The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Thai-based hospitality group Minor Hotels has purchased an additional stock in NH Hotels, increasing its holding to 94%, Business Traveller reports. The purchase will enable Minor Hotels to expand in Europe, while also allowing NH Hotels to put down roots in Asia.

Icelandair has signed an agreement to buy budget airline WOW Air for nearly $18 million USD (approximately €15.9 million), Buying Business Travel notes.

According to France24, Airbnb is being sued by French hoteliers for unfair competition. The main trade group for French hotels, The Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) accuses the home-sharing company of “knowingly violating” certain imposed rules.

What will the election mean for business travel? Regardless of who wins or loses, a change in committee leadership means a change in governing philosophies, ultimately affecting our industry. Here are the main travel-related committees to keep an eye on.  

Birmingham Airport has unveiled a £500m master plan to increase capacity and improve the traveler experience, Buying Business Travel notes. The investment aligns with the airport’s desire to grow traffic by 40% (to 18 million passengers annually) by 2033.

Over the next 20 years, China will account for approximately 19% of the world’s aircraft demand, Business Traveller reports. According to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, the country is projected to require nearly 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Star Alliance is putting virtual reality technology to the test in select lounges, Business Traveller writes. Travelers flying through CDG in Paris and FCO in Rome can try out the virtual reality systems, which may eventually be offered on planes and across lounges globally.

The TSA will begin testing new technology that can screen multiple passengers from up to 25 feet away, Los Angeles Times reports. If the terahertz screening devices pass the initial tests at a TSA facility, they may be further tested at U.S. airports.  

According to IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, air traffic could double to 8.2 billion travelers in 2037. The forecast also outlines China, the United States, India, Indonesia and Thailand as the fastest growing aviation markets.

A no-deal Brexit would result in 5 million fewer outbound trips made globally by 2022, Travel Weekly reports. These findings come from a new study by Euromonitor International. They also claim Spain will see the brunt of this, since UK travelers account for nearly 21% of inbound revenues in the country.

Following in Lyft’s footsteps, ride-sharing company Uber has launched a Ride Pass subscription option in select cities, Business Traveller notes.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport received a new 2.5 million square-foot parking and car rental facility on Wednesday, ABC7 reports. The $242 million facility features 13 car rental agencies, 12 electronic charging stations and “innovative parking guidance technology”.


BREXIT UPDATE: UK Leaders Must Not Leave the EU Without A Deal

GBTA Calls on EU and UK Leaders to Agree on Outstanding Issues in the Withdrawal Agreement

Progress in the Brexit negotiations since the June 2018 European Council Summit has been slow by every measure. The UK and EU negotiating teams have met in Brussels since mid-August in the hope of finalizing the outstanding issues in the Withdrawal Agreement preparing the exit of the UK from the EU. Despite these efforts, they have reached the long-earmarked deadline of the October European Council Summit without evidence of clear progress on some of the key remaining issues relating to the Withdrawal Agreement, such as Northern Ireland.

Even despite positive talks over the weekend, political considerations have brought us back to square one.

In this context, ahead of the European leaders’ Summit taking place on 17-18 October, GBTA stresses once again that securing the Withdrawal Agreement and transition remains essential for the business travel industry. The lack of progress in negotiations puts into question the feasibility of guaranteeing certainty for businesses with an effective, predictable transition period as of March 2019. Letting the UK leave the EU without a deal would lead to brutal changes to the current trading, economic and social environments causing serious consequences on business travelers themselves, as citizens and as business representatives.

Although GBTA welcomes the EU and the UK’s increased activities on preparing stakeholders for every outcome including a “no deal”, with publications of many technical notices (UK and EU), the priority remains to not reach that point. We appreciate the fact that aviation is one of the few areas in which the European Commission and the UK Government has been forthcoming with their contingency planning. The UK has in fact committed to unilaterally grant permits to allow EU airlines to continue providing their services in the UK. We can only hope that the EU-27 will agree to reciprocate these permits for UK airlines even in the case of a no deal.

While Brexit contingency planning for the aviation sector is relatively advanced, if not properly managed, risks still exist that would undermine many key principles critical to the business travel industry. GBTA has been continuously defending the need for proper connectivity, robust competition and high standards for safety and security measures for travelers as well. 

That is why GBTA calls on the EU and the UK to harness the general momentum to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement, including the vital transition period, by mid-November at the latest. This will ensure the EU-27, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament have sufficient time to adopt the provisions of the agreement. GBTA also looks forward to EU and UK negotiators initiating discussions on the framework for the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK, especially when it comes to future aviation arrangements.

Finally, GBTA looks forward to meeting with key EU decision makers again this week to discuss Brexit and its impact on the business travel sector at this critical juncture.   


Brexit: Business Travelers Concerned by Threatening “No Deal” Prospect

The Clock is Ticking: GBTA Reiterates Call to EU and UK Brexit Negotiators to Agree on Withdrawal Issues and Quickly Start Discussing Future Relationship & Aviation

A few months ago, GBTA commented positively on progress achieved at the March 2018 meeting, where a way forward was finally found on Withdrawal issues, namely Citizens’ rights, the Northern Ireland border and the financial settlement. GBTA also positively welcomed the agreement found on the length of transition period, which provided some reassurance to businesses and their business travelers.

However, looking at the way negotiations have unfolded since then, GBTA’s hope that decision makers will make good progress and start negotiating the EU-UK future trade deal is fading. Despite what was announced this March, and as demonstrated by the Joint EU-UK Statement assessing the progress of negotiations published on 19 June, only minor achievements have been made and Northern Ireland continues to be a sticking point, preventing the EU and UK negotiators from moving forward on trade and aviation issues.

This has created a highly uncertain situation for business travel, and uncertainty is never good for business. Therefore, in advance of the 28-29 June EU Summit, the business travel industry calls upon European institutions to carefully consider the implications of this uncertainty for businesses and commit to rapidly opening up negotiations on the future EU-UK trade deal as well as on the future EU-UK future aviation deal.

A seamless transition towards a sound aviation deal is crucial for the economy, businesses and the business travel industry. Prospects of Brexit for aviation are alarming: obstacles for UK airlines to operate in the EU and with the rest of the world, reduced connectivity and travel choices as well as risks to travel safety and security if the UK leaves the European Agency for Aviation Safety. The practical effect of a failure to reach an agreement would be the immediate suspension of flights between the UK and the European Union.   

The EU and UK economies cannot afford a no deal. Neither can businesses nor business travelers. This is why GBTA remains committed to being involved every step of the way to advocate for the best interests of our industry.

 


Podcast: Brexit – What Happens on January 1, 2021?

On the latest episode of The Business of Travel, GBTA talks Brexit and its impact on business travel. First up, Russell Patten, CEO of Grayling Brussels and Chairman of Grayling European Public Affairs, shares his perspectives on how negotiations are going and his predictions on how Brexit will ultimately impact business travel. Next, European Parliament MEP Daniel Dalton shares his views on what is at stake for the aviation sector and what long-term success will look like after Brexit is finalized.

 

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcher, Google Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Week in Review

When the Boeing 707 entered the aviation world in 1958, the seat pitch measured at 34 inches. Today, that measurement varies widely depending on the airline and distance being travelled. The Telegraph shares varying statistics on legroom, including the best and worst airlines for legroom and seat widths today compared to 30 years ago.

In anticipation of Brexit, the United Kingdom is planning on hiring 1,000 new Border Force staff “to make sure that every area is made secure”, Business Traveller reports.

Delta Air Lines and Korean Air have received clearance to launch their transpacific joint venture, Buying Business Travel reports.

Qantas made history this week, with the launch of a 17-hour direct flight from Australia to London, USA TODAY reports.

Following in Marriott’s footsteps, Hilton is cutting the commissions it pays to third-party group and meetings planners at hotels in the U.S. and Canada, HotelMarketing’com reports.

According to Bloomberg, Qantas plans to expand its schedule of ultra-long-haul routes and is evaluating the addition of a direct flight from Australia to Chicago.

On the latest episode of our The Business of Travel podcast, Jon Gray of Rockport Analytics breaks down key takeaways from our annual business travel spending forecast and discusses what each means for the business travel industry.

Delta Sky Clubs are now offering biometric check-in options for its members who are enrolled in CLEAR, Business Traveler notes.

According to Skift, expense technology providers are using big data techniques and machine learning to make it easier for travel managers and financial departments to design smarter travel policies.

Following the new tax bill that was signed in December, much of the hotel industry is hoping that lower corporate taxes will revive corporate meetings, The New York Times reports.

Bloomberg reports airlines are drawing scrutiny from the U.K. government over ancillary fees. In 2016 alone, 66 airlines generated $45 billion in ancillary revenue.

Early this week, Uber sold its Southeast Asian ride-hailing business to Singapore-based rival Grab, Skift reports. However, TechCrunch reports regulators in Singapore believe the purchase violates competition laws.

USA TODAY shares a list highlighting the USA’s best airlines for on-time flights.


Business Travelers Welcome “Sufficient Progress” Declaration

GBTA Urges EU and UK Brexit Negotiators to Quickly Start Discussing Future Relationship

More than a year has passed since Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom officially started, which gave both the EU and the UK until March of 2019 to decide on the conditions of the UK’s departure from the EU. Following numerous negotiation rounds between both governments, it seems that a way forward has finally been found on phase 1 issues, namely Citizens’ rights, the Northern Ireland border and the financial settlement.

With this “sufficient progress” achieved, the EU expressed its readiness last week to enter discussions on a transition agreement and “its desire to establish a close partnership between the Union and the United Kingdom”. This is good news welcomed by the business travel industry. But the devil is in the details and full clarity on the transition and the future EU-UK relationship, which are highly likely to impact how business travel operates between the EU and the UK, is yet to be found.

Uncertainty is never good for business. That is why following last week’s Council of the remaining 27 Member States, GBTA urges European institutions to officially start the discussions on transition and on the second phase of negotiations quickly in order to give more time, clarity and certainty for the travel industry to prepare and adapt to all these expected changes.

  • Air transport is one of the key issues to be addressed for the business travel industry. If the UK doesn’t remain in the common aviation area after it officially leaves the EU, there will be obstacles for UK airlines to operate in the EU and with the rest of the world. This could reduce connectivity, travel choices and therefore business travel opportunities. Depending on the UK’s membership to the European Agency for Aviation Safety (EASA), divergence in security or air traffic rules could also appear. Michael Huerta, head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration traveled to London and Brussels last week to talk with both sides on the importance of clarity on whether the UK can retain its role in EASA. Huerta said it is important to have this clarity early in the new year as it will be “absolutely critical” to understand how aviation safety will be governed in the UK.

  • As for travelers, they could face longer queues and delays if it the UK decides to introduce restrictive border checks or even specific working visas for citizens of certain EU countries to reduce influx of economic migrants. However, any visa regime between an EU Member State must be negotiated at the EU level, meaning that the UK cannot take a specific approach for one EU country – or it would face retaliation measures from the EU.

  • The financial upheaval and pending changes to trade and immigration rules would also raise many concerns in corporate management and travel offices – causing some postponement, and even outright cancellation, of business trips. It may also trigger travel budget constriction as management seeks to hedge the uncertainty.

To manage these uncertainties and potential changes to the way business travel will operate in the EU and in the UK, transitional arrangements will be needed to enable the industry to have enough time to adapt to new regulatory and economic environments.

The true impact of Brexit on the business travel sector will only be fully revealed as time passes. But GBTA will be involved every step of the way keeping you up to date on how this will impact our industry and advocating on your behalf for the best interests of our industry.


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.


Week in Review

Buying Business Travel reports that the UK laptop ban has been lifted on Tunisia flights.

According to USA TODAY, Qantas is planning for a 20-hour non-stop flight from Australia to London.

Buying Business Travel reports that Vietnam Airlines and Garuda have agreed to an extended partnership including more codeshares.

Business Traveller notes that the disparity between business and economy classes is growing.

According to Buying Business Travel, corporate travel rewards specialist Rocketrip has signed deals with a range of new corporate clients.

Tnooz shares findings from a new study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel which reveals that 88% of business travelers find business travel easier to navigate thanks to technology.

Buying Business Travel notes that Labour leaders could vote against the addition of a third runway at Heathrow due to environmental concerns about pollution.

According to Skift, KLM has become the first non-Chinese airline to accept WeChat Pay.

Tnooz reports that Delta has added video chat to its customer service line-up.

Business Traveller claims that Portuguese immigration officers planned a walk-out on Thursday and Friday.

According to Buying Business Travel, Loganair signed a new distribution deal with Sabre.

NPR reports that China is relaunching their high-speed rail service, which happens to be the world’s fastest inter-city lines.

Buying Business Travel notes that Edinburgh Airport has begun working on a new £80 million extension to its terminal.

According to Skift, UK business travel is in a post-Brexit slump.

Business Traveller reports that Qatar Airways has launched a pre-order dining service enabling business and first class passengers to pre-order their main course up to 14 days before departure.

BBC has revealed the worst flight routes and longest average delays experienced by UK passengers.

According to Hotelmarketing’com, hotels are making strides in measuring ancillary revenues.


Brexit’s Article 50 is Triggered: The Future of Business Travel in Europe is at Stake

This afternoon in Brussels, GBTA met various leaders including Mr. Tim Figures, Head of the Competitiveness and Market department as part of the Permanent Representation of the United Kingdom to the European Union on this historical day in the future of Europe.

Article 50 has been delivered at approximately 12:30pm Brussels local time today.

Last June, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, which fostered the term “Brexit”. Yesterday marked the next major milestone in this process as Prime Minister Theresa May signed Article 50 officially beginning the separation process. Today, it was delivered to European Council president Donald Tusk. By triggering Article 50 and formally notifying the intention to withdraw, the clock to negotiate the UK’s exit starts running.

So, what happens next? The EU has 48 hours to respond with draft negotiating guidelines. The EU is also likely to convene an emergency EU Leaders Summit on 6 April to discuss the matter. Negotiations should begin in earnest this June. This BBC article profiles the leaders who will be key to the negotiating process.

The UK and the EU will have two years from today to agree on an exit agreement as well as a new trading relationship. The two-year negotiating period can be extended for one year if all other EU countries agree. Any agreement needs to be unanimous among every country involved. If the talks collapse at any point in the two years, Britain could face leaving the EU without a deal at all.

The main objective of the EU will be to minimize the negative impact of UK’s exit on the EU economy and business while demonstrating that the UK cannot ‘have its cake and eat it too’ in order to avoid setting a dangerous precedent for other countries.

What does Brexit mean for business travel and the economy? Uncertainty is never good for business. We have seen this in the impact of recent executive orders issued by President Trump to the electronics ban implemented by both the United States and the UK.

The potential for financial upheaval and pending changes to trade and immigration rules will raise many concerns in corporate management and travel offices – causing some postponement and even outright cancellation of business trips. It may also trigger travel budget constriction as management seeks to hedge the uncertainty.

A positive, and perhaps unintended, consequence that could result will be the possibility that negotiations will help the EU finally push through barriers in discussions about EU aviation including modernizing the EU airspace, air traffic management and air passenger rights.

The true impact will only be fully revealed as time passes. GBTA will be involved every step of the way keeping you up to date on how this will impact our industry and advocating on your behalf for the best interests of our industry.

All this week, GBTA is in Brussels engaging with policy makers at the Council of Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament. As we meet with these key EU decision-makers, we will focus primarily on visa issues expressing the importance of visa-free travel reciprocity between the EU and the United States and will also address transport and aviation-related issues. Stay tuned for a more in depth post on our engagement with EU policymakers.


Together We Are Stronger - Advocating for Business Travel

During GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in partnership with VDR last week, GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick and VDR Executive Director Hans-Ingo Biehl delivered a speech from Centre Stage focused on our collective advocacy efforts in the EU as we work to deliver a pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels. europe-mike-and-ingo-speech

Here is a transcript of the full speech:

MIKE: Last year, Ingo and I announced the launch of our advocacy initiative on behalf of the business travel industry in Europe. Our collective efforts have resulted in delivering a very effective pro-business travel message to the elected and appointed governmental decision makers in Brussels.

We knew the time had come for us to make this investment in our collective future. We began with not a moment to spare as immigration worries, terrorism events and global economic upheaval threaten the future of not just our industry – but every other industry – as business travel drives business growth globally.

Brexit was something the experts said wouldn’t happen. Just this past week, the United States capped one of the most turbulent elections in recent history and against all polls elected a hotelier named Donald Trump.

And although it might feel like these are isolated events or unusual times, the future likely holds even more uncertainty as more countries face elections as part of an overall global political realignment.

INGO: It is for these reasons that we as a group, as an industry, must remain connected and active in our efforts to ensure safely vetted business travelers continue to have access to European markets. As we can attest, free movement of people is essential to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in Europe.

With the current terrorism threats and a refugee crisis, enhancing security must remain a key priority for European authorities. However, we must continue to remind them to support legislative proposals that continue to allow the efficient movement of low risk business travelers entering and exiting the EU.

MIKE: But unfortunately, some of these discussions both in Brussels and the United States are taking a worrisome direction. For instance, if the EU was to re-introduce trip-by-trip visa requirements for U.S. business travelers - and this could actually happen - this would severely impact your ability to do your job, place further stress on consulates’ resources and set back the current strategic relationship between the EU and the United States.

This is part of a much larger debate on issues ranging from the future of the sharing economy to the implementation of Brexit – we’ll have more on that in a minute for you as we host a Brexit debate here on stage.

INGO: This is why we are here this week, meeting and discussing business travel topics and future messaging to our politicians to ensure business travel continues to grow and remains safe, yet efficient.

With our different opinions, experiences and beliefs, we are a microcosm of the entire global economy. We will have debates and disagreements. But, the one thing we must not forget is that Together We Are Stronger.

Thank you!