Geopolitical climate and innovation discussed at GBTA Convention 2017

Attendance for the event approaches 7,000

August 10, 2017
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

Alexandria, VA—The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has wrapped up its 49th annual convention in Boston. Today’s geopolitical landscape and its impact on business travel and duty of care along with the latest innovations in travel technology were the predominant themes throughout the five-day industry gathering that brought together nearly 7,000 travel professionals and industry leaders.

Featured speakers included Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci. Ayci discussed how Turkish Airlines became the “king of the comeback” as he shared his philosophy behind handling difficult situations in the public eye, especially when dealing with tragedy. Ayci also talked about the recent electronics ban and the future of Turkish Airlines.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian talked about the future of flying for Delta and the travel industry as a whole. He shared views on Open Skies, Air Traffic Control (ATC) reform and security. Bastian also discussed the business of Delta highlighting investments in other carriers and the importance of treating the customer the way you want to be treated in today’s social media world.

During the Center Stage Panel, global business experts discussed geopolitical disruptions. Moderator Courtney Hammond of Deloitte Consulting LLP, was joined by panelists Tom Derry, Institute for Supply Management (ISM); Michael Gips, ASIS International; Lynn Shotwell, Council for Global Immigration; and Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC. The panel focused on disruption in the movement of people and duty of care.

CNN’s Richard Quest returned this year to Center Stage to moderate a panel on the modern state of lodging in business travel. Panelists included David Holyoke, Airbnb; Markus Keller, AccorHotels; and Fernando Vives, NH Hotel Group. The three discussed how home-sharing platforms like Airbnb fit into the business travel world and what traditional hotel chains are doing to remain competitive. Looking to the future, all panelists agreed that there was space for everyone and that collaborative conversations between the various stakeholders would serve to benefit the customer.

Barry Diller, chairman & senior executive of IAC and Expedia Inc., commented on the current political climate and its impact on the business industry. He predicted that “for business there’s no reason not to be optimistic”, even in spite of other challenges. Well known for popularizing made-for-TV movies, Diller also touched on his personal philosophy, saying, “I am completely motivated by curiosity”. When asked what he would do if he could start his career over today, he suspects he would still be in the entertainment industry.

Olympic medalist Michael Phelps took guests inside the mind of an Olympian and explained the discipline that set him up for success. He said that the greatest “do things when they don’t want to” and are never satisfied until they meet their goals. Although he cited his favorite Olympic moments as his first gold medal in Athens and his close win of the 200-fly in Rio, Phelps seemed even more excited about the future. “Living in the real world is harder than swimming,” he said, but educating the next generation on water safety, working on his own line of swim wear, and spending time with his family is allowing him to “continue the dreams and goals I have outside of competing”.

The sold-out expo floor featuring over 400 exhibitors showcased the latest and greatest in business travel products and services including the new Innovation Row. Innovation Row featured first-time exhibitors who are looking to become the business travel industry’s most impactful innovators. Nearly two dozen companies, including Lyft, AIG Travel, Concur and more, also participated in GBTA’s third annual media day sharing their breaking news announcements.

GBTA concluded the event with 6,752 attendees, including more than 1,300 buyers, making this the largest GBTA Convention in history and one of the largest gatherings of travel professionals in the world.

Next year’s Convention will be in San Diego, on August 11-15, 2018.