Travel Leaders Executive Forum Reveals Industry Trends and Insight

L-R: Roger E. Block, CTC – President, Travel Leaders Franchise Group; Mike Koetting - EVP Supplier & TMC Service, Concur; Peter Thomson - Vice President, Travel Leaders Franchise Group
L-R: Roger E. Block, CTC – President, Travel Leaders Franchise Group; Mike Koetting - EVP Supplier & TMC Service, Concur; Peter Thomson - Vice President, Travel Leaders Franchise Group // All photos by Travel Leaders

Earlier this month, Travel Leaders ( conducted its second annual Executive Forum. Nearly 80 participants – including Travel Leaders members and their premier corporate clients, as well as top travel industry executives – convened at the Four Seasons Chicago on March 12-13.

The goal? This two-day executive program gave participants a chance to learn about current industry trends and gain insight into the future of business travel. 

"As an annual participant in the Executive Forum, the event continues to grow and exhibit the many strengths of the Travel Leaders brand,” said Jay Ellenby, Travel Leaders, Bel Air, Maryland, a branch of Tzell. “Not only did we get an opportunity to showcase our abilities, it once again enabled us to get even closer to our clients and to really understand their needs."


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One of the more eye-opening presentations was delivered by Scott Ackerman of Travel Guard who spoke about “Safe and Informed Travelers in a Challenging World,” Travel Leaders noted in a press release. The travel agency franchise group stressed that the “Duty of Care” concept is particularly critical for businesses today and client attendees realized that there is considerable work to be done in this area.

In addition, Doreen Burse from Marriott provided a detailed look at the evolving landscape of managed travel and the next generation of travelers (Millennials). Mike Koetting of Concur discussed today’s travel “eco system” and how new platforms for collecting data can broaden the ecosystem and connect more resources together for the benefit of business travelers.

The forum also included a client panel discussion about company travel policies and how the companies of the attendees can better balance the needs of their travelers with their corporate policies and practices. 

“Travel Leaders’ Executive Forum is a nice way to spend time outside of the board room with our most important accounts," emphasized David Underwood, Travel Leaders, Carnegie, Pennsylvania, a branch of Tzell. He said it was important to attend with clients to demonstrate the value and resources of the Travel Leaders network.

Underwood continued: "The forum was very educational and enlightening to our accounts – an expertly managed meeting together with a first class venue and thought provoking content made it a wonderful experience.”

From another perspective, “one of the primary reasons we joined Travel Leaders was due to the tremendous number of corporate travel tools and resources at our disposal, as well as a wealth of experience, knowledge and supplier connections they bring to the table,” explained Karen Dunlap, Travel Leaders, Beltsville, Maryland. She said her clients who attended now have a much better sense of the Travel Leaders brand and an understanding of what it means to work with a Travel Leaders franchisee. 

“Nearly 93 percent of the corporate clients participating this year rated our forum as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good,’ which demonstrates the enormous value this award-winning event provides to our Travel Leaders members and helps elevate their stature and relationships with their top business travel clients,” stated Roger Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group. “We like to say we are an extension of our members’ agencies, and the forum is just one of many programs and tools that we offer through our Business Travel Center of Excellence to help our corporate travel-focused agencies attract and retain more and more clients. By assisting our Travel Leaders agencies in enhancing and strengthening their client relationships, we – in turn – are able to strengthen ours with our members.”

The portfolio of subjects covered during the forum included:

  • "The Travel Industry in 2014" – Roger Block, president, Travel Leaders Franchise Group;
  • "What We Do Together Matters" – Mike Fegley, vice president, America sales, IHG;
  • "Safe and Informed Travelers in a Challenging World" – Scott Ackerman, senior vice president, retail sales, Travel Guard;
  • "A 21st Century Managed Travel Eco-System – Mike Koetting, executive vice president of supplier and TMC Services, Concur;
  • Managed Travel, Mobility and Millennials: The Evolving Landscape" – Doreen Burse, vice president, global sales, Marriott International;
  • "Payment Solutions in a Changing World – Jessica Nonemaker, regional sales manager, AirPlus;
  • "A New Airline Industry World – Dave Hilfman, senior vice president, worldwide sales, United Airlines;
  • "Getting Up to Speed on Car Rental – Ron Cerko, vice president of travel industry relations, Enterprise Holdings;
  • "Insight from an Overseas Based Airline – Jim Hartnett, VP alliances Americas, Etihad Airways;
  • "The Future of Content and Merchandising" – Ron Cole, vice president of sales, Travelport; and
  • "Why Consider a Managed Ground Transportation Program – Tim Gregory, director of travel industry sales, Carey International..

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