A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the GBTA Latin America Conference held at the Hilton Madero in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event was a success with over 350 business travel professionals from ten Latin American countries and the United States attending the two day event.
The great novelist, Henry Miller once said that “one’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of seeing things.” I have been traveling quite a bit, first to Prague and now to Argentina and during both of those trips I have been thinking that it’s important to our careers, to our profession and to the industry to be searching for, or at least be on the look-out for, a new way of seeing things. Being able to attend both of these conferences has allowed me to look at our industry and the challenges we face in a new way.
We assume that our challenges are regional, and many of them are, but as our companies become more global, so will our skill and mind set. GBTA’s commitment as the leading authority on business travel management is only possible through collective voices, partnerships around the globe and the connection we have with our global counterparts. While we share commonalities in travel management techniques, each region around the world applies those same techniques in varied ways to fit both their culture and business approach. It is through learning and hearing about those applications that we gain a better sense of our own techniques and knowledge set in order to approve upon them or just grow in ways we didn’t know possible. Simply by being engaged, we will learn.
I say this again and again, but I am truly energized by the dialogue that ensues during these events. I was especially struck by a panel in Argentina that comprised four chapter leaders from Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. Their presentations discussed their geo/political landscape, economic challenges and how they intersect with their goals and objectives for the coming year and solutions to those challenges. We need to look for fresh ways to share best practices with our affiliate and chapter networks outside our geographic footprint and for them to share with us. There literally are no boundaries fencing us in as travel managers. It’s not just a former Convention theme but a mantra we should all live by. Attending events of any kind is another form of education. I have learned so much from attending the GBTA Europe conference and GBTA Latin America conference and I know you would too. I encourage all of you to attend a GBTA regional event and to be on the look -out for a new way to see things.
Fernando Montes, GBTA’s President of America Latina Argentina Chapter, said something in closing that has really stuck with me. He said, “We give everything in us to make this come true. Tomorrow we will feel empty.” The empty feeling is not a sad one but rather one of being spent, where we have given our all and we have a strong sense of satisfaction.
I know each and every one of you give all that you have to your jobs, families and to GBTA and I hope at the end of the day you feel a strong satisfaction from a day well spent.