Industry Update
Press Release 3 September 2020

How to Manage Your Employees and Clients Through the Pandemic

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This week, GBTA Interim-Executive Director Dave Hilfman hosted well-respected travel industry human resources leader Patti Huska to share how to best get your organization and employees through this turbulent time. Huska is American Express Global Business Travel's (GBT) Chief People Officer and also serves on GBTA's WINiT Strategic Advisory Board.


Attendees of the webinar received actionable tips and ideas from Huska and Hilfman including:

Break situations down into manageable pieces. "We separated our pandemic response into three segments: 'Respond,' which was working through the immediate needs; 'Reset,' where we addressed working in a new norm; and 'Rebound,' which entails taking a long-term view to assess how we come out of this environment stronger than before," said Huska.

Look at how you are communicating, not just what you're communicating. "In a time like this, the cadence used in communications is important, as is the consistency," said Huska. Recent employee communication successes at GBT include: deploying video messaging from the CEO, employee calls with the leadership team, a quick and easy employee survey, and the development of an app to keep furloughed and non-furloughed employees connected to the organization. On the client side, GBT general managers are hosting webinars for clients and sharing a travel manager toolkit with guidance on how clients can manage their own programs through this pandemic.

People want to know you really care about them. Your employees, clients and partners want to see you do what you say you're going to do, that you have integrity and that you're trustworthy and honest. Said Huska, "You can put out fancy surveys with complicated metrics, but it comes down to, 'do people believe you and do they think you truly care about them?'"

Prioritize mental and physical health. People are anxious about the unknown right now, and anxiety is best managed with information. "In response to pandemic-related travel concerns, we launched an impressive tool called Travel Vitals, so you can 'know before you go.' Travel Vitals provides real-time information on travel restrictions, infection rates and hot spots by destination, airport, airline carrier, and hotel," said Huska.

"You have to focus on the things you can control, and put your energy towards accomplishing your specific goals," said Huska. "You must home in on what's important right now, and be able to 'change the tires on the bus while it's moving,' as the saying goes. Times like this call for moving quickly and being able to brutally reprioritize your work."

The Collaboratory webinar series continues through November. On Monday, September 14, Dave Hilfman hosts Jim McGowen, Marqeta's Head of eCommerce, who will provide insight on the accelerating movement toward a more cashless society and the need for the travel industry to adopt digital payment options.

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 and the GBTA Foundation deliver 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

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