BTN's annual answer book for business travel managers.
Renaissance Atlanta Waverly - May 12, 2019
New York City - May 17, 2019
Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel - May 21, 2019
Business Travel News
announced its annual list of the 25 Most Influential Executives in the travel
industry business during its Business Travel Trends & Forecasts conference
yesterday in New York City.
Merger-and-acquisition players figured prominently in the
list, and some of the biggest such announcements came toward the end of the
year. Marriott’s Arne Sorenson was already on BTN's radar for the Bethesda, Maryland-headquartered hotel giant’s
January 2015 acquisition of Delta Hotels & Resorts, which came with 38
hotels and 10,000 rooms in more than 30 Canadian cities. It was Marriott's stunning
Starwood acquisition, announced in November, however, that sent waves through
the managed travel industry, immediately sparked rumors of additional hotel
mergers and acquisitions and sealed Sorenson’s spot on the list. Expedia chief
executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s acquisition spree engulfed Orbitz, Travelocity
and, most recently, HomeAway. Other executives in acquisition mode were InterContinental
Hotels Group chief executive Richard Solomons, who led the Atlanta-based hotel
company’s January purchase of Kimpton Hotels; Cvent chairman and chief
executive Reggie Aggarwal for the acquisitions of competitors SignUp4, in May,
and Alliance Tech, in November; and Sabre president and CEO Tom Klein for the
purchase of Abacus.
Creating urgency in the hospitality sector, Airbnb is
partially responsible for the merger environment. And the influence has
radiated. Expedia’s HomeAway acquisition was an obvious grab to play in the home-rental
market, but overall, larger distribution networks also will wield more power in
the face of new competitors. Hotel companies, in turn, may be bulking up to
strengthen their positions as they negotiate distribution costs and terms with
bigger online travel agencies. Burrowing specifically into corporate travel
territory, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky rolled out a set of corporate travel tools
in July and announced it had 500 corporate travel signups within 24 hours. November
brought a product suite that allows corporate-ready properties to more easily
identify themselves within the Airbnb platform. The home-rental platform also
joined Concur’s TripLink this year. Sharing-economy compatriot Uber's chief
executive, Travis Kalanick, also made BTN's
list as the ground transportation platform flexed its muscle despite ongoing travel
manager concerns, regulatory challenges in multiple markets and an active
class-action lawsuit in California.
Regulatory decision-makers and lawsuits also impacted BTN’s 2015 list.
European Union Advocate General Yves Bot heavily influenced
the EU Court of Justice in its decision to overturn Safe Harbor data-protection
agreements with the United States. Without the assurance of Safe Harbor, European
companies have reconsidered where they store data, including traveler data, and
ultimately whether that data should be shared with United States-based travel
management companies or risk management providers. Rita Wezenbeek-Geuke, head
of the European Commission's payment systems, led interchange fee cap
regulations that forced credit card companies to review their fee policies on
corporate cards. On U.S. shores, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis struck
down American Express’ antisteering rules in the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust
suit against the corporate card provider. And U.S. District Attorney Paul
Fishman conducted the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey probe that
resulted in Jeff Smisek's resignation as CEO of United Airlines.
Also on the list are emerging technology providers who have
tweaked the traditional travel industry way of life, sometimes painfully, and airline
executives who have disrupted established distribution schemes, placed downward
pricing pressure on their competitors or simply dominated their markets with
BTN's January 2016
issue will feature full coverage of the 25 Most Influential Executives for 2015,
listed in alphabetical order below:
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