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GBTA Canada Conference zeros in on data, relationships & changing demands

  • Air
  •   04-24-2015  11:45 am

GBTA Canada Conference zeros in on data, relationships & changing demands

It was another record-breaking year for the Global Business Travel Association's 11th annual conference in Canada which took place April 20 - 22 in Toronto, with attendance up 22 per cent over what was previously a record-breaking 2014.

Themed "Business in Motion", more than 552 registrants from across Canada and the U.S. took part in seminars, panel discussions and an expo throughout the event, allowing suppliers and buyers to connect and engage with one another while addressing key issues being faced by the industry.

Among a long list of keynote speakers were Joe Bates, GBTA's vice-president of research; Bonnie Brooks, vice-chairman, Hudson’s Bay Company; Duncan Bureau, VP, global sales, Air Canada, Lyell Farquharson, VP sales, WestJet; and John Stackhouse, senior VP, office of the CEO, Royal Bank of Canada.Topics addressed issues of the economy, the changing dynamic of the travel industry, the repercussions of global challenges such as health risks, and the impact of business travel in Canada. Other interactive sessions were designed to instill best practices, as well as highlight ways to best service the needs of the evolving business traveller.

GBTA Canada is the leading organization for corporate travel professionals in the country, and Nancy Tudorache, GBTA director of operations in Canada, told PAX that membership and engagement continues to grow, year-over-year.

She attributes the success to being in-tune with member needs and demands, offering information and resources that help both buyers and suppliers perform better in their fields. GBTA Canada's latest contribution is a new report with data dedicated to the Canadian business travel landscape, the first of its kind available in the marketplace.

Offering some context, Tudorache admitted that previously, a major challenge for members has been accessing relevant information because typically, data of this nature is North America-focused, largely driven by U.S. numbers and trends with no Canadian-specific insights.

"This report provides Canadian companies on both the supplier side as well as buyers the validation, the understanding and the relevance behind the different streams of travel, the economic impact of travel and so forth," she said.

The study, sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), reveals business travel spending in Canada in 2013 reached $23.5 billion making it responsible for 1.5 per cent of Canadian GDP. It also found businesses sent travellers in Canada on 35.8 million trips.

In regards to trends, Tudorache said that the organization is observing a growing overlap in business and leisure travel, especially as millennials become entrenched in the business travel market.

"There is more of a need for experiential travel," she told PAX. "It's natural within the millennial generation but it is spilling over to all generations because of factors such as technology, the infrastructure for booking tools, the abilities for people to extend their stays and the understanding of people wanting a customized experience."

"We heard this loud and clear at the conference," Tudorache continued. "It's really important for the suppliers to truly understand the needs of their travellers, and the scope and type of traveller they have so they can continue to appeal to them."

The business travel world is becoming a more competitive landscape, she admitted, noting that suppliers are increasing investments in collecting data about their clients so they can respond to demands.

"They are constantly trying to change and provide new opportunities," Tudorache said. "If they don't, they're going to fall by the wayside. More suppliers are actively engaged in that innovation and customer intuitiveness."

Much the same, GBTA Canada continues to adapt in order to enhance engagement with its members, according to the director.

"Of course we want to have more members involved but we also act on behalf of the industry as the business travel voice for the betterment of the Canadian industry - it's having that outreach and being able to deliver on that with our educational sessions, our conference, our forums - that's was really encouraged us to grow and harness engagement."

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