Jesse Funk, client solutions manager
Every administration presents new opportunities for legislation that can shape the business travel industry. I joined the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and other business travel professionals for three days to advocate for policies and meet face-to-face with government officials and members of Congress. Below, you can read my takeaways and learn about policies that could affect you and your travelers.
The GBTA Legislative Summit kicked off at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.
For the first day of the summit, all attendees gathered in the prestigious Ronald Regan Building for an educational day reviewing and analyzing the most important business travel related legislation. In addition to reviewing three main policies and why they are so impactful to our industry, GBTA representatives also covered why these are so hard to change. In order, below are the three bills/initiatives GBTA is backing in mid-2019.
- The Faster Act – In 2014, Congress voted to divert $.60 from the $5.60 9/11 Security Fee issued on all airline tickets. This $.60 siphoned off to assist in lowering the general U.S. debt. GBTA is very much opposed to this diversion and insists the 9/11 Security Fee be used to help with TSA improvements. Their stance is, “Don’t balance the budget on the backs of travelers.”
- The Jolt Act – This act is intended to expand the visa waiver program. Essentially, by making it easier for more non-U.S. residents to travel to the U.S. from other countries with visa requirements, the economy can grow. It was estimated that these visitors could inject up to $231 million per DAY into the U.S. economy.
- Supporting a working group for ground transportation at airports – Competing ground transportation options compete for curb space at major airports. This leads to issues of congestion, inconsistencies in airport fees and poor traveler experience. The creation of this group aims to give ground transportation providers a voice and the opportunity to start down a path of positive change for everyone involved including ground transportation companies, airport and travelers.
GBTA does not have a political affiliation but rather works with everyone in Congress, always keeping the traveler in mind. Here at Fox, the traveler experience is always our number one driving motivation, so being a part of GBTA and helping take part in these initiatives is in a close reflection of our own core values and mission.
Meetings with Members of Congress
My first appointment on Capitol Hill was in Senator Ron Johnson’s office. His office was decorated with pieces of home from farming collectibles to sports memorabilia.
We met with Annie Chestnut, a staffer who was engaged and had a passing knowledge of the Faster Act as well as the Jolt act. During this 25-minute meeting, Annie took copious notes, especially when the discussion shifted towards support for the ground transportation working group, as this was a new topic being brought to her attention.
After the appointment with Senator Johnson’s office, a fellow colleague attending the summit and I had a few hours before our next meeting. We decided to have lunch in the Senate cafeteria in the basement of the complex. What surprised me was that this was like every cafeteria I’ve been to before, full of professionals getting in a meal before heading back to work.
My next appointment was with U.S. House of Representatives member Mike Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher’s office had a similar homey feel to it with some military flair from his days serving.
For this meeting, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet with representative Gallagher himself. At just 35 years old, Mr. Gallagher displayed positive energy and a passion for his work. He listened intently to the presentation and asked his staffer to follow up on a few of the items.
Fun fact: Earlier that day, Mr. Gallagher ran a 5k with other elected officials and won the race in roughly 18 minutes! This allowed him to retain his title as “The Fastest Man in Congress.”
I left with a positive feeling as all the officials we met with displayed a passion for serving their constituent’s best interests. Obviously, there are limitations to what can be done, but with enough people willing to work together to make a difference and bring our knowledge to the table we really can make an impact. It was an honor to represent Fox, Wisconsin and business travel in these meetings, knowing what good could come from this for all business travelers.
Curious as to what else Fox has been up to in the world of travel? Read more here.