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The event took place at the Van der Valk Hotel Brussels Airport

A joint educational endeavor between ACTE and BATM

A joint educational endeavor between the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and the Belgian Association of Travel Management (BATM) opened to a “sold-out” crowd, on 22 February 2010, at the Van der Valk Hotel Brussels Airport. One hundred twenty-one business travel management executives – 60 percent of whom were corporate travel buyers/managers – convened to get the latest assessment on global distribution system developments (GDS), the most current approach to controlling unbundled/ancillary fees, and to evaluate the most effective strategies for traveller security.

“Whilst the official theme of the event was, ‘Eyes Wide Open: Facing Uncertainty in Business Travel,’ the mood of the participants was anything but uncertain,” said ACTE President Richard Crum. “After 18 months of uncertainty in the global business travel sector, the delegates of this event were a force majeure in the strictest sense of the definition, with the objective to eliminate or reduce those factors that would inhibit recovery in our industry.”

The event began with a welcoming address from Corrado Simontacchi, Manager, Corporate Purchasing Goods and Services, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, for Huntsman who was also the moderator of the event; and from Pascal Struyve,Global Travel, Fleet & Meeting Services Director, Trane – Ingersoll Rand, and President of the BATM.

The agenda opened with a Keynote Presentation titled, “The Distribution Landscape: Trends and Strategies.” Conducted by Daniel Greaves, Distribution Strategy Manager, Airlines for Amadeus IT Group SA, it covered current trends in airline distribution, the emergence of multi-channel distribution (its challenges and opportunities), the new direction in airline consolidation, and the impact of unbundled ancillary fees. A recent ACTE survey indicates that unbundled fees may now constitute as much as 20 percent of a corporate travel budget.

The keynote presentation was followed by an interactive discussion on unbundled and ancillary fees. These issues, and more accurately how to deal with them remains one of the most pressing common challenges shared by business travel managers around the world. The second part of the program covered security issues, in a session titled, “Risk Management: Safety and Security Strategies for Business Travel.” The discussion began with recommendations such as assigning management responsibility, identifying types of risk, and assessing risk exposure, and moved onto whether it was more appropriate to mitigate or manage risk, the steps to developing a critical crisis communications policy, and the steps to implementing an auditing process. Commenting on the education content of the forum, Wolter van Houwelingen, Travel Manager Benelux at Unilever, said, “Excellent Forum with extremely timely topics. Great attendance with many corporate buyers and a very good case study from Dupont.”

“I  thank and congratulate the event’s planning committee and BATM for their vision and boldness in addressing these issues together with ACTE ,” stated Christine Dunton-Tinnus, ACTE Regional Director, Europe. Committee members include:
– Yves Galimidi, Global Travel Purchaser, Ikea
– Sophie Van Haute, Board Executive BATM
– Xavier Houart, European Travel Center Manager, Atlas Copco
– Adam Radwanski, Regional Business Analyst, Qatar Airways
– Corrado Simontacchi, Manager, Corporate Purchasing Goods and Services, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific, Huntsman
– Pascal Struyve, President, BATM; Global Travel, Fleet & Meeting Services Director, Trane – Ingersoll Rand

Suppliers also found this recent event fertile ground for investment, as it provided a buyer-to-supplier ratio that was nearly double the industry average, but fairly standard for ACTE events in Europe. “Thumbs up and a big thanks for a great event in Brussels” stated Jeroen van der Velde, Commercial Director, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “Top speakers, great preparation, good crowd, excellent work.”

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