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In addition to the typical deluge of vendor announcements and recognition for winners of its awards, graduates of its professional education programsand electees to its board, the National Business Travel Association here at its annual convention and expo last week made plenty of its own news. It announced an overall name change, an acquisition of one corporate travel conference and plans to launch two more. It also debuted various new components, conference innovations and industry reports. The 2010 version of North America's largest managed travel forum also embraced mobile technology and hosted to 5,800 delegates (including 1,200 buyers) who seemed more upbeat and less defensive than last year.
The name change will see the world's largest travel management organization next year become the Global Business Travel Association. "Our association must shift its thinking," according to NBTA president Craig Banikowski, and transform "from being a national organization to being a truly global business group that gives you seamless access to best-in-class resources, information and the global network you need."
NBTA also acquired "full ownership" of The Masters Program, a conference for which it had been a longtime partner. The association plans to "transform" the annual event held in Washington "into a global thought-leadership forum for C-level and senior executives and a think tank for the travel industry." According to executive director Mike McCormick, NBTA is committed to "investing to create an even higher level of programming."
NBTA also announced two entirely new conferences, including GovTravDC 2011. Furnished by the association's Government Travel Group and designed for federal government travel management professionals, the event is scheduled for June 1-2 in Washington. NBTA also conveyed plans for its inaugural Sports TravelConference, set for July 12-13 in Indianapolis, to address "travel professionals working in athletics at all levels and across all sports."
NBTA's annual convention and exposition in 2012 is scheduled for August in Denver.
Not Just Your Annual Awards, Votes And Certifications ...
New this year in Houston was a conference app for mobile devices and "innovation" awards highlighting mobile tools. Sponsored by BCD Travel and made by QuickMobile, the app provided schedules, speaker bios, attendee messaging and lots of other information. The NBTA/ Wall Street Journalinnovation award for business travel, as selected by a panel of judges, went to WorldMate's Live Mobile Travel Software, which "tracks every trip and sends real-time alerts about itinerary updates and changes, including flight delays and cancellations," according to NBTA.
Other innovation award winners as decided by popular voteincluded Continental Airlines for its mobile boarding pass and TripIt's Travel Organizer.
In other developments, NBTA highlighted the first-ever graduating class of its Strategic Meetings Management Certificationprogram. Twenty-nine travel and meetings professionals earned the SMMC designation, "denoting excellence in the theory and practice of Strategic Meetings Management."
Meanwhile, the NBTA Foundation and meetings technology provider StarCite detailed "a new model" for strategic meetings management programs, meant to help companies determine their level of SMMP status and next steps in program development. The model is based on "a successful framework for software development created at Carnegie Mellon University" and provides best practices, benchmarking and case studies.
New reports issued in conjunction with the convention included a study on taxation for car rentals, hotel stays and meals in the 50 largest U.S. cities. According to the NBTA Foundation's research findings, travelers to Boston and Portland, Ore., face the highest "discriminatory" travel taxesin the United States, above $21 per day. Orange County, Calif., levies the lowest discriminatory tax total on travel services, $2.19 on average per day, followed by eight other California cities. McCormick told delegates that Congress "must" pass a federal bill "to stop incessant travel taxation, specifically car rental taxes that are used to create new revenue sources for the pet projects of the state and local politicians."
According to another study issued by the NBTA Foundation, business travel spending around the world "will reach $896 billion in 2010, up 6.2 percent from the recessionary low of $844 billion in 2009." By 2014, spending is expected to hit $1.2 trillion. Growth in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East will outpace North America and Europe, according to the NBTA Foundation's report.
Also, NBTA issued a paper on traveler tracking and risk management solutions and previewed another on how to measure the effectiveness of managed hotel programs.
... And Plenty Of The Usual Awards, Votes And Certifications
Getting In On The ACTE
As NBTA was doing its thing, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives took the opportunity to make a few of its own announcements during a press conference in Houston last week. ACTE said it reached a deal with Business Travel Market in which ACTE becomes "the exclusive provider of educational content" for BTM's U.K. conference and BTM "will exclusively manage the execution of the soon-to-be transformed TransACTE program." According to BTM, its 2011 conference in London will attract "around 3,000 non-hosted corporates, agencies and suppliers from every sector of the business travel and meeting industries [and] up to 500 VIP hosted buyers."
ACTE also announced that its spring conference would be held April 10-12 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City. Executive director Ron DiLeo claimed, "Our industry needs new material, and ACTE is going to lead that charge."
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