Q&A: ACTE conference preview
BBT talks to ACTE’s executive director Greeley Koch about the organisation’s upcoming Global Summit in London 
What are your travel buyer members’ key concerns at the moment, and how will these be addressed at the 2017 conference in London?  
Travel buyers currently face two major challenges: the evolving needs and expectations of their travellers, as well as the need to make significant near-term changes in response to broader industry issues.
On the first front, we’ve conducted several research studies that indicate the modern business traveller is seeking flexibility and quality of life more than ever. The second concern is one of nimbleness. The industry itself is undergoing rapid change: the approval of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Brexit are weighing on our European members. Other worries include unclear US policies with global impact, such as its immigration ban. 
All of these require travel managers to pivot quickly – renegotiating supplier contracts, updating travel policies and investing in how they run their travel programmes.
While these challenges are daunting, they also offer travel managers the opportunity to take a growing leadership role in their organisations, effectively demonstrating the value they bring in terms of savings and traveller service. The ACTE London conference will explore how technology can help travel managers seize this opportunity.
What’s new for 2017, and what highlights should we keep an eye out for?
The conference will leverage our ‘Spokes’ approach, taking a deep dive into each of the seven facets of business travel: fly, sleep, ground, pay, collaborate, support and booking. This helps each session home in on a single issue and offer actionable insights to attendees. We’re adopting some new formats to this end, including:
Our hot topics and GDPR data sessions will use a “lagerhuis” format, in which attendees physically change where they sit or stand to indicate their perspective on these issues.
Our Leveraging Data session will blend experts and attendees in the audience, using pre-planned topics and questions to guide a moderated conversation.
We will also be hosting a hackathon, with a programmer building a smart contract in real time.
What will we be able to learn from the ‘start-up tech studios’?
In this session, buyers will learn about the innovations coming to the marketplace and how new players are disrupting the traditional ways that travel managers handle policy, communication, expenses, reporting and more.
Tell us about the research projects ACTE is working on, and what we can expect to learn from the about them at the conference?
ACTE has several research studies in the works. We’ll debut the next instalment in our Modern Business Traveller research series, underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel, focusing on how travel managers can influence traveller behaviour.
Other studies we’ll unveil at the conference will look at:
The ancillary services travellers are requesting and how travel managers are working with airlines to deliver
Simplification of travel programmes, sponsored by HRS
New developments in sourcing accommodation options, sponsored by BCD Travel
What benefits does the partnership with CAPA bring to delegates?
ACTE has always believed in collaboration between decision-makers from both the buyer and supplier sides. Working with CAPA allows us to bring airline CEOs and our ACTE audience to the same table, breaking down barriers and going beyond stage presentations, so the airlines can hear directly from the top purchasers of their products. 
Fostering discussions and helping buyers and sellers build productive, collaborative relationships is what ACTE is all about. 

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