GBTA Board Spotlight: Once Upon a Time in a Small Country Up North…

In this feature series, GBTA’s Board of Directors share their views on topics that matter most to members, the industry, and the way forward for business travel. Today’s guest author is GBTA Board member, Jens Liltorp.  

Maybe the headline caught your attention? Hopefully, as this was my intention. I’ll reveal why a bit later in my narrative here… 

In July 2021, I was elected by members to the GBTA Board in the new role of European representative to increase global representation. It’s a big responsibility − and I continue to be humbled for the trust put in me. Now, more than half through my three-year term, I am looking back at my election platform. Are we near what I boldly said I would aim to achieve? 

In short, no…. Time passes quickly, obligations are many, and we’ve all faced world-changing challenges. But the good news is we are getting closer. Changes are happening fast and for the better. 

In my platform speech I talked about …  

  • Making GBTA truly global and transparent 
  • Keeping a focus on European interest, but doing so with a global perspective 
  • Strengthening advocacy efforts to influence authorities and industry 
  • Enhance networking, sharing and caring between members by facilitating exchanges 

We are not fully there yet and there will always be something more to do – but we are on the right track. The Board has become more visible and accessible, and we continuously seek member input. GBTA relaunched a new brand and Foundation, and advancements have been made to the GBTA Hub and website. This just to name a few achievements, and more are on their way. 

After some tough COVID years, members are returning and GBTA presence is also growing in APAC, LATAM and globally. The Ladders program is extremely successful worldwide. The Sustainability Toolkit is setting a standard in the industry. The Fundamentals of Business Travel Management course is now complimentary to all members. Advocacy, sustainability and DEI efforts are persistent, strong and creating an impact.  

But in my mind, by far, the strongest asset that GBTA has is its members. What members share and how they cooperate makes them grow in their jobs and in the value they create for their companies.  

As a Travel Manager, I couldn’t imagine not being a part of the professional network that GBTA represents for business travel. The “investment” in networking comes back abundantly in the form of knowledge sharing and industry updates. In this way, you stay at the forefront of the fast-changing travel industry constantly full of new challenges and opportunities. 

I’d like to share my true-story “fairytale” showing the value of our GBTA peer community 

jens blog graphics

“A few weeks before the 2008 graduates of the (then known as the) NBTA’s Certified Corporate Travel Executive (CCTE) program were to meet in Los Angeles to attend the 40th annual NBTA convention and receive their certifications, Jens Liltorp, travel manager for Novo Nordisk in Denmark, advised that he was unable to attend. There were budgetary constraints. 
Although it was important to the class to have all its participants present, the absence of Liltorp, a member of DBTA, Denmark, was especially felt. He had made a tremendous effort to travel from Europe to complete the classes and electives. His appearance at the graduation would reflect the expansion, breadth, and reach of NBTA’s CCTE program on more of a global basis than ever before. From a personal point of view, his participation would solidify the true benefit of these programs: the relationship-building opportunities. Although each member of the 2008 CCTE Class was unique and brought their own experiences and styles, it was the combination of all these that made this group special. 
A broadcast email went out from New Jersey to the other 64 participants in a quest to get Liltorp to Los Angeles. Within 30 minutes, practically all the CCTE participants had responded, advising that they were ready to help Jens get to L.A. The group contemplated buying the Copenhagen-to-LAX roundtrip ticket and sharing the expense. 
However, Monica Young, travel manager for Arco in Houston, TX, was able to redeem corporate miles on British Airways to secure a ticket for him. The tax on the airfare amounted to more than $700, and the CCTE class of 2008 gladly divided that amount among them. In addition, Steve Parts, vice president of Helms Briscoe in Houston, TX, was able to secure accommodations for Jens in L.A. 
Jens Liltorp did graduate with his class in Los Angeles, thanks to the friendships forged in the two short weeks that the group was together. All the members of this CCTE class graduated and have returned to their duties in Parsippany, Houston and Copenhagen, and across North America. But they will always remember coming together to help one of their own and the power of the industry community.” 

To me, this story is an excellent example of how we in GBTA stand together. There is a willingness to share and help each other out in matters large and small. We should all cherish, nurture and support this to ensure this very special bond of peers and travel industry community. This is embedded in the GBTA reason-for-being. 

In support of this – your feedback to GBTA is extremely important.  

A few weeks ago, a GBTA Membership Insights Survey was sent out asking for input as to what you would like to see more or less of from GBTA. If you haven’t done so, then you may still make your voice heard to help direct GBTA to create the best possible value for you as a member. Please go here to respond to the Membership Survey

Thanks for your reading this far – and looking forward to meeting you down the road.