Another Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) convention has wrapped up, and the EmpireCLS team was so thrilled to be a part of it! Once again, we were kept busy meeting new and existing clients and connecting with industry influencers.

This year, the event showcased over 400 exhibiting companies (including EmpireCLS!), an agenda featuring more than 100 education and professional development sessions and over 7,000 attendees representing more than 50 countries. From panel sessions and presentations to workshops and roundtable discussions, GBTA 2018 featured a plethora of information and insights geared towards driving the industry forward and into the future. We found that there were major focuses on technology, wellness and physical and digital security, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the hottest topics that were talked about at the event.

 

The Importance of Wellness

Business travel can be seen as beneficial for some people, but for most, it’s tiring and stressful. If you’ve ever been sick during a business trip or been so jetlagged that you couldn’t think clearly, then you likely understand how the health impacts of business travel can affect your ability to perform well when it matters most. In fact, frequent business travel has been linked to poorer behavioral and mental health, higher blood pressure, lower high-density lipoprotein, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and alcohol dependence. Various sessions at GBTA discussed information like this, highlighted the correlation between wellness and business success and did a fantastic job of educating attendees on effective strategies and tactics to help reduce the negative health impacts of business travel.

 

GDPR and Data Security

The nature of the business travel industry somewhat necessitates the gathering of peoples’ data through the process of registration, marketing, travel programs, and even information on dining or accommodation preferences. The implications of any attack on the significant quantity of data held by business travel organizers could be catastrophic. In an effort to enhance digital security, the European Union (EU) established the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to serve as a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU. Whilst these new rules have been put in place by the EU, any company operating outside of its jurisdiction must still comply with these new regulations in the very likely event that US-based companies are ever doing business within the EU, or if EU citizens are traveling within the US. With multiple educational sessions dedicated to GDPR and data security, this was a major topic of discussion at GBTA.

 

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies are changing the way we travel. The rise of innovations like Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics and Blockchain, as well as Augmented and Virtual Reality, are gaining momentum and causing significant transformations across the industry. At GBTA, attendees had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with these, and other, technologies that can offer new opportunities for organizations that choose to utilize them.

At EmpireCLS, for example, we’re building new mobile experiences for travelers and affiliates. For travelers, our app delivers a modern, mobile option for booking our luxury executive transportation services. When it comes to operators, EmpireCLS’ mobile platform aims to help them compete. In a recent interview with The Company Dime, our EVP Joey Phelps stated, “If you’re a one- or two-car operator, you can download an app, be vetted and then you can turn on the app with the possibility of passengers for you every day… The expansion possibilities are as endless as there are operators in the industry.”

 

Risk Management

In 2018, risk management, safety and Duty of Care still remains a major issue in business travel. There are a number of potential threats that come as part of traveling to exotic and unfamiliar destinations. Whilst potential risks, such as natural disasters and data breaches, should certainly not be overlooked, the main hot-button topic in GBTA discussions over possible threat levels and impact upon business travelers’ safety and welfare are concerns around the possibility of threats of domestic and international terrorist attacks. During this year’s conference, we saw a number of educational sessions that provided safety and security resource materials and advice on how organizations can prepare travelers for code red situations, as well as discussions around the state of safety when it comes to business travel. In fact, our Chairman/CEO David Seelinger sat down with GBTA Industry Voices to discuss this topic, amongst others that are currently trending in the business travel and chauffeured transportation realm.

 

 

For business travelers seeking an extra layer of protection, EmpireCLS can be your security partner when experiences command a heightened need for protection. In addition to giving business travelers luxury transportation with the same hospitality service you’d expect from the world’s best five-star hotels, we offer a suite of high-level security options through our SecureCar division.

Before your trip, the EmpireCLS team confirms your itinerary and relevant contact information, as well as the backgrounds of your transportation team. The program leverages:

  • Experienced, English-speaking agents that anticipate, recognize and discreetly neutralize any potential situations. These specialists are experienced in providing security protection for high-profile executives, dignitaries, and entertainment clientele, meaning they are perfectly placed to offer the same comprehensive level of security protection anytime, anywhere.
  • Specialized vehicles, ranging from sedans to armored SUVs. These vehicles feature ballistic glass, run-flat tires, enhanced suspension, and integrated armored plating for extra security.
  • Security chauffeurs, trained in evasive driving maneuvers such as tactically positioning multiple vehicles with blacked out windows in order to minimize any potential hazards, that remain at the wheel throughout your trip
  • Planning specialists that conduct risk assessments, route mapping and due diligence on destinations 36 – 48 hours prior to your trip, specifically based on local government and travel intelligence, as well as on clients’ particular industries

We hope that everyone who attended GBTA 2018 got the chance to connect with fellow professionals within the industry and get caught up on the latest global business travel trends. Here at EmpireCLS, we can’t wait to see what next year’s event brings!