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: The Current Status of REAL ID – Is Your State Compliant?

This week’s episode of The Business of Travel features a recent GBTA webinar on the REAL ID Act. Steve Yonkers, Director of the REAL ID Program for the Department of Homeland Security, provides an update on the implementation of REAL ID giving you an understanding on what states are still not compliant and what progress is being made, as well as how REAL ID applies to state issued driver’s licenses and ID cards and what alternatives there are for identification at security checkpoints if your state is not compliant.

This episode is presented by the GBTA Government Relations Committee in an effort to keep you up to date as more unfolds on REAL ID and to minimize any disruption for your travelers.



For more information, you can visit the DHS REAL ID website.

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!



Technology is Poised to “Dramatically Increase Security,” Say Heads of TSA and CBP

New facial recognition and CAT scan technologies are key to stopping terrorists, according to two of the nation’s highest security officials who spoke Monday on Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018.

Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) David Pekoske calls for “better security faster” at Monday’s Q&A session with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, led by GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. Pekoske said that we must get the technology in place faster than our adversaries, and faster than government has typically acted.

“There’s nothing I’m more excited about in our mission set than the capability of biometrics, and specifically facial recognition or comparison technology, to enhance our facilitation and security efforts,” McAleelan explained. Through pilot programs at multiple airports with a number of domestic and foreign carriers, he reported that the agency has been able to screen 700,000 travelers with biometrics and achieve a 98 percent match rate.

In addition to biometrics, new CAT scan technology will be able to do a much better job detecting threats such as those in luggage. Pekoske shared that his agency plans to replace 2,000 checkpoint x-ray machines with CAT scan technology. In addition to significantly enhanced screening capabilities, he predicted that in three to five years, passengers will not need to remove any items—including food, liquids, or electronics—from their carry-on bags.

In addition to enhanced security, he highlighted traveler benefits such as expedited boarding and arrivals, adding that his agency has been able hold or reduce wait times for five consecutive years using new technologies. Responding to security concerns, he stated the importance of technology remaining cyber secure, not retaining information on U.S. citizens, and maintaining transparency with the public, privacy groups, the media and legislators.

On the horizon, the two agencies will better integrate the PreCheck and Global Entry programs.

Commissioner McAleenan cited tracking ISIS operatives’ widely scattered movements throughout the world, and the 70 percent growth of e-commerce shipments as his top two concerns.

From his agency’s perspective, Administrator Pekoske reiterated the Commissioner’s terrorism concerns, adding that undetected operatives, “lone actors,” pose a real challenge to intelligence operations and those on the front lines. “Security is a shared responsibility,” he added, GBTA members, airlines, airports and passengers included.

Each with over 60,000 employees around the globe, keeping their teams prepared in uncertain times is an ongoing challenge. “I spend the majority of my time on the front line,” said Administrator Pekoske, which he explained includes not only security checkpoints, but also vetting processes, air marshals, and international staff at last-point-of-departure airports around the world to ensure they have the resources, technology and procedures in place to best do their jobs. Commissioner McAleenan underscored the challenge, noting that the travel industry’s ninth straight year of over four-percent growth in international air arrivals. He said he is focused on three imperatives: executing operationally, providing his staff with the tools they need to facilitate travel and improve the customer experience, and building partnerships with the aviation industry, international partners and other federal agencies, like CBP.

Both TSA and CBP garner an unprecedented level of coverage in the news cycle. When asked how his agency responds when, for example, an internal pilot like Quiet Skies program leaks into the public domain, Administrator Pekoske explained that he operates knowing that any new procedure or program can become public at any time. “Our job, both Kevin [McAleenan] and my job, is to manage and mitigate risk,” he continued, emphasizing that Quiet Skies looks at patterns of travel to help identify flights which may require an Air Marshal. “We have a very, very robust process inside TSA—which I think is absolutely necessary and something that I 100 percent endorse—of oversight from the Department of Homeland Security on all of our processes that assess risk by individuals.” Commissioner McAleenan agreed, adding that his agency faces “a tremendous amount of attention on all aspects of our mission, being responsible for anything that comes in or out of the country.”


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!


GBTA Testifies at House Homeland Security Subcommittee Hearing, Addresses TSA PreCheck Program and the Economic Impact of Travel Ban

Today, I testified on behalf of GBTA at a hearing held by the Homeland Security Committee’s House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security. The purpose of the hearing, Addressing The TSA Checkpoint: The PreCheck Program and Airport Wait Times, was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA PreCheck program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.

It cannot be overstated how important travel is to the U.S. economy... or any economy. As we always say, ‘Business travel drives business growth’. Companies invest in business travel to drive new business, create new jobs and build shareholder value.

As the busy summer travel season ramps up, GBTA is concerned past travel problems in screening as well as past statements and policies on foreign visitation will impact the rest of 2018 and beyond. The nation’s businesses spent $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips including roughly 144 million round trip flights. Because of this mass of travelers, GBTA has made secure and efficient travel a key platform of GBTA’s legislative policy and has been a supporter of TSA PreCheck since its first iteration as Registered Traveler.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Katko (R-NY) asked about cooperation from TSA and areas for improvement and growth. Our interaction with TSA has been terrific, but the reality is some of these areas we must accelerate, particularly the marketing of the programs to corporations.

Rep. Katko also added that PreCheck should not be used to manage traffic at airports, especially under the guise of risk-based security.

Regarding managed inclusion, GBTA believes its continued practice undermines the impetus to enroll and calls into question the entire premise of the program, which is prescreening travelers who through background checks have been identified as “safe” before they arrive at the airport. It’s time to finally put an end to this practice, which confers all the benefits of PreCheck without requiring any of the burdens.

TSA PreCheck cannot be the sole answer to long security lines. Accurate travel numbers, well thought out policies and solid analysis of historical data and forecasts, like the “GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast” are key to TSA’s ability to adequately staff checkpoints.

Ranking Chair Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) asked what message do the President’s policies and rhetoric send international visitors.

We are at a time of conflicting and sometimes seemingly contradictory views on how the business travel marketplace is trending – and what the future holds. On one hand, as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back, some would argue that business travel is healthy. But other underlying factors have a decidedly more negative impact on the future of business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.

GBTA projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent due to global uncertainty driven by current administration policies.

We have an obligation as a country to address the issues and to give companies that are driving the economy the support they need.

Watch the full hearing.

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!

Podcast: Travel Safety is a Shared Responsibility - Episode 1

In the inaugural episode of The Business of Travel, GBTA takes on duty of care. Mike McCormick, Executive Director and COO for GBTA, sets the stage highlighting the current state of the industry and discussing what we hear from GBTA members when it comes to duty of care. Next up, Mike Koetting, Executive Vice President of Supplier and TMC Services for SAP Concur, touches on the implications of booking behavior when it comes to keeping travelers safe. Finally, Erin Wilk, Global Security Travel Safety Manager for Facebook, talks about best practices for building a strong travel safety program and where buyers can turn to for resources.



You can also download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunes, Stitcher 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.

TSA Announces New U.S. Airport Screening Procedures for Electronics in Carry-On Bags

Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the implementation of stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. This follows extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, and will now expand to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead.

We have heard from many of you, our members, that travelers will be willing to spend extra time at security to prevent an outright electronics ban, so we are pleased to see TSA taking steps to enhance security, while still ensuring business travelers can keep their devices with them throughout their flight. While security is, of course, the top priority, business travelers want to remain productive on trips, and more importantly have been trained to keep their devices close for security purposes because they may contain sensitive company information.

You can read the full release from TSA below:

TSA raising aviation security baseline with stronger domestic security measures

New U.S. airport screening procedures for carry-on bags to better focus on threats

WASHINGTON – To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. Following extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, TSA plans to expand these measures to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead.

Due to an increased threat to aviation security, DHS Secretary John Kelly announced in late June new security requirementsfor nearly 280 airports in more than 100 countries. In an effort to raise the baseline for aviation security worldwide, TSA continues to work closely with airports and airlines to enhance security measures and stay ahead of the evolving threat.

“Whether you’re flying to, from, or within the United States, TSA is committed to raising the baseline for aviation security by strengthening the overall security of our commercial aviation network to keep flying as a safe option for everyone,” said TSA Acting Administrator Huban A. Gowadia.

As new procedures are phased in, TSA officers will begin to ask travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers obtain a clearer X-ray image. It is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks, however, through extensive testing, TSA identified ways to improve screening procedures with quicker and more targeted measures to clear the bags.

The new screening procedures in standard lanes are already in place at the following 10 U.S. airports with plans to expand to all airports during the weeks and months ahead:

  • Boise Airport (BOI)
  • Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB)
  • Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

In standard screening lanes, TSA officers will be stationed in front of the checkpoint X-ray machines to guide passengers through the screening process and recommend how best to arrange their carry-on items for X-ray screening. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving. There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on bags.

“It is critical for TSA to constantly enhance and adjust security screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats and keep passengers safe. By separating personal electronic items such as laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles for screening, TSA officers can more closely focus on resolving alarms and stopping terror threats,” said Gowadia.

The stronger security measures do not apply to passengers enrolled in TSA Pre® who are using TSA Pre® lanes. TSA also marked another milestone earlier this month with TSA Pre® now available at 200 airports nationwide. Travelers enrolled in TSA Pre® do not need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, electronics, light outerwear, or belts. The program allows TSA to focus resources on passengers who may pose a high risk to security while providing expedited screening to those travelers who have been identified as low-risk, trusted travelers.


Guest Post: 5 Travel Savings Tips

GBTA Foundation research has shown that business travelers who sign up for TSA PreCheck, to avoid the hassles and delays of the security screening process, are significantly more satisfied with air travel than their peers who have yet to enroll in the program. In fact, two thirds (66 percent) of travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck are satisfied with getting through airport security, compared with just 47 percent of business travelers not enrolled in the program.

*The following is a guest blog post from Simone Davis, TSA Precheck Executive. Simone shares several time-saving tips for your next business trip.*

5 Travel Savings Tips
By Simone Davis, TSA PreCheck Executive

  1. Ask TSA: In real time. AskTSA is a traveler engagement program that allows you to tweet your questions or send them via Facebook Messenger. You can ask about prohibited and permitted items, lost and found, screening policies and ID requirements.
    Maybe you’re having issues with your TSA Pre✓® known traveler number. Or maybe you forgot your laptop at the checkpoint. You can even tweet a picture of an item you just aren’t sure is permitted. You can reach the team weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and on weekends/holidays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Knowing whether something is permitted through the security checkpoint will save you time and stress.
  2. Time is money. Enroll in a Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Program, like TSA Pre✓®, to avoid the lines. These programs help improve security and reduce wait times through dedicated lanes and kiosks. TSA Pre✓® allows eligible travelers to keep on their shoes, belts and light outerwear jacket and can leave their laptops and liquid 3-1-1 bags inside their carry-on bags when going through the checkpoint. TSA Pre✓® is available at more than 180 U.S. airports and on 30 participating airlines. It’s only $85 and is good for 5 years. It takes just five minutes to apply online and schedule an in-person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting. Check out this interactive tool to see which Trusted Traveler Program best fits your travel profile.
  3. Check your credit card company or loyalty program for TSA Pre✓® offers. There are several credit card companies and loyalty programs that cover the TSA Pre✓® application fee as a member benefit, provide a statement credit towards the application fee, or allow members to use rewards points to pay for the TSA Pre✓® application fee. Check the list of credit card and loyalty programs. Who doesn’t love a discount?


  1. Know when the TSA Pre® lane is open. If you are already a TSA Pre✓® member, this new web feature lists the hours of operations for the TSA Pre✓® expedited screening lanes at the 26 largest airports. This web feature is an added convenience that allows members to better plan for their travel by knowing when and where the TSA Pre✓® lanes are open. You can enter their airport, day of week and time of day of travel, and the tool will return the availability of a dedicated TSA Pre✓® lane(s).
  2. If you travel with your carry-on… because you’re on travel for a couple of days or want to avoid checked baggage fees, remember the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and placed in a bin for carry-on baggage screening. Liquids more than 3.4 ounces means you’ll have to place it in checked baggage, ship it or opt to toss it, which costs money.

 Simone Davis is the Executive Lead for TSA Pre✓®. She is responsible for integrating all TSA Pre✓® activities within TSA. She provides strategic direction for the program and directly oversees the promotion and marketing activities. As the Executive Lead for the DHS Screening Portfolio Ms Davis drives the integration of TSA initiatives into the greater DHS enterprise and provides guidance and decision-making support to the DHS Joint Requirements Council to achieve common screening and vetting objectives. Prior to that, she held the position of Director of TSA’s Vetting Analysis Division. She was responsible for the vetting of all domestic and selected international passengers, as well as, transportation workers in order to mitigate known or suspected threats to the transportation sector. Ms. Davis’ was also assigned as the Deputy Director for TSA’s Intelligence and Analysis Division, where she directed the production and delivery of intelligence analysis, assessments, briefings, trend reports, and other intelligence products to industry stakeholders, field operations, and other partners within the Intelligence Community. She also held several other positions during her time of thirteen years of distinguished service to TSA.