I love to take pictures – specifically, pictures of doors. I have entire collections of doorway photos from India, Germany, France, UK, and now Prague, Czech Republic. I have always been fascinated by doors, probably because I always find myself wondering what lies behind and in places like Prague especially the history of what lies beyond the door. Most of us probably share that curiosity.
The pictures below are from my trip to Prague last week, where I attended the GBTA Europe Conference. The event highlighted what GBTA does best: bringing together many global perspectives on the business travel industry as we open the door to the future. The keynote speaker, Gerd Leonhard, author and CEO of the Futures Agency, focused on how social, local, and mobile technology is changing the way in which we obtain, digest and use information. He expects the future to be characterized by a “digital default,” a networked society where everyone is connected and 80% of Internet traffic is through mobile devices. His was a fascinating discussion and provided much food for thought on how these issues will impact our industry.
We are encouraged not to lose sight of the past or the present. But more importantly, we can’t lose sight of the future. Focusing on the future begs us to re-imagine what might or can be done. An essential part of our role as travel managers is to re-imagine better ways to do what we do. We should always be trying to figure out new ways of learning and growing — for our companies, for our profession, and for ourselves. The GBTA conference featured presenters from Google to IKEA, each with a different perspective. These various points of view certainly pushed me to think about different ways in which I do my job and how I might handle new challenges as they arise. Some dialogue may spur controversy but listening and learning all points of view helps us craft better outcomes.
To me, the conference represented the opening of doors. I learned about things I didn’t know, and I thought about things I did know – or thought I knew – in different ways. The more proverbial doors I opened and the more people I met, the more I realized both how different and how similar we are, regardless of where we live. With this conference and its other activities, GBTA is opening doors all over the globe, enabling us to interact with and learn from our peers.
As we come to know each other, the world becomes a smaller place – but not in a negative way. We are getting closer rather than moving apart. As an association, GBTA is better united than divided. As an industry, we are better working together and learning from each other because we all face the same challenges.
While at the conference, I had my own small world story. I spoke to one of our attendees, Elizabeth Aston from Amadeus. She is from Madrid but spent some time in Virginia, not far from where I live. She mentioned that she had a close friend who had a sailing school in Irvington, Virginia. I was familiar with that area so I decided to ask my Dominion colleague who is big into sailing if he knew Elizabeth’s friend. Low and behold, he knew Elizabeth’s friend, Arabella, very well. So, we decided to take a picture together and send it to her.
So, here I am in Prague with Elizabeth who is from Spain and we take a photo to send to her friend in Virginia. Now I plan to meet Arabella on my next trip to Irvington, Virginia. The world is small, but in a very good way.
We may not always know what lies beyond the doors we enter, but we are best prepared when we have taken the time to learn from one another.
Below are some other photos from Prague. It’s such a lovely city.