The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we urge you to join the fight to help end trafficking. It can be as simple as training your associates to recognize the sign or including language in RFPs inquiring about suppliers’ trafficking policies. Making a positive difference starts with the decision to make a change, no matter how big or small. There are resources for travel buyers to help end trafficking, tips on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, and additional resources for buyers and suppliers.

According to SiliconANGLE, Singapore Airlines recently revealed the data of 285 frequent flyers was compromised following a buggy website update.

Travel Leaders Group is set to acquire UK-based event management company Your Event Solutions (YES), Skift notes.

Winter storm Gia is expected to hit a 1,500-mile path from Colorado to the Mid-Atlantic region, USA TODAY reports. In advance of the storm, several major airlines are waiving change fees for passengers traveling through certain airports.

According to The Local Germany, walkouts by security personnel at several airports across Germany led to the cancellation of over 800 flights, affecting over 100,000 passengers. The Verdi union warns that another strike will take place on Tuesday at Frankfurt airport.  

Heathrow is offering local communities the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback as it prepares to build its third runway, Buying Business Travel notes. The airport will hold 30 consultation events across neighborhoods surrounding the airport, where individuals can weigh in on how the airport should manage noise and local factors that Heathrow should consider in designing future flight paths.

According to ABC7 News, the pilot shortage is causing debate among some individuals in the airline industry. Boeing predicts airlines will need 790,000 new pilots around the world in the next 20 years, but even today, the shortage is causing small regional airlines to shut down. Some argue that the extensive training programs should be relaxed, but pilots warn that the 1,500 hours of flight time is necessary.

Portuguese airline HiFly aims to eliminate all single-use, disposable plastics in 2019, Business Traveller reports. The airline recently took its first flight completely free of single-use items like straws and cutlery.

What should you do if an airline damages your checked luggage? USA TODAY weighs in.

Avis Budget plans to equip 50,000 of its vehicles across Europe and the US with keyless technology, Buying Business Travel writes. The technology enables customers to completely manage their rental experience through the Avis mobile app.

According to Business Traveller, Air France is adding a “Healthy” meal option to the a la carte menu for its premium economy and economy class. Passengers can book the meals for long-haul flights departing Paris from April onwards.

During CES, Google revealed a few updates to Google Assistant including navigation, travel and translation features, The Next Web notes. The voice assistant can now help travelers check-in to a flight, retrieve a boarding pass, provide real-time translations, and more.

Airbnb has partnered with American Red Cross to raise awareness and provide safety information for hosts and guests, 4Hoteliers writes. The goal is to keep people safe from home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Podcast: ECPAT’s Efforts to Eliminate Child Trafficking

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



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Recognizing the Signs of Human Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full schedule of webinars is available here.

How to Spot Human Trafficking at Airports

By GBTA Foundation

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

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


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

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

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