Broadening horizons

Delivering the inaugural PATA GBTA APAC Travel Summit requires teams to work across timezones while addressing cost concerns from pricey airfares and logistical issues from inconsistent Covid-19 travel requirements

Event brief
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), hosted their inaugural PATA GBTA APAC Travel Summit last December, after realising there was a gap in the market to address.

According to GBTA’s Business Travel Index, the Asia-Pacific region continues to account for the largest share of business travel spend globally, totalling US$350 billion spend in 2021 and accounting for 50 per cent of global travel spend that year. Despite a slowdown in recovery due to stringent lockdowns in 2022, the potential growth from Asia Pacific continues to outperform other regions.

The two-day event was also an opportunity to form a partnership and bring both industry networks together.

Event highlights
The joint event was held at the brand-new Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) in Bangkok. QNSCC is easily accessible via the MRT Blue Line from downtown Bangkok.

Themed Getting Back to Business Travel, Tourism, and MICE, the first day of educational sessions delved into topics such as recovery and opportunities in business travel, the trends shaping travel and meetings management, aviation trends, and the challenges and solutions when dealing with sustainability.

Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished fellow from the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore also took the time to examine the global economic landscape and its relation to sustainability, highlighting the growth potential of the Asia Pacific region, as well as discuss the impact this has on travel and tourism.

QNSCC was also the venue for the first day’s Welcome Dinner, hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The second day kicked off bright and early with topics such as the challenges and opportunities in duty of care, and the increased scrutiny on travel risk management. The event concluded with two other important topics, human capital development and addressing the staffing gap, and discussions around the future of travel and what emerging opportunities there are.

There were a few challenges that came with organising the event. First, both the PATA and GBTA teams were working from opposite ends of the world, and this required a lot of collaboration and planning to successfully design and execute the event.

And when 2022 drew to a close, travel costs in general proved to be particularly high as airlines struggled to get the right balance between supply and demand. There were also inconsistencies in Covid-19 restrictions across the region, which resulted in uncertainty and wavering travel confidence among overseas guests.

To defray travel costs, delegates were offered a preferred rate with Thai Airways. As to getting around the inconsistencies in Covid-19 restrictions, PATA and GBTA selected a destination and location which was definitely open for business, as well as requested all delegates to test for Covid-19 prior to arrival.

Key industry partners, such as FCM Travel Solutions, BCD Travel, and CWT were also instrumental in the event’s success. Meeting with these partners in person was also possible over coffee breaks in the adjoining room.

In total, there was a solid showing of more than 220 travel buyers, suppliers, and partners from across 15 destinations.

In a post-event survey, a majority of attendees expect to attend 2023’s next travel summit, as the educational sessions were well-received based on the variety of topics, the relevance of content, and the expertise of speakers.

“The summit proved to be a great success, delivering a valuable programme for attendees in 2022 and providing a solid foundation to build on for this year’s event in Singapore. We recognise that in such an important region, travel professionals need an event tailored for them and we look forward to delivering another successful summit this year,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA.

Event PATA – GBTA APAC Travel Summit 2022
Organiser PATA, GBTA
Venue Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
Dates December 8-9, 2022
Attendance 220

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