Dave Hilfman’s Monday Memo to GBTA Members

Friends and Colleagues:


It was a pleasure to have so many of you join us for GBTA’s Annual Business Meeting last week. We covered an immense amount of information, in a short time. And of course, the meeting wouldn’t have been complete without a technology hiccup – something that has become synonymous with 2020. Luckily it was minor, and it provided a jump start to my day!


During the meeting we announced the results of our recent board elections and the addition of new board members (see more details below). One of the highlights of the meeting was the presentation of the association’s top awards. Congratulations to all these well-deserved recipients.


And a huge thank you to our staff and volunteers who made this meeting so successful and productive. You can view a recording of the full meeting here.


Welcome Our Newest Board Members


I’m thrilled to announce and welcome our newest GBTA board directors:




Phillip Pena won the election for the Allied At-Large seat. Phillip serves as hospitality global sales leader for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.







Connie Smith joins in the Direct Member At-Large seat. Connie is the manager of Global Travel Services at McCain Foods Limited







Alison Taylor will serve the remainder of the term for the vacant ALC Vice Presidency. Alison is the chief customer officer of American Airlines.







Steve Sitto will serve the remainder of the vacant Direct Member At-Large term. Steve serves as the senior manager of global travel and events for Tesla, Inc.





We also welcome these GBTA ex-officio board members:




Alma Ceballos, Travel Manager & Business Services for PwC MX Procurement, as LATAM Advisory Board Chair.







Mark Cuschieri, Executive Director and Global Head of Travel for UBS will serve as European Advisory Board Chair.







Sue Spear, Manager of Corporate Travel and Fleet for Cengage, will serve as Canadian Advisory Board Chair.





Collaboratory 2020 a Huge Success, Will Continue in 2021


Today marks the last webinar of our extremely successful GBTA Collaboratory 2020. Over the 12-week series, GBTA hosted 59 different webinars across many topic areas, with more than 10,000 distinct registrations for the webinars and more than 5,100 attendees. Participants were provided expert insight, best practices and actionable takeaways to address the issues facing the global business travel industry during this unprecedented time.


I have good news to share. This informative webinar series was so well received that it will be back in 2021, with new topics and sessions. Look out for more info from GBTA in early 2021 regarding the continuation of this Collaboratory webinar series.


Our Global Advocacy Efforts Continue


As the pandemic goes on, GBTA continues to push for a safe and responsible return to travel.


Last week GBTA Board President Bhart Sarin, GBTA Vice President of Government and Community Relations Shane Downey, and I met with members of the Biden-Harris Transition Team to push for the removal of barriers facing a business travel recovery, such as continued restrictions on international travel and differing quarantine policies by locale, and to advocate for systematic pre-departure COVID testing protocols as an alternative to quarantine. We also called on the incoming Administration to work with international and state governments to implement travel departure and return protocols that mitigate risk; allow flexibility on the upcoming REAL ID mandate; and continue support of the Visa Waiver Program.


Outside the U.S., GBTA Regional Vice President for EMEA Catherine Logan, German Business Travel Association, VDR President Christoph Carnier, Executive Director of the German Business Travel Association, VDR Hans-Ingo Biehl, and Shane Downey met with European Parliament Member Jan-Christoph Oetjen to discuss the economic impact of business travel within Germany, the continuing issues and barriers from a traveler’s perspective, and to push for consistent, clear information and ending quarantines. Similar meetings with leaders in Brussels are also ongoing.


Lastly, the U.S. Congress is still gridlocked on providing COVID-related relief. GBTA continues to advocate for additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and support for the travel industry. If you haven’t already, contact your Members of Congress and encourage them to act quickly on providing additional relief.


The year is winding down, but the work of GBTA is just ramping up for 2021. We expect to launch the 2021 GBTA convention website this week so you’ll want to look out for that announcement and more details to come.


Have a great week.