The Association of Corporate Travel Executives claimed record attendance at its global conference here last week and announced progress on several industry initiatives. It signed an agreement with the University of Houston to accredit a new global travel certification program, struck a deal with Cornerstone to enhance ACTE's new global business travel index and convened the first meeting of the association's media and entertainment group.
The conference attracted more than 1,000 attendees--about three-quarters of whom were from the United States. Those figures, said ACTE president Chris Crowley, reflected "the revival in the U.S. market."
Among the association's new initiatives, the media and entertainment group, which according to ACTE executive director Ron DiLeo represents "the entire span" of that industry segment, is led by Sirius Management founder Tom Stone. Stone's travel management career has included stints with entertainment giants Universal Music International and Sony Music Entertainment. The group's initial "closed-door meeting" among 34 buyers and suppliers was the first step toward a white paper and, according to Crowley, "possible separate member streaming as they look at specifics related to their industry."
Meanwhile, after securing a partnership with the University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College, ACTE formally launched a "hands-on global immersion training and development program" for travel professionals. Dubbed " Around the World in 80 Hours" and set to start for this year's fall semester, the program is designed to impart local-market knowledge and bestow ACTE Accredited Global Travel Executive certifications for each of 14 countries covered by the program.
According to ACTE, a limited class of 15 participants will include university students and representatives from "the corporate and supplier communities--including travel managers, procurement managers, travel arrangers, account managers and business development managers."
In each of the 14 markets around the globe, "there is classroom time and you need qualified professors in each of these markets to deliver," DiLeo explained. "We have 12 of the 14 [agreements with local business schools] completed, schools that have travel and tourism programs that we'll make relevant to the business travel world."
Thanks to another partnership--with Cornerstone Information Systems--ACTE intends to enhance an index that has been in development since last year. The idea, according to the association, is to build "the world's first key performance indicator of the global economy based on business travel." Cornerstone CEO Mat Orrego described the system as "the next generation of travel program predictability tools."
DiLeo said the first results would be made available "once we have enough relevant data, probably in Paris in October" at ACTE's next global conference. He also said a mobile app for the index could be ready by year-end.
The article originally was published in Business Travel News.