While most of us consider August a time of summer vacation, the US had a completely different plan in store – the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) annual convention, the business travel event of the year.
This year’s event, in Denver, CO, was the largest GBTA meet-up in history with more than 6,000 attendees. For the third year running, Amadeus enjoyed a strong event presence, highlighted by our sponsorship of key note speaker Sean Penn at the Wednesday closing luncheon session.
Here are my highlights and key points from the event.
Day one saw Dwayne Ingram, EVP of the Airline Group for Amadeus Americas, take part in the “Direct Connect: The Hot Seat” panel alongside executives from Solutionz Group, DSX, Booz Allen Hamilton and Delta Airlines.
The insightful session included thoughts on where direct connect is headed and the potential strategic implications for travel buyers, travel management companies, GDSs, and the airlines.
Other highlights included the Airline CEO panel and the general session keynote from former Secretary of Treasury Henry M. Paulson, who shared his experiences in office and his views on current events and the economic health of the US.
Dwayne discusses the “Direct Connect? The Hot Seat.” panel below.
Day two kicked off with the “Travel Value Chain” panel – featuring Republic Airways and Frontier Airlines Expedia, Smith Travel Research and Travelport – which explored critical distribution issues facing the industry.
Prior to the keynote luncheon session – from Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay – GBTA announced the upcoming 2012 Masters Program headliners which will include Louis Gerstner, Jr., IBM’s former Chairman and CEO, and Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter.
From our YouTube channel, Brian Beard, Travel Technology Consultant, recaps the second day.
The undoubted highlight of the final day – and the convention itself – was Amadeus’ Vic Pynn holding his own alongside Hollywood’s Sean Penn in the Pynn and Penn show!
In line with the high caliber of former speakers (including Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong) Penn explained how a visit to Haiti motivated him to set-up the J/P Haitian Relief Organization which provides relief in the country – a cause that we are also committed to here at Amadeus.
On a lighter note, Penn revealed his love of air travel, because he is unreachable while in flight. His unforgettably charismatic talk, which ended with a richly deserved standing ovation from the packed room, brought the 2011 GBTA event to a close on a high note.
See Scott Gutz, President & CEO, Amadeus North America, recap the event and Amadeus EVP Vic Pynn discuss the privilege of sharing a stage with star guest Sean Penn.
Looking to 2012
The 2011 GBTA convention was a great success – both for us at Amadeus and the industry at large. We look forward to raising the bar higher still at next year’s event in Boston – one of Amadeus’ hometowns. See you then!