GBTA + VDR Europe Conference 2023 Spotlights Sustainable Growth and Innovation in Business Travel

Monday, 27.11.2023
The GBTA + VDR Europe Conference 2023 in Hamburg brought together 1,100 business travel professionals from 29 countries.
Foto: Hamburg Messe und Congress/Piet Niemann

Foto: Hamburg Messe und Congress/Piet Niemann

The GBTA + VDR Europe Conference 2023, held at the CCH-Congress Center in Hamburg, Germany, reportedly served as a focal point for Europe’s business travel community, drawing nearly 1,100 professionals from 29 countries, including 275 travel buyers. Organized by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the German Business Travel Association, VDR, the conference provided a platform for exploration, discussion, and networking on the current and future state of the business travel sector in the region.

The event, which featured 61 exhibiting companies and over 90 speakers across 26 sessions, covered a spectrum of timely topics. These ranged from purposeful meetings and events, travel compliance, and sustainability to Europe’s multimodal movement, artificial intelligence, business traveler behavior, next-generation workforces, and diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI). Noteworthy additions to this year’s conference included a dedicated sustainability day, committee roundtable talks, a buyers’ breakfast, a GBTA Member Activation Zone, and a Connect First Lounge for first-time attendees.

Sustainability took a prominent position at the forefront of discussions, with the conference opening dedicated to three hours of sustainability speakers, panels, and sessions. Keynote sessions added a unique dimension to the conference, with music veteran Ric Salmon drawing parallels between the evolution of the music and business travel industries. A thought-provoking and moving inspirational keynote titled “Everybody’s Got a Dream” urged attendees to embrace a more inclusive society for a kinder, richer world. The closing keynote, “Finding the Balance Between Corporate Needs & Traveler Expectations,” delved into technology, climate change, shifts in work models, and the rise of the “purposeful traveler.”

The conference also focused on cultivating industry talent and future workforces in the region. GBTA announced a regional WINiT program, emphasizing local mentoring, professional development, and networking. Additionally, Season 10 of the GBTA Ladders was launched, providing industry professionals with opportunities to elevate their careers, expand industry knowledge, and grow their global network.

GBTA unveiled the business travel regional forecast for Europe, predicting steady growth, with business travel reaching $314 billion USD in 2024, representing 94% of pre-pandemic levels. The forecast suggested surpassing 2019 spending levels by 2025, reaching $414.9 billion. Factors influencing this growth include pent-up demand, hybrid work models, the return of travel and meetings, and more stable economic conditions. Additionally, a GBTA survey indicated that business travelers estimate an average spend of $888 per business trip.

The next edition is scheduled for November 4-6, 2024, in Copenhagen, Denmark.