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GBTA recently partnered with AccorHotels to conduct a study investigating the role of loyalty in managed travel programmes in Europe with the goal of understanding how loyalty programmes currently fit within company travel policy and what opportunities may exist in the future.
The majority of European business travellers (74 percent) report that their company uses preferred providers, and 63 percent say these providers must be used when available. Pricing and convenience play the biggest role for business travellers when they do book outside of preferred providers, while loyalty status poses less of a threat.
Regardless of the reasons, booking outside of preferred providers can cause issues for travel buyers. Nearly all European buyers surveyed perceive that hotels are encouraging travelers to book directly by offering additional benefits, greater amenities or dedicated rates. A large majority see this as a growing trend that will have a negative impact on their role as a travel manager.
How Loyalty Currently Fits into Travel Programmes
Loyalty programme membership is popular among business travellers and a majority of those with loyalty memberships say loyalty benefits are important when deciding to book a hotel for a business trip. Two-thirds (65 percent) of travel buyers say employees can use individual rewards accounts on a business trip, however, 18 percent of those do not allow travellers to use accrued points earned through business travel for personal use. Travellers are split on how they prefer to redeem accrued points whether it is for future business travel, future personal travel or on a combination of both.
While motivation for travel buyers to promote loyalty programmes is currently low, many say they would be interested in supporting these programmes if they increased travel policy compliance or increased traveller satisfaction.
Another area travel buyers should consider when it comes to loyalty programmes is what amenities they provide. Travellers value certain amenities that buyers don’t currently include in their contract negotiations with hotels in their travel programme. For instance, the top benefit of loyalty membership for business travellers is the ability to earn upgrades, however, only 20 percent of travel buyers say room upgrades are included in their contract negotiations. Similarly, business travellers prioritize earning free nights through loyalty programmes while few organisations offer the ability to earn complimentary nights after a certain number of bookings.
Corporate Hotel Loyalty
Most organisations are not enrolled in a corporate hotel loyalty programme, however there is interest from both buyers and business travellers. Buyers expressed an interest in doing so for lodging, and to a lesser extent for meetings and events. Business travellers expressed interest if it guaranteed better rates, earned rewards for both the company and the individual, and if the programme were better suited for their business travel needs.
For travel buyers, incorporating hotel loyalty into preferred supplier negotiations can provide opportunities to be an active driver in how their travellers use hotel loyalty, which is something most travellers want out of their travel programme. Enrolling in a corporate hotel loyalty account provides a potential option for motivating travellers to book with preferred suppliers while maintaining loyalty benefits and cost savings.
For suppliers, interest among those who offer corporate hotel loyalty accounts is high for lodging, while opportunity exists in promoting the benefits of corporate accounts for meetings and events.
The perception around loyalty and business travel is that it lures travellers away from booking within policy. However, this study reveals that opportunities exist for both buyers and suppliers in incorporating loyalty into travel policies. More discussion on loyalty and company policy during the RFP and contract negotiation process could be mutually beneficial, potentially increasing traveller compliance, satisfaction and loyalty usage.
An online survey was conducted of 156 travel buyers in Europe and was fielded between September 4-13, 2018. Additionally, an online survey of 500 European business travellers using an online panel was fielded between September 4-10, 2018. Respondents qualified if they were employed full-time or part-time and if they travelled for business more than once in the past year. The results in this post are based on the 337 who reported being part of a managed travel programme. For this study, managed business travellers are defined as travellers who are required to follow an organisation’s published and enforced travel policies or travellers who are encouraged to follow general guidelines.
Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. A summary of findings for the report, Hotel Loyalty in Europe: How Incorporating Loyalty with Policy Can Boost Traveller Compliance and Satisfaction, is available exclusively to GBTA members here.
AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,600 hotels, resorts and residences across 100 different countries. With an unrivaled portfolio of internationally renowned hotel brands encompassing the entire range from luxury to economy, from upscale to lifestyle and midscale brands, AccorHotels has been providing savoir-faire and expertise for more than 50 years.
In addition to its core hospitality business, AccorHotels has successfully expanded its range of services, becoming the world leader in luxury private residence rental with more than 10,000 stunning properties around the world. The Group is also active in the fields of concierge services, co-working, dining, events management and digital solutions.
Relying on its global team of more than 250,000 dedicated staff, AccorHotels is committed to fulfilling its primary mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome. Guests have access to one of the world’s most attractive hotel loyalty programs - Le Club AccorHotels. AccorHotels plays an active role in its local communities and is committed to promoting sustainable development and solidarity through PLANET 21 Acting Here, a comprehensive program that brings together employees, guests and partners to drive sustainable growth.
From 2008, the AccorHotels Solidarity Endowment Fund has acted as a natural extension of the Group’s activities and values, helping to combat the social and financial exclusion experienced by the most disadvantaged members of society. Accor SA is publicly listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC Market (Ticker: ACRFY) in the United States. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit accorhotels.group or accorhotels.com. Or join and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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.
The GBTA Foundation, the education arm of the Global Business Travel Association, in partnership with HRS Global Hotel Solutions, conducted a global survey to assess if and how travel managers audit their hotel rates as well as reasons why some travel programs choose not to do so.
Globally, 86 percent of travel managers audit their negotiated hotel contract information, including rates, amenities and other negotiated features, once it is loaded into the system to verify its accuracy. However only a minority checks on their rates frequently, with six percent auditing monthly and three percent on a weekly basis. Among those who do not perform hotel rate audits, 42 percent say it is because they have no internal resources to do so and 16 percent say they have no budget to outsource the task. Additionally, 35 percent rely on their Travel Management Company (TMC) to check the rate, 32 percent trust the hotel to do this for them and 18 percent believe performing such audits does not have a significant impact on the rate, so it’s not part of their priorities.
Given that one out of six audits (17 percent) reveals a discrepancy between what was negotiated in the contract and what appears in the system, most often involving the rate, this could be a missed revenue-saving opportunity for travel programs who do not perform rate audits. In fact, those who say they don’t have the budget to outsource the task are probably at a greater risk than most for overpaying mis-loaded rates and could potentially recoup the money spent on outsourcing this by catching all the errors.
When rate discrepancies are found, companies are paying an average of 14 percent more than negotiated. Companies in the LATAM saw the largest discrepancies at 18 percent, while United States and APAC companies pay 14 percent more than negotiated and EMEA companies pay 11 percent.
Click here to view infographics highlighting statistics by region: APAC, EMEA, LATAM, Nordics and North America
In looking at the companies who do perform this audit, 52 percent use internal resources and check the rates manually, 38 percent outsource it to their TMC, 15 percent outsource to their hotel solution provider and 11 percent outsource it to another third-party consultant. Furthermore, 16 percent rely on reports from their hotels and 36 percent rely on travelers to report back to them when the rate is not correct. Considering the potential cost savings of verifying these rates, relying on travelers or hotels to report errant rates may not be the most effective way to manage this.
“The research results show that a closer look at the rates is necessary,” explains HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “Travel managers work hard to negotiate cost-effective hotel rates and desired amenities for their travelers as an important component to a successful corporate travel program, but this all becomes undone when a significant share comes with errors and their travelers don’t get what was negotiated.”
By not performing regular audits and depending on unreliable sources of data, companies are paying far more in hotel costs than they should due to errors in rate loading. Conducting audits to ensure accuracy can help strengthen a travel program.
Methodology & More Information
Download the whitepaper: Hotel Rate Audits –Don’t Leave Money on the Table. This global study, conducted by the GBTA Foundation, was fielded in three phases during January 24-April 3, 2017, yielding a total of 418 responses (United States – 41 percent, EMEA – 28 percent, LATAM – 16 percent, and APAC – 15 percent).
GBTA will also host a webinar sponsored by HRS Global Hotel Solutions on Wednesday, June 14 at 10am ET. Registration is open now: Hotel Rate Auditing: Don’t Leave Money on the Table!
There is no doubt that the sharing economy – particularly the rise in ride sharing and home sharing services – are changing the face of travel. The recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express, finds that beyond consumer travel, many business travelers and corporate travel policies are addressing the emerging sharing economy options. Forty-four percent of business travelers say their companies’ travel policies allow for ride-sharing services and 28 percent can now use home-sharing services.
The research also finds that more than one in five don’t know if their employer’s travel policies allow ride-sharing or home-sharing services (22 percent and 23 percent, respectively). Despite this confusion, 61 percent of travelers who are required to follow a travel policy or guidelines are satisfied with the ease of understanding their company’s travel policies. A similar number of respondents are satisfied with the flexibility in planning trips (60 percent) and changing their itinerary as needed (58 percent) under their companies’ travel policy.
Internationally, some companies are more open to embracing sharing-economy services than others. Seventy-nine percent of business travelers in Mexico and 61 percent in the United States are able to use ride-sharing services compared with 44 percent of respondents overall, while 42 percent of Hong Kong-based business travelers are free to use home-sharing services compared to 28 percent of respondents overall.
There is no question that the sharing economy will continue to alter how business travel is conducted. With the sharing economy rapidly changing the travel landscape, there are a number of considerations that individual business travelers as well as corporate travel departments need to account for when approving use of sharing-economy options. Personal liability, security or broader duty of care concerns top the list. Business travelers and travel buyers must be aware of these changes, their benefits and drawbacks, and consider all scenarios when updating, incorporating, sharing and following a corporate travel policy.
To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar tomorrow, September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.
Airlines aren’t the only ones facing complications recently, with HEI Hotels & Resorts announcing a malware attack lasting more than a year on 20 of its properties. According to Skift, customer payment card data from tens of thousands of transactions may have been exposed, though it is difficult to estimate the total number of customers affected by the data breach.
Hotels are beginning to move away from full-service properties and towards select-service rooms to reflect consumer desires. Skift reports a shift in what consumers want, noting that guests prefer basic amenities like Wi-Fi and gyms, as opposed to 24-hour front desk service, spas and full-service restaurants. USA TODAY shares certain companies are also experimenting with keyless entry technology that enables guests to bypass the front desk and access their rooms using smartphones. With business travelers embracing self-service personalized travel options more than ever, now is the perfect time to introduce new technologies.
Following the technical glitches Delta and Southwest faced in the past month, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the leaders of 13 U.S. airlines, expressing their concern for airlines’ IT systems. The senators expect the airlines to reply and address the IT policy and procedure questions outlined in the letters, shares Skift.
Aside from system outages, members of the aviation industry are concerned with keeping threats from cyberterrorists and hackers at bay. According to Tnooz, industry leaders recently gathered at IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Dublin to discuss various ways to maintain security in the ever-changing, risk-laden world we live in.
Los Angeles Times reports a 12% drop in complaints against U.S. based airlines in the first half of 2016, due to a decline in fares, cancellations and delays. Airline industry representatives claim the drop is a result of investments in products, services and amenities that travelers want and expect, like new planes and upgraded lounges.
Cathay Pacific and Dragonair recently increased the baggage weight allowance by 10kg for travelers in all classes. Buying Business Travel states the revised system will come into effect mid-September. Delta is also undergoing changes, with the addition of a new service from Boston to San Francisco and Nashville. Travel Daily News details the expansion of its existing service as well. In addition to a change in flight schedule, Delta is introducing business class suites with doors. According to USA TODAY, Delta will be the world’s first airline to have an all-suite business cabin with a door for each suite.
The same outlet reports news of a slimmed-down menu for trans-Atlantic British Airways routes. Passengers in economy are offered a choice between a small chocolate bar and another snack, as opposed to the usual second meal before arrival. China is considering easing restrictions on in-flight mobile phone usage. According to Bloomberg, legislation to amend regulations limiting in-flight use of mobile phones and other electronic devices is underway.
Travel Daily News reports Brussels Airport welcomed a whopping 2.4 million passengers in July, making it the second busiest July in history. Indonesia’s capital Jakarta just opened a $560 million airport terminal, shares USA TODAY. At more than 250 million people, Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets.
Uber’s first self-driving fleet supervised by humans in the driver’s seat is set to arrive in Pittsburgh this month. According to Bloomberg, customers will be able to hail the custom Volvo XC90s using their smartphones.
Check back every Friday for a round-up of the week's top business travel news all in one place on the GBTA Blog.
Days before the start of GBTA Convention 2016 AccorHotels completed their acquisition of FRHI Hotels & Resorts, making newly apointed AccorHotels COO Kevin Frid a great person to talk to about one of the industry’s hottest topics – mergers and acquisitions.
During a time of unprecedented consolidation in the travel industry, GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick sat down with Kevin at the GBTA Broadcast Studio to discuss what this means for the industry as a whole and for the travel buyer in particular.
“We don’t determine prices, markets do,” Frid said when talking about the idea that consolidation drives prices upward.
View the full interview here:
Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more insight and Broadcast Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.
Following the cancellation of 2,300 flights and thousands of delays nearly two weeks ago, two of Southwest’s biggest unions are calling on CEO Gary Kelly to step down. USA Today reports the unions are unsatisfied with the airline’s large focus on Wall Street performance and outdated reservations technology.
The aviation industry has seen major complications this week, starting with an Emirates accident in Dubai. Channel NewsAsia shares the news of a Boeing 777 flying from India that crash-landed and caught fire, resulting in the death of a firefighter and a four-hour shutdown of the Dubai International Airport. Subsequent to the crash landing, airline passengers are under criticism for grabbing their luggage in emergencies, despite being ordered not to. Instead of evacuating immediately, passengers stopping to grab their luggage endanger others and put many lives at risk, says Bloomberg.
In other news, gaps in security resulted in easy access to data belonging to millions of German airline passengers. Germany’s largest wholesale ticket dealer revealed security gaps that provided access to the names, addresses, credit card numbers and flight data of millions of passengers, RT shares.
Train service to Gatwick Airport may be disrupted next week, as a result of an anticipated strike by Southern Rail staff. Airlines are advising passengers to look for alternative transportation options, reports Buying Business Travel.
According to Skift, airlines anticipating the effects of Brexit are warned of lower profits later this year. British Airways owner International Airlines Group, however, relies on a recent acquisition to soften the blow. IAG acquired Ireland’s Aer Lingus last year, and the national airline has already seen a massive increase in first-half 2016 profit.
United and the TSA are working together to streamline airport security with new automated baggage screening lanes, redesigned security checkpoints and permanent PreCheck enrollment centers at the airline’s hubs in Chicago, Newark, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Eligible travelers would be able to enroll in TSA PreCheck directly at the airport, according to Business Traveller.
Brands continue to push customers to book directly, with direct booking now cheaper than agencies for a majority of hotel searches. Tnooz looked at data that shows 53 percent of rates are cheaper on hotel sites than those of intermediaries. InterContinental Hotel Groups also claims early success in its latest push to drive direct bookings over bookings on online travel agencies, shares Skift.
According to USA Today, JetBlue’s first flight to Cuba from the U.S. will launch at the end of the month on August 31. The airline will initially offer weekly service to the country until daily service begins in October. Although restrictions have been lifted, navigating both country’s regulations before traveling to Cuba is no easy feat. Bloomberg reports travelers must determine how a trip fits into the permissible reasons, sort out health insurance and more.
USA Today finds airlines are becoming more adept at hiding travel fees, with some adding fees after the seat purchase and others waiting to show fees until the checkout process, when travelers are less likely to walk away from the purchase.
Forbes shares findings from GBTA’s BTI Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast which shows global business travel topped $1.2 trillion in 2016 and is expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2020. Skift reports international business travel to the U.S. grew faster than leisure travel last year. Business travel from top overseas markets grew by 15 percent year-over-year, while leisure travel for the same markets grew by only nine percent.
This week, we bring you a list from Skift: 4 Charts Showing the $5 Billion Boom in Chinese Investment in U.S. Hotels
The GBTA Foundation conducted a new study in partnership with WWStay to understand how travel programs approach their need for extended stay accommodations. This is a follow up to a 2015 study showing nearly half of U.S. international business travelers have used extended stay accommodations in the past 12 months, with 72 percent of Millennials having used one – more than any other age group.
These numbers clearly demonstrate that you need to be thinking about extended stay as an important part of your travel program.
What Defines an Extended Stay Business Trip?
Just over half (51 percent) of North American travel buyers who responded to the survey said they consider an extended stay trip as one that falls between 5+ to 10+ nights, while 15 percent said it is defined as 30 nights or more. Almost a quarter of respondents mentioned they did not have a set definition. While there is no set timeframe all companies must follow, what is important is that your organization create a definition for what is considered an extended stay trip. This is the first step in managing this part of your travel program. The definition you set and the needs of your travelers will make it easier to understand who owns this piece and when other departments either take over or can collaborate with your group.
Challenges Faced Fulfilling Extended Stay Accommodations
The most commonly cited challenge among travel buyers when fulfilling extended stay accommodations was finding the right type of lodging for their travelers when the destination was not one they had previously visited. Without the benefit of established relationships with lodging suppliers and on-the-ground knowledge, the process becomes even more labor and resource intensive. Even with those relationships in place, there is an inevitable back-and-forth process with extended stay accommodations to find the right solution for the traveler that also fits within the parameters of the travel program.
Travel buyers also find with extended stay accommodations in new parts of the world their travelers haven’t been to before, that it can be difficult to properly vet the quality and safety of the lodging in advance. This is where partnering with a TMC or third-party service provider can be helpful to ensure the property truly does meet all the needs of the traveler and the standards set by the travel program.
Additional challenges encountered by travel buyers include minimum night stays, limited number of properties in certain locations, labor intensive search process and price negotiations.
Duty of Care Implications
In general the various types of extended stay accommodations including traditional hotels, extended stay hotels, community rentals or serviced apartments can meet all of the duty of care standards in place for an organization as long as a proper vetting process is in place to evaluate the safety of the accommodations. Challenges arise when the property has not been vetted by the travel program or partner to the program and when travelers do not book through approved channels.
The 2015 study found 60 percent of North American based business travelers who travel internationally book extended stay accommodations on their own outside of their travel department. This poses a number of potential challenges including lost visibility, increased likelihood of poor decisions as a result of limited knowledge, and reduced productivity. When a travel buyer has no visibility into a traveler’s itinerary, there is very little that can be done to offer support if needed. The duty of care implications can be more severe in the case of an emergency such as weather, health or security-related issues. Booking through approved channels in conjunction with regular communication between travelers and their travel program minimizes these risks.
TMCs and third-party service providers that manage extended stay lodging for a travel buyer along with third-party security companies can all help coordinate and manage the safety of the extended stay traveler. At a minimum, travel buyers should have tracking capabilities to know where their travelers are staying at all times. Duty of care initiatives should be no different for transient trips than for those traveling for an extended period of time. If anything, those away from the office for longer periods of time should be acutely aware of and have at their disposal all information needed in case of an emergency.
Travel buyers wear a lot of different hats, and in most cases, managing extended stay trips for their travelers is one of them. Understanding the unique needs of their travelers in terms of extended stay business trips, as well as available resources, will help you determine how to best manage extended stay in your travel program. This new study is a valuable resource for travel buyers, and GBTA members can access it for free on the GBTA Hub.
Methodology: The GBTA Foundation study, Extended Stay Accommodations: What Travel Managers Need to Know, conducted in partnership with WWStay included 273 respondents to a short questionnaire sent to Canada and U.S.-based travel managers in March of 2016. An additional 16 in-depth interviews were conducted from March 14-29, 2016, with travel managers who had participated in the survey mentioned. The interviews conducted by the GBTA Foundation Research team varied in length from 30-60 minutes.
Last year, the GBTA Foundation released the 2014 Global Hotel Program Study, in partnership with Best Western, interviewing travel managers in North America and Europe who worked on global corporate travel programs and had a role in hotel selection or negotiation. This year, the two partnered again to look at travel managers based in Asia Pacific and Latin America. The two studies were meant to characterize global hotel programs, determine how they function and examine how programs vary depending on region and travel spend.
The motivation for this follow-up study was the expectation that the hotel programs examined this year would look different from those examined last year due to unique market conditions. Many differences were discovered throughout the report, but one key difference was obvious from the start. Many travel managers based in APAC or Latin America oversee regional travel programs for large global or multinational companies. These regional travel managers were included because of their important role in the two regions; however, they would not have qualified for last year’s study which looked only at global travel managers.
Here are some of the key highlights from the 2015 Asia Pacific and Latin America report:
Key highlights from the 2014 North America and Europe report include:
The research underscores the importance of understanding how and why global hotel programs vary in structure globally. There is no “cookie-cutter” or one-size-fits-all global hotel program. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach to their global programs, high-spend companies see value in a team-oriented program where recommendations are sought from local and regional travel managers.
The Week in Review is back in action this week with a major win for business travelers. USA Today reported that late Thursday night the Senate passed a House bill to reinstate the cap on the TSA passenger security fee, something GBTA has been advocating heavily for. Also on the TSA front, outgoing TSA administrator, John Pistole, talks with the New York Times about the future of PreCheck.
The Economist calls red tape “the bane of frequent business travelers,” and details how India dramatically loosened its visa policies – good news for anyone looking to do business in the region.
Business Traveler’s Lark Gould writes that business travel is in no danger of slowing down citing recent GBTA forecast data, and says there is no reason business travel should be a tough journey. He talks about traveling in the “experience economy” and highlights the latest amenities in airports and hotels.
When it comes to business travel in today’s day and age there is an increasing blurring of the line between business and leisure travel. This infographic in Big Hospitality highlights the latest in what it call 2014 Bleisure Travel.
Bloomberg Businessweek highlighted GBTA forecast data for China in an article about the surge in luxury hotels springing up across China.
Thinking about the future? International Meetings Review tells us how wearable technology will change business travel while CNN Money details the airport of the future.
This can be a tough time of year to stay focused and on track. Mashable lists six smart productivity strategies to keep business travelers focused and on the move all year round.