This month saw the global business travel community gathered at the GBTA Convention in San Diego from 14 – 17 August. The theme was “(Re)connect, (Re)imagine and (Re)create”, with a focus on how the industry has recovered post-pandemic and is now back in full force and looking ahead to the future.
The convention held up to that focus, with over 4,600 registered attendees from 50 countries, and over 2,600 exhibitors and sponsors across the four-day event. It was certainly demonstrative of the global confidence in the return to business travel, with the sheer size and scale of the convention something that’s not been seen over the past three years.
GBTA’s rebrand was launched at the convention
Our own COO David Bishop and CCO Warren Dix were in attendance, meeting with a wealth of industry peers and corporate travel managers, seeing what GBTA had to offer and representing the Gray Dawes brand.
Two key areas stood out for them both as recurrent themes from their time at the convention, both from the conversations they were having and the content on offer: sustainability and NDC.
Sustainability has been high on the agenda of most businesses for some time now. With many pointing the brightest “green spotlight” on CO2 output, it’s understandable that travel (and specifically air travel) has been a real focus, and something of an easy target.
But the era of checkbox exercises appears to be coming to an end. Businesses now want to gain a much fuller picture of their sustainability position as a whole and want to be effective in driving sustainability policies that can make a real difference. The cessation of travel during the pandemic highlighted its environmental impact and as companies have started to travel again the desire to do so in as sustainable a way as possible has been amplified.
When considering business travel’s CO2 spend, there’s really three core aspects to focus on:
- Reporting of CO2 spend to understand the current business position
- Reduction of CO2 by looking at policy and implementing solutions such as multimodal options
- Looking at how best to offset once you truly understand your CO2 output
The good news is that the industry is rising to meet these challenges, with more and more technology bringing CO2 spend to the forefront and TMCs offering practical solutions. At Gray Dawes, this is something we’ve been passionate about for some time and our Legacy programme meets each of the three core aspects head on.
Legacy currently offers reporting based on the UK standard for CO2 data – Defra’s greenhouse gas protocol, which is based on government approved averages. However, we’ve recognised the potential for improvement in this model, and by the end of the year will be offering even deeper levels of data insight into the environmental impact of clients business travel.
As part of our standard service we review travel trends alongside client travel policies to provide tailored, practical advice to reduce their environmental impact. And, by working with Forest Carbon, we’re able to offer a range of offsetting options for clients to counteract their CO2 spend with projects both here in the UK and around the world. These sorts of offerings will become more and more prevalent. By taking a sustainable-first approach, not only will corporates reduce their footprint, but the travel industry itself can demonstrate environmental awareness and ensure a continued future for the benefits that business travel provides.
We were delighted that NDC took something of a step into the spotlight once more at the convention. The winner of the 2022 Travel Manager of the Year award, Visa’s senior director of global sourcing Kim Hamer, was specifically recognised for having delivered the first real NDC integration at scale via a TMC in the US.
The New Distribution Capability is actually not that new anymore, having debuted over a decade ago. But, as with any emerging technology, it’s taken time to develop and for some to grasp the opportunity to seize the benefits it offers. Within the world of TMC’s, some have even actively avoided or eschewed NDC for fear of the change it could bring to working practices.
In contrast to that, at Gray Dawes we’ve been at the forefront of the technology for some time, offering NDC solutions to our clients for over four years. In fact, we’ve gained such a reputation with NDC that airlines will often come to us for advice on integration and roll out.
So, it’s encouraging to see NDC becoming more established – and celebrated – around the world. This is something that we’ll likely see more of as NDC adoption rises and technology continues to evolve to help harness the opportunities that it offers.
Gray Dawes on a global stage
One final key takeaway that David and Warren were both pleased to report was the positive perception that people have of Gray Dawes at this international scale.
As our CEO Suzanne Horner recently revealed, Gray Dawes is very much on a global journey, with a mission to bring our outstanding levels of service to a worldwide audience through our global expansion strategy.
So, it was encouraging to hear that the work we’ve done on delivering an extraordinary service, throughout equally extraordinary times, has been recognised internationally. The work that has been put in to emerge from the pandemic in a real position of strength has not gone unnoticed.
As we build our own global platform, there’s clearly an audience of global business travel buyers with a keen interest in an alternative to the approach of the mega-sized global TMCs. Providing a truly global reach without compromising our trademark high touch, personal service will meet a real demand. We’re looking forward to getting started.
To help you navigate the changes of business travel, we’ve created the brand-new Traveller Toolkit. This invaluable online resource is packed full of easy-to-use guides and checklists for every stage of every journey. We detail exactly what you need to know and do before, during and after your trip in a post-pandemic, post Brexit world.
You can even check the travel restrictions and health status of your destination with our comprehensive COVID-19 Country Tracker, updated five times daily to ensure you have the very latest information to help keep you and your travellers safe.
Travel is changing. With common sense and a good TMC behind you, travellers can have the confidence to once again take to the skies. It’ll soon be back business as (un)usual.