Chicago — The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the voice of the global business travel industry, wrapped up its 51st annual Convention this week in Chicago. Technology and the future of business travel management were the predominant themes throughout the five-day industry gathering that brought together more than 7,000 travel professionals and industry leaders. CD Publisher Chris Weiss and numerous representatives from the luxury ground transportation were among them.
GBTA held its second annual Awareness 5K Run & Walk to raise awareness and funding to stop human trafficking on Sunday morning of Convention with more than 500 registered participants. Proceeds totaled $20,000 and will benefit ECPAT-USA and its efforts to end child exploitation and trafficking.
GBTA Convention 2019 featured top industry leaders on Center Stage focused on business travel's most pressing issues. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation Mark Hoplamazian joined newly elected GBTA President Bhart Sarin of Ingredion Incorporated on stage to discuss customer experience, loyalty and recruiting and retaining top talent in today's competitive world. Both CEOs agreed that as things are constantly evolving that the focus must always remain on customer needs.
Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal led a lively and insightful panel focusing on disruptive technology. The panelists discussed what circumstances promote a need for new technology, and how organizations are using solution-based technology to approach various business challenges. Aggarwal concluded by saying that being innovative is a matter of survival.
The ABCs of NDC panel kicked off Tuesday talking one of the hottest topics in the business travel industry today. Various stakeholders discussed NDC's impact today and in the future.
Dorothy Dowling of Best Western Hotels led a session of top female business travel executives sharing their insights on the unique challenges they faced as women arriving in leadership positions within their companies. Although their personal leadership journeys differed, their advice for women in the business travel industry coalesced around a few core themes: taking risks, thriving through failure, and talking the talk.
Center Stage wrapped up with a panel discussing how travel and meetings management continues to integrate across the various travel channels. Panelists shared best practices, lessons they learned along the way, and their insights.
The keynote stage at Convention Arena featured Jon Taffer, Hospitality Expert and Host of Paramount Network's Bar Rescue; Bob Costas, award-winning sportscaster, broadcaster and best-selling author; Andy Cohen, host and executive producer of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live; and Ashley Judd, actress, activist and social justice humanitarian. Monday's keynote also featured a one-on-one interview with GBTA's new COO and Executive Director Scott Solombrino and The Boeing Company's CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Muilenburg told the packed room that Boeing is working on software updates to the 737 Max jet planes. He also discussed training and the importance of engaging employees.
More than 170 education sessions gave travel professionals of all levels more opportunities than ever before for education to help them advance their careers and improve their travel programs. Topics covered top travel industry issues including duty of care, technology and innovation, procurement, sustainability, and more. Attendees can access all of these sessions with GBTA Convention 2019 On Demand.
The sold-out Expo Floor featuring more than 400 exhibitors showcased the latest and greatest in business travel products and services including the exciting Innovation Row. GBTA held its Innovation Series Finale with Sleepbox taking home the title. Innovation Row returned for its third year featuring mostly first-time exhibitors who are looking to become the business travel industry's most impactful innovators. Nearly 30 companies, including SAP Concur, Sabre, Fox World Travel, Southwest Airlines, RoomIt by CWT and more, also participated in GBTA's fifth annual media day sharing their breaking news announcements.
GBTA concluded the event with more than 7,175 attendees, including more than 1,400 buyers, making this the largest GBTA Convention in history and one of the largest gatherings of travel professionals in the world. Next year's Convention will be in Denver, Colo., from July 25-29, 2020.
Visit gbta.org for more information.