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The following is a guest post in our GBTA Ladders Blog Series. The GBTA Ladders program is a unique mentor program designed to help develop the passion and skills of business travel professionals enabling them to help solve the major challenges facing business travel. A call for new mentors and mentees for the next round of the program closes today, so do not miss out.
GBTA Ladders Summit
Everything's Amazing and No One is Happy
By: Team Alchemy - Doug Payne, Senior Vice President of Sales at Altour mentored this group. Mentees: Ali Prejean, Marketing and Sales Support Specialist at Griffin Travel; Leanne Gallagher, Global Director of Business Travel Sales at Omni Hotels; Tyce Carmichael, Director of Marketing at Cornerstone Information Systems; and Tyiesha Thaxton, Sales Manager at Lansdowne Report
When we started our GBTA Ladders experience, our team decided that we wanted to identify a ‘problem’ with disruptive technology and come up with a viable solution. The product of our efforts was Alchemy Travel Technologies, which strives to help serve as the ‘hub’, via our mobile application, between providers, travelers, travel managers, and corporations. The three main advantages of our idea are information share between all parties, completely managing trips in a single application, and the amount of time and stress this can save you. We’d now like to put the focus on the last advantage.
“Everything’s amazing right now and no one is happy.” – Louis C.K., American comedian, editor, writer, producer and actor
Not only did Louis C.K. make us laugh in the clip above, like only the best comedians can do, he made us think. We live in a world where we can access anything we desire through a couple taps of our fingertips. It is almost impossible to imagine that 20 years ago, there were only 130 sites on the web, or that it has only been 8 years, less than a decade, since the iPhone transformed the way we interact with the internet. Technology has not merely leaped, technology has surged.
We are now able to connect to everyone and everything – so much so that we now forget to exist in real time. We have forgotten what it is like to simply be still. Instead emails, web browsing and social media consume our down time. Rather than pondering on information, we continue to absorb more, no matter how worthless the content. We are on an information overload.
Technology is meant to simplify processes, allowing us as users to gain back a few moments of our time. We also like to think it was meant to enhance your real life experience, not replace it.
Here’s a thought – why not try using the time we save from these innovations to engage thoughtfully with the world around us?
Take this short article for example - Mr. Maupin, a healthcare executive at Alvarez & Marsal, muses on his career path and how it might look different had he not taken the opportunity to talk to his seatmate on a flight home 30 years ago. With all due respect to Mr. Maupin, his narrative takes place before a time when the thought of an hour without internet access sends most of us into apoplectic shock. We now tend to see the crowns of our fellow humans’ bowed heads far more frequently than their eyes. However, his point is still a valid one.
Have you missed out on an opportunity or a solution because you couldn’t put away your devices for 30 minutes? Do you remember a time when you took the time to just talk to someone and something amazing came from it?
So our challenge to our readers is to find the happy medium. Technology is great and can certainly be helpful. We are NOT suggesting we go back to the days of rotary phones or the pony express, but at what point does technology lose the utility of enabling us and start to disable other essential parts of truly living?
So are you up to the challenge? You can start by trying some of the ‘Bored and Brilliant’ series. We’d love to hear your feedback on some of the exercises.
The following is a guest post in our GBTA Ladders Blog Series. The GBTA Ladders program is a unique mentor program designed to help develop the passion and skills of business travel professionals enabling them to help solve the major challenges facing business travel. A call for new mentors and mentees for the next round of the program is open until September 30.
Four Perspectives on Technology
By: Team Bob - Bob Sommers, Vice President - Global Sales, Delta, mentored this group. Mentees: Emily Jost, Business Travel Sales Manager - Millennium Hotel Minneapolis; Joshua Amiel, Director Strategic Sales - HRG North America; Michelle Burt, Global Travel Manager – The Mosaic Company; Melinda Kirkham, Business Sales Manager - Enterprise Holdings
I will never forget the very first time I flew in an airplane. I was twelve years old and traveling to Phoenix to visit Grandma and Grandpa – a Christmas gift from my parents. My brother and I had been surprised with our airline tickets on Christmas Eve – actual paper tickets that we had to remember to bring with us to the airport!
Traveling by air was very different back then due to the lack of a number of different personal technologies that have since been developed. At that time, there were no portable devices to entertain us during the trip. In the airport, we passed the time by talking and reading. When we spent two hours on the plane while it was being de-iced, my mom and I read magazines together and she started a journal of our trip in a little notebook.
Now when I travel, I have so many gadgets that I have a section of my luggage reserved just for power cords! I bring my cell phone, tablet for watching movies, digital SLR camera, laptop for editing and uploading photos during the trip, wireless hot spot for a stronger internet connection to stream Netflix, Kindle for reading, and a portable battery for recharging all of these devices when I don’t have access to an outlet. At one time I had no problem entertaining myself on a trip without all of this technology, but now I can’t imagine embarking on the travel process with only a few magazines!
-Emily Jost, Business Travel Sales Manager - Millennium Hotel Minneapolis
My children are taking over all of the technology in our house… Angry birds Transformers, Angry bird Star Wars. My son draws pictures of iPhones and videogames at school. They fully understand all the remote controls in the house and even have their own email accounts. We have no cable, just Netflix. When I tell them about TV commercials they are incredulous. “You mean you’re watching a show and they stop it for no reason? And you don’t know when it starts again?” They tell me, “That’s crazy!” It is crazy when you think about it. My son gets to play with my old Blackberry and he’s only four. I’m intimidated wondering what their life will look like with even more technology. Managing the complexities around technology is overwhelming and I wonder if things will be easier or harder for them moving forward.
-Joshua Amiel, Director Strategic Sales - HRG North America
To me, if I am not doing a million things all at the same time, life doesn’t seem to be complete or successful. I have a job, like most of us, where a million things are happening and many people are demanding my attention all at the same time. Add to that a personal life, and a person can find themselves completely out of time and energy!
With all of the clutter going on in everyone’s lives, companies have tried to come out with their own way of managing it all; smart watches, smart phones and apps for everything from booking a hotel to managing our house while we are traveling. So… life should be simple and organized; right? Somehow, mine is less organized than ever before.
I was traveling to do a training session for my company. My smart phone was set up with my travel information. I also had a list of things I needed to do in my paper notebook. The presentation was on my laptop. I found myself juggling all of the various media in order to ensure everything I had to accomplish was done.
I am not a “youngster”, who has grown up with the technology advances. A lot of technology is already created in so many forms. In this era of constant change; with new programs that continue to simplify our lives, maybe one day, this oldie will no longer deal with clutter in her life!
-Michelle Burt, Global Travel Manager – The Mosaic Company
By the standard measures of the year I was born and graduated college, I fall into the popular classification of the “millennial.” But my story flies in the face of that definition. I have worked for the same company since I graduated college. I take notes with pen and paper. I prefer to order pizza over the phone. I prefer taking a taxi instead of Uber. And for a long time, I didn’t mind being this old school person in a new school world.
But peer pressure set it for me when it came to my social media skills. I begrudgingly set up my Facebook page years ago, and then took another few years before I actively started using it. Eventually, I joined LinkedIn – only to take another few years before my profile looked respectable. Recently, a friend told me that Facebook is for old people and I should really be on Instagram. Just when I thought I had caught up.
I decided to change. I scheduled a day when all I did was figure out various social media platforms.
Making the effort was worth it. I understand how useful these platforms can be in a way that I couldn’t before. I see opportunities to connect to people and promote ideas that are impactful and make a difference in my personal life and career. I understand the hype. And, I also see how much people miss out on by not engaging, by holding on to the perspective that the old ways are the best ways.
-Melinda Kirkham, Business Sales Manager - Enterprise Holdings
Changing the Way We Travel for Work
By: Team Casto - Marc Casto, President & CEO of Casto Travel, mentored this group Mentees: Chris Ahlgrim, Director, Corporate Travel Sales, Global Hotel Alliance; Marco Alvarez, Corporate Travel Coordinator, Wyndham Worldwide; Lauren Wolters, Director of Marketing, TripCase|Sabre Traveler Solutions
We all travel for business. Some of us travel a whole lot. And we often return tired, deflated, and behind on our work.
I would imagine that most business trips go something like this…
We are running late to catch the flight. We head straight from the airport to a full day of meetings. Emails fly to the team back at the office. We step out of the meeting for an urgent phone call. We grab a cab to the hotel, check-in, and order room service while catching up on the office. Finally, we fit in a call to home. Then there’s a late night, or early morning, trip to the gym. Morning coffee is ordered up from room service. We rush down to another full day of meetings where our only down time is when we head back up to our room for a quick charge of the phone we just drained answering emails all morning.
Always being connected has brought tremendous value to parts of lives. Yet we’ve forgotten how valuable it can be to take a moment, and, to give something our single minded focus. This is amazingly ironic considering all of the reminder apps we now have.
Whether it’s to stay in touch with friends and family, keep up with work at the office, or manage our workouts, we are always looking for the newest tool to keep us on top of things when we’re on the road. It seems like everyone is actively working to focus their time and energy in multiple places at the same time.
It’s about time we stopped.
Let’s all just take a breath and instead of focusing on new tools, apps, and fancier tech gear, let’s be present and focused where we are.
When we’re a conference; BE at the conference. Let’s all agree to stop stepping out for call – using the “well, this one is really urgent” excuse. Give the conference our attention. Put on our “out of office” message and mean it.
We work with exceptional people in this business and they deserve our time and attention. When we are in a new city; give the city our attention. Don’t sit in the hotel room and order another Chicken Caesar Salad. Go explore the city. BE there. Wander a neighborhood. Try a new restaurant.
Travel allows us such unique opportunities to learn, to grow, to enjoy something new. We seem to have stopped remembering that. We are lucky to travel like we do. We are lucky to be a part of the business we are in. We need to act like it.
Focusing ourselves on our business trips allows us to concentrate on what we’re there to do. It lets us accomplish more in the time we have.
By Focusing - we learn more. We listen more. We accomplish more.
Maybe that’s the key to returning from business trips feeling rested and with enthusiasm for the work that lays ahead.
The winning blog post from the latest program of Ladders’ participants came from Christina Reichelt, Director, Business Development, ProTravel, part of Team Hank, led by mentor Hank Benedetti, Managing Director, American Airlines. Christina shares her thoughts on the future of Bleisure travel.
Mommy Guilt: Business Traveler Edition
By: Christina Reichelt
Is there anything moms don't feel guilty about? There might be non-organic produce in my fridge - gasp! My baby's first birthday party won't be full of Pinterest porn - for shame! I breastfed/bottlefed/cuddled too much/didn't cuddle enough/used disposable diapers/omg cloth diapers all the way and WHY DON'T YOU LOVE YOUR BABY?!? In the very sad, very real trenches of the Mommy Wars, battalions on either side of every argument are at the ready with their bayonets to shoot you down, then stab you for good measure.
Perhaps the thickest layer of guilt for me is being a Working Mom. It's really hard to tear myself away from her every morning before she even wakes up. I miss her sweet face, her funny baby babble (which sounds suspiciously like Portuguese). I literally miss her major milestone firsts and watching her learn, play, and grow. Sure, I get a healthy dose on the weekends but I'm always questioning myself, "is it worth it?". It follows then that business travel, missing bedtimes and that precious 1.5 hours I might get with her on a weeknight, must really wrack me with guilt, right?
Wrong. A hotel room dusted and vacuumed and clutter free! That beautiful, lush, made bed! I get to go out to eat instead of cook, maybe even take a bath (!) before sleeping the purest of uninterrupted sleeps. No husband snoring, no baby stirring, just...silence. And a King size bed you better believe I am star-fished across.
While these simple pleasures are my versions of working some "me time" into my business travel, 9 out of 10 travelers are mixing personal time into their business trips in some way1. “Bleisure” is a thing now and the movement is alive and growing. Road warriors have accepted the necessary evil of business travel and turned it into a golden opportunity. You can excel at your career, be where you need to be, without sacrificing quality of life. There is no reason to hold back anymore, don’t try to get out of that client visit in Portland when after the meeting you can try that hot new restaurant you read about. After negotiating that deal in NYC, hit up a museum or head to Brooklyn to observe Hipsters in their natural habitat. Traveling to a country you’ve never visited before? Most business travelers will tack on a few days for themselves to explore and play after the work is done. In fact, nearly half of respondents to a BridgeStreet Global Hospitality2 survey add personal travel days to business travel “every trip” or “most trips”, and more than half of Bleisure travelers bring a family member or significant other with them.
There is an enormous opportunity for innovation in Bleisure travel. Vendors have a new sector of the travel industry to mine for revenue streams with the creation of products and services designed to help business travelers make the seamless jump to the Bleisure world. Business travelers, for their part, have accepted and embraced the new world we live in. We must be more productive, constantly networking, and always connected. You want us to be available whenever, wherever? We can do that, but we'll also be taking some time for ourselves. And there's no guilt in that.
1 Source: 2014 Hall & Partner survey of Virgin Atlantic Travelers
2 Source: The Bleisure Report 2014
Today’s guest blog post comes from Caitlin Gomez, senior director of Global Markets at HRG and co-creator of the GBTA Ladders Program.
Caitlin (left) accepting the Co-Allied Member of the Year Award at GBTA Convention 2014
Today, GBTA issued a call for new mentors and mentees for the GBTA Ladders Program. This program is near and dear to my heart as I worked with Krissy Herman, vice president of Program Management at KesselRun Consulting, to create the GBTA Ladders Program in 2013. We saw a void and didn’t want to fill it with your average everyday mentor program, so we came up with an innovative initiative to help develop the passion and skills of business travel professionals enabling them to help solve the major challenges facing business travel.
Thanks to talented industry veterans willing to give their time and ambitious mentees ready to grow not only their careers, but the business travel industry as a whole, the Ladders program jumped off to a successful start and continues to gain steam. What makes GBTA Ladders unique is that it – like GBTA – represents all facets of the business travel industry, including airlines, hotels and ground transportation companies. Participants receive a 360-degree view of the industry and understand how its different components interact.
GBTA Ladders places members into carefully crafted teams from a cross-section of the industry led by a highly-esteemed member of the corporate travel community who serves as the team mentor. The teams are given the assignment of building a compelling presentation around a current industry topic. Presentation topics ranged from a futuristic video depicting the “Business Trip of the Future” to a Shark Tank-style new business pitch about a company providing beacon technology. The projects are presented to a team of judges and the winning team is awarded the opportunity to present at an education session during GBTA’s annual Convention.
GBTA Ladders offers mentees an opportunity to develop their talents in multiple ways throughout the course of the program term. In addition to the presentations, GBTA Ladders held its first annual GBTA Ladders Summit in April of 2015. GBTA Ladders also provides educational components and forums for members from different industry segments to showcase their talents and skill sets to some of the industry’s key players.
Don’t just take my word for it though. This is what Kristen Koenig, senior account executive at Cvent and mentee member of “Team Hervé” (Hervé Sedky, Regional President at Reed Exhibitions Americas), has to say about GBTA Ladders: “[Ladders is] an opportunity to not only expand my professional development within the travel and meetings industry, but to also gain true lifelong colleagues and friends. From the first presentation assignment to the GBTA Ladders Summit to culminate the year, there is no other mentor-mentee program like this in our industry. I feel incredibly lucky to have enjoyed such a rewarding experience both personally & professionally.”
Mentors agree. Participating mentors have found the experience to be a two-way street and rewarding far beyond simply educating and influencing the future leaders of the travel industry. Mark Casto, CEO of Casto travel and mentor of this year’s winning team said, “I initially agreed to be a mentor as a means to help encourage the next generation of travel professionals. What I didn’t realize is how much they would teach me about the industry we all know and love.”
Being a part of GBTA Ladders is a unique and exclusive opportunity to connect with some of the travel industry’s top talent. I strongly encourage you to join the program. As the GBTA Ladders Leadership team looks to grow the program for the 2015-2016 term, we are looking for both travel veterans wishing to serve as mentors and coaches, as well as ambitious potential mentees looking for an opportunity to develop their talent. To learn more or to apply for Ladders, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30, 2015.
By GBTA Events
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.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) – the voice of the global business travel industry, kicked off its first industry session at Center Stage with Charisse Jones of USA Today asking hard-hitting questions from Southwest Airlines’ Gary Kelly and Etihad Airlines’ James Hogan. The interviews focused on the future of airline competition, Open Skies, antitrust issues and the characteristics that each CEO felt set their airline apart.
“Nobody likes bait and switch. Nobody likes hidden fees,” said Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Southwest Airlines. “We want to be as simple and straightforward and pleasant to do business with as possible. We feel like we earn more customers by not charging the bag fees. We think we would lose a billion dollars in revenue after netting in the additional bag fees if we changed our policy. Who wouldn’t want to be the only competitors doing a certain thing? I think it’s a gift. I love our competitors for it.”
Next on Center Stage, Guy Langford of Deloitte & Touche LLP moderated a panel on differentiating branding in a sharing economy featuring two executives from more traditional companies, Enterprise Holdings and NH Hotel Group, and two executives from companies clearly playing in a sharing economy, Airbnb and Zipcar. A main takeaway from the panel was technology is becoming a cornerstone of delivering on the customer experience and companies can either disrupt or be disrupted as they strive to deliver on the three C’s: convenience, cost-savings and customer experience.
GBTA President and CEO Donna Kelliher announced the launch of GBTA’s All Access Membership which launched this week. All Access members can join their local chapter and GBTA in a single transaction. The new membership will integrate technology platforms, allowing for more efficient and effective communication and networking.
The final featured speaker was actor, director, and musician Kevin Bacon. Bacon entertained a packed crowd with stories about his career in the entertainment industry; the genesis of the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game and his Six Degrees Foundation, which connects celebrities with deserving grass-roots charities. He concluded by talking about how travel creates “connections” among people and how he tries to live by the idea of “doing what [he] can with what [he’s] got.”
In just four days, GBTA Convention 2015 kicks off in Orlando on Saturday with Convention Kick-Start Sessions and the GBTA Cares Service Project. The event will feature award-winning actor Kevin Bacon, innovator Steve Wozniak and leading news anchor Megyn Kelly, as well as a slate of industry-panels you won't want to miss.
What more does Convention bring to Orlando though? Well, the nearly 7,000 expected attendees will have roughly a $20 million impact on the city. Check out the infographic below for all that GBTA Convention will bring to Orlando this year.
In late June, GBTA hosted its third annual successful conference in Sao Paulo, Brasil with more than 300 total attendees bringing together business travel professionals from Brasil with suppliers worldwide. The event took place at the Pullman Hotel, Vila Olympia, Sao Paulo, located within one of the city’s most prominent financial centers.
With the continuing expansion of business travel markets in Latin America, GBTA is implementing a series of conferences throughout the region to continue growing the travel management industry in the region through increased education, networking and sessions highlighting hot topics and best practices. GBTA Conference 2015 Brasil featured a series of general sessions and multiple education seminars.
Conference highlights included:
Last week, GBTA and German business travel buyer association VDR announced that Carsten Spohr, Chairman and CEO of Lufthansa Group, will be a featured speaker at our joint conference this November at the Congress Center, Messe Frankfurt.
Spohr has served as Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG since May 1, 2014. In this role, he is responsible for the Lufthansa Group, which comprises the Passenger Airline Group, Logistics, MRO, Catering and IT Services segments and has around 117,000 employees worldwide.
As a Centre Stage Speaker at the Europe event, he will share his thoughts on the future of airlines and how they will relate to business travel, specifically focusing on Lufthansa’s strategy and plans for development. The business travel industry is experiencing another wave of disruption, and in the airline world one of the current drivers of this change is Lufthansa. Attendees will hear Spohr’s views on the outlook for his airline and its impact on business travel.
This marks the second year that GBTA’s annual conference in Europe has joined forces with German partner association VDR to create Europe’s foremost business travel conference and this year’s event is expected to attract more than 850 attendees from over 20 countries.