Technology, innovation and security were the hot topics of GBTA Conference 2018 – Toronto

All new tech talks designed to identify new technology platforms

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) – the voice of the global business travel industry – wrapped up yet another successful conference in Toronto this week. Technology, innovation and security were among the hot topics discussed throughout the industry gathering bringing together travel professionals and industry leaders for Canada’s premiere business travel event. The Conference saw more than 800 registrants and record attendance despite mother nature’s best attempts to keep people at home with a major mid-April ice storm.

“Part of our role as the leading industry association in Canada is to promote opportunities for business to get done effectively and efficiently while ensuring connections are made between buyers and suppliers,” said Nancy Tudorache, GBTA director of operations for Canada. “The conference in Toronto did just that helping to drive the momentum of our industry forward.”

Thought provoking industry panels and business-focused speakers highlighted Centre Stage. Today’s Procurement Practitioner panel featured procurement executives from Rogers, Scotiabank and Mattamy Homes discussing how corporate procurement strategies filter down and intersect into the world of business travel. You can drive value by channeling spend and show that value by sharing the information internally panelists said. The Momentum of Technology and Innovation panel featured industry executives from Egencia, Amadeus and Air Canada exchanging views on how augmented reality, AI and other digital enhancements have altered and will continue to alter the business travel space.

Two executive panels hit on some of today’s top business issues. John Lee, Managing Director of TMX Group talked blockchain and cryptocurrencies saying if cryptocurrency gains mass adoption, it could completely revolutionize how we do transactions today. Being that it is still an emerging technology, he added, the pitfalls will be in whether it can actually scale and deal with the tremendous amount of transactional volume that happens today. Dave Leonard, CEO of McCarthy Tetrault, talked diversity and inclusion in the workplace and its importance saying a diverse workplace where people feel empowered to come to work every day and do their best while feeling comfortable being themselves is what he strives for.

GBTA’s Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick interviewed CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) Vice President, Service Delivery Neil Parry, GTAA (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) Vice President of Customer and Terminal Services Scott Collier, and CBSA (Canadian Border Service Agency) Vice President, Operations Branch, Jacques Cloutier to discuss the current state of cross border security, updates in procedures, and the future of airport security. The panelists said safety and security of the travelling public remains the biggest challenge and noted that the industry needed to reimagine the travel experience and focus on innovation and incremental investment to succeed moving forward.

Featured keynotes included Bloomberg Canada’s Lily Jamali interviewing WE Movement’s, Kim Plewes, Activist, Advocate and Social Leader, and WE Village’s, Mama Pasiyio, Kenyan Women’s Leader, to discuss empowerment of girls and women. From the villages in Africa to today’s business environment and life situations, enriching the dialogue with and for women, inspires change, equality and opportunity for all. Peter Mansbridge, iconic Canadian news anchor, was the closing keynote. He highlighted the contribution of Canada and its citizens in building a better world.

During the Conference, GBTA unveiled a new study in partnership with BCD Travel and Air Canada revealing the high potential of business travel to drive economic development and business success. The study, titled ‘The Canadian Business Travel Industry: Business Travel’s Impact on Jobs and the Canadian Economy,’ shows that business travel was responsible for about 2.6 percent ($40.1 billion) of Canadian GDP in 2016. It also found that the business travel industry supports 573,000 jobs and generated $10.7 billion in federal, provincial and local taxes.

Brand new this year were the Tech Talks and Tech Hub. The Tech Talks were designed to identify new technology platforms. Companies had the ability to pitch their technology platform in a dedicated Tech Talk space, then engage one-on-one with travel buyers, travel suppliers and decision makers in the Tech Hub. The goal was to help companies both launch and accelerate their technology offerings within the Canadian business travel and meetings sector. GBTA also offered the Advanced Principles of Business Management course for the first time in Canada in the days leading up to the Conference.

Attendees were also treated to high-level education sessions covering everything from AI, NDC and Virtual Reality to traveller well-being, duty of care and Millennial travel habits all designed to help buyers and suppliers continue to build upon the momentum created by the latest trends, changes and progressions in the industry.

Next year’s Conference will return to Toronto on April 15-17, 2019.

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