Tuesday morning, Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President, Best Western Marketing and Sales, led a fascinating panel on the Future of the Travel Distribution Landscape at GBTA Convention 2015. She was joined by Douglas Anderson, CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Scott V. Alvis, Chief Marketing Officer of Amadeus North America; and David Pavelko, Director of Travel Partnerships for Google.
The three panelists agreed that the industry is undergoing a technological revolution. Business travelers are looking for a booking experience similar to the online consumer experience. Additionally, there is a blurring of the lines taking place between business and leisure travel. Travel providers are responding by developing user-friendly mobile applications that are more tailored and provide users with the right information at the right time.
GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick led a second morning panel on Ground Transportation in a Sharing Economy. McCormick was joined by John Rose, Chief Operating Officer of iJET International; Scott Solombrino, President and CEO Dav El / Boston Coach Chauffeured Transportation Network and David Seelinger, Chairman and CEO of EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services.
During the panel, McCormick detailed new data showing many companies may not have a policy in place regarding ride-sharing companies. Panelists said that amazing new technologies have come to market, but travel buyers need to take steps to ensure that they have the right policies in place to ensure Duty of Care. They also called for a “level playing field” to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace.
Several GBTA Members were honored during the afternoon session. GBTA Member Torbjörn Erling of IKEA was named GBTA’s Direct Member of the Year and Marie Downey of United was awarded GBTA’s Allied Member of the Year honor.
GBTA Board Member Scott Solombrino also delivered a touching tribute to longtime GBTA Member, American Express’ Ed Gilligan, who passed away earlier this year. “Ed was a hero to his clients, to this industry and to me,” said Solmbrino. “And I know he’ll never be forgotten.”
The session wrapped up with Nina Easton of Fortune conducting an entertaining interview with Silicon Valley Icon and Philanthropist Steve Wozniak. The co-founder of Apple Computer who was integral in the launching of the personal computer industry chatted about wanting to be an engineer since he was a young boy, bonding with Steve Jobs over their love of pranks and why he wanted to build a personal computer.
When asked about technology’s impact on business travel, he said the one thing that won’t change is the importance of socialization – people are social, so the need for business travel will always be there.