16 AUGUST 2010

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Article from BTNews 16 AUGUST 2010

ON TOUR: American business travellers meet

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) – claimed to be the world’s premiere resource for corporate travel professionals – reported increased attendance over the previous year at its International Convention & Exposition, held last week in Houston, Texas. 

More than 5,800 corporate travel professionals from 40 countries, including more than 1,200 travel buyers, filled the George R. Brown Convention Center, which hosted over 65 education sessions and displayed more than 400 exhibitors on the Expo floor. 

NBTA President & CEO Craig Banikowski, said: “The general consensus at this year’s Convention was clear – business travel is coming back!  Many attendees reported increasing levels of travel, and they came to the NBTA Convention to learn about the latest industry trends in a new economy and network with the largest gathering of corporate travel professionals in the world.  Corporate travel drives economic success, and when travel professionals are making connections and making deals, it’s a sure sign we’re on the way to recovery.”

Over four days attendees took advantage of education seminars in which industry experts and specialists from all sectors of the corporate travel community discussed business travel growth in a new corporate culture of strategic cost containment.  New resources, such as white papers on hotel programme metrics and risk management/traveller tracking systems, were offered to Convention delegates, along with reports on the global business travel market, US traveller taxes and corporate travel policies.

At the first-ever Travel’s Value Chain CEO Panel, attendees heard from Carlson Wagonlit CEO Douglas Anderson, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide CEO Frits van Paasschen, and Travelport CEO Gordon Wilson.  The four industry leaders discussed and took questions from the audience on the prospects for business travel in the coming years and evolving business models.  The popular Airline CEO session also returned, with insights into the current state of global aviation and hot topics such as ancillary fees and tarmac delays from Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan and Continental Airlines CEO Jeffery Smisek, who discussed the pending merger with United Airlines.

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice enlightened attendees with insights into current global affairs during the Monday General Session, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, spoke about the value of travel, customer care, and the important role of passion in business success.  Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong addressed delegates, sharing his inspiring story of perseverance and achievement despite challenges, as well as improving the world through active citizenship.  He also told the audience he believes travel is all about personal interaction.

NBTA’s Banikowski commented: “The world is changing, and travel is changing with it.  In discussions this week with industry icons, travel professionals, and leaders in politics, business, sport and social activism, it’s clear that corporate travel is necessary now more than ever.  Travel is a ‘must’ to keep business moving forward around the world, and this week the corporate travel community came together to ensure it is accomplished as effectively and efficiently as possible.” www.nbta.org

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