GBTA Puts CEO Scott Solombrino On Leave

The Global Business Travel Association board of directors on Saturday morning announced that it placed CEO Scott Solombrino on administrative leave.

The organization said it did so to allow for “further investigation” into the claims made in a June 8 letter describing unethical conduct and alleging racism, sexism, humiliation and verbal assaults of staff, misuse of funds and other issues.

Business Travel News published a link to the full letter, written by an anonymous author described as former and current staff, in a Friday article.

The Saturday board statement did not make reference to Solombrino’s June 7 email to staff in which he called Colorado’s governor an “asshole” and characterized layoffs as “easy cuts.” Solombrino on Wednesday apologized for that communique, saying it was hastily written.

The apology rang hollow for some industry professionals commenting on social media and on this website. It made no reference to statements Solombrino made in 2019 — cited in the Monday article that first revealed the staff email and this February article — which many interpreted as sexist.

“You don’t need legal counsel when the evidence is this overwhelming,” according to Travel and Transport’s Kerin McKinnon.

“The follow up and the ‘apology’ actually added fuel to the fire in my opinion,” wrote Jeff Daily, director of global travel at Palo Alto Networks. “There was obviously zero remorse, which highlights the real problem.”

“We have determined that further investigation is required in this matter,” according to Saturday’s GBTA press statement. “We have taken this step to affirm that this inquiry has the necessary depth, that the reviewer has sufficient time to consider and corroborate facts and statements, and to give any and all concerned parties an opportunity to come forward.”

The calls for Solombrino’s resignation are numerous. Some argue the same fate befits the board, which is made up of personnel from Altour, BCD Travel, Best Western, Boeing, Dollar General, Facebook, Freeman Co., Ingredion Inc., Johnson Downie, NetApp, Oracle, PayPal and United Airlines.

The board in April voted unanimously to promote Solombrino to CEO.

Disclosure: The Company Dime currently provides content to the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, like GBTA a corporate travel membership association, for a fee. The Company Dime is also in discussions with a private trade show organizer about its interest in launching a new expo in corporate travel. These are conflicts of interest which the reader should consider as part of their understanding of this article.

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Jay Campbell

Author: Jay Campbell

Jay Campbell in 2004 created travel business newsletter The Beat, in 2006 co-founded Travel Procurement magazine and in 2010 integrated them with Business Travel News. He served as editorial director until 2013. Jay made his travel industry media debut in 1993 at the Air Travel Journal of Boston while earning his undergraduate degree in journalism at Boston University.
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