The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) announced today that Scott Solombrino, GBTA’s CEO, would be stepping down from the position. The decision comes after an investigation into professional work conduct allegations against him.
The third-party investigation was generated when the GBTA’s board of directors reported that they received an anonymous letter asserting “troubling allegations” about Solombrino. The investigation concluded “no misconduct or legal wrongdoing on Solombrino’s part.”
However, the letter, dated June 8 and signed by “GBTA Former and Current Staff,” alleges that Solombrino created a hostile working environment through “verbal abuse, harassment, and emotional duress.” The trade publication Business Travel News (BTN) received the letter on June 12.
The letter cites an “extreme toxic environment at GBTA” as a result of "racist, divisive and derogatory comments” made by Solombrino, along with a "misogynist attitude and rhetoric.”
The letter accuses negligence of the GBTA senior staff and its board of directors to allow Solombrino’s conduct to go unchecked. Solombrino was promoted to CEO of GBTA in April.
The letter questions the board’s decision to pay for Solombrino’s weekly flights, hotels, and meals to travel from the GBTA’s offices in Virginia to his home in Boston. Board meetings are held at five-star hotels, with Solombrino specifically demanding luxury accommodations at St. Regis hotels, the letter states.
Fallout at the GBTA had been building before the letter. According to BTN, car service provider Blacklane and travel consultancy Festive Road dropped their sponsorships at the (now postponed) 2020 GBTA convention, citing specific incidences of Solombrino’s actions.
In July, GBTA announced it hired MCI USA, a consulting group serving member-based non-profit organizations, to perform an organizational and operations audit.
“This has been a turbulent few months for the business travel industry and for GBTA. It’s an unprecedented time that underscores our need to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders,” said Dave Hilfman, the Association’s interim executive director, in a statement.