Global Business Travel Conference – Bigger Than Ever

with Martha Chapman

Jay Treinen of Priority Pass with GBTA Canada’s Nancy Tudorache

Enterprise’s Don McPhail & Brian Robertson, Vision Travel Solutions

Kelly Tyndall, MeritBiz with Meghan Strathearn, Porter & Nadja Mertens, Loden Hotel in Vancouver

Maritime Travel’s Gary Gaudry with Michael Duffy, Grasp Technology & Mike Werrell of WEX Bank

This year’s Canadian conference orchestrated by the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) was bigger – and many say better – than ever before.  Thanks to its continued growth, the event even had to be moved to cavernous Metro Toronto Convention Centre which welcomed the over 550 delegates.

Clearly business travel is ever-expanding: Attendees also learned that GBTA will be expanding its Mexican operations throughout Latin America and is launching in India.

“This is our 12th annual event and arguably our most powerful,” Nancy Tudorache, Regional Director, Canada, said welcoming the group. “We’ve all been feeling the challenges of the oil, gas and resource sector and in this new normal, part of the role of GBTA is to be productive and keep people travelling.”

So where better to get a pulse on the trends of business travel than on the trade show floor of the conference, which featured a 40% increase in participants over last year?

Sarah Powers of the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto shared that their extended stay residences are hugely popular these days, thanks largely to U.S. film crews hanging out in T.O. The greenback also came up in conversation with Tristan Lockie of MeritBiz. He points out that there’s been a shift to shorter U.S. business trips and more domestic travel. He has noted however an overall uptick in business and that “numbers are coming back to where they were a year ago.”

Porter’s Michael Curmi also noted that the strong USD is excellent for inbound business and the Porter Pass (good for 10/50/100 journeys by city pair, YYZ-YOW-YUL triangle or system wide) is being well received with agents. And he reminded me that the “new” tunnel to YTZ is very popular with corporate travellers who no longer need worry about the ferry schedule.

Vision Travel’s Paul Knickerbocker was enthusiastic about the show in general: “It gives us the chance to support the clients whom we host at the conference, and also to meet with suppliers and potential clients – which is why we are happy to support the show in a big way.”

Indeed.  Because even in this era of smartphones, Skype and snapchat, guess what? Face-to-face still matters. As Fab Dolan told us, “Though we’ve come to expect a world that moves through an exponential curve, it’s still empathy – a uniquely human trait – that will dictate how much business will be done.” And he should know: he’s the head of marketing for Google Canada.

(will not be published)