*The following message was originally sent as an email to GBTA Members.*
In the United States, we recently celebrated Thanksgiving, a time when we can take stock of all our many blessings. I continue to be thankful for the honor and privilege to serve as President of GBTA, and for all of the work that GBTA and its many volunteers have done in support of the business travel industry. This organization has become a global leader in education and research while making things easier, safer and more efficient for the business traveler. I am grateful and proud of all that GBTA has accomplished.
I would like to take a moment to highlight some of GBTA’s key accomplishments thus far in 2016.
GBTA has always been the preeminent provider of continuing professional development and training for the business travel community. To that end, we have made many enhancements in our top programs.
Five years ago, we launched the Global Travel Professional® (GTP) Certificate program, a first-of-its-kind certification program for business travel professionals. Since then, almost 600 professionals have completed the program and earned their accreditation. Our number of course offerings continually grows as we offer the GTP throughout the world, so professionals can advance their careers.
We have two new GTP enhancements for 2017. First, we will be providing an online platform for the recertification process. It will include a tracking portal for recertification credits, making it easier for members to keep up with their accomplishments. Second, we will be offering practice exams as part of the overall study process.
In addition to these improvements, we are currently working on a massive update of content for the GTP exam and the study material. We have surveyed more than 5,000 business travel professionals to ensure we are capturing changes and maintaining the best and most important information within the industry.
These enhancements build on multiple updates and improvements we made this year.
This year, in response to member feedback, we also made enhancements to the Global Leadership Professional® (GLP) program, a hallmark of the GBTA Academy for more than 15 years. The GLP Program is the only masters-level course for travel professionals. It uses an interdisciplinary approach that addresses both the opportunities and challenges of conducting business in today’s environment. We modified the program format into four two-day courses, adding deep dives into specific competencies. With this change, the participant has more control over his or her participation in the program. These changes in the program also resulted in a pricing structure that makes the GLP program more affordable.
GBTA continues to tailor our educational offerings to meet the needs of our members. This year, we offered nearly 80 different webinars that collectively attracted more than 4,000 member participants. The webinars reflect our ongoing goal of delivering the highest level of professional development, while remaining sensitive to the ever-increasing demands on your personal and professional time and budget.
We continue to maintain a robust research division, which has completed almost 110 research studies this year on wide-ranging topics affecting all aspects of business travel. We completed two new, groundbreaking studies that we unveiled in Frankfurt: Policy and Preferences from The Business Traveler’s Perspective and What’s Next for Booking Channels.
We make our research accessible and publicize it as widely as possible. It has helped shape dozens of GBTA education sessions throughout the world and has been referenced in thousands of articles appearing in print and social media across the globe.
Unlike much research, ours is designed to generate practical applications. Driven by our research findings, we recently introduced two newly revamped global resources to increase efficiency within the industry.
The first is our Sustainability in Travel Self-Assessment Tool. It will enable organizations to identify strengths and weaknesses in their travel programs with regard to sustainability. The tool will also provide recommendations and identify specific resources for improving sustainability. It is designed to transform the entire process of planning and implementing a robust sustainability program. It is easy to use and can be completed either all at once or section-by-section.
Our second resource, our new and improved Managed Travel Index, helps travel professionals benchmark the effectiveness of their managed travel program. It is customizable to a specific program based on information the user provides. Like an expert consultant, it reviews an individual travel program and identifies specific ways to make it better. It is also available in several languages.
These are just some of the ways that GBTA continues to respond to the ongoing changes in our industry. We remain committed to addressing the needs of our members – both buyers and suppliers – and ensuring that they have the tools necessary to succeed.
GBTA offers events literally all over the world. Attendees gain access to the best research and knowledge in the industry, and they benefit from an unparalleled opportunity to network with their industry peers. We offer specific industry sector events, from the Energy, Resources & Marine Symposium (ERM) to Supplier Summits to regional conferences and symposiums. There are simply too many to list them all.
In early March in Miami, we launched a new event—The Masters Honors Summit and Gala. There, we honored a group of GBTA members who are among the most engaged travel professionals in the industry. The program was our way of publicly thanking these individuals for their time, expertise and commitment both to business travel and to GBTA.
Later in the year, we celebrated milestone anniversaries with our regional conferences in Buenos Aires and Mexico. We continued to expand our activities in Europe and North America. I am both amazed and intensely proud of the success of our programming in Canada and Europe. In both areas, GBTA’s annual event continues to be the largest business travel conference in the region.
I attended the Europe Conference in Frankfurt in November with a record-breaking nearly 1,000 attendees. We were treated to some excellent featured speakers including international counter-terrorism and security expert Hagai M. Segal, Concur President Mike Eberhard, and American Express Global Business Travel CEO Doug Anderson, among others. The education sessions were relevant and thought-provoking, and the Expo floor was bustling.
Last but certainly not least, we celebrated another successful Convention. It was our biggest and best yet, with more than 6,500 attendees, and for the first time, a completely sold out exhibition floor. More than 80 education sessions covered topics ranging from best practices in duty of care to the impact of technology on the business travel industry. We heard from incredible speakers, including United’s Oscar Munoz and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger. We had a front row seat to exciting panel discussions, and our featured speakers – actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, future Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and astronaut Scott Kelly – did not disappoint.
I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for us. Until then, I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year!