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Travel 11th December 2018 - 5 min read

GBTA the PredictX way: Berlin edition

By Joni Lindes

On the 27th to the 29th November, the annual GBTA Europe conference took place in Berlin – this time sponsored by VDR. This nine-year old conference hosted tasty debate around NDC, women in business travel, the role of innovative technology, building a brand and even included a gameplan to change traveller behaviour. PredictX attended the event, absorbed the learnings and can now deliver a full recap on the debate, the fun and the nuggets of insight in between.

What happened on stage?


Bestselling author, consultant and keynote speaker Peter Fisk opened the conference with his keynote speech on how the new generation of businesses are game-changers in the travel industry. Through ambition and innovation as a philosophy, these new businesses think bigger and engage audiences in inspiring and relevant ways. Brands and networks are their key ingredient in building not only a market but a movement as a whole.

The next event to take place on centre stage was the Successful Women Leading in Business Travel session. Three senior business travel leaders including Accorhotels’ Managing Director Daniela Schade, Sabre’s VP of Marketing Emma Wilson, Senior Vice President of Sales Heike Birlenbach plus Best Western Hotels’ Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Dorothy Dowling discussed the unique opportunities and challenges they face as women in the travel industry.

“A commonality of all these stories is that there isn’t a definitive path for any woman,” said Dorothy Dowling in her interview on GBTA Industry Voices. GBTA has recently acquired career development network WINit and is on a path to assist women’s career in travel.


Wednesday was by far the busiest day of the conference with much education on all sides of the travel ecosystem including, but not limited to, airlines, travel managers and technology providers.

IATA predicts the number of air passengers flying globally will double by 2016. This was the chief topic of discussion in the centre stage Airline C-level panel – the 2020 vision on Aviation on day two of GBTA Berlin. Sponsored by Airbnb for Work, Digital Drums CEO was joined by Executives from the Lufthansa Group, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic to discuss issues relating to the future of air travel. Rumour has it that NDC is going to be just as controversial as Brexit.

“NDC is driving a change in technology to ultimately serve the customer,” said Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen. NDC will give travellers or customers the power of choice which has ramifications in spend and compliance management.

The afternoon saw a focus on buyers in Turning the tables; buyers take centre stage. BCD Travel’s Yannis Karms, Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Global Travel, Gehan Colliander plus Head of Global Travel for UBS, Mark Cuschieri educated us on taking the reins on a travel programme and looking to the future. Cuschieri believes programmes should be traveller considered, be partnered with the right people, and, of course, be data driven.

We, as a data analytics provider for UBS’s travel programme, could not be more happy to be supplying such forward-thinking innovators in travel.

“Being a mature programme is not an excuse for not innovating” said Gerhan Colliander. This group of buyers were determined to be forward-thinking – with the utmost belief of taking calculated risks in a travel programme – putting you ahead of the curve.

Lunchtime was accompanied by an inspirational talk: Minding your own business: influence for success delivered by international lecturer, researcher and mentalist, David Meade. Using science we can understand how we make decisions to accelerate the performance of your team and organisation as a whole.

The entire conference audience got the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with industry peers while cracking on with key industry issues in the interactive workshop named The Big Idea: *New Format*.

Although centre stage promoted much thought and debate, PredictX was happy to participate in leading thought and change around the topic of flight disruptions and behaviour analytics in our own Product Director Simon Carmouche’s two educational sessions: The Financial Impact of Flight Disruptions and Behaviour: the Final Frontier.

The Financial Impact of Flight Disruptions

We combined and analysed data generated from a well-known F500 company plus airline operational data generated by FlightGlobal to provide a unique glimpse into the true impact of flight disruptions on a managed travel programme. Our Simon Carmouche was joined by Vice President of Product at Flightglobal, Robyn Grassanovits and Senior Category Manager for Roche, Christian Guex. The total cost of flight disruption was determined to cost a travel programme $3 million and impact 14% of total flight tickets.

The outcome was that, with policy changes, changes in the supply chain as well as biases in booking tools that will not favour chronically delayed flights, this cost can be driven down.

Behaviour: the Final Frontier

Carmouche was joined on this panel by Nina and Pinta Partner, Jo loyd and Head of Global Travel Technology Partnerships for, Josh Wood.


All three had one question on their lips: have you ever wondered if you can influence traveller behaviour? It turns out that persuasion and behaviour change is not a gift granted to a lucky few. Rather, through traveller segmentation analytics separating travellers into personas plus Behaviour Science techniques, travel managers can use targeted, strategised messaging to change behaviour. Next up: improved policy compliance!


While buyers combed through the tradeshow floor, supplier marketing experts Louise Kilgannon from our partner, Festive Road, along with WINit’s Dawn Repli and Director of Supplier Marketing for Concur, gave us an education on building a personal brand in their own Supplier Masterclass.

Later on we were treated to a one-to-one interview with Konstantin Sixt and Executive Director and COO for GBTA, Mike McCormick, where they spoke on ground transportation trends and the overarching need for end-to-end solutions. They discussed a need for the on-demand driver hailing in the Sixt app.

Thursday closed with The Accommodation Panel. They want to know how technology has impacted the way accommodation companies meet the needs of the business traveller.

Nuggets of insight: onstage and in the crowd

While much took place on stage, the crowd was buzzing with industry news and gossip. We happened to overhear just a bit of it:

“AI and machine learning are really good at putting together a great policy and driving compliance on that. There is this feeling there is more that they can do, certainly in capturing some savings,” said General Manager of Sales for EMEA, Yapta.

Festive Road Managing Partner Caroline Strachan was supportive of Cuschieri’s appearance on the Buyer’s centrestage panel. Could predictive analytics be the next big thing?

Machine learning, AI and blockchain were discussed as some of the chief industry disruptors:

With an empty center stage and an abandoned tradeshow floor, GBTA Berlin finally came to a close. We cannot wait to see what is in store for GBTA Berlin in 2019!

Joni Lindes
By Joni Lindes
5 min read

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