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!

Mind Your Ps: How Corporate Travel Supports Business Goals for Profits, People and the Planet

The three Ps—profits, people and planet—are the triple bottom line for businesses today. Companies evaluate opportunities and measure success using financial, social and environmental metrics. According to a recent study commissioned by the United Nations:

  • 97% of chief executive officers believe sustainability is important to the future success of their business.
  • 85% have embedded sustainability into the business.
  • 79% say brand, trust and reputation drive them to act on sustainability.

Corporate travel plays a vital role. A travel program that embeds sustainability into its operations supports savings (profits), traveler satisfaction (people) and environmentally and socially responsible stewardship (planet).

If you’re just getting started with linking your travel program to broader business goals on sustainability, GBTA’s Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool, created in conjunction with BCD Travel, is a great place to begin. It measures sustainability by program category, including:

  • Overall sustainability program
  • Policies and procedures
  • Air
  • Hotel
  • Car rental
  • Rail
  • Other transportation
  • Meetings and events
  • Traveler well-being
  • Program communications

Based on the results, the tool grades your travel program’s sustainability level and provides recommendations for improvement. It’s easy to use, and the category assessments can be completed over time or all at once.

Once you have a clearer understanding of your program’s strengths and weaknesses, start looking for others in the business travel industry with a proven record of sustainability success.

In addition, the United Nations Global Compact website offers information on thousands of companies committed to the world’s largest sustainability initiative. The Global Compact calls for corporations to align business principles with sustainability efforts, including improving human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption practices. Make connections with some of these businesses that are getting sustainability right, and ask them for guidance.

The focus on profits, people and the planet is here to stay. It’s time to start minding your three Ps—and you’ve got the tools and resources to make that happen.

Questions? Comments? Send me an email at, and let’s have a chat about creating a sustainable travel program. You can also get in touch via, and we’ll share our story and tips for sustainability success.



As Senior Manager Global Sustainability Marketing, Sabine Kerse leads all Marketing and Communications activities focused on sustainability at BCD Travel. In this role she’s made her passion for sustainability part of her profession and uses the powers of Marketing to drive corporate responsibility forward.

Sabine holds a Master’s degree in Tourism & Leisure Management from the Salzburg Management Business School and has profound knowledge about corporate travel from different roles in over 20 years in the industry.

Travel Risk Management and Sustainability...Connecting the Dots

By GBTA Risk Committee and GBTA Sustainability Committee


How organizations manage the health, safety and security of their employees on business travel is not only part of their Duty of Care legal obligation, but also bears heavy influence on their GRI sustainability score. Corporate sustainability is an organization’s activities that demonstrate their work towards social, occupational and environmental concerns in business operations.

Having a Travel Risk Management program and partner not only provides robust travel risk solutions that help organizations protect their people, meet their Duty of Care requirements and save money, but it also helps to meet sustainable development goals and GRI reporting requirements.

It is important to work with a TRM partner, implement a holistic program, and report on how you are protecting your employees by providing solutions in a global environment; such as health consulting, promotion of worker health, and assisting employees with health and safety events while traveling.

Connecting the dots starts with understanding the lingo!


Key Sustainability Terms for a Holistic Travel Risk Management Solution:



Sustainable Development Goals




Sustainable Development Goals in Good Health & Wellbeing


Sustainability Report

How an organization reports what they've done to achieve goals




Global Reporting Initiative


GRI 403


Global Reporting Initiative on Occupational Health & Safety




Sustainability Accounting Standards Board




Sustainability Grading System



Food for thought:

“One out of every eight dollars under professional management in the United States in involved in socially responsible investing. That $3.07 trillion represents a huge pool of money that is being invested in companies that have been found to be sustainable.” – John Friedman (Huff Post, September 2017)

Do you know your company’s Sustainability goals and score?

World Travellers and Companies as Global Citizens

*The following is a guest blog post by Kati Ihamäki, GBTA member and Finnair’s Director of Corporate Sustainability*

The business sector and the way companies operate have a major impact on the future of the Earth. We can’t simply focus on minimising the impacts of our operations — instead, we must find opportunities for developing our operations, growing responsibly and benefiting society.

Companies and individuals who operate in a sustainable manner can thus change the world for the better. A company may not directly be able to influence things such as national legislation, but a sustainably operating company will introduce new practices and approaches into the social environment it operates in. Likewise, an individual citizen and consumer can make choices that help steer the product offering towards better sustainability. Companies want to contribute to be sustainable members of society and global citizens. Companies take on responsibilities and exert influence well beyond their geographical boundaries – their sphere of influence includes countries where their products are used, or where they have subcontractors or where they source their raw materials from. Sustainability throughout the entire sourcing chain has become a key indicator. This also applies to the travel industry – the entire travel chain and the infrastructure it requires. Social and environmental impact knows no geographical boundaries.

According to the old saying, leaving is more important than arriving. However, what about your destination and the method by which you travel? Sustainable travel, ‘staycationing’ and ecotourism are on everyone’s lips, but how seriously do people actually take these when planning their vacation? In business travel, you can hardly choose your destination, but the mode of transport and choice of hotel also leave a mark.  If you are interested in sustainability, where do you find reliable information?

Although there is a plethora of different eco labels, certificates and calculators available, the calculation methods and evaluation criteria applied for them vary dramatically. Fortunately, travel industry operators have joined forces to develop tools for travellers to help in deciding their destination based on sustainability or their mode of transport based on the level of emissions. We are unlikely to ever achieve a single, comprehensive label that would cover all aspects of sustainability, but these tools will help travellers make choices based on facts that matter to them personally.

Environmental considerations are often mentioned in connection with travel – carbon and water footprints, amount of waste generated and energy consumption. Different modes of transport can be compared using emissions calculators, just like hotels’ environmental performance can be evaluated based on their environmental footprint. The problem may be in that the calculators used by different airlines are not based on the same methods of calculation. Therefore, comparison between airlines is tricky, although destinations can be ranked based on the flight route calculators.

There are still no foolproof ways of comparing different modes of transport, but progress is being made through a concerted effort by stakeholders. In an ideal situation, when using a booking application, the customer should be able to not only compare the prices, but also the travel time and emissions. Although there is still some way to go before this is achieved and the emissions calculations are only estimates, development work is underway.

If you want to do your share and contribute to sustainable development projects, you can do so by, for example, donating your frequent flyer points or even participating in projects on-site. These alternatives are offered by airlines, hotels, travel organisers and NGOs.

In order to promote responsible business travel, Project ICARUS will be running the industry's only Sustainability E-learning Certificate program through a series of educational e-learning sessions starting Tuesday, October 24.

Kati Ihamäki has been the Director of Corporate Sustainability at Finnair since 2008. She has been passionately designing and managing Finnair’s corporate responsibility strategy and integrating sustainability issues into Finnair’s competitive strategy. Previously, Kati worked as Finnair’s Alliance Director for oneworld affairs; Manager for Bilateral agreements; Controller for Service and Quality for Stations abroad.

In her current role, Kati leads the development and execution of company-wide strategic sustainability initiatives, while integrating corporate responsibility into business-critical processes throughout the company.

Kati’s responsibilities include ensuring that sustainable development efforts enhance Finnair’s business performance and support the company’s strategy along with the long-term interests of multiple stakeholders. Kati’s work ensures that Finnair's current and future operations are sustainable and in line with the relevant values, norms and regulations. Additionally, she is responsible for the continuous development of Finnair’s corporate responsibility reporting and communication.

Assessing and Building Your Managed Travel and Sustainable Travel Programs

At this week’s GBTA Conference in Frankfurt, the GBTA Foundation in partnership with BCD Travel is launching two newly updated and completely revamped global resources: the Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool and the Managed Travel Index® (MTI®).

“We are very proud to have been part of such important and wide-ranging projects,” said Kathy Jackson, BCD Travel’s executive vice president of global account management and executive chair of corporate social responsibility. “At BCD Travel we recognize that a travel program can contribute to a company’s goals by improving continuously. Both tools will help travel buyers bring their travel programs to the next level.”

The Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool will allow organizations to measure themselves in 10 different areas, identifying strengths and weaknesses in their travel program as it relates to sustainability.

The new tool will now provide recommendations based on input and will identify specific resources for improving or implementing sustainability initiatives for travel programs. The Sustainability Self-Assessment Tool can transform the entire process of planning and implementing a robust sustainability travel program.

The tool is incredibly easy to use and can be completed section by section over time, or all at once – it is up to you. Implementing a sustainability program is no easy task, but this tool is the perfect guide for any company looking to implement or improve upon successful sustainability initiatives.

The MTI® has been completely updated as well. The new tool is redesigned, improved and globalized, so those familiar with the older version would hardly recognize this one.

The Index helps benchmark the effectiveness of a managed travel program. It has been designed exclusively for non-supplier travel professionals. It is customizable to a specific program based on the information provided.

Like an expert consultant, it reviews your travel program and identifies specific ways to make it better.  The tool and the recommendations are available in French, English, German and Spanish.

Because most travel professionals are short on time, the tool has also been designed similar to the Sustainability Self-Assessment tool to be completed in a variety of ways. You now have the ability to go section by section, saving your progress and returning as your time allows, or you can simply do it all in one sitting.

Both tools are available now to all GBTA buyer members.

Combined, these two global resources can help travel professionals with a start-to-finish assessment of their managed travel and sustainability programs.

GBTA Foundation Rolls Out New Car Rental RFP

The GBTA Foundation today unveiled the new GBTA Request for Proposal (RFP) for Car Rental, in partnership with Enterprise. The updated RFP is global, includes a sustainability module and is more efficient and easier to use.

A task force made up of representatives from across the industry including car rental agencies, Travel Management Companies and buyers worked to update and develop this new resource for the 2017 negotiating season and beyond. The final product achieves our main objective to create an RFP that can become the universal travel industry standard. It is a global RFP that is easier to use, more efficient, and more effective at specifying what the customer is looking for and establishing the evaluation criteria for assessment.

“The integrity of the RFP process is extremely important to the businesses and travel managers we work with every day,” said Claire Carstensen, Global Sustainability Manager for Enterprise Holdings. “By making this RFP template available globally industrywide, there is consistency and transparency when they are choosing the best partners to handle their business. In addition, the new updated RFP is designed with a comprehensive sustainability section, an increasingly critical issue that all companies need to be prepared to address as part of their supply chain.”

This truly impressive resource is the result of an extensive process and the culmination of a lot of hard work with stakeholders across the travel industry. Over several months, the task force reviewed the existing Car Rental RFP, updated sections where necessary, removed outdated pieces, discussed what might be missing and also added a completely new sustainability module.

Available free of charge to all, this RFP is designed to become the new industry standard for travel professionals, simplifying and easing the RFP process. Download the new Car Rental RFP here.

Interested in learning more? Please join a complimentary GBTA Foundation webinar this Thursday at 2pm ET featuring Claire Carstensen, Global Sustainability Manager, Enterprise Holdings. Claire will provide an in-depth walk through of the new Car Rental RFP form now available for travel professionals. Participants will learn how to access the new template, understand the main areas of the Car Rental RFP and learn the benefits of including the Sustainability Module in your RFP process.


*Kristina Weischadle, GBTA Sustainability Committee member, and the GBTA Sustainability Committee contributed the following guest blog post.*

GBTA’s convention is a big event with nearly 7,000 attendees from the business travel industry meeting in one amazing location each year. A lot goes into making this event happen and a lot goes out…meaning waste, water, electricity, food, plastic, paper…. which all equates to an impact on the planet. So how is an attendee to balance being a good steward of the earth while attending a top-notch convention such as GBTA? Here is a day in the life of a GBTA convention attendee with an environmentally conscious filter. Sustainability word cloud concept

It is the Friday before Convention and as I pack my business attire and comfortable shoes to walk the expo floor, I throw in my refillable water bottle. There are many refilling stations throughout airports and using my own refillable water bottle eliminates plastic bottles, which usually do not get recycled and will never totally decompose in the landfills they end up in. The water refilling stations are conveniently located for travelers in many airports, including Denver International Airport and at the Colorado Convention Center.

Revolving doors. They can be found in every building we access as we travel to Convention. Do they really work to conserve energy? You bet! Yet only about 20% of people actually use the revolving door according to a 2006 study by MIT graduate students. Believe it or not, the simple choice to use those spinning doors reduces energy consumption by as much as 1.5 per cent preventing 14.6 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air annually.

As I leave the airport, I look for a hotel shuttle or public transportation. Denver has a commuter rail line, the University of Colorado A line, travels between the airport and Denver Union Station downtown for $9. Union Station is located 10 minutes from the Colorado Convention Center. A taxi or shared-ride service from the airport to downtown costs about $40-60. GBTA also offers shuttles between the Convention Center and many of the area hotels. Check out the GBTA app for more information and schedules.

I have finally made it to Convention! GBTA has worked to make registration more efficient and less wasteful, with printing badges on demand, recycling opportunities and requesting that exhibitors print less and recycle unused materials. Balancing the information you need to make Convention successful with eco-mindfulness is an important part of planning each convention. You can even review all those wonderful education sessions you attended via the app.

On Saturday, I make my way to the main lobby of the Convention Center for the GBTA Cares Service Project and Wish for Wheels, building bikes for Denver area low-income children. Bikes are a wonderful way to travel around cities and what can be more inspiring than delivering a child their very first bike.

The expo floor is pretty amazing and knowing that it sits under a humongous solar panel roof makes it even more awe-inspiring! This 300kw rooftop solar array saves equivalent of 282 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to taking 53 cars off the road for a year. Whoa! Make sure you take a stroll down ICARUS Row and learn about how GBTA member companies are making a difference in their organizations.

Lunches at GBTA offer entertaining speakers, industry leaders discussing trends and chances to win once in a lifetime trips by supporting the GBTA Foundation through raffle tickets. Did you know that the Colorado Convention Center sources menus from local farms and producers as well as a 5,000 square foot urban garden managed by Centerplate. Blue Bear Farm can produce up to 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetable annually and jobs in the community. Doesn’t that chicken breast with roasted summer vegetables taste a little better now?

As the 2016 GBTA Convention comes to a close, I reflect back on all the people that I met, connections made, learnings and takeaways. Thinking about the actions I can take to decrease my impact on the world around me and how these small changes lead to bigger changes. Together, we can balance Convention with Stewardship!

Deadline Coming Fast for Nominations for Project ICARUS 2016 Sustainability Outstanding Achievement Awards

In early January, GBTA announced the opening of the call for nominations for the fourth annual Outstanding Achievement Awards for Sustainability in business travel and meetings across North America.

Through these awards, the GBTA Foundation looks to recognize travel buyers, suppliers, intermediaries, individuals and groups who can demonstrate outstanding leadership, innovation and commitment to delivering best in class sustainability programs, products and services across North America. Awards are split into the following categories:

  • Travel Supplier – including air, rail, hotel, ground providers etc.
  • Travel Intermediary – including technology partners, TMCs, Card providers, GDSs etc.
  • Travel Buyer – business travel and meetings buyers
  • Travel Team – meetings and events teams

The deadline for nominations is closing fast. The final date to submit an application is March 14, 2016 – just a few weeks away. Recipients will be announced and presented with a specially commissioned bronze Project ICARUS award at The Masters Honors Summit & Gala to be held April 10 – 11, 2016 at Trump National Doral® in Miami, FL. For more information, and details of how to be considered for one of these prestigious awards please visit the Project ICARUS website or contact me at

Guest Post: My Sustainability Story

In my previous sustainability series posts on the blog here, I have talked about what sustainability means, why taking a sustainable approach to business travel works and how to build a sustainable travel program, among other topics. Today, I want to turn the blog over to the head of GBTA’s Sustainability Committee to share the first in a series of real life examples of integrating sustainability into travel programs.

My Sustainability Story
By Joanne McNellis Coelho

I am Joanne McNellis Coelho, Senior Manager, Global Travel for Wyndham Worldwide, and I would like to tell ‘My Sustainability Story.'

Wyndham Worldwide is one of the world’s largest hospitality companies in the world, with over 100,000 locations in nearly 100 countries. My role as travel manager is to manage a multi-national travel program for our associates around the world.

Sustainability is not new for Wyndham Worldwide. As one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, we have always focused on implementing sustainability best practices at our hotels, vacation rental properties and timeshare properties, by engaging our supply chain, staff and customers. Early on, Wyndham had committed to reducing its operational carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020, and recently announced that we had already reached that goal - six years ahead of schedule!

Given the nature of our business, the carbon footprint from our internal business travel program is fairly low in comparison to other companies – less than 5 percent of the total. While reducing our carbon footprint in this area isn’t high on our radar, our business travel’s contribution is still very important. I believe that travel managers should align their goals with the overall goals of the company beyond the typical savings and cost avoidance initiatives.

But where do we start? Back in 2010, our Sustainability team began calculating our business travel emissions. At that time, I hadn’t heard of carbon emissions or even knew where they came from. My colleague in the Sustainability group was nice enough to give me a crash course in emissions, and from that day forward we brainstormed how we could work together to reduce our business travel footprint. I then began conversations with our preferred partners to find out what their companies were doing to learn from their success.

The most important advice I received was to start slowly, engage supply partners and get invloved!

This is great advice because it works!


It doesn’t mean go slow – it means ensure you plan carefully, engage people and communicate effectively.

Once I had support from my team, we engaged key supply partners. Our preferred suppliers are the source of the carbon emissions data and it is them who need to support us by finding ways to help reduce the environmental impact.

Our key suppliers were very supportive and willing to help. In fact, most had great programs already in place, so I decided to go after the easiest carbon reduction opportunities first. The ‘low hanging fruit’ as they say! It was my responsibility to get involved, so I immediately started learning as much as I could about the topic and used industry contacts as resources.  

A Car Rental Carbon Offset Program Was Born!   GuestPost_Joanne2

While we had been collecting emissions data since 2010, it wasn’t enough. We implemented the ‘Travel Smarter’ principles in order to reduce carbon emissions at the source. This involved recommending smaller vehicle rentals and the use of hybrid vehicles, resulting in some cost savings. But we wanted more. Our car rental partner offered a program where we could offset 100% of our business car rental emissions, so needless to say we took them up on it!

The final part of the puzzle was to engage company employees.

We started by creating an awareness campaign using our booking tool and quarterly newsletter to sprinkle in elements of sustainability into the travel program. This was no different than any other company program, except we needed to ensure that it was interesting, included compelling information encouraging employees to participate and offered an element of fun!

How have we done and what lessons did we learn? 

I would say we are off to a very good start. The biggest lesson I have learned is that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to incorporating sustainability practices into a corporate travel program. My peers that have had success in this space have all taken different paths and have experienced success within their respective organizations. GuestPost_Joanne3

Delivering a carbon reduction and financial return on investment is a great place to start for any business!!

In July 2015 it was announced that Wyndham Worldwide is one of the launch partners of United Airlines’ Carbon offset program, Carbon Choice. We are excited to be a part of this innovative program and look forward to seeing the results.

The best part of the story is that it has just begun!

Mandating Sustainability: New White Paper Details Impact Recent EU Accounting Directive to Have on Travel Buyers

In 2014, the European Council adopted Directive 2014/95/EU establishing mandatory environmental, social and governance reporting requirements for companies of significant public relevance with more than 500 employees. The EU member states are currently transposing the Directive into national law and mandatory reporting will be enforced beginning in 2017. This new Directive makes reporting of non-financial data mandatory for over 6,000 EU companies.


The GBTA Foundation’s Project ICARUS partnered with atmosfair to create a white paper detailing its implications for business travel carbon emissions reporting. The white paper, EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive: Implications for Business Travel Reporting, analyses current reporting practices and gives an indication of how prepared the business travel industry is for this new regulation. It also offers solutions on how travel buyers can prepare for the new reporting requirements.

With nearly 6,000 companies impacted, Project ICARUS wanted to create a resource to help travel buyers navigate the implications this new directive presents. The directive should not be seen as a burden on companies, however, but rather an opportunity to increase European companies’ long-term competitiveness and Europe’s long-term sustainable growth practices.


From the white paper you can get a clear indication of whether or not this directive applies to your company and what information needs to be reported. It also highlights the opportunity presented as this directive is a strong signal form the EU to accelerate the pace to achieve Europe 2020 strategy towards inclusive, smart and sustainable growth. The aim is to make Europe a global leader in establishing a new economic model that combines long-term profitability with social justice and the protection of our environment.

Looking beyond compliance, many companies are seeing the potential relevance and importance of reporting on the “six capitals,” namely financial capital, manufacturing capital, human capital, social and relationship capital, intellectual capital and natural capital.

For travel buyers, case studies in France and the UK where mandatory CSR reporting already exists show that changes in business practices will result from this reporting because what gets measured, gets managed. Some examples of sustainability-driven changes to travel practices include the introduction of green travel policies and embracing electric vehicles and car sharing. Travel suppliers and TMCs have a great opportunity to provide green products and services that support travel buyers in their efforts to reduce their company’s carbon footrprint from travel while maintaining the quality of business relationships and the safety of their travellers.

Download the report and find more resources from Project ICARUS here.