The Business of Travel


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.

Podcast: ECPAT’s Efforts to Eliminate Child Trafficking

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel talks with Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA about ways the travel industry can help put an end to child trafficking. Michelle also discussed the importance of urging Congress to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.



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

Week in Review

Adding to a growing list of industry breaches, Delta revealed a data breach that may have exposed credit card information for hundreds of thousands of customers. According to The Verge, an online support company that powers the airline’s chat platform suffered a malware attack last fall, but failed to inform Delta until mid-March 2018.

According to Phocuswright, Google’s internal incubator lab is developing a corporate travel product that will create instant travel budgets and incentivize employees.

Chicago’s city council has approved a plan to invest $8.5 billion in O’Hare International Airport, Business Traveller notes. In addition to receiving upgrades in security screening, baggage handling and check-in technology, the airport's Terminal 2 will be demolished and replaced with a new international terminal.

Following in Qantas’ footsteps, Air New Zealand is introducing its own ultra-long-haul flight. Starting in November, the non-stop 16-hour flight will fly from Chicago O’Hare to Auckland, USA TODAY reports.

On the latest episode of The Business of Travel, we discuss cost savings strategies in managed travel programs from the basics on up. Two industry veterans share their experiences, perspectives and best practices when it comes to saving your travel program money.

A three-week air traffic control upgrade could delay London flights in the coming weeks, Buying Business Travel notes.

In acquisition news, Skift reports Red Lion Hotels is buying Knights Inn from Wyndham for $27 million.

The same source states AccorHotels plans to buy a 50 percent stake in Mantis Group, a South African hotel chain. The deal would add 28 properties to the group’s portfolio.

Continuing on this trend, Conference & Incentive Travel shares Business Travel Direct has completed its acquisition of Uniglobe Preferred Travel.

In 2017, over 40 million people were exploited in some form of human trafficking, an industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits worldwide. Traveler awareness has the potential to create a meaningful impact to end child prostitution and trafficking, and here’s how to recognize the signs of human trafficking.

According to The Register, the U.S. State Department wants all visa applicants to provide information about the social media accounts they’ve used in the past five years. The plan is yet to be approved.

Radisson Hotel Group is getting a makeover with a new, refreshed brand in the U.S., Travel Weekly reports. The project may result in the removal of 10 to 15 percent of non-compliant hotels.

French rail workers staged a mass strike from Monday evening to Wednesday morning, Skift notes. The strike halted 85 percent of the country’s high-speed trains and three-quarters of regional trains.

Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking

Last month, two young girls arrived at an airport with a few small bags, ready to embark on a trip to New York for a modeling gig. When they arrived at the ticket counter, airline agent Denice Miracle noticed they had no identification and that their one-way, first-class tickets were purchased online by someone with a different name. She immediately felt something was off and alerted law enforcement, thereby saving them from a likely trafficking incident.

In 2017 alone, over 40 million people were exploited in some form of human trafficking, an industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits worldwide. With over 514 million domestic U.S. business trips occurring ever year, traveler awareness has the potential to create a meaningful impact to end child prostitution and trafficking. The travel industry is uniquely situated as the eyes and ears of ECPAT’s initiative, and as such, GBTA recently hosted a webinar to spread awareness of the issue, inform participants of recognizable signs, and explain the reporting process for suspected trafficking.

To kick things off, ECPAT USA Director Michelle Guelbart explained how travel buyers can make an impact through their choice of suppliers. For example, when signing a new contract, buyers can incorporate RFP language around whether airlines, hotels, or other suppliers have received training on human trafficking. By asking these questions, buyers can create awareness in a non-offensive manner, especially with individual properties or suppliers who may be unaware of the issue, and inform them of the avenues to seek training. Michelle also walked through some key signs to look for when traveling. While these incidents are not always easy to spot, there are a few things to look for:

Next up, Caroline Meledo of Hilton Hotels gave a comprehensive overview of the brand’s training initiatives to combat trafficking. In addition to making the ECPAT training mandatory to their 5,100-plus hotels, Hilton launched their own training about the risks of modern slavery and trafficking in labor sourcing, since many properties outsource their housekeeping or food and beverage teams. The training engages key-decision makers in the outsourcing process, like general managers, HR directors, procurement directors, and directors of finance, and looks specifically at outsourcing practices and the best ways to check on outsourcing agencies.

Similarly, Kirsten Williams of Delta Air Lines provided a glimpse into the airline’s efforts to fight trafficking, noting the importance of engagement from the C-suite down to the frontline. Thus far, over 55,000 employees have completed training in identifying and responding to trafficking crimes. Through their #GetOnBoard initiative, Delta raises awareness and encourages the public to join in the fight to end trafficking. The airline also offers a mileage donation program, allowing SkyMiles members to donate miles to help return victims to their families. Over 490,000 miles have been donated as of December 2017, and they have been used to help 38 victims.

At the end of the webinar, moderator Mitchell Stern provided a few resources and calls-to-action for various players within the business travel industry.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

Senator Amy Klobuchar Talks Benefits of Cuba with GBTA Members

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke this afternoon at the 14th Annual GBTA Legislative Symposium, an event that brings business travel professionals to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers to share opinions on key industry issues.


Senator Klobuchar spoke positively about the FAA bill passing in the Senate, which was received by applause. She spoke passionately about Cuba and her role in leading the charge to lift the Cuba embargo. “Fifty-five years of a failed policy is enough.”  She said that opening passage into Cuba will be a long transition but a worthwhile one. She concluded by telling attendees that “change happens, all we need to do is look for the positive opportunities it brings.”

GBTA also presented Senator Klobuchar with the inaugural GBTA Navigator Award, created to honor Senators and Representatives who have been strong champions for business travelers and the business travel industry.

Senator Klobuchar is a recipient of the Navigator Award for her outstanding leadership and her work to increase the security of our nation’s transportation networks, strengthen aviation safety standards and promote competition leading to a safer, more secure and more productive experience for business travelers. In addition, her efforts to combat human trafficking is an important issue that GBTA strongly supports through its efforts with ECPAT.


In conjunction with the Navigator award, GBTA unveiled a new Rules of the Road for optimizing business travel at its 14th annual Legislative Symposium. GBTA mobilized its members to create this declaration of travel reform to guide industry, business leaders and policy makers in creating a travel ecosystem that fosters growth, jobs, safety and efficiency around the globe.

FAA Reauthorization – What’s Next?

Last week the Senate released its version of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill – the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. The bill, introduced by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), would extend the agency’s authority through September of 2017.

This extension is far shorter than the six-year House bill, which was rolled out by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) last month. In addition to the length, the major difference is the Senate version would not seek to privatize air traffic control services as the House Bill did creating a point of controversy.

As in the House, the Senate version avoids a hike in passenger facility charges (PFCs) keeping fees at $4.50 per enplanement and instead authorizes an additional $400 million for the Airport Improvement Program. GBTA has long been a vocal opponent of hiking PFC fees as the business traveler already faces an overbearing burden from taxes and fees and GBTA is very concerned that they are approaching the tipping point that will ultimately push business travelers to stay at home.

There are also several areas in the Senate bill providing consumer protections to be aware of that may impact your travelers as they hit the road. The bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to review airlines’ decisions to delay or cancel flights, especially during weather-related events. It mandates that airlines and ticket agents disclose luggage, flight change, cancellation and seat choice fees in a standardized, easy-to-understand format.

It also requires the DOT to investigate instances in which an air carrier changed a passenger’s itinerary so the passenger was forced to depart more than three hours earlier or later, as well as cases in which a new itinerary includes more stops. Finally, it requires airlines to refund baggage fees if bags are delivered beyond a specified time frame and to refund other ancillary fees.

Also included in the Senate and the House bills is an issue very important to GBTA. Last week, GBTA thanked Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) for legislation to combat human trafficking on commercial air flights. The Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act would require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement.

Last year GBTA partnered with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism, to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel and to educate the travel industry about the warning signs of sex tourism and child exploitation. Unfortunately, our industry is being exploited in helping this horrific practice and GBTA believes the introduction of this language into the FAA bill will play a huge role in the travel industry’s ability to put an end to this.

The FAA Reauthorization bill is being marked up in the Senate today, but it is unclear the likelihood of whether or not it will ultimately pass through Congress. The FAA’s authority currently expires on March 31, but the House passed a short-term 3-month extension on Monday. The Senate will likely follow suit giving Congress until mid-July to agree on a more long-term bill.

GBTA will continue to closely follow events with the FAA as they unfold and keep you up to date on what aspects of it matter most to business travel.

Trio of Industry Titans Take Centre Stage For “A View From the Corner Office” at GBTA Conference 2015 in Partnership with VDR

Attendees at GBTA Conference 2015 Frankfurt were treated to a jam-packed afternoon Tuesday featuring top-notch, global information with sessions on Centre Stage highlighting advocacy, research, and industry insight from a CEO panel.

Building on the message delivered at GBTA Convention 2015 Orlando, ECPAT talked about its vision – a world in which no child is bought, sold or used for sex, and its mission – to protect every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking. GBTA is encouraging the business travel industry to adopt and implement ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking. Attendees signed our EPCAT wall in support.


Next up, GBTA VP of Research, Joe Bates, and HRS VP of Global Solutions, Jason Long, took the stage to share the findings from a GBTA Foundation whitepaper on expense reporting around the globe. The session acknowledged that regardless of region, industry or company, expense reporting is never a favourite part of the job. The presenters laid out current practices in expense reporting, detailed pain points and highlighted opportunities for improvement.

Finally, Tuesday’s Centre Stage activities wrapped up with A View from the Corner Office – The CEO Industry Outlook. Alan Rich, CEO of Chrome River; Bill Glenn, CEO of American Express Global Business Travel; and Patrick Diemer, Managing Director and Chairman of AirPlus International came together on stage. Moderated by GBTA’s Mike McCormick, these distinguished industry leaders provided their personal insights into the current state of business travel industry transformational trends such as big data, the rise of mobility, the sharing economy and developments in technology.


“We're focused on delivering value across the chain: corporation, travel manager and traveler," Glenn said. EuropeConferenceDay2_CEOPanel2

“All this data is useless if companies do not have someone to analyse it,” Rich added.

Sticking with our Conference theme of #SharingEurope, here are attendee thoughts shared over twitter on the CEO panel: EuropeConferenceDay2_TweetsCEOPanel

Stay tuned for more from day three at GBTA Conference 2015 Frankfurt!

How to Spot Human Trafficking at Airports

By GBTA Foundation

At GBTA Convention 2015, the GBTA Foundation announced a partnership with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism. GBTA is working to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel by encouraging the business travel industry to adopt and implement ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking.

You may have signed our Board at GBTA Convention in a pledge to support action to end child prostitution and trafficking or you may have read our post about other ways to get involved.


A recent BBC story delved into the stories of the victims of human trafficking showing the horrors they face.

CNN also recently ran a story on how airports can be used as hubs for human trafficking and gave seven telltale warning signs that someone is being trafficked. Among the signs are a traveler who is dressed inappropriately, someone tattooed with a barcode or someone who can’t provide details about their destination or flight information. See the article for the full list.

You can also become more aware of the issues and put in place best practices to know the signs and continue to build your knowledge about the issue using the GBTA toolkit.

GBTA Partners with ECPAT to Fight Child Exploitation in Travel

By GBTA Foundation

Earlier today at GBTA Convention, the GBTA Foundation announced it is joining the fight to stop child exploitation by working with ECPAT, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization fighting sex tourism.

The GBTA Foundation will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with ECPAT against the trafficking and exploitation of children. In making this commitment, the GBTA Foundation will work with ECPAT to educate the travel industry about the warning signs of sex tourism and child exploitation. Working together, our industry can make a significant impact in ending child exploitation.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 100,000 children have been sexually abused and exploited in the United States in the past year, and millions more are exploited around the world.This statistic is both staggering and sobering.Travel infrastructure is sometimes used in trafficking and exploitation, through commercial airlines and buses used to transport children, online classifieds used to lure travelers, and hotel rooms which can be the site of abuse.

GBTA is working to mobilize the travel industry against child exploitation in travel. GBTA is encouraging the business travel industry to adopt and implement ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking.


Get Involved

Many GBTA Chapters, Affiliates, and Allied member companies have already signed the code and invested time and effort into developing programs to implement its guidelines. At GBTA Convention, there are four easy ways to join the fight:

  • By signing your name on the roaming GBTA boards, which will be located throughout the Convention Center this week.
  • By tweeting your support of the code with #ECPAT
  • By sending an email to
  • By attending an education session Tuesday, End Child Exploitation and Trafficking – Call to Action, at 10 a.m. in room 306AB, and hearing from a panel of experts.

Know the Signs

GBTA is calling on its members to become more aware of the issues and put in place best practices to know the signs and continue to build their knowledge about the issue using the GBTA toolkit available at