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This week’s episode of The Business of Travel features a recent GBTA webinar on the REAL ID Act. Steve Yonkers, Director of the REAL ID Program for the Department of Homeland Security, provides an update on the implementation of REAL ID giving you an understanding on what states are still not compliant and what progress is being made, as well as how REAL ID applies to state issued driver’s licenses and ID cards and what alternatives there are for identification at security checkpoints if your state is not compliant.
This episode is presented by the GBTA Government Relations Committee in an effort to keep you up to date as more unfolds on REAL ID and to minimize any disruption for your travelers.
For more information, you can visit the DHS REAL ID website.
You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!
Will the Democrats take the House? Will the Republicans retain control of the Senate? Pollsters have been trying to predict the outcome for months now. As we head into the midterm elections today, if there is anything we learned from following the polls in the 2016 Presidential election, it is that no one really knows what will happen until the results are in.
At GBTA, we are not in the business of predicting elections, but we do want to let you know what impact the election can have on business travel – regardless of who wins or loses today.
Here are three key travel-related committees to keep an eye on:
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee - Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) is currently serving his third term as Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. As one of the largest committees in Congress, it has broad jurisdiction over all modes of transportation and other aspects of our national infrastructure as well. Shuster is retiring from Congress, meaning the chair of this Committee will change regardless of the election outcome.
If the House flips, the current Democratic ranking member who would become the chair is Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Rep. DeFazio was a sponsor of the FASTER Act, which GBTA strongly supported. He does however, support raising the cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). GBTA will continue to engage on these important issues as an increase in the PFC could have a significant impact on the bottom line for companies sending business travelers on the road for roughly 40 million business trips a month – most of which involve air travel.
If the Republicans remain in control of the House, there are two contenders in play to take on the chair role: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO). Past Legislative Summit attendees may remember Rep. Denham as a speaker in 2015. He has done some positive work for business travelers with his efforts around passenger rail legislation. He is facing a tough reelection campaign that he will need to win first if he wants a chance to chair the Committee though. Rep. Graves is also a past Legislative Summit speaker and a longtime champion of business travel making him a two-time GBTA Navigator Award winner. Politico reports that Graves appears to be first-in-line in this contest, but that both Congressmen have expressed a desire to push a major infrastructure package as an early priority in the next Congress.
House Homeland Security Committee – With current Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) reaching his term limit, the leadership for the House Homeland Security Committee will also change regardless of whether the House flips or not. It is not completely clear who will take over should the Republicans maintain control, but Mike Rogers (R-AL) is seen as the most likely.
If the Democrats win the House, ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) would be the next chairman. Thompson has been the top Democrat on the Committee since 2005.
Given the many security items incorporated into the recently passed FAA Reauthorization bill, the Committee will likely focus more attention on TSA oversight issues going forward including workforce and union concerns, whistleblower protections and employee misconduct. Thompson has also shown interest in the growing use of biometric technology and facial recognition by Customs Border Protection and TSA, along with what privacy concerns this technology poses.
Additionally, Politico reported that a Thompson aide has said Democrats want to examine immigration policies that have come out of the Trump Administration including the travel ban, border wall and disaster response.
Senate Commerce Committee – Sen. John Thune (R-SD), current chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, is expected to move to the role of Senate Majority Whip should the Republicans retain control of the Senate.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is expected to take on the chair role in this case. His priorities on transportation are not yet known. When it comes to aviation, he has spoken out against regulatory policies that make it harder for the airlines to do business out of concern that this typically means if airlines need to cut service, it will be to less-profitable, rural routes like his state. However, he has also been opposed to the airlines’ views on several issues including pulling air traffic control operations from the FAA and supporting language in the FAA Bill that would bar unreasonable change and cancellation fees (this ultimately was not included in the final bill). In other modes of transportation, he has long been a proponent for maintaining Amtrak’s long-distance routes and will likely be a key voice for Amtrak on this front if he becomes chair.
If the Democrats take control of the Senate, the front-runner to chair the Committee is Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are also in the mix. Sen. Kobluchar is another long-time champion of business travel and an inaugural winner of GBTA’s first Navigator Award in 2016.
GBTA will be following the election results closely as they come in Tuesday night and will monitor the changes in committee leadership as that unfolds. Travel has always been a bipartisan issue and we will continue to work closely with leaders on both sides of the aisle to ensure the voice of the business travel industry is heard.
I encourage you to help make our collective voice stronger by attending our Legislative Summit next spring and letting your members of Congress know how important business travel is to our economy.
You can also stay up-to-date on GBTA’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., Brussels and around the world by subscribing to GBTA’s bi-weekly Politics of Travel email from GBTA’s Vice President of Government Relations, Shane Downey.
Earlier this month, I sent the note below as an email to GBTA members outlining why the FAA Reauthorization is such a big win for business travel. Read on below for more and tune in to this week’s GBTA podcast where I had the opportunity to talk with Shane Downey, GBTA Vice President of Government Relations, along with Todd Webster of Cornerstone Government Affairs for an in-depth discussion on the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Bill and what it means for business travel.
In a rare act of bipartisanship in today’s political landscape, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass a bill that reauthorizes the budget for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. Before the President signed the FAA Bill into law, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 93-6 and it passed the House by a similarly large margin with a vote of 398-23.
Why is this such a big win for business travel?
As the voice of the business travel industry on Capitol Hill, GBTA staff tirelessly advocates for policies that better the business travel industry. Our Government Relations Committee provides insight to help us identify the issues that matter most, our Chapters engage in advocacy through our annual Government Relations Challenge, and most importantly, many of our members attend our Legislative Summit each year to take our collective voice to the Hill and meet with their Senators and Representatives.
In this one bill, virtually all of the priority issues we have included in our Legislative Agenda for the past five years have now become a reality.
Long-Term Reauthorization: GBTA has been calling for a long-term FAA Reauthorization to provide stability to the nation’s air traffic control system, ensuring the ongoing safe, secure and efficient facilitation of air travel. This bill marks the first five-year extension since 1982. This follows years of instability created by three authorization extensions from 2015-2017, a federal government shutdown in 2013, a lapse in the FAA authorization in 2011 and 23 short-term extensions from 2007 to 2012.
An End to the Diversion of Security Fees: Over the past year, GBTA has been one of the lone organizations supporting the FASTER Act, which would end the practice of diverting a portion of the 9-11 security fee charged on each air ticket toward the national deficit. GBTA argued that this money should go towards security and improving TSA’s efforts as it was intended. This bill ends the current practice of diverting 60 cents on every fee charged by 2027.
PreCheck is PreCheck: PreCheck is a win for all passengers, leading to increased traveler satisfaction and overall safety. This new bill mandates that only those prescreened passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs can use the PreCheck lanes. It also enacts measures to increase marketing and enrollment capabilities through authorized third parties, which will ultimately continue to strengthen the benefits of PreCheck.
No Voice Calls on Planes: GBTA has long-advocated for #NoCallsOnPlanes as the vast majority of business travelers oppose voice calls on planes. This bill calls for a regulation prohibiting calls on planes. As we always say, sometimes silence really is golden.
Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs): The bill did not include an increase in the PFC, which is a tax on air travelers and essentially a tax on the cost of doing business. The bill also calls for the formation of an expert panel to investigate the need for infrastructure, resources and the impact of increasing the fee – specifically calling out for representation from the business travel industry to act as a stakeholder on the panel. This is the direct result of our efforts to demonstrate the diverse needs of the leisure and business travel industries and showcase the important economic impact of our industry.
Rental Car Taxation: This bill prohibits discriminatory taxes on rental cars at airport locations, meaning that state and local governments can no longer put a tax on a rental car that they wouldn’t put on any other purchase. For example, specific car rental taxes used to pay for new stadiums targeted at travelers renting cars who are not from their voting district would be prohibited.
Business Traveler Protections: Finally, the bill included some consumer protections that will look out for our business travelers including mandates to set new minimum requirements for seats on airplanes; a call to refund passengers for services they paid for but did not receive; and for regulators to determine if it is unfair or deceptive for airlines to tell passengers that a flight is delayed or canceled due to weather alone when other factors are involved.
Thank you to all of our members who have been a part of our advocacy efforts over the years. It was your collective voice that allowed our industry to achieve this tremendous milestone. The fight is never over though when it comes to advocacy as we must remain vigilant on these issues and stay on top of our next priorities. I encourage you all to attend our Legislative Summit next spring to make our voice even stronger. You can also stay up-to-date on GBTA’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., Brussels and around the world by subscribing to GBTA’s bi-weekly Politics of Travel email from GBTA’s Vice President of Government Relations, Shane Downey.
I would also like to thank our long-time friends and colleagues at Cornerstone Government Affairs. Our partnership over the past eight years has been exceptional and your contributions to our success immeasurable.
In closing, it is worth again calling out the outstanding bi-partisan work in Congress and the White House to look past ideological differences and put the future of the business travel industry – and business travelers that drive our economy – first. We hope that this is a model for future success for the global business travel industry and our leaders in Washington.
On this week’s episode of The Business of Travel, GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick talks with Shane Downey, GBTA Vice President of Government Relations, along with Todd Webster of Cornerstone Government Affairs for an in-depth discussion on the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Bill and what it means for business travel.
For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel, broadcasts live from our 16th annual Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. Hear from GBTA’s Shane Downey on the issues more than 100 GBTA members will be taking to Capitol Hill today followed by interviews with several current and former members of Congress.
More on what you’ll hear this episode:
Shane Downey outlines three issues impacting business travel that GBTA members are discussing today during meetings with their Senators and Representatives:
Delivering the message to Congress on just how powerful business travel is as an economic driver. Learn more here.
Asking Congress to pass a 5-year FAA Bill instead of just another extenstion – and that the bill does not increase the PFC charge, but does include a provision to keep cell phone voice calls off planes.
Asking members of Congress to co-sponsor the FASTER Act to support using the entire 9-11 aviation security fee for airport security and passenger facilitation to keep air travel safe.
Next up Mike McCormick interviews former Reps. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and Al Wynn (D-MD) on navigating the partisan divide.
The show wraps with interviews with the 2018 GBTA Navigator Award honorees. The Navigator Award honors Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry.
Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Today, I testified on behalf of GBTA at a hearing held by the Homeland Security Committee’s House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security. The purpose of the hearing, Addressing The TSA Checkpoint: The PreCheck Program and Airport Wait Times, was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA PreCheck program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.
It cannot be overstated how important travel is to the U.S. economy... or any economy. As we always say, ‘Business travel drives business growth’. Companies invest in business travel to drive new business, create new jobs and build shareholder value.
As the busy summer travel season ramps up, GBTA is concerned past travel problems in screening as well as past statements and policies on foreign visitation will impact the rest of 2018 and beyond. The nation’s businesses spent $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips including roughly 144 million round trip flights. Because of this mass of travelers, GBTA has made secure and efficient travel a key platform of GBTA’s legislative policy and has been a supporter of TSA PreCheck since its first iteration as Registered Traveler.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Katko (R-NY) asked about cooperation from TSA and areas for improvement and growth. Our interaction with TSA has been terrific, but the reality is some of these areas we must accelerate, particularly the marketing of the programs to corporations.
Rep. Katko also added that PreCheck should not be used to manage traffic at airports, especially under the guise of risk-based security.
Regarding managed inclusion, GBTA believes its continued practice undermines the impetus to enroll and calls into question the entire premise of the program, which is prescreening travelers who through background checks have been identified as “safe” before they arrive at the airport. It’s time to finally put an end to this practice, which confers all the benefits of PreCheck without requiring any of the burdens.
TSA PreCheck cannot be the sole answer to long security lines. Accurate travel numbers, well thought out policies and solid analysis of historical data and forecasts, like the “GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast” are key to TSA’s ability to adequately staff checkpoints.
Ranking Chair Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) asked what message do the President’s policies and rhetoric send international visitors.
We are at a time of conflicting and sometimes seemingly contradictory views on how the business travel marketplace is trending – and what the future holds. On one hand, as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back, some would argue that business travel is healthy. But other underlying factors have a decidedly more negative impact on the future of business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.
GBTA projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent due to global uncertainty driven by current administration policies.
We have an obligation as a country to address the issues and to give companies that are driving the economy the support they need.
Watch the full hearing.
*This post was originally sent as an email to GBTA members.*
As the spring season begins, GBTA continues to build on the momentum of their initiatives and events. Below is a brief update on what is happening at GBTA.
To ensure GBTA is the preeminent source of continuing education in the industry, we recently launched a Blue Ribbon Education Panel to evaluate and enhance GBTA's educational offerings. Comprised of industry leaders, the panel will determine what content is most relevant and how best to deliver it in a way that creates a personalized education experience and career pathway for travel industry professionals. We want to ensure that GBTA's educational programming takes into account the needs of all our members, regardless of their industry tenure, position or membership type. Stay tuned for more information on this.
State of the Industry
Seven years ago last month, we changed our name from the National Business Travel Association to the Global Business Travel Association. With that name change, we effectively broadened our mission from a domestic focus to an international, worldwide vision. Making that change was a momentous decision that has served us well. The business travel marketplace has become truly global in scope.
As the marketplace evolves, so too must GBTA. As I announced recently at the Foundation Gala, in the coming months, GBTA, the Foundation and all the regions will come under one unified brand. The holistic GBTA will support one global community with one global brand on our one digital platform. The core values and activities of the individual regions and the Foundation's cutting-edge research and world-class education will continue unchanged. This year we will be conducting a number of new research projects and member-sponsored studies. And, of course, we will continue to produce and disseminate our trademark spending and pricing forecast studies.
Why the change, you may ask. Creating a single brand will enable us to deliver a consistently high-quality, global customer experience to meet our members' needs. With this exciting move, GBTA will continue to be the preeminent industry leader in events, research and professional development.
Committee Highlight: Government Relations Committee
For this month's Committee spotlight we look at the Government Relations Committee (GRC). The GRC promotes the interests of the business traveler and their companies through advocacy on legislative issues and initiatives designed to minimize adverse impacts on the business travel community. The Committee advocates for improvements in infrastructure, fair taxes and fees, and facilitation of travel around the world including trusted traveler programs, among others.
Navigating the political field is not an easy job, so to help us learn more, the GRC hosts the annual GBTA Legislative Summit. The Summit provides attendees with an opportunity to meet with Senators and Representatives, hear from Administration officials and Members of Congress, and learn more about the issues facing our industry. This year's Legislative Summit will be held on June 4-6, 2018, and has moved to a new venue at the landmark Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown Washington, D.C.
The Committee has also kicked off its 12th Annual Government Relations Challenge which is designed to draw attention to business travel issues and to push for favorable legislation on a national basis. Each of the Challenge tasks help engage our membership in raising the profile of the business travel industry. I hope to see you all at Legislative Summit 2018.
Mexico: GBTA just concluded its 12th annual conference in Mexico City. The conference brought together attendees from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to discuss the most pressing issues facing the industry. Topics covered everything from how to develop the best travel policy to the growing importance of Latin America for the airline industry.
Looking ahead: On April 16-18, GBTA will be hosting the Canada Conference in Toronto. This is the premier business travel event in Canada. Last year the event was sold out so don't delay in registering. On April 23, 2018, GBTA will be hosting the Brazil Conference in Curitiba. This is one of the most important corporate travel events in the southern region of the country. This event will feature educational sessions and networking opportunities.
We are celebrating GBTA's 50th Anniversary this year at Convention in San Diego from August 11-15. We'd like to hear about your favorite memories of past Conventions. Those memories can come in the form of pictures, videos, brochures or any memorabilia you may have of past events. If you have a great memory of your first Convention or a stand-out Convention, we want to hear about it. We have created an easy way to submit those memories, just click on this link. GBTA Convention will be here before we know it. I can't wait to see you there.
As always, thank you to our members for your continued support and commitment. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or questions you may have.
Happy New Year! The Week in Review is back in action to inform you of the latest news and trends in business travel.
Travelers were in for quite the ride this week, as winter storms and unfavorable weather conditions wreaked havoc on travel worldwide.
On Wednesday morning, Storm Eleanor’s high gusts and rain disrupted travel throughout the United Kingdom, Buying Business Travel reports.
In the United States, airlines canceled 4,000 flights on Thursday due to the winter “bomb cyclone” spanning across the East Coast, according to USA TODAY.
Delhi’s international airport started off the new year with hundreds of flight delays, diversions and cancellations, as a dense fog enveloped the city, Business Traveller reports.
In more uplifting news, United Press International shares findings from a new report suggesting 2017 was the safest year for commercial airline travel. The report claims there were 111 total accidents with only two resulting in fatalities.
Leading up to our 50th Annual Convention in San Diego, we’ll be featuring weekly Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts and sharing pieces of history from Convention, the travel management industry and general travel industry. This week, we took a look at the early years, when GBTA was originally founded as the National Passenger Traffic Association in 1968.
USA TODAY claims Hilton is changing its “Do Not Disturb” sign policy. The brand is advising team members to alert security if a sign has been on a guest’s door for over 24 hours.Buying Business Travel notes Concur rebranded as SAP Concur as the two brands continue to combine. SAP completed its acquisition of Concur over three years ago in December 2014.
Heathrow reduced its airport fees for domestic flights by £15, Business Traveller reports.
The TSA will begin enforcing REAL ID requirements at U.S. airports this month, but for now, there’s no need to worry. Skift notes the passenger deadline has been extended for driver’s license requirements on domestic flights.
According to Skift, IAG plans to acquire Austria’s Niki Air in a $24 million deal. The same source notes expense reporting software Chrome River raised $35 million in funding.
As we go into the new year, TheStreet notes airfare prices and hotel prices are expected to rise 3.5% and 3.7%, respectively.
Your list for this week comes from Tnooz:
The Top Six Technology Priorities for Airports in 2018
After a brief hiatus, the Week in Review is back! This week started off with a massive power outage at Atlanta’s international airport on Sunday leading to over 1,150 canceled flights and the issuance of a ground stop by the FAA, USA TODAY reports.
On Monday, an Amtrak train in Washington derailed off a bridge resulting in multiple fatalities, according to NBC News. The train was traveling at 80 MPH in a 30-MPH zone and was not using positive train control, a technology that can prevent derailments caused by excessive speed.
Skift reports that President Trump called for infrastructure improvements following the Amtrak accident. In the past, he has stated he will introduce a $1 trillion proposal to update airports, roads, and other public infrastructure.
In other ground transportation news, The State Journal-Register notes Illinois’ $1.95 billion high-speed rail project is in its final phase after seven years of construction.
The business travel community continues to embrace the sharing economy, with 51% of companies allowing the use of ride-hailing apps in their travel policies. GBTA released a series of infographics this week that highlight app-based, ride-hailing usage in corporate travel, ground transportation quick facts and travel manager concern for various ground transportation options.
According to Commercial Property Executive, Choice Hotels will acquire WoodSpring Suites in a $231 million deal, adding 240 extended-stay hotels to its portfolio.
Also in acquisition news, TravelDailyNews International reports NOVUM Hospitality acquired one of Frankfurt’s largest conference hotels which boasts 396 rooms and 14 event spaces.
Digital Trends shares news of a growing email scam that cost Japan Airlines nearly $3.39 million USD. An airline employee was tricked into making payments to bank accounts created by fraudsters.
Travelers can now send messages to hotels directly from their Google search results, according to Hotel News Resource. Hoteliers may activate this feature by signing into their Google My Business page and navigating to the chat tile.
On Wednesday, Congress passed a controversial tax bill, which many travel companies are enthusiastically backing, Skift reports.
After the UK officially leaves the EU in 2019, British passports will return to their blue and gold design, Business Traveller notes.
Traveling this holiday season? TravelDailyNews International reveals the most stressful US airports based on flight cancellations.
From the shocking news of Brexit to multiple travel and electronics bans, Skift looks back on how corporate travel became much more complicated in 2017.
Your list for this week comes from Skift:
25 Travel Moments that Mattered in 2017
Last week, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality. Net neutrality was the regulation that ensured internet websites and services were treated equally by internet service providers. Internet broadband providers are insisting they will not do anything to harm the overall user experience for internet customers and those in favor of the repeal, including the large telecommunications companies, felt it was an unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation that discouraged investment in broadband networks.
In a completely separate move, the Department of Transportation removed two regulatory proposals as part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to reduce regulations and promote business. The first proposal from 2011 proposed to collect detailed information about airline fees on 19 services including priority check-in, baggage, in-flight entertainment, food and seat assignments. The January proposal from this year would have required airlines and ticket agents to disclose upfront all fees for the first and second checked bags, and for carry-on bags adjacent to the fare.
The reasoning behind both of these decisions was removing regulations will reduce costs and encourage business growth. But, what if it doesn’t? What if, instead, the unintended consequences of these decisions hurt a broad array of businesses in the long run – particularly small businesses? How will this affect a company’s ability to optimize their travel expenditures to drive future economic growth?
Our concern is that these unintended consequences will not benefit the business travel industry. Changes in net neutrality could potentially lead to restricted access for certain travel sites or steeper barriers to entry for travel start-ups.
Lack of transparency in airline fees has a much more immediate direct impact on the industry. The benefit of transparent fees and knowing the full cost of an airline ticket upfront is a no-brainer for business and consumer travelers alike. When it comes to the business of travel, lack of information can prevent third-party sellers from being able to provide their clients with the full cost of airfare – a lose-lose situation for ticketing agencies, travel managers and the companies that foot the bill for business travel.
Why should the Administration consider the business travel impact when making these decisions? Because business travel drives lasting business growth. Business travel is a major economic driver, with every 1 percent change in business travel spending resulting in the U.S. economy gaining or losing 74,000 jobs, $5.5 billion in GDP, $3.3 billion in wages and $1.3 billion in taxes.
GBTA will closely monitor the impact of these decisions over time, and will work with the Administration to encourage pro-business travel policies for the good of our entire economy.