveller reports that Amtrak trains are set to get new interiors as part of a $16 million project.

According to Skift, Lola has pivoted away from leisure travel to become a business travel booking tool.

4Hoteliers notes that Latin America may be poised for the next big airline industry boom.

CNBC reports that Airbnb is hoping business travelers will forgo hotels.

According to Buying Business Travel, Easyjet has launched a new feature that allows customers to book other airlines’ flights and connections for long-haul flights.

Business Traveller notes that in-flight Wi-Fi is now available on Air Astana.

TravelDailyNews International reports that Uber has partnered with leading weather technology company ArabiaWeather.

Message From the Office of the GBTA President

*This post was also sent as an email to GBTA Members.*

Recently, GBTA launched a GoFundMe campaign created specifically for GBTA or Texas BTA members who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Nearly 600 individuals who are members of GBTA or Texas BTA live in the impacted areas and now face the destruction left behind following the unfathomable amounts of rain and historic flooding.

I want to personally thank all of you who have already donated to help your fellow members. The money raised through September 9th will be designated specifically for those members impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

This past weekend, we watched as another historic storm swept through the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida. More than 320 individuals who are members of GBTA or the local Florida BTA Chapters live in the impacted areas that faced the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

In an effort to help meet the needs of members impacted by Hurricane Irma as well, going forward, all new donations to the GoFundMe campaign will be part of a general disaster relief fund.  These funds will be used to assist members impacted by either Hurricane Harvey or Irma, or other natural disasters.

There is still time left to donate if you would like to help out. Funds raised will be made available to those impacted active members in need of food, medication, clothing, temporary housing, transportation to work, etc.

GBTA is working to identify members who were negatively impacted and we need your help. If you need assistance and would like to be considered for support from the Fund, please complete this form.

Our thoughts remain with those impacted during this difficult time as these regions looks to rebuild.

A Look Back at GBTA Convention

Although GBTA Convention 2017 came to an end nearly two months ago, it’s still fresh on our minds. Our 49th annual Convention in Boston brought together nearly 7,000 travel professionals and industry leaders and featured over 400 exhibitors, including nearly 100 first-time exhibitors.

We had a chance to speak to a handful of first-time exhibitors about their experience and why they decided to exhibit at The Business Travel Event of the Year®.


“We decided to exhibit at [GBTA Convention 2017] because we wanted to take the opportunity to showcase our city to a truly international audience and to draw global organizations to our culturally rich city. After the Olympics last summer, Rio de Janeiro’s infrastructure has improved tremendously with multinational companies investing in us, as well as dozens of new hotels and entertainment options…we even have opportunities to take cooking lessons for business travelers wanting to learn more about Brazilian cuisine! Rio is the perfect destination for business travelers looking for a combination of a cultural and economic hub.”

– Eric Boulanger, Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau  

“Our clients and colleagues involved felt [GBTA] was a good organization to be a part of and we felt this was one of the best investments we’ve made. We decided to exhibit because we felt our services would greatly benefit business travelers with travel risk being one of the biggest issues in the industry today. We offer security on a global scale in all different areas and for different personnel—from C-suite executives in the hotel industry to transportation services for exceptional clientele. As Boston’s number one organization for hotel security, we also felt exhibiting at Convention was appropriate as it has opened up doors for marketing opportunities with other event personnel.”

– Gerard Boniello & Marie Boyce, Omnium Protection Group  

“While we’ve typically gone after leisure travelers in the past, the market for business travelers is rapidly expanding. We decided to exhibit at GBTA Convention 2017’s Expo since we’re interested in talking to both ‘buyers’ and ‘suppliers’ and we heard it was the world’s largest gathering of business travel professionals. Golden Tickets provides those traveling on business the opportunity to catch a show or game in whichever destination they’re visiting at exclusive rates which can provide those looking to ‘wow’ clients or take a step away from their hectic schedules the chance to save.”

– Ram Silverman, Golden Tickets  

Relive the event by watching highlights and recordings of our panels on the GBTA YouTube channel. You may also sign up to receive updates about GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego.

Week in Review

Buying Business Travel reports Houston airports are returning to full service in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation.

USA TODAY reports Hurricane Irma has resulted in heavy damage to St. Martin’s Princess Juliana Airport, one of the world’s most famous airports.

The same source states that over 2,000 Florida flights have already been canceled due to the natural disaster’s presence.

According to Travel Agent Central, expense management software provider Certify has acquired a corporate online booking tool from nuTravel.

Skift notes that Emirates is considering adding a budget economy section to lure frugal flyers.

Buying Business Travel reports that Austrian Airlines will introduce a premium economy cabin in March 2018.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, U.S. hotel demand has just reached an all-time high.

USA TODAY notes that Ohio’s Akron-Canton Airport has begun using self-sanitizing mats inside bins at security checkpoints.

Buying Business Travel reports that Ryanair is cutting baggage fees and increasing the check-in weight allowance to reduce delays.

According to Bloomberg, Singapore’s Changi Airport will begin operating its new terminal in October. Check-in kiosks with facial recognition technology and tomography scanners are expected to expedite the process for passengers.

Buying Business Travel states that BTD has launched a tool capable of predicting savings based on policy changes.

According to Skift, Trump slump fears are realized as revised findings show a drop in international inbound tourism in 2017.

The New York Times reports that more business travelers are going “rogue” and booking on their own.

Buying Business Travel notes that Brexit immigration rules could be catastrophic for the hospitality industry.

According to Skift, Gen Xers lead hotel-mobile bookings among U.S. travelers.

USA TODAY reports that Delta is rolling out a new frequent-flier card with no annual fee.

What Everyone New to Managed Travel Should Know

Travel management encompasses a variety of industry players: non-profit corporations, hoteliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, airlines, travel management companies, data consolidators, consultants that act as a liaison between buyers and suppliers – the list goes on and on.

Despite the wealth of available information, diving into managed travel as an individual with little to no experience can certainly be intimidating. GBTA recently hosted a webinar in which GoldSpring Consulting’s Mark Williams provided an overview of what individuals new to managed travel should focus their efforts on.

  1. Determine Your Strategy

First, determine your strategy and best practices as they pertain to each element of program management, such as travel policy, TMCs and OBTs, air, hotel, payment and any additional resources. Consider the following questions: What do you need from a policy perspective? What kind of services do you need from a TMC and which TMC can deliver those services? Which airline is the best fit based on your travel patterns, requirements and corporate culture? What kind of a payment system would help?

  1. Start a Committee

Companies typically take a committee-approach to writing and reviewing a travel policy. The committee would ideally consist of at least five individuals: a travel manager, the employee handling accounts payable, someone who audits expense reports, a representative from a department with high travel activity and an outsider to guide the process.

  1. Develop a Travel Policy

Travel policy is the bedrock of any travel program. Without a concise or well-written travel policy, your travelers have no guidance or direction. In order to develop a policy, first determine what your company’s current practices are and how you want them to change. In addition to having clearly defined terms, a travel policy must be enforceable, easily accessible to travelers, and capable of measuring and tracking compliance. Since the travel industry undergoes frequent changes, Williams stressed the importance of keeping your policy updated and reviewing it on at least an annual basis.

Once your policy is in place, you can determine which relationships make sense from a supplier perspective. Williams also delved into the importance of TMCs and OBTs and offered best practices for airlines, hotels, payments and more.

For a more in-depth look into managed travel, GBTA members may view Strategy Bootcamp: What Everyone New to Managed Travel Should Know in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

Week in Review

According to USA TODAY, airlines have canceled more than 11,000 flights across the nation since Hurricane Harvey first began affecting schedules. Airports reopened on Wednesday, but flights are running on a limited schedule.

If you would like to help with relief efforts, please make a donation to the Red Cross. You may also donate to a GoFundMe campaign created specifically for GBTA or Texas BTA members who were impacted.

According to The Verge, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshai is officially Uber’s new CEO.

Bloomberg reports that Expedia has named CFO Mark Okerstrom as its new CEO.

USA TODAY notes that Boston’s Logan International Airport may begin charging fliers arriving or leaving by car in an attempt to reduce both congestion and pollution.

According to Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings, American Express Global Business Travel completed its acquisition of international event management agency Banks Sadler.

eTurboNews claims that Hertz has launched a strategic partnership with Localiza, South America’s largest car rental company.

4Hoteliers reports that IHG signed two new properties in Dubai Business Bay.

According to Tnooz, HRS tells corporate customers how to prepare for new hotel cancellation policies. The company shared findings from an in-depth analysis of the booking data of its corporate customers over the past year.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, Google upgraded its flight and hotel search by adding additional pricing insights.

Business Traveller notes that U.S. airports are increasingly using Twitter to communicate with travellers.

According to Buying Business Travel, strikes have begun on three separate UK rail franchises.

Bloomberg reports that Pittsburgh International Airport is testing a new program that would allow non-fliers to get past security.

Skift notes that Expedia spent $148 million to buy SilverRail for its train booking technology.

According to Business Traveller and a recent study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the vast majority of business travellers around the world say the positives outweigh the negatives. reports that the U.S. construction pipeline is up 7% year-over-year with a 20% increase in new supply forecast for 2017.