March 22 2013 by Bryson Forbes
Monday, March 11th marked the 7th annual Business Travel Summit in Toronto, held once again at the Board of Trade. The annual event that is coordinated by Best Western has become a barometer for corporate in travel in Canada. I was honoured to once again be the moderator for another engaging discussion from a very impressive panel.
This year's panel included Summit veteran's Dorothy Dowling, Best Western's Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing as well as Tanya Racz, President of the GBTA (Global Business Travel Association) for Canada. The panel also included two rookie's Brian Robertson, COO of Vision 2000 Travel and Michael Koetting, Executive Vice President of Supplier Management for Concur and Trip It.
By all indications the state of corporate travel in Canada is looking very positive according to all the panelists. Number of trips, room nights and even rates are all up. Corporate Canada is back on the road and in some industries even setting new records.
Much of the discussion revolved around the changing travel behavior particularly with more women and more "Millennials" travelling than ever before. Businesses are much more aware of their "duty of care" when it comes to their employees and their well being while away from home.
The travel industry also has to react to these behavioural changes with much focus on mobile use, peer reviews and social networking as well as new online players like Google, apple and Facebook.
Dorothy Dowling from Best Western made a real important distinction between loyalty and frequency programs that landed with everyone in the room. Although Canadians love and embrace these programs, including the very popular Best Western Rewards program, they reward frequency and not necessarily loyalty. These programs do indeed continue to influence behavior but Brian Robertson opined that "recognition and service benefits, like easier check in, are as if not more important than points."
The panel concluded with everyone's outlook for the next twelve months and without exception the forecast is optimistic. In a turbulent and ever changing industry it's nice to see the industry leaders all on the same page and bracing for growth.
What do you feel will be the hot corporate travel topics in the next year?