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GBTA and VDR wrap up successful Berlin conference with record attendance

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) concluded their highly successful joint event last week bringing together more than 850 delegates from more than 20 countries breaking all attendance records.


From the outset delegates were urged to step outside their comfort zone and seize new opportunities. Burkhard Kieker, CEO, Visit Berlin, talked about his own personal experience of the night the Berlin Wall fell – an extraordinary event initiated by ordinary people. Then keynote speaker Debra Searle challenged delegates to shift their comfort zone and choose their attitude.

The conference featured a diverse range of C-level speakers including a Luminary interview with Concur’s COO and President, Raj Singh; an airline panel featuring Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair and Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates; and the accommodation technology panel comprised of Federico Gonzales, CEO, NH Hotels Group; Tobias Ragge, CEO, HRS; and Christopher Cederskog, Regional Manager, Airbnb.

“GBTA and VDR saw an opportunity in combining the GBTA Europe conference and VDR’s Herbsttagung and created Europe’s biggest conference in business travel this year,” said Catherine McGavock, GBTA’s Regional Director – EMEA. “Our Centre Stage sessions became master classes in disruption as many of the key individuals driving change within business travel shared their views on how walls are tumbling across the industry and new opportunities are springing up in their wake. As Debra Searle said at the outset – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. We hope delegates will leave Berlin with an insight to the opportunities open to them and the courage to act upon these.”

“The first joint conference here in Berlin represents a milestone for the European business travel community. It is clear that mobility issues do not stop at national borders. That was our motivation to create a Europe-wide event that is interesting enough to bring all involved together,” says Dirk Gerdom, President of the German Business Travel Association VDR. “The travel business world is changing and also the associations must reposition themselves so VDR has defined business mobility as a future focus.”

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