With more than 400 corporate travel professionals, the recent Eighth Annual GBTA Canada Conference broke all previous attendance records. To accommodate this expansion and allow sufficient capacity for the future growth that is anticipated, this year's conference was moved to a new venue, Toronto's Metro Convention Centre. Egencia sponsored the opening reception on the exhibition floor and the opening dinner, which was sponsored by WestJet/Oneworld, took place at Spice Route, Toronto's fashionable Asian-inspired, bistro bar.
Here is where you can access the full agenda for the conference that blended an executive insiders panel, general sessions, concurrent education sessions (some general and others geared for buyers or suppliers), networking breaks and a trade floor with more than 55 exhibitors. (Last week, I shared highlights and traffic tips from the exhibitions at GBTA Canada's 2012 Conference.)
Executive Insider Panel
The executive insider panel, which kicked off Day 1, featured:
- Air Canada (Claude Morin, Vice President Global Sales)
- Best Western International (Dorothy Dowling, Sr. VP Marketing & Sales)
- Carlson Wagonlit Travel (Sherry Saunders, Senior VP & General Manager Canada)
Some of the trends on the horizon that panelists highlighted included:
- To facilitate tracking, luggage will come with embedded tags that will be scanned at check-in.
- Technology will scan the environment and alert pilots to the optimal flight paths to reduce travel time.
- Mobile payments using barcodes will be possible once the security issues have been resolved.
- Dynamic vs static pricing will continue to be assessed to identify the optimal pricing model for specific markets.
Panelists also highlighted a number of industry-wide issues that will need to be addressed. These include:
- Security and privacy issues in the wake of breaches that compromised Google Wallet two months ago.
- The need for companies to formulate mobile strategies.
- The importance of safety and security assessments.
- Balancing the importance of ensuring border security with the need to ease airport security clearances for regular business travelers through programs like Nexus and Global Entry.
Concurrent Education Sessions
The 11 Concurrent Education Sessions used a variety of formats and provide a wide range of educational content. Some sessions including Aviation Hot Topics and Strategic Meetings Management from Current State to Desired State were offered exclusively for buyers. Authentic Client Communication in the Business Development Process was presented for suppliers. Sessions open to all attendees included Sports Travel Management, Smart Phones for Smart Travel, 13 Things You Didn't Know About Travel Suppliers & Travel Managers, and Data Driving - Forecasts, Trends & Benchmarking.
A few sessions explored various issues and tools related to:
- Duty of care and the importance of being able to reach employees in a crisis.
- The need for corporations to ensure compliance with travel policies and capture total spend during the full cycle from booking to reimbursement of travel expenditures.
General sessions provided insight into corporate travel trends. In Traveling Through Turbulence, Aron Gampel, Scotiabank's VP & Deputy Chief Economist, provided an overview of Canada's Economic Landscape and Global Outlook. He highlighted a number of factors constraining growth:
- The impact of financial retrenchment and high youth unemployment in Europe.
- Corporate and personal debt loads that are at record highs in the developed world.
Prospects for growth are high in emerging nations with limited debt. America's growth engines are revving up. For example, pent up demand in the automobile sector will help jumpstart the US economy. (The average automobile is 11 years old and will be in need of replacement in the near future.)
The conference was wrapped up with an inspiring general session presented by Neil Pasricha, the award-winning blogger from 1000awesomethings.com and author of the international New York Times bestseller The Book of Awesome.
For Cvent's recent industry conference reporting, read Unpacking the Gems from PCMA 2012 Convening Leaders and PCMA: Meetings Gamesmanship. And don't miss Cvent's blogs for event professionals, where you'll be rewarded with new posts (and new ideas) daily: Strategic Meetings Blog, Hospitality Marketing Blog, Web Surveys Blog and Event Planning Blog.