Continued rebound, sustainability, business traveller behaviour and more were on the agenda at Europe’s largest gathering of the global business travel industry
Europe’s business travel community once again came together to explore, discuss and connect around the current and future state of the sector in the region at the GBTA + VDR Europe Conference 2023 held 14-16 November at the CCH-Congress Center in Hamburg, Germany.
Hosted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and German Business Travel Association, VDR, the conference attracted almost 1,100 business travel industry professionals from 29 countries including 275 travel buyers. The event featured 61 new and returning exhibiting companies with more than eight hours of Expo Hall time for buyers and suppliers to connect. Education also remained at the forefront with over 90 speakers and 26 sessions.
Timely topics at this year’s conference spanned the industry – including purposeful meetings and events, travel compliance, sustainability and Europe’s multimodal movement, to artificial intelligence, business traveller behaviour, next generation workforces, and diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI). New features included a dedicated sustainability day, committee roundtable talks and buyers’ breakfast, GBTA Member Activation Zone, and a Connect First Lounge for first-time attendees.
“In business travel, nothing stands still, and change is inevitable, especially in today’s world. GBTA is excited to again host this conference with our partners at VDR as a place and platform for the many voices of the region to network, learn from each other, and tackle some of our industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities together,” said Catherine Logan, Senior Vice President, EMEA and APAC for GBTA.
“We are looking forward to shaping business travel mobility of the future – in an economically and ecologically balanced way. Together with our members, the buyers and suppliers, GBTA and VDR will navigate the challenges ahead,” said Jens Schließmann, Executive Director VDR, in his closing speech at the conference.
Putting a Spotlight on Sustainability
- The conference opened with a spotlight on business travel’s greener future with three hours dedicated to sustainability speakers, panels and sessions.
- The “State of Sustainability in Business Travel” panel featured industry leaders from the aviation, accommodation, and ground transportation sectors discussing related progress, initiatives, and challenges, followed by a session looking at “Airports of Tomorrow”, exploring the vital role of airports related to clean fuel, decarbonisation and multimodal connectivity.
- Attendees also benefitted from five sustainability-related educational sessions and a Think Tank peer-to-peer interactive workshop on climate action.
Transformation and Inspiration Featured on the Main Stage
- In his keynote session, music veteran, Ric Salmon showcased parallels between the evolution of the music and business travel industries, bringing a unique perspective on how technology, changing consumer behaviour, and evolving business models can reshape an entire industry.
- The inspirational keynote, “Everybody’s Got a Dream” was a thought provoking and moving session, challenging all to embrace a more inclusive society for a kinder, richer world.
- The event’s closing keynote, “Finding the Balance Between Corporate Needs & Traveller Expectations,” explored technology, climate change, shifts in work models and the rise of the “purposeful traveller”, and how corporations can support the evolved business travel landscape.
Cultivating Industry Talent and Future Workforces in the Region
- GBTA announced a regional WINiT program with a focus on local mentoring, professional development and networking. Under the GBTA Foundation, GBTA WINiT advocates for gender equity within the business travel industry and offers programming to help women thrive throughout their careers.
- Season 10 of the GBTA Ladders has been launched, bringing together industry professionals to elevate their career, expand their industry knowledge, and grow their global network, with increasing program participant numbers from GBTA Europe.
Honouring the Contributions of GBTA Volunteers in Europe
- Flavio Ghiringhelli from Emirates was the recipient of this year’s Luoma Award, established in 2011 to recognise volunteers who support the development of GBTA and its local market partners in Europe.
- The GBTA Europe Lifetime Achievement Award for 2023 was presented to Hans-Ingo Biehl, former Executive Director, VDR.
The Place for Industry Research, News and Insights
- GBTA unveiled the business travel regional forecast for Europe from the 2023 Business Travel Index ™ Outlook global report made possible through collaboration with Visa. European business travel is poised to steadily increase to reach $314 billion USD in 2024 (or 94% of pre-pandemic levels) and surpass 2019 spending levels by 2025, reaching $414.9 billion. Key drivers include pent-up demand, hybrid work models, the return of travel and meetings, and more stable economic conditions. Additionally, in a GBTA survey 1,176 business travellers estimate $888 is their average spend per business trip.
- The GBTA Broadcast Studio once again hosted 30+ video interviews over the course of the conference featuring top industry influencers and executives from leading companies in business travel. Additionally, the Media Cocktail event on 15 November, attracted a dozen suppliers announcing their breaking news and industry firsts to journalists. Read all the Supplier media announcements here.
The GBTA + VDR Europe Conference 2023 was made possible by numerous industry partners and sponsors including Cvent (Platinum); Shell (Energy); Thought-Leadership: BCD Travel, EasyJet, FREENOW, HRS, SkyTeam, and Visa; SAP Concur (Bronze) and featured: Twenty Five Hours Hotels, American Express Global Business Travel, ATG, BWH Hotels, Enterprise Mobility, Go Running Tours and Hilton.
In 2024, the GBTA + VDR Europe Conference powered by the Nordic Business Travel Associations will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, 4-6 November.
About the Global Business Travel Association
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area serving stakeholders across six continents. GBTA and its 8,000+ members represent and advocate for the $1.357 trillion global business travel and meetings industry. GBTA and the GBTA Foundation deliver world-class education, events, research, advocacy, and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. For more information, visit GBTA.org and GBTAFoundation.org.