2014 has been quite a productive year for GBTA. Below are a few highlights of the many successes. As we wrap up the holiday season and approach 2015, I extend my personal thank you to GBTA members for your membership and engagement making all of these experiences possible. I would also like to send a special note of thanks to each and every member who has volunteered their time to advance our programming and our industry.
*This blog post was originally sent as an email to all GBTA members.*
It was great seeing and networking with so many of you in one place, under one roof. Nearly 7,000 attendees turned out and more than 400 companies showcased the latest in business travel on the expo floor. I continue to be amazed by the depth and breadth of the education we offer at Academy Hall. We heard from an impressive speaker line-up that included Jeff Smisek from United, Richard Anderson from Delta and Doug Parker with American Airlines. I was honored to be part of such an exemplary group of women on the executive leadership panel discussion lead by Mick Lee. We heard from other industry insiders too like Amex’s Bill Glenn, Concur’s Steve Singh, Google’s Dave Pavelko. And of course, I loved listening to Kevin Spacey and taking a selfie with him! I was inspired by Biz Stone and laughed (and held my breath) with Jason Alexander. It was thrilling to be part of the trailer launch for The Invisible Highway, scheduled to be released in 2015. Convention is truly the Business Travel Event of the Year!
We had so many wonderful events this year that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Here are some of the highlights.The 10th Annual Legislative Symposium saw more than 100 GBTA members march on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress in opposition to a potential increase of taxes on the air traveler.The Europe Conference, held this month in Berlin, was sold out with more than 850 attendees from more than 22 countries around the globe. GBTA’s America Latina activities during 2014 excelled, resulting in increased attendance and solid revenue performances with events in México City and Rio in March, Sao Paulo in June, Medellin in August and Buenos Aires this past October. GBTA Canada also set attendance records. Our Energy, Resources and Marine Travel Symposium expanded and remains yet another important event for GBTA.
Committees & Chapters
In North America, the Chapter Presidents Council finalized the Chapter Charter and Affiliate Agreements earlier this year. This is such a huge milestone in GBTA’s history and one in which I am truly proud to have been a part of. These agreements mark the beginning of a journey for the Association and one which will benefit all of us. The work of the GBTA Committees continues to amaze and impress me. I have said this numerous times but the Committees are the jet engine behind GBTA. They continue to highlight emerging business travel trends that help to educate our membership on what is best to further our profession and the Association. The Committees have extended their leadership to the Chapters and vice versa in order to make sure that all resources are accessible, transferable and optimized to their fullest. At the end of the day, that is what GBTA is about: working together for the greater good of each other and the industry.
The House of Representatives unanimously agreed to GBTA’s argument and voted to stop TSA from removing the cap on charges related to the 9/11 Aviation Security Fee. The fight has now moved to the Senate where we will continue to advocate on your behalf. GBTA will continue to advocate against allowing voice calls on airplanes, increased charges on Passenger Facility Fees and airline consumer protections. Remember, advocacy is not a destination, but an endless journey.
Claire Blades, director of Global Travel and Meetings with Symantec Corporation was awarded the Direct Member of the Year Award. Caitlin Gomez, senior director, Global & Strategic Sales, HRG North America and Krissy Herman, director of program management at KesselRun Corporate Travel Solutions, LLC, were the joint recipients of the Allied Member of the Year Award. We also gave a much deserved Special Recognition Award to Jeremy Gardner, vice president of Business Services at Accent on Indianapolis. Mark Cuschieri, executive director, Global Travel Lead—USB received the GBTA Europe Luoma award. GBTA’s success is driven by its members and these five exceptional individuals have gone above and beyond helping make GBTA a better association.
Climb to the top with the GBTA Ladders program! This year marked the first year of this inspiring new program. The Ladders program connects business travel leaders with industry newcomers to facilitate collaboration and mentorship. I am proud of the overwhelming success of GBTA Ladders. This is a program where everyone wins! Speaking of winning, my peer and GBTA board member, Mick Lee created a non-profit organization called WINiT—WomenInTravel, which is a network of women and men who have come together to support the career development, promotion and visibility of women in the travel industry. WINiT sponsored a panel discussion on industry issues and I was fortunate to be a panelist. Keep your eyes on these two programs as they continue to flourish and make a true mark on our industry and profession.
With nearly 100 research studies conducted in 2014, the GBTA Foundation’s research program keeps producing insightful studies with a wide range of topics, from hotel dynamic pricing, to payment solutions, to business traveler mishaps as well as proprietary partner research and internal GBTA research such as post-event evaluations. In addition to conducting research studies, a dedicated Research Librarian helps members navigate the more than 1,300 resources available in a state-of-the-art digital resource library maintained by the GBTA Foundation which houses articles, reports, studies, webinars and more, all related to the business travel industry. The Foundation has funded more than $1.4 million in research this year alone – a profound investment for the future of business travel management.
On behalf of the GBTA Board of Directors and GBTA staff, we thank you for all of your contributions and your continued support during 2014. One of our many goals for the coming year is to find new and innovative ways to address the needs of our membership and to bring best practices to the forefront of our Association and our industry professions. I wish you all a joyous and peaceful holiday season and a successful 2015.