As GBTA 2021 wrapped, we are reflecting on the sentiment we felt on the tradeshow floor. From education sessions, private events, and mingling with industry connections, GBTA 2021 was an exciting step toward the recovery of the travel industry. This year GBTA was offered in both an in-person and virtual setting for the first time, which in result, brought a different energy to the convention. Here are some insights our Fox associates that attended GBTA noticed and expect will transform the travel industry in future years.
George Kalka – Vice President of Business Travel
This year at GBTA Convention in Orlando, you could feel the unity and resilience of our travel industry. Those in attendance were invested in their industry relationships. It was a priority to connect with new industry contacts as well as rekindle old relationships that we haven’t seen in the last 20 months. Although the footprint of this year’s convention was smaller, it felt like the moment our industry needed. It was much easier to find each other and have more meaningful conversations compared to the hustle and bustle of years past. The personal connection felt like most attendees’ goal of being present in Orlando. It is clear that technology continues to drive our industry forward. There were many new players who were not in existence a few years ago and were attending/exhibiting at their first convention in 2021. There is no one size fits all solution, and thus, specialty technology is emerging and finding itself into the travel programs who need it. For others, it’s a different tech need all together. With this momentum I predict more collaboration and partnerships between suppliers to jointly deliver the travel program corporations require. We are more reliant on each other than ever before.
Vivian Maxwell Smith – Global Sales Director
During convention, so many attendees commented on the importance of GBTA Convention being held as well as and the momentum it has built as we look forward to 2022. It was the side conversations, running into people randomly, and the socialization outside the convention center that validated for me how much we have been missing in our virtual connections. I was very pleased to experience a heightened level of civility among attendees, even competitors were embracing each other! There was a strong focus on sustainability in travel. It is refreshing to see that the industry is moving forward with a common goal of sustaining our beautiful planet for future generations. Sustainability within our industry has gained tremendous momentum in the last 20 months, and I expect this focus will continue even stronger into the coming years.
Mary Jo Theimer – Global Sales Director
The theme of the 2021 convention was ‘Ready Set Travel’, and you could feel how ready everyone is to start traveling again! GBTA Convention in Orlando proved not only to fill a need for more industry knowledge and insight into new products, but also what appeared to be a greater need to connect with our industry peers who have all felt some level of pain during the past 20 months. Less supplier booths and fewer buyers did not equate to any less of a spectacular GBTA experience for our Fox family members who attended. Many participants agreed that the forecasted recovery shared during the opening main stage ‘State of the Industry’ session brings us hope. I found conversations with travel managers to be mutually beneficial as we shared what we have all learned during the transformation of the travel industry. Most buyers that I spoke with share the same sentiment of wanting to keep travelers informed and safe as they start to hit the friendly skies again. It was apparent that networking, consultation and GBTA resources are needed by both suppliers and buyers more than ever. GBTA offered over 75 education sessions with topics around implementing sustainability into your travel program, liability in business travel related cases, tech trends and reporting, dynamic pricing, and industry roundtables. There was something for everyone!
These are just a few of the takeaways our team gathered during convention that are sure to be hot topics in 2022. If you missed convention this year and would like to hear more on what our team of experts experienced on the tradeshow floor or predict will be focal points for the future, connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter!
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