Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry, has reinforced its European presence with the addition of new members to the European Advisory Board and advisory boards across the region.


The GBTA advisory boards are run by member volunteers, selected for their expertise and industry knowledge. The role of these boards is to help shape and guide the strategy of GBTA Europe, working closely with the GBTA leadership team.

GBTA Mark Cuschieri Chair GBTA Europe Advisory Board

“Volunteers are essential to the success of GBTA in Europe and ensure we have representation from both the supplier and buyer communities to deliver the high-quality content and events our members require. With any change, brings opportunity and this gives GBTA Europe the chance to re-engage and structure the association in line with member requirements and the specific needs of this region,” said Catherine Logan, regional VP – EMEA.

New volunteers include:

Europe Advisory Board:
Stephen Hanton, President International, Synergy Global Housing
David McNeill, AVP Global Corporate Sales, EMEA & APAC, Enterprise Holdings
Carol Fergus, Global Travel Manager, Fidelity International
Eija Kurttila, Global Travel Manager, Telia Company
Jens Liltorp, Global Category Manager, Travel and M&E, Leo Pharma
Stefan Asmuss, Global Travel Manager, SAP SE

Italy Advisory Board:
Marco Quagliarella, Director of International Operations, AIM International
Matteo Ciccale, Partnerships Manager Team Lead, Booking.com (Italia) Srl.

France Advisory Board:
Ondine Bedetti, Global Lead Buyer Travel, BNP Paribas
Katharina Navarro, Global Category Manager Travel, Cap Gemini has also been appointed as Vice President.

“I am delighted to see so many new industry leaders have joined the advisory boards, to help reset the role of GBTA in Europe and to ensure that the GBTA Europe Advisory Board has a renewed purpose; more influence and the ability to re-energize membership. I am looking forward to working with all the new volunteers to ensure members are well served across Europe,” said Mark Cuschieri, chair of the GBTA Europe Advisory Board.

Visit gbta.org for more information.


The importance of state industry associations has never been more evident than in these past six months. Across the country, the associations have provided their members with valuable education, networking, and support during the pandemic.


To continue its support of local/state associations, the National Limousine Association (NLA) launched a new Association Grant Program. This program, which has replaced the rebate program, gives associations the opportunity to receive funding based on their legislative efforts, membership campaigns, and educational programming.

NLA Robert Alexander NLA President Robert Alexander

“I, along with the NLA Board, appreciate the importance and value local/state associations bring to NLA members and our industry as a whole,” said NLA President Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide in a recent President’s Message. “We have always worked hard to support these associations through various opportunities such as complimentary exhibit space at shows, supporting local lobbying initiatives, and through the NLA rebate program.”

Recently, the NLA shared that it will be granting a total of nearly $50,000 among the following associations:

  • Arizona Limousine Association
  • Florida Limousine Association
  • Greater Atlanta Limousine Association
  • Greater California Livery Association
  • Greater Orlando Limousine Association
  • Illinois Limousine & Bus Association
  • Limousine Association of New Jersey
  • Limousine Association of New York
  • Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association
  • New England Livery Association
  • Wisconsin Limousine Association

The NLA has pledged continue to support local/state associations as the industry navigates through COVID-19.

“Change often starts on a local level and the more engaged members in local/state associations, the stronger our industry will be,” said Alexander.

In addition, the NLA is currently encouraging operators to get directly involved with the NLA as a board member. The association is currently accepting nominations to run for open board seats for the 2021-2024 term. If you have fresh insights and passion to devote to supporting the association, you can submit your nomination here.

Please note, per Article 6 of the NLA Bylaws, an individual must be a corporate officer or senior executive of a Regular Active Member (operator) company that has been an NLA member for at least the most recent two consecutive years.

Open board seats include:

  • At-Large (Two Open Seats)
  • Central (One Open Seat)
  • Northeast (One Open Seat)
  • Southeast (Two Open Seats)
  • West (One Open Seat)

The nomination period will close Wednesday, October 14.

Visit limo.org for more information.


The Illinois Limousine and Bus Association (ILLBA) hosted a “Coffee With the ILLBA” Zoom conference on Tuesday, September 14, which included members, representatives of their board of directors, and special guests. CD President & Publisher Chris Weiss and Editor Rob Smentek were among the more than 20 attendees online for the meeting, which largely focused on effective networking during the pandemic.


ILLBA President Tracy Raimer of Windy City Limousine & Bus welcomed the group, and thanked the board members for their continual efforts to offer relief and education in the midst of the industry downturn. Raimer announced that the Board realizes that now is not the time to ask for dues, so membership fees have been eliminated for the remainder of 2020, and operators throughout the country are encouraged to join. Director Ron Hoye of Carey International stated that any members who are paid up for 2020 will have their dues applied to 2021. He also encouraged operators to invite staff, including chauffeurs and ICs, to take part in the association while membership is open.

Tracy Raimer ILLBA President Tracy Raimer

Raimer then invited Weiss to share some info about the upcoming Chauffeur Driven/NLA Virtual Event on November 17-18. Organized in place of the now-cancelled show in Orlando, Weiss revealed that two full days of educational sessions and networking are being planned. While the final speakers and schedules will be announced imminently, he did hint that an online version of the always-popular Operator Mentoring Program will be offered. CD is also remaining hopeful that the CD/NLA will return to Vegas in 2021.

CD President & Publisher Chris Weiss CD President & Publisher Chris Weiss

Next, Special Guest Speakers Arthur and Drew Messina of Create-A-Card provided an informative and fun discussion on improving your networking experience, both inside and outside the industry. According to Arthur, successful networking is a based on the three-tiers of relationship, trust, and success. Drew seconded that notion and emphasized the importance of community involvement as who you know will foster your brand and business.

Arthur Messina of Create-A-Card Create-A-Card’s Arthur Messina

As the pandemic has made face-to-face networking an impossibility, the Messinas recognized the benefit of using social media and teleconferencing apps to promote you and your company. Drew and Arthur recommended joining as many Facebook/LinkedIn groups as possible to spread the word of your service. However, operators shouldn’t feel limited in joining industry-related pages. Arthur mentioned “Moms’ groups” as being very successful with increasing awareness of ground transportation companies. While Facebook, etc., are easy and cost-effective ways to keep your brand in front of your clients and associates, they pair warned operators to be conscious of what they post on social media, as anything deemed controversial can affect your brand.  

ILLBA Executive Director/Secretary/Treasurer 
Paula DeBiasi ILLBA Executive Director/Secretary/Treasurer Paula DeBiasi

With online meetings now the norm (at least for the foreseeable future), the Messinas also acknowledged the value of Zoom and teleconferencing apps, and offered up ways to make it work better as a networking tool. First and foremost, Arthur recommended that Zoom users work in a space with good lighting and a stagnant camera. While it’s common to multitask during an online meeting, your clients and associates shouldn’t be distracted by you moving around or driving in a car. Arthur and Drew provided instructions on how to set up a profile picture in case you cannot be in front of the camera. They also gave a tutorial on setting up a virtual background that includes your logo. Quick on the draw, Drew used Zoom’s chat feature to send free graphics to each of the meeting’s attendees to upload to their desktop computers.

The Coffee With ILLBA meeting concluded with some updates on the City of Chicago and an open forum to discuss business opportunities. ILLBA Executive Director Paula DeBiasi of Chicago Coach Works informed the attendees that the city’s business affairs office is still closed, but renewals are happening via email. Similarly, city inspections are taking place, but only 12 companies are performing the service. Also, ILLBA has started a dialogue with the city to reduce licensing fees for 2021, since the majority of vehicles have not been in service during this year.

With restaurants reopening in the state, operators on the call have reported an uptick in weekend business; however, many ILLBA members are continually looking for other business opportunities, including non-medical transport, school transportation, and even children’s birthday parties. For October’s meeting, the topic of marketing campaigns was suggested, since that is consistently met with interest from operators and vendors.

Visit illinoislimousineassociation.com for more information.