In a record-setting event, 6,752 members of the international business travel industry convened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from June 15-19 for the 2017 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention. Among them was CD Editor Madeleine Maccar, along with more than three dozen luxury transportation companies that attended both as exhibitors and as show-goers at one of the largest gatherings of business travel professionals in the world.
The theme of the GBTA’s 49th annual convention was “Convergence,” which was demonstrated by attendees flocking to the seaport city to learn, network, and evolve as a unified force benefiting the worldwide travel industry. Beyond that, the event’s agenda was crafted around supporting the theme by addressing the constant stream of new guidelines and trends that help airlines, lodging, technology companies, consumer products, media outlets, and scores of other business travel professionals provide the high-quality and safe services their customers depend on.
Echoes of the convergence theme were also evident in the educational offerings available during the five-day convention. Various sessions focused on relevant topics like travel management, procurement, sustainability, technology, leadership development, ecological footprints, social responsibility, risk management, and capitalizing on “bleisure” travel (the marriage of business and leisure)—all of which helped the many facets of business travel be understood as complementary elements that all come together to comprise the successful future of business travel.
The sold-out Expo Floor, including the all-new Innovation Row that helped first-time exhibitors achieve greater visibility, featured well over 400 exhibitors who showcased the latest and greatest in business travel products and services. And the GBTA’s third-annual Media Day allowed nearly two dozen companies to share their breaking news announcements, including Dav El/BostonCoach. The company unveiled a brand-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator at its booth, which will be added to its fleet early next year. Dav El/BostonCoach also announced that it would be collaborating with Employee Travel Specials. The travel network is one of the largest in the country and is now partnering with the luxury transportation operation as the service’s preferred provider.
Beyond the full slate of classroom-style offerings available at the convention, education of a different kind remained a significant focus: Demos, multi-day sessions, certification programs, panels, and speakers all provided further insights into a range of topics. As the event encourages participation from all corners of the world, one of the prevailing educational topics was how to best navigate the geopolitical impact that global politics have on business travel and purchasing decisions alike.
This year, the GBTA also released four reports to coincide with the convention, all of which comprise a series of new research the association has been conducting. The reports each fleshed out topics like the economic impact of business travel as it relates to microcosms such as job growth, global pricing forecasts, and travel spend projections and influencers for 2018.
The current geopolitical climate and continued progress of innovation—and especially their impact on business travel and duty of care—were all at the forefront of attendees’ minds. Such prevailing topics and more were addressed not only by the GBTA’s education but also its many speakers and panelists.
The luxury ground transportation segment of convention-goers directly benefited from an international gathering, as their services were on full display for a global audience—which was especially helpful to the likes of United Kingdom-based company Addison Lee, which had recently made its entrance into the North American market by acquiring operators Tristar Worldwide and Flyte Tyme Worldwide.
“2017 was a very important year for Addison Lee, as we introduced the brand to the U.S. corporate travel market,” says Mike Fogarty of Tristar. “GBTA was the perfect platform for us to gain exposure among business travel buyers. The Addison Lee group was very pleased with the quality of our booth’s traffic at the Boston convention.”
Bringing an all-encompassing perspective of global business travel to the convention were leaders from all facets of the industry. Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci discussed how his company became the “king of the comeback” and his philosophy behind handling difficult situations in the public eye, while Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian talked about the future the travel industry as a whole, particularly regarding Air Traffic Control reform and security. Bastian also discussed the business of Delta highlighting investments in other carriers and the importance of treating the customer the way you want to be treated in today’s social media world.
International political tension was a significant concern for many in the audience, and the Monday Center Stage Panel brought together global business experts to explore disruptions in the movement of people and duty of care; continuing with the topic of disruption, Tuesday’s panel focused on the changing landscape of modern lodging for business travelers. Rounding out the speaker sessions were General David Petraeus, Chairman & Senior Executive of IAC and Expedia Barry Diller, and 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps.
The 2018 GBTA Convention will be August 11-15 in San Diego.
Visit gbta.org to learn more about the association, and gbta.org/convention for additional information about the annual event. [CD0917]