The Institute of Travel Management is planning to merge with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE). The move is calculated to provide the two organisations with increased clout when it comes to dealing with officials on both sides of the Atlantic – notably in Washington and Brussels. It should also provide the Institute with a lobbying voice in other parts of the world.
The proposed deal, which was unveiled at the London Business Travel Show, is not done and dusted yet. It still has to be agreed by a simple majority of the Institute's 1000 members in the UK and Ireland, a sizeable proportion of whom are now supplier representatives. They handle around a quarter of all corporate travel spending in the two countries – business worth some Â£6 billions. ACTE's 2500 members, in some 37 countries, are also split between travel managers and suppliers.
ITM chairman Tom Stone said the move could strengthen ACTE's hand when dealing with the Department of Homeland Security and Transport Security Administration over issues such as immigration delays and the extension of a registered traveller programme – fast tracking for vetted, frequent travellers – to visitors from outside the US. The Association lobbied hard for trials of such a scheme, which are now taking place at Minneapolis-St Paul, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington's Reagan National Airports. But the pilot programme is open only to Americans, and permanent legal residents in the US.
Mr Stone said: "ACTE would be in a stronger position to say: "These are concerns in the UK. Don't just take out word for it. This is what the business travel sector there is saying'."
Greeley Koch, ACTE president agreed: "Nearly all of the major issues facing travel management executives this year - safety, security, service, privacy, open skies, and IATA reform, just to mention a few, will be better addressed with a single worldwide voice and a unified membership."
He said the Association was due to hold more talks with the TSA next week.