GBTA Chicago 2019

Plane taking off at airport with the terminal in the foreground

GBTA Chicago delivers broad insight into industry trends

From new distribution capability (NDC) to global risk management, the changing workforce to virtual payments, strategic meetings management and all the newest corporate travel technology, apps and programs for gamification … the 2019 Global Business Travel Association conference presented a feast of topics covering all the latest and greatest from around the corporate travel sector.

Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) corporate division exhibited at this year’s event with the team showcasing our AI-powered mobile travel assistant app Sam. They also partnered with SolarBuddy offering participants the chance to build solar-powered lights to donate to towns with no access to electricity.

FCTG’s corporate travel team participated in numerous sessions at the event including:

  • Taking the headache out of change management
  • The changing workforce and emerging technologies
  • Three is the magic number: The top three practices for global risk management
  • Dashboard dilemmas: Creating value in C-Level reporting

FCTG also had representation in several educational sessions on NDC. Marcus Ekland, who is spearheading an NDC client pilot in Europe, joined Nicola Ping on an NDC panel. Nicola is a member of FCTG’s Global Air Distribution team working on NDC with other global industry partners such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

A group of senior leaders from FCTG’s corporate division in Australia also attended to hear what’s making headlines in the sector around the world.

A snapshot of the some of the key themes covered at GBTA include:


The here and now: New Distribution Capability

Globally only 12 airlines are currently Level 4 (highest certification) NDC Certified despite IATA having a target of 20% of transactions to be facilitated by NDC channels by 31 December 2020. Additionally, there was talk around the customer benefits from NDC including the opportunities for tapping into different corporate product bundles, access to more dynamic content and customised deals. Marcus also provided a status update on how the current NDC pilot with FCTG corporate customers in Europe was tracking with GDS provider Amadeus.


Changing workforce and emerging technologies

This session covered the opportunities that travel managers can leverage to future proof their travel programs. It also touched on artificial intelligence (AI) and how AI was enhancing the user experience for travellers and travel bookers. Technology developments are being shaped by the changing workforce and how different customers like to interact and communicate with technology.


Virtual payments gaining momentum

Sessions about virtual payments reiterated the growing shift of customers moving to virtual payment solutions, mobile wallets (eg Apple Pay) and fully automated expense management platforms. Conversation also covered where virtual payment solutions weren’t the best payment options such as in China.


New technologies: problem solving or disruptor

There were many new tech platforms displayed at GBTA including tools for monitoring travel bookings made outside a program, booking capability for sourcing corporate housing options, quote automation technology for the meetings, conference and events space, gamification platforms and hotel aggregation tools.


Diversity and inclusion

This year’s event also included several sessions on catering for the growing diversity of corporate travellers with reference to multi-generational and LGBTQ travellers. How organisations can better develop travel programs and policies that connect with and provide complete security and protection for all employees including transgender and non-binary travellers. Sessions touched on the need to educate travellers on other countries' societal attitudes towards LGBTQ people to mitigate potential risk.


Interested in hearing more about the future of the corporate travel industry? Register for Illuminate 2019 by 30 August 2019.

Illuminate 2019 offers procurement professionals, travel bookers, travel decision makers and c-suite executives the opportunity to network with peers and hear the latest news and insights from key travel industry influencers and thought leaders. Supported by some of the industry’s leading suppliers and backed by the strength of the Flight Centre Travel Group, the event will also be curated by the world’s leading event management company, cievents