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On the heels of an investigation into CEO Scott Solombrino
for alleged workplace misconduct and just days after appointing Dave Hilfman as
interim CEO, the Global Business Travel Association board of directors today will announce the cancellation
of the organization's 2020 convention, which was scheduled for November at the
Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
In an email obtained by BTN addressed to "colleagues
and friends," the board called the decision "one of the most
difficult decisions our association has ever faced. Please be aware that this
announcement will be shared shortly with GBTA members and other important
The note went on to thank the state of Colorado, the city of
Denver, the Colorado Convention Center and Visit Denver, the state's destination
marketing organization, for "their
significant assistance exploring all viable options for this year's convention."
It went on to say the Colorado Convention Center no longer would be available Nov.
7-11 to host the event.
The state in April leased the convention center to construct
a field hospital to take overflow patients, if needed, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Denver
News9, the state will retain the field hospital, which has yet to see any
patients, in case of a second wave of Covid-19 this summer or fall. Some
Covid-19 models for the state show a peak in late September. According to the
News9 report, the state's lease runs through the end of the year.
It is unclear whether there will be any virtual option for
the November conference, but the email did not seem to hold hope for an
alternative, referencing only a 2021 convention when addressing GBTA's next
"In the next few
days, we will be contacting you with further information regarding next steps,"
it read. "Until then, we appreciate your patience with us regarding any
decisions about this year or about your role in GBTA Convention 2021 set for
Orlando from July 17 through July 21, 2021."
The letter did not offer
information about refunds for sponsorships, exhibition space or registration,
which many in the industry—particularly suppliers—have been waiting on.
The news of the GBTA's convention cancellation comes just
two days after the business travel industry's other membership organization,
the Association of Corporate Travel Executives,
announced it would cease operations, citing the dual devastation of the
Covid-19 pandemic, which sank its 2020 conference that was slated for April in
New York, along with security issues in Hong Kong that forced the organization to
abandon its Asia conference last year.
Embroiled in the
Solombrino investigation, having faced significant layoffs earlier in the year
and with questions lingering about how to reform the organization—all within
the context of a global pandemic that has decimated the business travel
industry—GBTA will have much on its to-do list for the remainder of the year
under the leadership of interim CEO Hilfman, whose tenure is reportedly set to
last six months.
In closing, the board's
letter asked for patience and support.
working together as we have in the past," it read, "we will navigate
this situation safely and in the best way to move forward as an association."
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