*This post originally appeared as an op-ed in Global Business Travel magazine volume three, issue two.*
That’s the name of the game at July’s GBTA Convention 2015.
This year’s Convention, July 25-29, is in Orlando, Florida, the home of Walt Disney World. Branding itself the “happiest place on Earth,” Disney World is a place predicated on the concept of sharing. Its staff members work diligently to share happiness with all park guests. Epcot Center shares the cultures of multiple countries with park visitors. Tomorrowland, one of the areas within the Magic Kingdom, shares a vision of the technological possibilities in our future. The nearby MGM Grand Studios, with its Harry Potter-themed rides, shares a story that has captured the imaginations of millions throughout the world.
As befitting our location, the theme of this year’s Convention is sharing – more specifically, #Sharing. We are structuring Convention to maximize the ability of business travel professionals the world over to share their experiences and successes in dealing with changes affecting our industry.
Like this issue of the magazine, Convention will address ways of adapting to disruption and the reconfiguring of paradigms. Because corporate and technological disruptors do not arrive on a set schedule, the work of a business travel professional is always dynamic. We must be ready to adapt or revamp our strategies in anticipation of or response to events. In the past few years, we have had to adapt to corporate disruptors such as Uber and Airbnb. Convention offers educational and networking opportunities to help all of us understand and respond with new, innovative approaches to programs and trade.
While GBTA’s creative and talented staff members are still finalizing the details of this year’s Convention, plans are already in place to build upon last year’s innovations. To maximize the sharing of information and insights, we have made it easier to navigate the Convention through format and technological enhancements. The GBTA Expo will feature more than 400 companies from all over the world. Attendees can meet all their existing and potential suppliers in a single business trip – a tremendous saving of time and money.
Convention will offer a wide range of formal and informal educational opportunities. Beginning with Convention Kick-Start on July 25, Convention will feature more than 75 educational sessions. Attendees will be able to sit for the Global Travel Professional (GTP) certification exam. Those wishing to advance their careers further can participate in sessions that prepare them for designation as a Global Leadership Professional (GLP). Each day, some of the most creative and talented individuals in the business travel industry and related fields will speak at the Center and Arena stages.
I am particularly excited about a panel on the Future of Distribution, to be moderated by Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s Senior Vice President for marketing and sales. Dorothy is a veteran of the hotel industry whose responsibilities include overseeing Best Western’s loyalty program, consumer and field marketing activities, advertising, public relations, and e-commerce. The panelists – Doug Anderson of CWT, Dave Pavelko of Google, and Scott Gutz of Amadeus North America – will address upcoming changes in the structure and business model of travel distribution.
Of course, Convention is also an opportunity to meet and network with colleagues in a more relaxed setting. The GBTA Foundation will be sponsoring its 9th Annual Golf Classic and Spa Day. We are working with James Beard Award-winning chefs to ensure fantastic lunches prior to the Center Stage speakers.
On top of all this, we will be taking GBTA LIVE! to the next level to enhance attendees’ experiences. Look for more streaming options and more viewing stations. The entire Convention will be accessible via your mobile device. The My Convention Planner tool will enable participants to set up meetings with suppliers, navigate the Expo floor, search for exhibitors, and read about the many new products being showcased at Convention and yes, #Sharing.
GBTA Convention is the one place where key members of the entire business travel industry gather under one roof. Convention connects people who can provide services, and it provides an excellent forum for the sharing of important information. As one who has been in the business travel industry for 35 years, I view Convention as one of the most important investments in education, development, and networking.
I look forward to seeing (and #Sharing with) all of you in Orlando!