GBTA Ladders Summit 2019 – Day 2 Recap


Day 2 of the fifth annual GBTA Ladders Summit featured back-to-back education sessions, a fierce competition between this year’s team finalists, and the honoring of three outstanding individuals. We’d like to extend our appreciation to the alumni advisors who guided their teams through the final round of the competition: Team Jim’s Ali Prejean Smith, Team April’s Melinda Kirkham, Team Erin & Andy’s Scott Sirianni, and Team Tim’s Natalie Gardner.

Caitlin Gomez honored three individuals for their unwavering commitment to the program. Global Hotel Alliance’s Laura Choules was recognized as the Ladders Leader of the Year, BCD Travel’s Evelyn Hamilton as the Ladders Mentee of the Year, and American Airlines’ Jim Carter as the Ladders Mentor of the Year.

American Airlines’ Suzanne Boda and Jim Carter chat during the My Personal Journey session

American Airlines’ Suzanne Boda and Jim Carter started the day off with a friendly chat during the My Personal Journey session, where Suzanne told the story about her career path and gave the audience pointers on navigating through the travel industry. For those new to the industry, she advised them to have a positive attitude, take risks and put themselves out there. For those already in leadership positions, she suggested they trust their gut, but make decisions based on data and facts.

NGS: The Future of Flight Shopping

TravelBank’s Dena Fradette moderated a session where panelists discussed the future of flight shopping. Routehappy by atpco’s Anne Kolodziej, TravelBank’s Duke Chung, United Airlines’ Curtis Wilmore, and Delta Air Lines’ Christophe Barbara explained how the Next-Generation Storefront (NGS) aims to create a data-driven standard so airline products are displayed across all sales channels in the same way.

Because of the plethora of fare classes and the inconsistencies between what airlines offer, it can be difficult for consumers to understand what they’re buying or what they get when they purchase a ticket. The idea is to build transparency and build trust with consumers, allowing them to understand what ancillaries or amenities are included when they purchase a ticket. The panelists agreed that there is still plenty of work to be done. ATPCO is working on producing an API that individuals can use to create the display. Anne clarified that they are identifying which attributes need to be displayed, but not how they are displayed within NGS.

ROI on Business Travel

“If business travel was a nation, it would be larger than Canada,” said Travel Leaders Group’s Mike Boult, as he delivered a presentation on the ROI on business travel. He explained why C-suite executives decide to invest in business travel, and what their objectives are for T&E spend management. When thinking about business travel, Boult stressed that it’s imperative to consider the hidden impacts to prospects, partners, customers, and other key individuals.

Balancing Work, Travel and Family Session

Balancing Work, Travel and Family provided attendees with the unique perspective into the lives of four successful travel industry professionals, Travel Leaders Corporate’s Susan Linder, Jefferies’ Emily Wong, Omni Hotels’ John Carter and BCD Travel’s Will Pinnell. Some of their guidance to a well-balanced life included being present, unplugging, prioritizing and empathizing with others.

Evacuation Simulation

“Your people are your greatest assets,” was one of the main highlights from the Evacuation Simulation presentation. International SOS’s Erika Weisbrod guided attendees through a simulation exercise on the challenges an organization can face with its travel program during the event of a hurricane. Some of the risks to consider during an event included determining if the incident is a crisis, making decisions and taking actions, providing appropriate resources, having processes in place to prepare staff and maintaining an open line of communication with stakeholders. 

Understanding the Business Traveler Mindset

What two goals do business travelers have? Getting the job done and maintaining their personal well-being. In their Understanding the Business Traveler Mindset session, Uber for Business’ Michael Hennessy and Anthony Baumann pointed out four priorities for business travelers: time efficiency, reliability, stress reduction and safety concerns. They highlighted that stress reduction is key to achieving performance goals.

Negotiation Lessons from the Front Line

During a negotiation, think about your audience ahead of time. That was one of the most important elements discussed in the session, Negotiation Lessons from the Front Line. Supply Chain Advisors’ Joanna Martinez advised travel professionals to observe, talk and tailor negotiations to their audience. Some of the techniques to help with this are mirroring, showing what sets your company apart, following the golden rule and providing new information instead of asking people to change their minds.

A big thank you to everyone involved in making the fifth annual Ladders Summit a great success!

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