The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Podcast: 2019 Trends: Sustainability, Security and Simple Meetings

The Business of Travel is back. We are kicking off ‘season two’ of GBTA’s official podcast with today’s episode featuring three GBTA members sharing the top business travel trends to look out for in 2019 around sustainability, security and simple meetings.



Episode guests include:

Aurora Dawn Benton
Founder & CEO, Astrapto
GBTA Sustainability & Responsibility Committee Member

Erin L. Wilk
Global Security Travel Safety Manager & Interim Head of Internal Communications for Global Security, Facebook
GBTA Board Member

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien
President & CEO, Groupize
GBTA Meetings Committee Member


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!

Podcast: How Can Managed Travel Programs Address the Safety of Female Business Travelers?

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel revisits an important topic – the safety of women business travelers. In the opening segment, GBTA President Christle Johnson talks GBTA priorities and highlights from a recent GBTA research study on female business travel safety conducted in partnership with WWStay. Next up, WWStay’s Dawn McGowan dives deeper into the findings and discusses how they are approaching the issue. Cathy Rigby of the CFA Institute and GBTA’s Risk Committee addresses what’s at stake for companies that don’t build female traveler safety into their programs and provides practical safety and security advice for women travelers.



Want to learn more about the GBTA research on the topic? Download an infographic here featuring key highlights. If you’re attending GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego, you can also catch an education session on this research on August 13 at 8:45 AM.

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!


Podcast - A Global View of Female Business Traveler Safety – Episode 2

On episode two of The Business of Travel, GBTA talks female business traveler safety following International Women’s Day last week. First up, GBTA head of research Jeanne Liu previews some upcoming GBTA research on the safety of female business travelers from both the buyer and traveler perspectives.

Next, Wendy Stachowiak, VP of of Global Travel Industry Relations at International SOS and GBTA Risk Committee Vice Chair, shares tips for female business travelers to stay safe and healthy on the road. She also discusses how companies can work to keep their female travelers safe.



Check out the following resources for more on female business traveler safety:


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

The Korean Peninsula - How to Prepare for the Olympics

The following post is written by Matthew Bradley, Regional Security Director, Americas, International SOS on behalf of the GBTA Risk Committee.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing, there is much excitement around the globe, but also an underlying uneasiness, as Pyeongchang is only 50 miles away from the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea. The recent political tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have sparked many questions for the safety of those attending the Olympics and organizations sending their employees. Here are five key strategies for preparation if you find yourself at the Olympics:


  1. Stay Aware of the North Korea Threat: Tensions have cooled lately, but this will likely last only for the duration of the games. The underlying drivers of tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain unchanged:
    • North Korea has intensified its provocative actions since leader Kim Jong-Un took power in 2011 and Pyeongyang remains committed to advancing its nuclear and missile delivery capabilities.
    • As such, tensions will remain high on the Korean Peninsula throughout 2018.


  1. As always, Remain Alert for any Terrorism Threats: So far there have been no specific threats against the Olympics – either from international terrorist groups or their sympathizers. Although the high-profile nature of the Winter Olympics has led the authorities to increase the terrorist threat alert, the country is not high on the list of Islamist extremist targets, and South Korea has strong anti-terrorism capabilities.


  1. Be Alert to Social Unrest: High-profile events such as the Winter Olympics present an attractive platform for special interest groups to highlight their concerns, but  there are currently no specific protests planned during the Games. It is important to have access to reliable local information to know if demonstrations are planned. 


  1. Stay Vigilant to Avoid Petty Crime: As with all international travel, foreigners can be targeted for petty and opportunistic crimes; such as pick-pocketing or purse snatching in crowded areas. While South Korea is generally safe, it is important to remain alert to your surroundings. Additional police officers will be present around the Games, with designated crime prevention zones around the venues.


  1. Pre-Arrange Transportation with a Local Driver: It is important to pre-arrange a car with local driver, as well as utilize the free shuttle buses around Games venues.
    • When hiring taxis, it is useful to have the destination name written in Korean. You should prepare some cards with common destinations like the Olympic venues and your hotel in advance.
    • In the event of a road accident, it is best to remain at the site and let the driver report the accident to the police and insurance company.
    • Travelers should phone emergency contacts to request any support required.


Although overall risks in South Korea during the Olympics are low, organizations should provide security training designed to help their travelers mitigate, manage and respond to daily risks and situations described above. It is important to establish sound security protocols that allow for efficient preparation to protect travelers. Following these simple mitigation measures can ensure a safe and enjoyable time at this sporting spectacle.

How New Leadership Policies Can Affect Your Travelers

A couple of weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, presenting a number of challenges for those in the travel space. Since changes in leadership can result in uncertainty for organizations across the globe, GBTA recently held a webinar to prepare travel professionals in the event of foreign policy changes.

GBTA Risk Committee Chair Erin Wilk moderated a panel of travel security, travel management and immigration law experts as they discussed the implications of foreign policy changes on business travel in a webinar entitled Executive Orders – How New Leadership Policies Can Affect Your Travelers and What You Can Do.

International SOS Regional Security Director Matt Bradley kicked things off by defining what an executive order is from a legally-binding standpoint. He walked through a timeline of events surrounding the travel ban, noting the ensuing chaos for airlines, airports, and organizations due to the lack of clarification in the order’s implementation. Matt shared, “People were on planes, people were landing at international airports, arriving at immigration windows and being detained immediately because they were from certain countries." GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_05

Rotary International Former Global Travel Manager Robert Mintz then offered advice from a travel manager’s perspective on best practices for these types of situations. Erin noted that the practices could also be broadly applied to future incidents. GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_08

To wrap things up, Foster LLP Attorney at Law and Partner Corina Farias shared what organizations can do from a legal perspective in order to protect their travelers. She stressed the importance of being proactive and developing a corporate business action plan to be better prepared in future situations.

GBTA Webinar 2.16.17 (002)_Page_09

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.

Video Blog: Industry Insights on Travel Risk Management

Daily headlines and broadcast news stories make it clear that we live in a risky world. For travel professionals, travel risk management plans are paramount in today’s world. Travel security risks or medical emergencies can happen anywhere and anytime, so it is imperative to have a solid risk management plan in place.

During Convention, GBTA Executive Director Mike McCormick sat down at the GBTA Broadcast Studio with risk expert Bruce McIndoe, CEO of iJET International. Bruce emphasized the importance of preparation as opposed to being in react-mode. He talked about iJET’s philosophy of applying risk management to travel when it comes to polices, training, monitoring and supporting employees on the road, as well as being prepared to act if something bad does happen.

View the full video for more on his thoughts about viewing travel risk management as people risk management and preparing for major global events like the Olympics. Bruce also touches on the importance of the Travel Risk Management Maturity Model (TRM3™) Self-Assessment Tool launched earlier this year.

Check GBTA’s YouTube Channel for even more industry insight and Studio interviews from this year’s Convention.

TSA PreCheck Enrollment: Coming to a City Near You

If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ve heard and seen the name TSA PreCheck more times than you can count, but you may still be wondering what the program is, or what the benefits in enrolling are. TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program developed to improve the travel experience and reduce airport security wait times. Man Puts Digital Tablet Into Tray For Airport Security Check

Those who enroll don’t need to remove their belts, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops or shoes, making it perfect for business travelers. As if that’s not enough reason, travelers can reduce airport security wait times by over 80 percent, making them an average of five minutes or less. With over 2.2 million fliers daily at the nation’s 450 airports, it’s no coincidence that TSA PreCheck is gaining popularity.

Microsoft recently enrolled nearly 800 employees in TSA PreCheck at a local event in Seattle. The company’s global travel and venue group lead Eric Bailey weighs in as it being “such a simple decision with a quick ROI and so many benefits for us, airports, airlines, security and for everybody involved.” Bailey suggests TSA PreCheck expedites the security process and improves the travel experience for Microsoft employees and non-PreCheck travelers alike.

GBTA is excited to share that TSA PreCheck enrollment is being offered at popup centers in major cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston and more. Once you enroll, you will be able to take advantage of the benefits for the next five years. For a full list of popup cities and to apply online, go here.

To finalize the application in person, you will need to bring documentation proving identity and citizenship status. A complete list of required documents can be found here. Even if you only take four trips a year, you’d be spending a small fee of $2.13 each time you go through security to cruise through a shorter line, keep your shoes and not have to remove your laptop.

GBTA has long supported risk-based programs such as PreCheck to increase security and efficiency at our nation’s airports and believes continued expanded enrollment in such programs will be key to a long-term solution to lengthy airport security lines.

A Conversation with TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger: Promoting an Entrepreneurial Spirit within the Government

Despite a long, dedicated and decorated career in the Coast Guard, where he rose to the rank of Vice Commandant, Peter Neffenger is now in charge of an entirely different organization with a global reach and responsible for the daily safety of millions of people: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Often maligned as an agency struggling with operational discipline and low employee morale, Administrator Neffenger sees these challenges as opportunities to overhaul how TSA is viewed by the traveling public and how TSA agents view themselves and their mission. “I came in on the heels of a report that said that the TSA wasn’t performing great,” Neffenger said during an interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick during GBTA’s Annual Convention. “This last year we focused on three areas of improvement. We needed to get better, we needed to be better with our resources and we needed to change the system, which had been the same for a long, long time.”


To that end, Administrator Neffenger pointed to several recent successes – such as opening a TSA Training Academy to overhauling the Agency’s entire operating model. While instilling an entrepreneurial spirit throughout an agency of close to 60,000 employees is challenging, that is what drives Peter Neffenger in his drive to change how TSA operates and the perception that the traveling public has of the agency. “I brought some of the Coast Guard’s thinking to the TSA,” Neffenger said. “Now we start at the mission and work backwards. We have seen dramatic improvements… The TSA has had some challenges in its past, but if you have read about it or heard about it, we have already addressed it.”

Part of the new entrepreneurial spirit comes from Peter Neffenger himself, while part of it comes from empowering TSA agents and learning from other security services around the country. In a drive to eliminate the TSA’s “one-size-fits-all mentality,” the Administrator pointed to pilot programs currently underway at airports across the country. One in particular is the automated lanes that have been rolled out at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport. “We have seen a 30 – 40 percent improvement in throughput in those lanes,” he said. “It is just one of the ways we are looking to reduce friction to the traveler…We are always looking for new ways of doing business.”

One topic that was of great concern to the GBTA audience was the TSA’s PreCheck system, which has grown from roughly 4,000 sign-ups a day when Peter Neffenger took over to about 20,000 a day now. “The GBTA has been a huge proponent and partner in this initiative,” he said. When asked where he though the PreCheck system was headed, the TSA’s Administrator said he was thinking globally. “Ideally, I would like to get everybody into a trusted traveler system. It should ultimately be a global system so travelers don’t have to shop on five different government websites to find the right program for them.”


While TSA Administrator Neffenger feels that his agency is headed in the right direction, he is cognizant that there is still work to be done. “It is a stressful and adversarial interaction by nature, so the more we can get away from that, the better. When I came in, I found an agency that was in chaos and under fire, and we are starting to move away from that. We are literally on the front lines of how citizens interact with their government.”

Asked what prompted him to leave his life and career at the Coast Guard to lead such a maligned agency, Peter Neffenger pointed to the fact that, despite its recent woes, the TSA is an agency, “with a great and important mission and I wanted to help reform it.”

Addressing Security, The Economy and The World Today

*The following speech was delivered today at GBTA Convention 2016.*


The world is a dangerous place. Using our best efforts as a society, we try to protect all of our global citizens from acts of terrorism. But in a world of 7.3 billion people, we will never fully succeed despite all of our best efforts. When these horrific events occur, we must never forget the lives that are needlessly, senselessly lost in this manner.

And for all of us in the travel industry, we feel a deep sense of ownership when those lives are violently taken in our airports, our skies and places we have all traveled to – both for business and for leisure.  Please join me in a moment of silence to honor those lives lost in Paris, in Brussels, in Istanbul, in Nice, in our Convention city from last year, Orlando – and all victims of terrorism.

As we gather here together today in Denver, you might ask…

What can we do differently?

What can we do better?

How can I help?

The answers lie within all of us. We can choose the path of acceptance and complacency – or take action and re-double our efforts to fight for the industry that we all know, love and rely on. Business travel drives sustained business growth. This industry – and all of you – drive the success of every other industry.

The travel industry is the world’s largest employer. We put the sharing in the sharing economy. We bring everyone face-to-face. All of us here along with all of our colleagues must work with our governments to keep us safe and secure by working better, working smarter and removing the barriers that exist to winning the war against travel terrorism both here and abroad.

It starts with better policies and proper funding. Although short-term extensions can show signs of progress, we must continue our fight in Congress for consensus on a proper, long term funding for the FAA, the agency responsible for the safety of our skies. Generic airplane on terminal gate ready for takeoff - Modern international airport at sunset - Concept of emotional travel around the world - Wide angle distortion with enhanced sunshine lens flare

Congress must follow the leadership of business travel champions like Senator Thune and Representative Katko and pass the funding that is long overdue. And as for security, we must support Administrator Neffenger’s efforts to overhaul TSA and build a more efficient, more effective organization that includes the broad expansion of programs like PreCheck and Global Entry.

We must demand that TSA is allowed to expand the private sector partners that would enroll all of your business travelers that are low risk and need to move through the system more efficiently. This allows more resources to focus on inexperienced and higher risk travelers. It also helps to keep travelers from waiting in unsecure, public areas at the airport where the risk increases for all of us.

But that is just a part of the challenge. GBTA has pushed hard to drive better government inter-agency cooperation in areas like in-flight cyber security and intelligence data. We must win the war in the air, on the ground and throughout the entire travel system.

Security is first and foremost. But this part of the experience for any business traveler can be – and must be – a much better one. And because our industry drives the economic success of every other industry, we must be smart about the policies we enact – and the actions we take – as they also have a profound effect on our global economy.

The Economy

GBTA has been sensing a growing need for reform among our members. In fact last year, I spoke on this very issue. We told you we would solicit your thoughts and opinions on industry consolidation, technology, corporate risk and responsibility. With the full participation of our committees, we issued the Rules of the Road, a declaration of the needs of the business travel industry.

It is our goal to support an open and honest dialogue of what the buyers and sellers of travel need to ensure safe, sustainable competition and clear communication throughout the industry. We are asking you to adopt these principles as a unified industry.

This is what we are doing with our elected leaders. We are telling them that as they consider legislative, tax and regulatory actions, they should look closely to see if they are helping or hurting the industry. We announced the Rules of the Road on Capitol Hill in May and received an overwhelmingly positive response from key Members of Congress.

Washington, DC - Reflection of US Capitol Building

We brought our voice to Washington.

The World Today

But no matter how hard we work and how much we prepare, the world continues to be an unpredictable and unbalanced place. Last month, the people of the United Kingdom caught us all by surprise by taking the off-ramp called Brexit and voting to leave the European Union. The vote sent shockwaves throughout the global economy.

No one is certain what this will mean for business travel, but rest assured GBTA will continue to advocate for the same principles in Europe it holds true here in the U.S. We must ensure business travelers move freely so that business is not disrupted. Programs like the Visa Waiver Exemption must continue. This program keeps commerce flowing and is an important security tool for the world.

I thank all of you for not just being a part of – but taking personal ownership in the success of the business travel industry. We are all an important part of the most vibrant, most dynamic, most compassionate industry in the world. Yes, the world is a challenging and sometimes dangerous place. 

But it is our job to look after it… together. Thank you and have a great Convention!    

Strategically Addressing the Airport Security Lines

TSA is on the front lines of a battle and must strategically deploy its officers to protect the nation.

Reports and videos of lengthy airport screening lines are rolling in. GBTA has been in discussions with our membership about this since February and warned members in this video blog in March that we expected to see tighter security in the coming months, but had concerns this could cause longer lines without the benefit of added security. Now, an Egyptian airliner has disappeared and terrorism cannot be ruled out. This once again underscores the dangers of allowing people to queue up in long lines to go through security.

It would be absurdly funny if not for the danger, that the efforts to protect us are setting up soft targets for terrorists to cause devastation like what we saw in Brussels. It’s no secret that TSA is understaffed, but they also need to do a better job of utilizing the staff they have and managing their resources. Poorly trained agents and low staffing at peak times not only leads to painfully long lines, but could also present security concerns as well as evidenced by last summer’s leaked report showing security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials.

While the new TSA Administrator Admiral Neffenger has put in place new measures in an effort to bolster security, we feel there is more that can be done to improve both the safety and efficiency of airport security.

When looking at long-term solutions, GBTA strongly believes in risk-based programs and supports ways to expand enrollment in TSA’s PreCheck program. The House and Senate have both embraced this plan, but the different vehicles for passage are being held up. GBTA has called on Congress to include this language in the FAA Reauthorization and to pass it without further delay.

However, this will not impact today’s immediate security concerns. TSA, Congress and the air travel industry must address this as an all-hands-on-deck response as we all need to share the responsibility of supporting the efforts necessary to protect one of our nation’s most valued assets: safe and secure air travel. We’ve already seen airports and airlines pitching in to help manage queues. Local TSA officials need the flexibility and forethought on managing lines hour by hour.

TSA headquarters needs to ensure the officers on the ground have the intelligence and planning abilities to address these security threats. The battles can be won and the war concluded, if the right strategies are in place.