< PrevNext > Susan Lichtenstein, Travel and Meetings Society Founder Collaboration Guru By Donna M. Airoldi / December 10, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share Little did DigiTravel Consulting managing partner Susan Lichtenstein know when she wrote a LinkedIn post asking for volunteers from the buyer and supplier sides of the industry to form a travel and meetings task force as a response to the effects of Covid-19 on business travel that the interest that post generated would turn into what is now a collaborative, independent grassroots society with about 2,500 members from around the world. "It took off like crazy," Lichtenstein told BTN. "People liked that buyers and suppliers were working together, with no power plays or politics." Forty percent of the members are buyers, and 70 percent are women, she said. "Naturally, we didn't go looking for that; they said their voices weren't being heard." Lichtenstein, a 2017 inductee into the BTN Hall of Fame, acknowledged that providing a collaborative environment takes work. "We know this because we've never had something like it before in corporate travel," she said. "We have to focus on that as part of our goals, then to educate and disrupt the business travel [industry] and take it to the next level."As of November, TAMS—Travel and Meetings Society—had 11 active working committees: community and engagement, data, diversity inclusion and equity, finance, governance, innovation and disruption, mentoring, marketplace, sustainability, technology, and training and development. There's also a verticals team to make sure all industries within travel, like air, hotel and ground, are represented. TAMS released its Standards of Safety in Business Travel document in early summer, with input from buyers, suppliers and consultants. It provided protocols across eight areas in three categories that represented the health crisis phases from most to least severe. Next came a communication guide to build a strategy to engage and educate travelers. In November, it released a diversity conversation toolkit. In mid-November, Lichtenstein said a marketplace was about to open "where suppliers can have short videos and buyers can go in anonymously and reach out." She added that she is proud and honored to be a part of TAMS and see it grow on its own. "We get new members every day," she said, and mentioned a full Google suite of available calendars, events, and papers. "All meetings are posted for the public," she said. "We have 100 percent transparency, not just to each other but to the public. That doesn't happen normally."The society has been together for six months. "I learn so much every day," Lichtenstein said. "I've never seen anything move so fast and the work be so innovative and disruptive. It's not the same old training, or here's another [request for proposals] tool. That is not us. We are creating what is next. It's so important to give back to the industry, as well as have heart and soul."