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.

Innovating for Growth

At GBTA Convention 2017 in Boston, Travel Leaders Group took a risk by sponsoring our first-ever Innovation Row, a dedicated space on our Expo to highlight innovative technologies in the business travel space.

GBTA’s Caitlin Gomez chatted with Travel Leaders Corporate’s Gabe Rizzi at our Broadcast Studio about the importance of embracing innovative technologies in corporate travel. Gabe stressed the value of innovation culture, noting that it will “cause corporate travel managers, buyers, suppliers alike, us in the travel management company community to think differently about the problems and the friction that’s happening in the travel space.”

View the full interview:

Visit GBTA’s YouTube Channel for further insights and Broadcast Studio interviews from GBTA Convention 2017.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Phocuswright again to highlight innovative startups at GBTA Convention 2018 in San Diego. Keep your eyes peeled for the incoming class of innovators!

Innovation Series Competition: 30K, Groups360, Distribusion

Nine innovators recently competed for a spot on the Expo Floor at GBTA Convention 2017 during the multi-faceted Innovation Series. The interactive program enabled innovators to present their pitch to a panel of judges and participants who, at the end of the webinar, selected a winner to move on and exhibit on the all-new Innovation Row. During the last webinar of the series on May 9, 30K, Groups360 and Distribusion went head-to-head.

The Innovation Series and Innovation Row are sponsored by Travel Leaders Group, as they share GBTA and Phocuswright’s desire to highlight innovation and startup technologies shaping the business travel space.

CEO and Co-Founder Alex Jawad jumped right into things by explaining how 30K personalizes the flight search experience. Traditionally, flights are compared based on commonalities like price, number of stops, and duration, but 30K aims to change that. He explained how users can connect their frequent flier profile with online booking tools for personalized search results that incorporate redeemed miles and loyalty benefits. Users are then able to compare flights not only based on price and duration, but also redeemable miles and benefits like airport lounge access or priority check-in. Alex says that by listing the underlying value of each flight, you can ensure that the traveler is truly getting the best deal.

Next up, Groups360 CEO Kemp Gallineau walked through a step-by-step process of GroupSync, a tool that aggregates supplier data to provide meeting planners with an objective and transparent view during the sourcing process. With GroupSync, planners can search for meeting space by entering physical attributes like rooms needed, preferred destinations, and minimum meeting space required. The tool then immediately filters out hotels and destinations that don’t meet the criteria, thus cutting out lead time and any associated workload. It also gives market scorecards based on how well a property fits a planner’s needs. Meeting planners can quickly compare properties to one another and directly send RFPs within the platform.

Lastly, Head of Marketing Pierre Becher described how B2B aggregator Distribusion connects intercity bus operators to travel sellers. Although buses are one of the main modes of transportation in many countries, Pierre says major platforms still refrain from selling intercity bus products due to a fragmented market. Distribusion identified this hole in the market and set out to connect bus operators with various travel sellers, including GDS, tour operators, and online travel agencies. Intercity bus operators can then increase sales by distributing their products to thousands of sellers, and sellers can rejoice in offering customers additional ground transportation options.

At the end of the webinar, participants had the chance to select their favorite innovator in a live polling session. The audience selected 30K as the winner, who will move on to exhibit at Innovation Row at Convention. In addition to exhibiting, the winners of each webinar (Airmule, Waygo, and 30K) will face off in an exclusive education session at Convention.

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.

Innovation Series Competition: metaplanner, Waygo, Local Measure

Imagine your next business trip: you’re in a foreign city with little or no understanding of the native language. You simply want to grab a bite to eat so you head to a restaurant, only to realize that you can’t understand the menu. You take your phone out, point your camera at the menu, and an augmented reality-based app instantly translates it into English. That’s the idea behind Waygo, a company competing in a series of webinars entitled the Innovation Series.

The series enables innovators to present their pitch for a chance to exhibit on the all-new Innovation Row at GBTA Convention 2017. On May 2, metaplanner, Waygo and Local Measure were in the running during the second webinar in the series. The Innovation Series and Innovation Row are sponsored by Travel Leaders Group, as they share GBTA and Phocuswright’s desire to highlight innovation and startup technologies shaping the business travel space.

Now instead imagine your digital calendar plans your next trip. That’s what metaplanner, an all-in-one tool integrating with Outlook, aims to do. CEO Stefan Wagner walked through the add-on, which enables users to search and book hotels, flights, and ground transportation through their preferred OBTs directly within Outlook. The tool even connects to expense management tools, allowing business travelers to easily create expense reports. Metaplanner also lets travel managers add their travel policy and travel risk management software to monitor risks.

Waygo CEO Ryan Rogowski was next to pitch his app, which is an augmented reality platform capable of instantly translating Chinese, Japanese, and Korean images into English. Travelers who find themselves at a loss can use the app for real-time translations of street signs, menus, forms and receipts. Waygo does not require an internet connection to function.

From the moment a guest walks through the door to the moment they leave, there is an opportunity to make a difference during their stay, or so says VP Americas Ian-Michael Farkas. Local Measure helps businesses do just that by aggregating content shared publicly through social media and passing that data along to front-line teams. The platform enables hoteliers to both deliver personalized experiences and instantaneously solve problems during a guest’s stay. For example, if a hotel guest takes to social media to complain about the lack of hot water, the hotelier can use that information to amend the issue by moving the guest to a different room or apologizing in person with a gift basket.

Once all the pitches were given, participants reviewed the voting criteria and had the chance to select their favorite innovator. In this case, Waygo was the selected winner and will move on to exhibit at Innovation Row. The next webinar on May 9 will feature innovators Distribusion, Groups360 and 30K. Sign up here to select the winner in the last webinar of the series. Airmule, Waygo and the finalist of the third webinar will face off again in an exclusive education session at Convention.

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.