“Take Care, Y’all”: Welcome To The New World Of Business Travel

with Martha Chapman

The Sky Team team included Ivan Moreno, DL;David Teame & Jon Murray, KE & Jose Durdos, DL

An appreciative group at one of the “fireside chats”

Raffy Karagossian, Intrepid 24/7

Mary Heron, EI

Last week Toronto’s cavernous Metro Convention Centre was abuzz about travel. But this was no ordinary travel trade show with palm tree posters and hired limbo dancers. This is the GBTA (Global Business Travel Alliance) show where it is all corporate travel, all the time.

The event seems to be growing from strength to strength: this year there were over 550 registrants, up 22% from last year alone. “We’re thrilled to see the growth,” Nancy Tudorache, Regional Director Canada for GTBA told me. “We’re the largest show of its kind in Canada because we appreciate that it’s all about engagement with buyers.”

Interesting to chat with some of the 60+ suppliers at the trade show such as Miami Air, which owns six 737s configured to 168Y or 68F (the latter with 48” pitch – no wonder sports teams such as the Montreal Canadiens use them!) And with the folks at WestJet, very jazzed about their four 767s, joining the fleet in July serving Toronto-Calgary routes for a while before heading to Hawaii and, eventually, Europe.

As usual there were meaty general sessions and keynotes (including one from Bonnie Brooks, Vice Chairman of The Bay).

New this year were “fireside chats” - small group PD sessions.

But the biggest buzz was about Duty of Care. Everyone from car rental firms to the participating retail chains stressed how important it is now. One well-attended fireside chat was hosted by Jacques Thibault who presented Vision Travel Solutions’ app which offers everything from itineraries taken directly from any of the 4 GDS systems, to free wifi texting to groups or individuals in destination, to determination if a local event (natural or manmade) will affect any reservation now or in future.

It sure gives a new meaning to the term “Safe travels!”

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