The power of Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) 7,000-convention delegate database at its annual US conference, including a large exhibition component, makes it an important association to stay connected to, say corporate travel managers (CTM).
This is despite GBTA’s complete withdrawal from Asia last year, to focus on North America and Europe. And this has left a vacuum for CTMs who want access to trends and direct contact with suppliers in those regions.
“For example, GBTA can work closely with airlines and OAG (a global travel data provider) on how fast the aviation industry is rebooting and when we can activate staff travel and redeploy bookings,” according to a CTM who works for an American multinational technology company.
Another Shanghai-based CTM in a retail multinational company noted that attending GBTA’s Europe events was important for him.
“The contacts and reference partners that I need for my current role are in Europe. I already have some contacts there but I need more. Asia is still important but I have the contacts here,” he said. He added that the poor state of the meetings industry now might force companies to close or be conservative with spending even until the end of the year.
Elsewhere, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has suspended operations until end May.
The South-east Asian CTM belonging to a German multinational conglomerate, added: “These associations are important as they can gather corporate travel managers for updates, exchanges and experience sharing to help us improve work processes.”
The ACTE and Corporate Travel Community (CTC) member continued by saying education topics on suppliers such as airlines, accommodation, ground transportation, and events, and how they are moving forward after Covid-19 could shed light for her when reviewing or making certain decisions.
Five years ago, GBTA closed its Bangkok regional office, followed by Shanghai a year later and kept its representive office in Mumbai until last year.
While there were many reasons GBTA’s withdrawal, an informed source said it was primarily because “membership (numbers) didn’t grow as fast as expected”, and “overheads were not covered by local income”, even though the Asia conferences “did quite well on sponsorship”.
The source believed GBTA withdrew from Asia because of internal politics just as growth in Asia was gaining momentum.