17 experts advise on what’s to come this year. Spoiler: Data factors big.
The Innovate Conference for the Advancement of Business Travel offered business travel executives the opportunity to articulate priorities and recommendations.
A proposal to change the Global Business Travel Association's
bylaws regarding board representation and eliminate the association's Allied
Leadership Council is drawing support from some of the GBTA Direct (buyer)
members who will vote on the issue next month.
Positioned on the association's ballot as Proposal B, the
plan, submitted in May by about two dozen GBTA members led by NetApp
travel manager Mark Ziegler, calls for all Allied (supplier) seats on the
Global Business Travel Association board of directors to be filled though
elections rather than appointments. Proposal A, from GBTA's board, also
makes all Allied positions elected—and increases their number on the board to
seven from four, changes the vice president from a Direct to an Allied role,
keeps the ALC intact and makes it more difficult for GBTA members to pass
changes to the bylaws.
Direct members will choose from among the two proposals and
a third option, no change, at GBTA's annual convention in San Diego next month.
Interviews with 15 Global Business Travel Association Direct
members conducted by Business Travel News
showed strong support for the Ziegler option. These sources were critical of
GBTA's Proposal A, in which passage of member-proposed bylaw changes would
require votes from two-thirds of a quorum of all allied and direct members,
following a three-quarters vote of a quorum of the board. Currently, proposed
bylaw changes—like Ziegler's—require support from two-thirds of voting Direct
members for approval.
"My biggest concern is that no one will have a voice to
put in ideas or propose changes," said Coca-Cola director of global
procurement Pam McTeer. "The membership will no longer have a say."
Sarita Evans, corporate travel manager at Wind River in
Alameda, Ca., said her sense of trust in the board has been compromised. "They
are trying to take away our ability to bring further issues to the membership,
and I don't like that."
"It doesn't put GBTA in a very good light," added
Betty Grogan, global travel manager at ESCO Corp. in Portland, Ore.
Many of those who agreed to speak on the condition that they
would not be quoted by name expressed strong support for Proposal B, largely
because they take issue with statements by GBTA leaders and the
association's management style.
Sources varied on whether the Allied Leadership Council be
"I could be in favor of the Allied Leadership Council,"
said Yasuo Sonoda, senior global manager of employee services at VeriSign Inc.,
"so long as leadership is elected and term limits apply." Lynne
Brunner, director of travel and meetings at HCA in Nashville, said she finds
the ALC to be "unnecessary," and McTeer expressed a belief that an
allied committee would serve the same purpose.
Adamant that all leadership should be decided by vote and
not appointment, Sonoda said he is in the process of evaluating the board's
proposal. "I don't want to take sides," he said. "It's not about
that. It's about what's good for the organization."
"We can't work without each other, but the point was to
form relations" between Direct and Allied members, said McTeer, who
initiated a run for GBTA president but conceded the election when she took a
new job at Coca-Cola. McTeer said she is concerned that the board's proposal
will cause the association to lean too far toward the allied side and "will
not enable the organization to be there for the direct side."
McTeer also described Proposal A as moving the board itself
into more of a governing role rather than an advisory capacity.
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