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Craig Banikowski

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Spring in to Action!

Greetings GBTA’ers!

I hope this blog finds you all well!  I’m jazzed – it appears that spring is almost here on the East Coast!  I’m actually going to have my snow tires taken off next week and get the “summer treads” on!

This was a big GBTA week, both at the global office level as well as at the chapter level!  I spent the day in Alexandria and DC on Tuesday working with Mike and some of his team on the new office build out.  We’re all very excited about this project and are hoping to have an open house in connection with the Legislative Summit (June 21 -22), so stay tuned….yet another reason to come out to DC other than the wonderful weather we’ll be having…and the incredible adventure that is legislative day on the hill!!!

I led a direct members workshop yesterday at the NVBTA, my new hometown chapter.  It was great getting to know some of my new neighbors!  My travel manager Jason also joined me, and he’s part of a committee already!!  My presentation was all about networking and the value as it relates to your local chapter participation as well as with GBTA!  I also had an interesting conversation with Dan Rood from Egencia about the demographic shifts in companies, associations etc. 

So, speaking of networking…I’m going to use my position to leverage some GBTA networking!  I know it’s a bit pushy, but it will also let me know how may people “really” read my blog…LOL!

Many of you know my passion for the environment, my newfound veganism, and other aspects of life in the 21st century.  In addition to this, I’ve also committed to spending one week of my vacation annually in some form of “charitable” means.  In 2009, I was fortunate enough to participate in the annual Aids Ride from SFO to LA and raised over $7K for Aids support services.

This year, I’m going to be riding from NYC to DC in the annual Climate Ride.  Yes, I’ll be in the saddle for 5 days, and camping out at  Mother Nature’s hotel  (in  my tent of course!).  My charity is the environment, and I’m riding to raise funds for 350.org. 

350.org is an international campaign that's building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis—the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

So…here’s the ask…. I’m in need of help in raising some funds for the ride.  I set a fairly aggressive ride amount of $5K…and I’m about. …well….fairly short of the goal.  Any amount no matter how small will help!!!


Given that this is my charity for the year, I can promise that you’re not going to hear from me about donations until 2012 when I can blog as a Chairman…!

Speaking of the environment, we’re getting closer to having a GBTA deliverable for the “granolas” who believe that climate change is a real and occurring event that our industry must be aware of…stay tuned…

Chat with you all soon!!!


From Seattle...
WOW – what an incredible weekend in Seattle, both from a personal perspective as well as from a GBTA and industry perspective!  It all started with a kind invitation from our friend Jeff Cacy at Boeing.  The new 747-8 (interncontinental) was rolling out and I was invited to attend a VIP reception and unveiling of the new product.  Well….my schedule happened to be open so off to Seattle I went!  I was able to combine a mini-vacation (yes, 8  hours in Seattle is now a vacation to me…LOL!).  Another industry veteran assisted me in obtaining a great room at the incredible Inn at the Market!  OMG – What a view! 

I ventured about the downtown Seattle area on Saturday, enjoying the wonderful weather ordered by Boeing!  It was sunny, bright and everyone was having a great time at the market.  I had a lovely afternoon nap on an incredible divan before the evening’s festivities were to begin!

I met my host for the evening, Skip Thompson, who was wonderful and full of knowledge about this side of the industry.  The evenings cocktail and dinner reception were in the Mueseum of Flight, always a delightful place to have an event.  The evening included some great video of the history of Boeing!  The dinner companionship was delightful!

Getting up the next morning and having a brisk walk up to the Fairmont, I was reminded what an incredible city Seattle is.  It was another beautiful day, especially for a rollout!  Off to Everett, and to the largest manufacturing building I’ve ever seen in my life!!!  OMG!  What an incredible organization, as evidenced by the over 10,000 attendees at the rollout. 

Of course, the highlight was seeing the aircraft in all her glory!  What a true testament to the men and women who work daily to design, assemble and maintain these wonderful flying machines!  I am so excited to be a “customer’s customer”, a moniker I was introduced with to several airline buyers!  Our travelers will be in love with this machine – truly a state-of-the art piece of equipment.  I was very proud to represent GBTA, handing out my new business cards left and right!

Skip – you were a wonderful host and a true friend of GBTA!  We’re very proud to be associated with such a wonderful company !

As I stated many times, everyone has a wonderful story about a 747, and a new generation of stories is about to begin!

Bravo Boeing!!! 

Until my next blog…I remain…..
Craig Banikowski
A rose by any other name…
Hello!  I apologize for my radio silence over the past few months.  My life, whilst normally turbulent, became frenetic towards the end of the year! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to commit to, is having a new letter published no less than every other week! 

So, speaking of commitment… I’m a newly migrated resident of a European capital…namely Vienna.  No, not Austria, but rather Virginia, my new work home.  I’ve had to develop lingo so folks would know which “home” I’m talking about.  Yes, I’m a dual-resident….Colorado and Virginia!  So…if I say “work home”, I’m in Virginia, and if I say “home home”, I’m in Colorado! 

This similar situation is occurring within our industry, especially here in the United States where we have been, shall we say, somewhat lax in our standardization, especially when it comes to names.  An example…”my real name is María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza, but everyone knows me as Charo”.  How many times since our most recent TSA dictum about passenger names have you heard this story?  Given the number of travel managers I speak with, it truly appears as though there was an epidemic of parents naming their children the wrong name, especially given the child’s prerogative to “elect” to use any one of the names they were given in any order, select a , or to even select “a name I always wanted”. 

From HR feeds to frequent flyer programs, the variety of names is truly astounding. I won’t even start on the “No Fly” listing of names…so… where are we, the travel managers, in this dilemma?  We’re the folks with nervous tics trying to explain why a “legal” name is so important, especially for those who automate their systems.  It’s a pervasive issue, one that is sure to continue to haunt all of us hoping that names, ID”s and memberships all “match”.  So, let’s hope that this issue doesn’t leave us with a constant craving, as one of my favorite artists K. D. Lang croons…(but my real name is Kathryn Dawn Lang)… LOL!

So here we are, 2011, with a myriad of business travel related items to list as our goals for the year, from technology, to contract negotiations, it’s going to be a fun year, and one that we as industry professionals will be able to provide value on for our respective organizations.  Be you allied or direct, we’re part of the overall industry that continues to shape the world…business travel.

Happy New Years to all!  I’m off to listen to one of my favorite recordings….Tales from the Vienna Woods….!!! ;-)

Mergers, Taxes, Per Diems – Oh my, what a week!
I’m not quite “At the Gate,” but I will be soon!  I’m heading to Lisbon this weekend, weather permitting, for the first-ever conference hosted by NBTA Europe.– The conference is called Inicio – the beginning – to signify a new global era in business travel and meetings, and the new thinking that must come to the forefront to be successful in the new context.  I’m excited to attend and see the fruits of our labors over the past year!
As I get ready for Inicio, I’m sure I’m not the only one saying “TGIF,” and for most in the United States it’s TGIFAALWAT. Is that a new industry acronym? Actually, it means “thank goodness it’s Friday and a long weekend at that!”  For those of you enjoying the U.S. tradition marking the end of summer, put an extra hot dog or two on the grill for me.
Looking back at the week, it’s clear the industry continues to move at a meteoric pace.  Headlines announced new airline taxes in Germany and new government per diems in the U.S.  We saw the Continental-United merger gain one of two major U.S. government approvals, and the loss of a legendary carrier, Mexicana, which started service in 1921.  As we all know, change is the only constant in this business; it’s our challenge to effectively manage through these changes to bring the greatest value to our companies. 
Speaking of change, we’ve got a few new members on the NBTA Board of Directors!  I’d like to welcome Christle Johnson, CCTE; Donna Kelliher, CTC, GLP; and Maylena Burchfield, CCTE, GLP.  The future truly looks bright when you can welcome such qualified members of the industry to the board.  Speaking of bright spots, I was impressed with voter turnout for this election, which surpassed any in recent memory!  Thanks for taking the future of NBTA to heart – the level of participation really speaks to the value you, the members, see in your professional association.
In other NBTA news, I’ve been thrilled with the initial reports from the NBTA Australia/New Zealand conference, where over 150 corporate travel professionals gathered to network, learn the latest industry developments, and share best practices. Regular attendees called it the “best ever.”
The success of the conference in Melbourne provides a good example of NBTA’s volunteer leadership working together with staff to provide the best-of-the-best for our members.  Please know that we will continue to be “in the treetops” looking out at the horizon to provide you the best of all worlds, learning from our successful past, continuing our globalization efforts, and ensuring continuity in your association, even as we prepare to go from being NBTA to being GBTA!!

- Craig
Looking Toward the Future

Well – we’re all home now (wherever home is in the 21st business traveler’s world) and suffering from post-convention withdraw.  It’s amazing how many people I work and associate with that I really truly do like!  It’s a balmy 49 degrees this morning in Colorado Springs, and nary a cloud in sight on a blue azure slate of a sky.  As much as I loved Houston, I’m just simply amazed that it was 91degrees at 11pm.  WOW!

What a whirlwind our time together was!  From speeches to speakers, training to talking, it was all there this year for sure!  With over 5,800 of our fellow industry experts, we were there in force!  Amongst many new faces there were industry veterans, demonstrating the diversity of our membership on a variety of levels!

Speaking of which, I was struck this morning by a wonderful article in The Huffington Post.  It’s something that is near and dear to my heart – understanding aging…LOL!  Ok – now that you’re done laughing, get up off the floor and read on!  Much as we hate to admit it, change occurs every minute of every day.  With every death there is a birth, with every firing, there’s a hiring (we hope!).  Much like one of my favorite quotes – a bit of a take on Newton’s third law of motion:

To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction

So how does this impact aging, and where am I going with this?  It’s an article that can be applied to everyone reading this, especially NBTA volunteer members.  Understanding what the member of the future looks like.  It can also be stated…what the team-member from work looks like, or what the business traveler of the future looks like…take a gander at the article – it’s quite fascinating!

As evidenced by NBTA this year, we’ve jumped onboard the technology train full force.  From iTunes apps  to Twitter and Facebook, we’re there, and we’re global!  For those in meeting planning, you know what’s next.  Electronic tags, electronic supplier booth locators and more! 

Have no fear – the NBTA Board of Directors is aware of the technology changes that impact our annual Convention.  We’ll also continue to work with our committee’s and analysts to understand how to better impact education, networking, our local chapters and more!

So – enough musings on the demographic and psychographic changes that are impacting each and every one of us.  Thanks for making Houston 2010 such a memorable event!  I’m looking forward to seeing you all in Denver 2011.  In the meantime, make sure you’re participating in your local chapter – it’s a great chance to meet some of those new faces of members who don’t wear watches…LOL!


Craig A . Banikowski

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