As we reach the end of another year, we at American Express Global Business Travel like to reflect on what’s happened over the past 12 months. Today, we look at some of our accomplishments from 2019 along with some other major events that impacted business travel that show the importance of having a trusted travel management partner by your side.

As you prepare for a new decade, remember one thing: we are here with you for all those moments that matter, in 2020 and beyond.

Dec. 22, 2018Jan. 25

Air travel experiences major hiccups due to the U.S. government’s 35-day shutdown, the longest in U.S. history. Travelers experience long delays at security checkpoints at many airports due to a shortage of Transportation Security Administration officers showing up to work. On Jan. 25, 2019, the last day of the shutdown, flights heading to LaGuardia Airport in New York are halted to a ground stop because there are not enough air traffic controllers to manage them safely.

Jan. 15

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the world’s first robot hotel, The Henn na Hotel (“Strange Hotel”), in Japan, lays off more than half of its 243 robots because they struggle to perform their jobs (e.g., the concierge couldn’t answer guests’ questions and luggage carriers were not able to climb stairs and go outside). Rather than saving on labor costs, the hotel was required to increase staffing to assist and repair the malfunctioning robots.

Feb. 13

Goodbye, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Bonjour, “Bonvoy.” Marriott officially launches its newly rebranded loyalty program after its merger with Starwood. Due to information leaked in November 2018, the much-anticipated program name change comes as no surprise.

March 5

To help companies see how their travel programs stack up against others, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) launches a peer benchmarking solution, Peer Travel Insights™, that compares a client’s anonymized travel data to travel data of other companies in their industry. The tool also features a highly requested traveler well-being dashboard to help organizations measure traveler satisfaction.

March 13

Aviation authorities around the world ground Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft series occur within the span of five months. As a result, airlines reduce the number of routes they serve and seek to retrain and reinvest in pilot safety.

March 29

The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is delayed after British lawmakers reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal plan. The threat of a no-deal Brexit is averted, for the time being. Brexit is delayed two more times in 2019, with a new deadline set for Jan. 31, 2020.

April 5

The World Travel & Tourism Council announces its formation of a global task force to help prevent and combat human trafficking, an issue that affects 30 million victims worldwide and relies on travel networks to operate. American Express GBT is one of the founding members.

April 23

Business travelers, rejoice! American Express GBT expands its accommodation program to give companies and business travelers access to more than 2 million properties worldwide. The additional content is the result of American Express GBT opening up more inventory through its existing partnership with Booking.com.

April 25

Certify releases a report indicating that business travelers are using electric scooters to get around town with electric scooter companies (e.g., Bird and Lime) appearing on business travel and expense reports, causing panic to spread among travel security managers worldwide. (Kidding, but not really.)

June 25

American Express GBT announces plans to expand its global footprint with the acquisition of DER Business Travel, a travel management company in Germany.

Aug. 3

American Express GBT processes the first live New Distribution Capability (NDC) booking using American Airlines’ NDC-enabled feed via Amadeus Travel’s application programming interface.

Aug. 5

American Express GBT announces its new global flagship charitable cause to help give children the resources and supplies they need to continue their education in times of crisis by committing to support UNICEF through a monetary donation of half a million dollars from August 2019 through June 2021.

Aug. 12-14

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators flood Hong Kong International Airport, causing nearly 1,000 flights to be canceled.

Aug. 13

American Express GBT strengthens its presence in the Middle East by forming a joint venture with YBA Kanoo Group to acquire a controlling stake in Kanoo Travel, one of the largest travel management networks in the Middle East.

Sept. 17-23

Thomas Cook, a firm that pioneered the tour operator concept more than 150 years ago, files for bankruptcy and cancels all bookings, leaving hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded all over the world.

Oct. 1

American Express GBT welcomes Paul Abbott as its new chief executive officer as it enters an exciting phase of rapid organic growth and M&A activity fueled by breakthrough technology investments and industry-leading customer service. Abbott previously served as American Express’s chief commercial officer of Global Commercial Services.

Oct. 25

American Express GBT announces that with the latest release of its proprietary online booking tool, Neo™, it is the first travel management company to connect to the global distribution systems for online NDC content (connecting to Amadeus NDC-X and Sabre’s Beyond NDC). With this release, it also introduces Routehappy product and amenity information into the Neo point of sale. Users can now see more information about what is included in the airfare, such as Wi-Fi, food choices, and seat pitches.

Nov. 20

It’s World’s Children Day, and American Express GBT’s first global fundraiser aiming to raise $75,000 in support of UNICEF and its flagship cause of helping children get back to school in times of emergency and conflict. American Express GBT matches dollar for dollar all employee donations made from Nov. 20 to Dec. 3. Every child deserves access to a safe learning environment. Through its partnership with UNICEF, it helps to make this a reality in 2020.

Nov. 22

American Express GBT announces that its mid-market clients may now use Apple Business Chat, a new way for business travelers to communicate live with our highly trained travel counselors using the Messages app on iPhone and iPad.