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Saturday, December 02, 2023
GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Chauffeur Driven Publisher Chris Weiss with Shawn Abaspor and Mary Thompson of Vitesse Worldwide The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) held its milestone 50th annual convention August 11-15. In keeping with the year’s theme of “momentum,” attendance for the 2018 installment of the event breezed right past last year’s record-setting number: 6,755 business-travel professionals and industry leaders flocked to San Diego for one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world. Among them were Chauffeur Driven Publisher Chris Weiss, nearly 40 operators representing the luxury ground transportation sector, and 7,000 copies of CD magazine, which were placed in every attendee bag.

The momentum theme carried throughout the five-day convention’s duration with a focus on how the industry has evolved with prevailing trends and changing expectations, how it is moving forward into the 21st century, and the progress it’s made in the past five decades. Additionally, more than 170 education and professional development sessions, literal days of on-point speakers imparting wisdom from their various vantage points, and a show floor featuring more than 400 exhibitors were testaments to the scope of the industry’s reach and progression.

“We go to GBTA for two reasons: One is obviously to meet potential new clients and the other is to see our current clients,” says Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide. “Being there enhances the power of our brand. If we are not there, our clients will wonder why—and if we want to be part of the conversation when companies choose a ground transportation provider, we have to be there. To these groups, out of sight is out of mind.”

GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Mike Cheney, Rebecca Sahlin, Tami Saccoccio, and Dawson Rutter of Commonwealth Worldwide, plus the copy of Chauffeur Driven featuring the company that was included in the convention’s attendee bags “Having spent my entire career in corporate travel and transportation, I have been a GBTA attendee or exhibitor every year for decades,” adds Jeanne Caputo of MTC Worldwide. “GBTA is an incredibly important touch-point for any company interested in working with corporate clients. It isn’t a simple trade show: It is an event that translates into new business for us each and every year. We wouldn’t miss GBTA—it is money and time worth spending.”

Even GBTA’s own unique offerings propelled forward, fueled by previous years’ success and benefitting from their own annual growth. Its Innovation Row was back for a second year, giving mostly first-time exhibitors the chance to be featured attendees in a high-traffic area. The convention’s fourth-annual media day saw nearly 30 companies disseminating their breaking news on a national platform.

GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Daniel Aucar, Kelcy Peterson, Ariana Jimenez, and Wayne Couturas of Leros Point to Point GBTA had a few announcements of its own, including the merger of WINiT for Women into GBTA, which will allow GBTA to take WINiT’s mission worldwide. Members of GBTA and WINiT will benefit through access to both organization’s programs, services, and an expanded network of approximately 12,000 industry professionals. Additionally, leadership from GBTA and the Institute of Travel Management (ITM), the leading managed business travel association in the U.K. and Ireland, announced a joint venture that is part of a deeper, collaborative partnership between both associations.

The association also held an on-site election for its open Global Board of Directors positions. The three Direct Member at Large positions on the 2018-2019 board are Tricia Alsup of Dollar General, Kathy Briski of The Boeing Company, and Erin Wilk of Facebook (Briski and Wilk return after being appointed in 2017, while Alsup is a first-time member). The Allied Member at Large position will be held by Doug Payne of ALTOUR, who has previously served two terms from 2011-2015.

GBTA Convention MomemtumScott Solombrino of Dav El/BostonCoach with a brand-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator This year saw the merging of social awareness and the unique position of business travel to thwart the growing threat of human trafficking with GBTA’s first-ever Awareness 5K Run & Walk, which included 200 registered participants and benefited ECPAT-USA, the American chapter of the world’s leading anti-trafficking policy organization. The nonprofit received a $20,000 check on the convention’s final day.

In addition to traditional education like seminars, workshops, demos, and panels, an array of high-profile speakers shared their insights on Center Stage to address business travel’s most pressing issues. As only the third person in 90 years to head the largest hotel company in the world, Marriott International President & CEO Arne Sorenson discussed the business travel industry, the shakeup over group commissions, and the company’s home-sharing strategy in a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael McCormick on Monday. Immediately after, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Best Western Hotels Dorothy Dowling led a session of top female business travel executives discussed the unique challenges they faced as women arriving in leadership positions within their companies.

GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Mike Pagano, Art Miesemer, Lauren Nock, and Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide McCormick later interview Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, where the two highlighted technology’s potential to increase security and passenger facilitation. Kurt Ekert, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, led a panel of experienced travel buyers in a shift from typical GBTA Convention Center Stage sessions. And Guy Langford, Deloitte’s Vice Chairman, U.S. Transportation, Hospitality, & Services Leader, asked a panel of executives covering various sectors of the business travel industry if bigger really is better, prompting a discussion of advantages and disadvantages of industry consolidation.

The keynote stage at Convention Arena featured sports icon, social justice pioneer, and entrepreneur Billie Jean King; investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, chairman of O’Shares ETF Investments Financial Group, and bestselling author Kevin O’Leary; and John Walsh, victims’ rights advocate and host of Discovery ID’s In Pursuit with John Walsh.

The 2019 convention will be in Chicago from August 3-7.

Visit for more information.

GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Gerry Luqman, Sunny Chaudry, and Gary LaFrenais of Sunny’s Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Wasif Bhatti, Jean McManus, and Muhammad Bhatti of Limo Corp Worldwide GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Yolanda Carneiro, Maria Charno, Sally Snead, Matt McGrath, Jeff Kovach, and Merrill Gauron of Carey International GBTA Convention MomemtumGary Bauer of iCARS GBTA Convention MomemtumAlex Malek of Three Zero Five Transportation GBTA Convention MomemtumDon Mahnke of ABC Worldwide ­Transportation GBTA Convention MomemtumSeth Rudin and Rachel Faulkner of AsterRIDE GBTA Convention MomemtumDarren Croasdale (left) and John Loomis of La Costa Limousine GBTA Convention MomemtumGuy Ben-Zion (left) and David Henken of Elite Limousine GBTA Convention MomemtumBruce Boillotat (left) and Lauren Roberts of U.S. Sedan Service Worldwide GBTA Convention MomemtumRalph Duncan of London Towncars of New York GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Fernando Carlison Jr. of Mundi Limousine, Chauffeur Driven P­ublisher Chris Weiss, and Diego Crespo of Mundi Limousine GBTA Convention MomemtumStephen Decatur and Jeanne Caputo of MTC Worldwide GBTA Convention MomemtumNoune Bagdasarian and Terry Schwab of KLS Chauffeured Services GBTA Convention MomemtumTim Rose and Patricia Gardiner of Addison Lee & Tristar Worldwide GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Diane Barbera, Kurt Siejkowski, Tara Roche, Marissa Criaris, and Dina Perazzo of EmpireCLS GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: James Parkes, Rick Versace Jr., and Keith Soraci of A1A Limousine & Airport Service GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Maria Mella and Liz Carisone of GroundLink and Mark Tourgeman of Royal Knights Limousine GBTA Convention MomemtumL to R: Diane Forgy, Susan Blanco, and Sean Williamson of Overland Chauffeured Services