April 23, 2024

GBTA Europe Conference

The annual GBTA Europe Conference in partnership with VDR is heading to Hamburg for 2023. We spoke to Catherine Logan, GBTA Regional Senior Vice President EMEA and APAC

What’s going to be different this year and beyond?

Following on from the success of last year’s Sustainability Summit we’re kicking off with a half day of content dedicated to this important topic,

We also know that our delegates love the peer-to-peer aspect of in person learning so we are offering two interactive sessions – the Sustainability Think Tank as well as the Big Idea; as well as ‘Talk to the Expert’ following each of the breakout sessions, and Committee round table sessions.

We have the return of the Global Leaders Reception, an opportunity to recognise the many volunteers who help to shape the association and dedicate their time to help the business travel industry tackle the burning issues.

It’s the first time we are going to Hamburg, to the newly-refurbished Congress Centre, which is a great location and venue.

We’ve also made some tweaks to the program to build on the feedback from delegates in 2022. We are revamping the First Timers session to “First Connect Open House” to promote more networking opportunities for those attending a GBTA Conference for the first time, and introducing a membership activation zone so members can learn how to maxmise all the benefits of their GBTA membership.

We have also revised our pricing strategy to encourage new buyers to attend and I’m delighted to share that we are on track for over 1,000 delegates.

Why should buyers/the industry attend?

As we continue to work in a hybrid work environment, attending an event like GBTA is a cost and time efficient way of meeting peers, partners, suppliers and even colleagues in one place. It’s more sustainable too. There is plenty of time built into the agenda to encourage face-to-face networking, as well as opportunities to make new connections. The agenda also encompasses important educational sessions, tackling the key industry issues as identified by our members, and hearing from industry and experts on the latest trends, research and advancements in business travel.  

What are the key themes for the conference?

When we start to think about the agenda for the GBTA Europe Conference, the first thing we do is go out to our members to get a sense of what’s important, identify the key topics and the areas of interest for today’s business travel buyers. We then go out to the wider GBTA membership for speaker proposals. This is an opportunity for the business travel community to submit their ideas for educational sessions.

We have a dedicated committee of lead volunteers who help shape the agenda from start to finish and select the appropriate topics and sessions to ensure we are delivering the most valuable content.

This year we are seeing lots of interest in AI, sustainability, DE&I, NDC, meetings and the future of business travel.

What keynote sessions stand out for you?

Business travel is going through a transformation with the introduction of new distribution channels disrupting the traditional sales channels, revenue models and contracts. While this is a pivotal moment for business travel, there are other industries that have already undergone this transformation, reimagining their industry sector to survive.

One example is the music industry – I can’t think of another industry that has gone through so much transformation in my lifetime and I am delighted that we have been able to secure Ric Salmon, director at ATC Management, and CEO of the award-winning livestream business Driiftas a keynote speaker.

Ric brings more than 25 of years’ music management experience and will be addressing the learnings from the music industry during the transition from the purchase of vinyl on the high street to digital distribution and live streaming, the similarities to our industry and what’s in store for business travel in the new distribution world.

Ric’s keynote will be followed by an industry leader panel featuring BCD Travel’s incoming CEO Stephan Baars and Sophie Hulgard, Chief Sales Officer, Accor.

On the sustainability main stage, we have an informed panel discussing the state of sustainability in business travel with speakers from across the industry sectors sharing their insights and observations. This will be followed by a keynote on Innovation of the Future.

I’m also excited to announce our inspirational speaker – Pär Johansson, the founder and visionary behind a theatre in Sweden called Glada Hudik. This is a theatre where the mentally impaired and normally impaired come together to act on stage. In this thought provoking and moving keynote, Pär will share how through his theatre, he helps make dreams come true for all his members – regardless of ‘impairment’ – and will demonstrate how by creating a more inclusive environment it’s possible to unlock potential, creating a kinder, richer world for all.

The GBTA Europe Conference, in partnership with VDR, takes place on November 14-16 2023.