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American Express Global Business Travel reveals 100 business travel moments that changed history

Behind every great business moment, there was business travel. For example, in 1953, C.R. Smith, president of American Airlines and R. Blair Smith, a senior sales representative for IBM, were introduced on a flight by a flight attendant. The two men were seated next to each other and spent the next several hours talking. During that flight they would agree on the framework of Sabre Corporation, which was co-founded by American Airlines and IBM in 1960.

Over the last 100 years, business travel has powered countless innovative moments that have changed the world we live in. In celebration of the business travel moments that changed history and 100 years of American Express powering business through travel, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is sharing 100 business travel stories from global companies that resulted in the partnerships, discoveries, epiphanies and moments of inspiration that helped shape the modern world.  

A list of the first 40 moments is available for download on the GBT 100th Anniversary microsite. GBT will release up to three moments per week that reveal a more in-depth look at each story’s history, starting with 1915 and continuing through 2015. To help develop the list and ensure historical accuracy, GBT partnered with historians from research firm History Associates, which has curated exhibits for museums around the country, including the Smithsonian.  

“We are very proud of our brand heritage and it’s amazing to think that our company’s roots in travel date back to the time these remarkable journeys were taking place,” said Bill Glenn, President and CEO of American Express Global Business Travel. “It’s incredible to see that at every turn, or new rising need, travel responded and evolved to enable business growth and expansion. The business travel industry is what it is today because of the entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance of some of the individuals and companies featured in the series.”  

Each moment tells the story of a business discovery, invention, expansion, idea or connection that changed business as we knew it. As another example, on August 18, 1919, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinnes piled into a Model T nicknamed “Molly” to begin what would be an arduous 51-day, 1,350-mile trip across the Australian Outback to survey a route for an upcoming air race. While they completed their original task, their travels helped them come to the realisation of how important air travel would be to transporting mail, passengers and freight over sparsley populated lands. In 1920, the duo founded QANTAS, which still operates as the world’s second oldest airline.  

“These companies were in constant pursuit of new partnerships, sources of inspiration and innovative ideas that pushed technological boundaries and introduced greater efficiencies that improved operations and ultimately, the traveller experience,” added Glenn. “We share the same philosophy at GBT and will continue to drive business travel forward to meet the evolving needs of tomorrow’s business pioneers. As a company that never stops moving, we can’t wait to power the next 100 years of business travel.”

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