The GBTA conference featured 37 limo operators this year. (Pictured, Empire CLS’s Michael Burnett, Edward Martinez, Abbie Siek, and Seth Marcus.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Global Business Travel Association’s Convention held August 4-7, showcases some of the most prominent industry leaders all converging together to talk about the future of the business travel market. The event featured a number of high-profile speakers including Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and pop singer Jewel, and also had in-depth seminars and discussions on important topics for the industry like managing travel data and understanding compliance issues.
The theme of the event was “No Boundaries,” and one of the main issues brought up was a vote to disband the GBTA’s Allied Leadership Council. Head of the council, Dav El President and CEO Scott Solombrino, gave impassioned testimony for the benefits of keeping the council as is, and in the end, the vote failed and the balance of power between the Allied and Directs (buyers) remains as is.
There were a total of 37 limo operators exhibiting at the show, coming from markets all across the U.S., and representing affiliate networks from around the world. When asked about the overall tone of this year’s event compared to previous years, many reported that this year presented them with an increase in qualified leads, while others said that they have seen a trend in more last minute scheduling than in years before.
Anthony and Zach Solombrino of Dav El, who are sons of CEO Scott Solombrino, echoed this by saying it has been an increased challenge for them to accommodate late minute bookings, and that they feel the trend is industry wide.
Vehicles were also on display, with Bauer’sIT of San Francisco showcasing a new Tesla S on the show floor. The company will be implementing the vehicle into its large livery fleet in the Bay area, one of the first limo operators to take on the all-electric vehicle.
And Mears Global’s Bret Voisin, voiced his concerns on whether the new MKT would fully replace the aging Town Car, which is about to be making its way out of most fleets as it approaches the end of its typical livery life cycle of 3-4 years.
Destination and travel management companies were there, and spoke about procedures on how they vet limo operators before contracting with them. Erik Shor of Ultramar Travel Management relayed what his clients look for in regards to insurance, driver training, and safety in a limo operation.
Be sure to check out the next GBTA Convention, scheduled for July 27-30, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
SLIDESHOW OF OPERATORS AT GBTA CONVENTION
— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor