Over Two in Three Travel Programs Impacted by Payment-Related Data Breach in the Past Year

Travel Buyers Acknowledge Risk of Fraud is Growing

Alexandria, VA (April 25, 2019) – Nearly 70 percent of travel buyers say their business travelers have been affected by a payment-related data breach from an outside vendor such as an airline, hotel or retailer in the past year, according to new research out today from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in partnership with AirPlus International. The research also reveals that travel buyers believe the risk of fraud is growing, with two-thirds (68 percent) saying travel programs face a greater risk of fraud today than they did two to three years ago.

“This research highlights a significant contrast between what travel buyers are saying versus what buyers are actually doing,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director & COO. “However, it is encouraging to see an uptick in the usage of virtual cards, which can be an effective weapon against fraud.”

“We have seen the need to educate around virtual card benefits not just to travel managers but to corporate finance and procurement departments as well,” said Diane Laschet, President & CEO of AirPlus International Inc. “This method of payment has the strongest level of security controls available on a payment tool which is critical in the age of data breaches.  When you couple that with the comprehensive data associated with each transaction it is easy to see why this is the future of business travel payment.  The benefits really touch all areas of the company from the back office to the traveler.”

Nearly half of all travel departments are involved with various payment security functions. Most departments are involved in responding to payment fraud by an external party, educating travelers about payment security and setting policies related to payment security. Surprisingly, involvement does not vary much by travel spend or travel program reach (i.e., national vs. global).

Most travel buyers (79 percent) view single-use virtual card numbers as effective at preventing fraud, and yet, only one-fifth of travel programs (20 percent) report current usage of this payment method.

Similarly, travel buyers believe payment controls can prevent fraud and misuse, but many never or rarely use them. Payment controls include limiting the amount allotted in a single transaction, restricting payment within a certain country and setting daily or weekly spending limits. Nearly 40 percent never or rarely limit the amount allowed in a single transaction, despite having access to this technological solution.


An online survey of 144 U.S. travel buyers was conducted, and fielding took place between January 16, 2019 and January 28, 2019. Respondents qualified if they were a travel manager/buyer or procurement/sourcing professional, and have at least some involvement in “making decisions about payment solution providers and policies as they relate to travel.”

More Information

Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. The report, Business Travel Payments & Data Security: Protecting Data & Mitigating Risk in the Digital Age, is available exclusively to GBTA members here. A webinar featuring the research results and steps to protect against fraud will take place on Thursday, May 16 at 2:00pm ET. Register now.

About the Global Business Travel Association

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit gbta.org.

About AirPlus International

AirPlus International is a key provider of savings to over 54,000 customers worldwide through a suite of corporate travel payment solutions which include virtual central bill accounts; single-use virtual cards; corporate cards and online management tools. The AirPlus payment solutions enable corporations to reduce costs and improve their business processes as the result of our enhanced data and global reach.  AirPlus, the leading issuer of UATP worldwide, is travel agency neutral.  For more information, please contact AirPlus at 703.373.0940 or www.airplus.com

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