The Business of Travel

rss

The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we urge you to join the fight to help end trafficking. It can be as simple as training your associates to recognize the sign or including language in RFPs inquiring about suppliers’ trafficking policies. Making a positive difference starts with the decision to make a change, no matter how big or small. There are resources for travel buyers to help end trafficking, tips on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, and additional resources for buyers and suppliers.

According to SiliconANGLE, Singapore Airlines recently revealed the data of 285 frequent flyers was compromised following a buggy website update.

Travel Leaders Group is set to acquire UK-based event management company Your Event Solutions (YES), Skift notes.

Winter storm Gia is expected to hit a 1,500-mile path from Colorado to the Mid-Atlantic region, USA TODAY reports. In advance of the storm, several major airlines are waiving change fees for passengers traveling through certain airports.

According to The Local Germany, walkouts by security personnel at several airports across Germany led to the cancellation of over 800 flights, affecting over 100,000 passengers. The Verdi union warns that another strike will take place on Tuesday at Frankfurt airport.  

Heathrow is offering local communities the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback as it prepares to build its third runway, Buying Business Travel notes. The airport will hold 30 consultation events across neighborhoods surrounding the airport, where individuals can weigh in on how the airport should manage noise and local factors that Heathrow should consider in designing future flight paths.

According to ABC7 News, the pilot shortage is causing debate among some individuals in the airline industry. Boeing predicts airlines will need 790,000 new pilots around the world in the next 20 years, but even today, the shortage is causing small regional airlines to shut down. Some argue that the extensive training programs should be relaxed, but pilots warn that the 1,500 hours of flight time is necessary.

Portuguese airline HiFly aims to eliminate all single-use, disposable plastics in 2019, Business Traveller reports. The airline recently took its first flight completely free of single-use items like straws and cutlery.

What should you do if an airline damages your checked luggage? USA TODAY weighs in.

Avis Budget plans to equip 50,000 of its vehicles across Europe and the US with keyless technology, Buying Business Travel writes. The technology enables customers to completely manage their rental experience through the Avis mobile app.

According to Business Traveller, Air France is adding a “Healthy” meal option to the a la carte menu for its premium economy and economy class. Passengers can book the meals for long-haul flights departing Paris from April onwards.

During CES, Google revealed a few updates to Google Assistant including navigation, travel and translation features, The Next Web notes. The voice assistant can now help travelers check-in to a flight, retrieve a boarding pass, provide real-time translations, and more.

Airbnb has partnered with American Red Cross to raise awareness and provide safety information for hosts and guests, 4Hoteliers writes. The goal is to keep people safe from home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.


Week in Review

Another Friday, another Week in Review blog post! We’re rounding up the top industry news stories to keep you updated on the latest happenings in business travel.

London had quite a bit of trouble this week, first with the forced closure of London City Airport due to an operation to remove a 500 kg (1,102 lb.) World War Two bomb. According to BBC, all Monday flights were cancelled affecting up to 16,000 passengers.

Two days later, a vehicle collision at Heathrow resulted in one death and major flight delays and cancellations, Travel + Leisure reports.

According to Skift, Airbnb is set to launch a new tier of properties through its latest product, Airbnb Select. The program “invites selected hosts with high ratings and reviews to be part of a curated collection of listings that undergo an inspection and professional photography process.”

Lodging Magazine shares findings from a hospitality survey revealing the seven meeting trends of 2018.

A last-minute flight bidding app launched recently, allowing travelers to place bids on seats within two weeks of flying, Business Traveller notes.  

As we continue to work our way through GBTA’s history, this week’s throwback post takes a look at the Association and industry through the 1980s. The late ‘80s brought about tighter travel budgets as the U.S. economy slowed, with corporate travel departments scrambling to cut costs where possible.

A Philippine consortium submitted a $6.7 billion USD (€5.38 billion) proposal to modernize Manila’s international airport, Reuters reports.

According to Aviation Pros, Munich Airport and Lufthansa have begun testing humanoid robot “Josie Pepper” in Terminal 2. The AI-powered robot can assist passengers by provding directions to their gate and other similar requests.

Singapore Airlines now offers complimentary Wi-Fi for its premium passengers, Business Traveller shares.

USA TODAY reports United Airlines takes the lead for on-time performance among other U.S. airlines.

The same source notes President Trump proposed to raise TSA fees for one-way tickets from $5.50 to $6.60.

According to Buying Business Travel, Uber is set to introduce a host of new safety features, including a 24/7 support line for both passengers and drivers.

In other ridesharing news, Business Traveler reports Lyft added 14 cities to its commuter tax program, allowing customers to use pre-tax dollars for Lyft Line rides.


Week in Review

The United States has been plagued by winter storms in the Northeast, Ohio Valley and Chicago this week. A storm on Wednesday led to 1,235 cancelled flights and 5,900 delays throughout the country, USA TODAY reports.

According to NBC Chicago, the Chicago area is currently facing its biggest snowstorm of the season, causing multiple airlines to waive their change fees.

In acquisition news, Conference & Incentive Travel reports American Express GBT bought HRG in a reported £400 million ($552 million USD) deal.

IATA expects 7.8 billion people to travel globally by air in 2036. The organization is now warning of the infrastructure challenges the aviation industry faces, TravelPulse shares.

If you’re traveling through Dubai International Airport, you’re in luck. DXB recently installed smart passport gates to expedite transaction times, Buying Business Travel reports.

According to Skift, Singapore’s Changi Airport wants to charge travelers a fee to help fund the construction of its new terminal.  

In 1967, a group of passenger travel associations began laying the groundwork for what would become the National Passenger Traffic Association (NPTA). Although we go by GBTA today, we will always appreciate our history. Take a black and white look at our past through our photos from the ‘60s to ‘70s.

Buying Business Travel notes Star Alliance created a digital services platform in partnership with Accenture that “allows customers to access a range of member airlines’ services through each other’s apps.”

In other Star Alliance news, Skift claims the alliance is looking to add more low-cost carrier members.

Eurostar has confirmed the launch of its Amsterdam route to be on April 4, Business Traveller shares. Travelers may begin purchasing tickets on February 20.

According to Buying Business Travel, Airbnb plans to open its distribution platform to traditional hospitality providers through a technology partnership with Siteminder.

Business Traveller reports Lufthansa Group plans to introduce preferred seating zones on select long-haul services.

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2018 list of top-ranked hotels, MeetingsNet writes.

According to Bitcoin News, Japan’s leading low-cost airline plans to accept Bitcoin in the near future.


Week in Review

Shortly before it was set to take effect, two federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Trump’s third travel ban, reports Mother Jones.

According to USA TODAY, United Airlines estimates hurricanes cost $210 million in revenue with 8,300 canceled flights.

Travel Trade Daily reports Singapore Airlines added Android Pay and Apple Pay as payment options for their mobile app.

Buying Business Travel notes JetBlue announced it will end relationships with over ten online travel agencies.

According to Skift, hundreds of flights were cancelled across Europe as Storm Ophelia took hold in Ireland.

TravelDailyNews International reports Yapta has delivered $100 million in combined travel savings to its enterprise customers.

Buying Business Travel shares findings from a new report that suggests travellers’ exposure to risk is increasing.

Business Traveller notes China Airlines is set to launch a non-stop service between London and Taipei. The average flight time is around 13 hours.

Skift claims self-driving cars are likely to be tested on Manhattan streets next year.

According to Business Traveller, Boeing and Airbus have accepted Qantas’ ultra-long-haul challenge. Both manufacturers are attempting to make modifications to their aircraft to make 20-hour passenger flights viable.

Travel Agent Central reports U.S. travel buyer compensation is up 5.5 percent year-over-year.

Corporate & Incentive Travel highlights the costs and benefits of managing small meetings.

According to The National, Etihad launched a hand baggage only trial where travelers can purchase lower fares if they refrain from checking bags.

Buying Business Travel notes Delta introduced an auto check-in feature through its app. The functionality automatically checks in passengers 24 hours prior to their flight.

TechCrunch reports Airbnb plans on opening a home-hotel hybrid in Florida in 2018. The 324-unit building would be Airbnb-branded, and tenants would be able to rent their listings for up to 180 days per year.

According to Buying Business Travel, Virgin Group is investing in Hyperloop One, a train concept that would enable passengers to travel from Edinburgh to London in just 50 minutes. Travel Industry Wire notes Toronto and New York signed a city-to-city partnership to boost travel between the two destinations.


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.


A Look at the Future of Lodging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No Surprises: Insight on Mitigating Risk for Business Travel to Cuba

As commerce and travel restrictions are further eased, business travel from the U.S. to Cuba is increasing. According to the Havana Consulting Group, which monitors business trends in Cuba, the number of Americans who traveled to Cuba increased 77 percent in 2015 from the prior year. In 2016, one million people visited Cuba, up nearly 15 percent from the previous year. From what we are seeing, airlines, hotels and telecommunications companies are clamoring to get in. Airbnb currently offers over 4000 properties in Cuba, and PayPal is researching possibilities for introducing an online remittance service.

A new business and personal destination for many, here are some important factors organizations should consider to meet their duty of care obligations, as well as arm business travelers with the tools they need to mitigate risk in this up-and-coming destination.

In addition to the basics, such as documentation requirements, health, insurance and safety information, travelers need to be made aware of demographic, political and infrastructure challenges they could face in a country where resources are limited and behavior closely policed. Some important factors to consider include technology and communications, weather, political climate, local transportation, home country consulate support and monetary limitations.

  • Ensure your travelers can communicate internationally as they could experience limited or diminished communication quality. Be sure travelers know who to contact in the event they need support and have written contact information. Wi-Fi is available in many Havana hotels, and the Federal Communications Commission provides valuable information on how to support communication needs while in Cuba.
     
  • Cuba’s east coast is prone to hurricanes from August to November, and earthquakes, landslides, and floods are not unheard of. Travelers need to keep enough cash on hand so they will be all right if there are power failures and ATM machines don’t work. Equip your travelers with back-up power sources for electronics.
     
  • There is a high level of social control and a strong police presence in Cuba. There are restrictions on freedom of speech and association and assembly for Cuban nationals. Criticism of the government and photographing military zones, airports or personnel is sufficient grounds for arrest, and political demonstrations not sanctioned by the Cuban government may be broken up. Travelers to Cuba should be aware that the Cuban government may detain anyone at any time for any purpose, and visitors should avoid demonstrations or large public gatherings.
     
  • Official taxis are generally reliable and it’s a good idea for travelers to ask the hotel to get a taxi. Travelers should be wary, or avoid altogether, private taxis and the older model private cars being offered as taxis, as they lack proper licensing and modern safety features. Many vehicles, including public transport, are poorly maintained. Travelers should be discouraged from operating motor vehicles, mopeds and rickshaws as roads are poorly lit and lack adequate road signs. Some travelers involved in traffic accidents have been detained up to several months, due to the lengthy police investigation that could ensue.
     
  • Confirm that your country is represented by a consulate prior to departure and note the contact telephone number and street address.

 

Organizations can further safeguard their workforce by fostering smart travelers and implementing an agile and strategically managed Travel Preparedness, Risk Mitigation, and Safety Program, supported by policies, procedures and internal business stakeholders.

Performing situation emergency drills, table top exercises and regularly scheduled travel profile contact information accuracy audits enhances a company’s ability to ensure the process works, or address opportunities for improvement.

Pre-trip destination and cultural awareness information must be easily accessed by travelers, and offering or requiring company-supported situational awareness and safety training adds an additional layer of protection.

As business opportunities open on the horizon, companies must make every effort to educate and empower their workforce, regardless of destination. Government:


Week in Review

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new proposed rule that would require airlines to disclose baggage fees alongside fares in an effort to provide travelers with more transparency. The DOT is currently seeking comment on whether other ancillary fees should also be disclosed with airfare information.

LCT Magazine reports chauffeured car service iCARS and booking service Limos.com recently completed their merger. The two companies will combine their complementary services and are expected to generate at least $65 million in revenue in 2017.

According to Fortune, Hyatt will acquire wellness hospitality company Miraval in a $215 million deal

Skift notes aircraft-engine maker Safran is set to purchase plane-seat supplier Zodiac in a $10.5 billion all-French deal. Skift shares business travel startup Upside raised $50 million at a $200 million valuation. The startup aims to find business travelers discounts by offering alternate travel routes and accommodation, in addition to flight-hotel bundles.

According to Skift, a new DOT report reveals U.S. flight cancellations and lost bags hit a historic low in over two decades. In November, the country’s 12 largest airlines cancelled 0.29 percent of flights (lowest rate since the government began tracking monthly cancellations in 1995) and mishandled 2.02 bags per 1,000 passengers (fewest since 1987, when the government began monitoring baggage).

According to TravelDailyNewsExpedia’s latest Airplane Etiquette Study reveals the "Rear Seat Kicker" as the most aggravating passenger, followed by inattentive parents and "aromatic" passengers.

According to Reuters, British Airways cabin crew commenced a three-day pay strike on Thursday, shortly after carrying out a two-day strike earlier this month. The airline claims it will fly all passengers throughout the strike.

Business Traveller shares findings from an Ookla study that claims Denver International Airport offers the fastest Wi-Fi among the top 20 busiest U.S. airports.

According to The Daily News, a report by the DOT’s inspector general finds the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t prepared to handle major air traffic control outages.

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Delta is ending its only service to Taiwan, with the route scheduled throughout the end of May.

According to Skift, JetBlue now offers free Wi-Fi on all of its flights across 225 aircraft. The service was previously limited to certain flights.

Travel Weekly reports average travel industry pay fell by nearly 3 percent in December to £21,190.

According to Travel Daily Asia, a new study suggests Airbnb and hotels complement, not compete with, each other. The study also found occupancy and rates at Airbnb properties are lower than similar hotel accommodations.


Week in Review

According to Business Traveller, a report by the National Economic Council finds hidden travel fees are a growing problem, as they accounted for an estimated $22.5 billion in airline revenue in 2015.

Tnooz notes Hilton has joined TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking platform, roughly three weeks after the news of a partnership between TripAdvisor and Expedia.

According to Ars Technica, over 96% of Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones have been returned, and airlines are no longer required to warn passengers about the devices before boarding. The devices remain banned from aircraft.

According to TechCrunch, Uber’s new calendar integration suggests destinations based on meetings and events in your calendar, granted you allow the app to access it.

Skift finds Alaska Airlines now offers free in-flight mobile messaging. Currently in beta, the amenity will be launched at full scale on January 24th.

Business Traveller shares findings from a FlightStats report that claims Alaska Airlines is the most punctual U.S. airline.

According to Travel Pulse, DOT Secretary nominee Elaine Chao is open to the idea of privatizing air traffic control.

Buying Business Travel reports UK business travel spend on Airbnb is on the rise, with spend growing 61 percent between Q3 2014 and Q2 2016.

According to Buying Business Travel, London City airport welcomed 4.5 million passengers in 2016, a record annual passenger traffic number.

Following last week’s two-day strike, British Airways cabin crew call a three-day walkout starting January 19, Buying Business Travel notes.

Tnooz reports Carlson Wagonlit Travel will shut down its travel concierge app Worldmate, four years after acquiring the company in a $20 million deal.

According to Skift, Congress is one step closer to letting government business travelers expense ride-sharing services.

Travel Weekly shares bmi regional will offer business travelers discounts as part of a government campaign to boost the UK’s export trade.

According to Travel Daily News, Pi has unveiled an integration that allows travel managers to access their employee's Airbnb data through the Pi platform.

This week’s list comes from Travel Daily News: Five Technologies the Hotel Industry Can’t Afford to Ignore in 2017


Week in Review

With the holidays just around the corner, Business Traveller reports on aviation strikes that may affect you.

According to Buying Business Travel, risk management company iJet International acquired UK crisis management company Red24.

Reuters reports American Airlines won $15 million in an antitrust case against Sabre. The jury awarded the airline $5.1 million, which will be tripled under federal antitrust law.

According to Buying Business Travel, Delta and Aeromexico have accepted conditions for a joint venture. They will be granted antitrust immunity for agreeing to conditions established by the Department of Transportation.

Bloomberg notes Airbnb is in the process of developing a service for booking air travel. The company may acquire an online travel agency or license data from a provider like Amadeus or Sabre.

According to Buying Business Travel, the UK government is launching a consultation on operating drones near aircraft after reports of 59 near-misses over the past year.

Tnooz reports Expedia is now integrated with TripAdvisor’s Instant booking platform, allowing users to book through the online travel agency without leaving the TripAdvisor website.

According to USA TODAY, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines announced the termination of their partnership. As of April 2017, their codesharing and frequent-flier partnerships will end.

Business Traveller shares news of a codeshare partnership between Jet Airways’ loyalty program JetPrivilege and Delta Air Lines’ loyalty program SkyMiles.

According to Reuters, Iran sealed a deal with Airbus for 100 aircraft, shortly following an agreement with Boeing for 80 aircraft.

With Asia-Pacific booming as the world’s largest travel market, 4Hoteliers shares how hoteliers must adapt to meet the expectations of travelers in the region.

HotelMarketing.com provides tips on how revenue strategists can manage rate and distribution strategies in a market of expanding supply.

According to USA TODAY, Delta has altered its in-flight medical policies after an incident in mid-October in which flight attendants doubted a black doctor’s credentials and prevented her from assisting a man in a health crisis. Delta’s attendants are no longer required to verify medical credentials.

Hotelmarketing.com states the online hotel booking market is expected to exceed $100 billion in 2016.

According to KKTV 11 News, the TSA has taken to social media to answer questions regarding prohibited items on flights. Users send a picture of the item in question to TSA via social media and receive an answer within 20 minutes.