Michael W. McCormick (Executive Director and COO of GBTA )

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry has over 5,000-plus members and manages over $340 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. Travel and Tour World (TTW) had an exclusive interview with Michael W. McCormick, Executive Director and COO of GBTA regarding its global role, recent venture and travel issues.

TTW – Elaborate GBTA’s role in playing the voice of the business travel industry?

Michael W. McCormick : The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings organisation. For more than 40 years, the association has dedicated itself to the professional development of its members and the advancement of the business travel and meetings management community. It is a critical source for information and resources on the business travel industry providing networking events, news, education & professional development, research, and as an organisation we focus heavily on advocacy both at the state and federal levels.


TTW – What are the major travel issues GBTA is working on recently?

Michael W. McCormick : Every year at our Legislative Action Summit, hoteliers from across the country come to Washington D.C. to learn the pressing legislative issues facing the lodging industry and take their message to Capitol Hill. After a day-long conference featuring panels on the current legislative outlook, members head to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress. As a direct result of hoteliers converging on Capitol Hill, Travel Promotion (visa reform legislation) and ADA pool lift requirements have been reviewed and are currently being discussed.


TTW: What do you see as being the single most important challenge facing the American Hotel & Lodging Association today? How are you addressing this?

Michael W. McCormick : We’re currently focused on providing the research, data and insights that underscore the direct correlation between business travel and the economy as well as initiatives to improve traveller safety. For example, GBTA is working with policy leaders to improve risk-based security programmes like pre-check and global entry. Programmes like this help get travellers through security faster and back on the road growing business without compromising safety. Also, we continue to be at the forefront of other business issues providing guidance on best practices for travel managers to help them get the most out of their organisation’s travel programmes and emerging issues like sustainability.

TTW: GBTA has launched its sites in all the continents almost – how are you escalating with your work all over the planet?

Michael W. McCormick : We are successful developing our global networks and activity in other parts of the world. This month, we announced formation of GBTA Africa, which expands GBTA’s reach to six continents. In addition to the educational events and conferences around the world, we also announced the formation of GBTA’s new Advisory Board for Asia. Having recently established its base in Asia with offices in Bangkok and Hong Kong, the new Advisory board provides strategic direction for GBTA Asia as well as representation for the newly formed member network.

We are well placed to bring value to travel professionals world-wide.

TTW: How are you planning to reduce the difficulties faced by the industry today?

Michael W. McCormick : GBTA’s Government Relations programme brings the collective voice of business travel to Washington. We advocate legislative policies that benefit the business travel industry and works of other industry associations and businesses to provide research to demonstrate the value of business travel and promote the role of the travel manager.

TTW: Global spending on business travel is projected to grow – how affirmative are you on this statement?

Michael W. McCormick : We strongly believe spending on business travel will continue to grow both globally and nationally. After a tumultuous 5 years for business travel, we’re seeing stable patterns emerge. Companies understand that face-to-face meetings help strengthen business ties and also create new relationships.

Based off our most recent Business Travel quarterly, for total U.S. business travel spend in Q1 2012, spending increased 4.5% and we expect to hit pre-recession levels in Q3 2012. Similar reports that we recently released focusing on Brazil and China also show tremendous growth. Business travel spending in both Brazil and China will experience double digit growth over the next two years.

TTW: How critical is the visa and aviation tax issue? How are you planning to deal with theses major concern?

Michael W. McCormick : It’s important to see expansions to critical programs like the Visa Waiver Program which promote travel to the U.S. while efficiently getting travellers on the road. We need to encourage global travel to the U.S., and risk-based intelligence-drive passenger screening programs that ensures security, reduces wait time at checkpoints, controls costs and allows agencies to focus their resources on high-risk passengers. The less time in the airport means more time to make business deals further strengthening the economy.

TTW: According to the The Global Business Travel Spending Outlook 2011-2015 study ‘Compound annual growth in business travel spending in Brazil, Russia, India and China is projected to grow two to three times faster than in developed economies like the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K’ – what do you have to say about this?

Michael W. McCormick : BRIC countries are poised for business travel growth. For many of these countries, key contributors include surges in business travel expansion in step with increasing manufacturing output, trade growth, job gains, business formations and infrastructure investment. Business travel has evolved into a key contributor and benefactor of economic growth showing strong correlations with economic indicators like GDP, retail sales, job growth and exports.

Overall, the economic situation in Europe continues to weigh on European business travel – and affect U.S travel internationally, so we’re expecting a challenging scenario over the next year.

TTW: Last but not the least; GBTA Convention 2012 is just around the corner – how are you lined-up for that and what out-of- the-ordinary can the participants expect from this much talked convention?

Michael W. McCormick : We have an exciting programme lined up for what truly is the most important business travel Event of the year. This year, we have continued to raise the bar, providing the networking, speaker sessions and informative panels to energize the travel industry.

We are boasting an impressive list of speakers, marquee panels, and ground breaking education opportunities. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will be keynote speakers along with “Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers.

We are also proud to debut the first ever Global Travel Professional Certification Programme for the Business Travel Industry at Convention. Offered through the GBTA Academy, the Certification will help business travel professionals gain recognition in the industry, advance their career and increase professional growth and development.

Our signature CEO Panels are packed with industry giants, pioneering business leaders and travel luminaries which will have people talking about the latest trends and cutting-edge industry topics.

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