Ex-presidents to star at Hub travel show

Two former U.S. presidents will hit Boston this week for the Global Business Travel Association’s annual convention, which expects to set attendance records in its second visit to the Hub in five years.

More than 6,500 people are expected for the event, which runs through Wednesday at the Boston Convention Exhibition Center and will feature former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as keynote speakers.

The convention was last held in Boston in 2007.

“It was our highest-rated convention, so we have great experience with Boston, and we’re happy to be back,” said Michael McCormick, COO for the Alexandria, Va.-based association.

The convention comes in a year in which U.S. business travel has rebounded to the pre-recession levels of 2007, according to McCormick. “We’re hitting the reset button,” he said. “It’s taken five years.”

But the backdrop is an association forecast for 2.2 percent growth in business travel spending this year to $256.5 billion, lower than previously anticipated.

“The economy in the U.S. is growing, but not at the pace we had originally forecast,” McCormick said. “A good part of that has to do with slumping economies in Europe.”

Convention attendees will include both sides of the business travel industry: the “buyers” who manage travel for global companies and the “sellers,” which include airlines, hotels, transportation companies, technology providers and travel agencies.

And they’ll be treated to some big-name speakers.

“I think it’s unprecedented to have two former presidents at a convention at the same time,” McCormick said.

“Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers will be tonight’s keynote speaker, followed by Bush tomorrow and Clinton on Wednesday. An airline exec panel on the future of their industry will feature the CEOs of JetBlue [JBLU] Airways Corp. and British Airways.

The event also puts the Boston area onstage.

“(Business travel) pretty much is what drives the performance of the lodging market here,” said Pat Moscaritolo, CEO of the Greater Boston Convention Visitors Bureau. “The advantage of having a meeting like this is they get to see up close and personal the actual hotels that they would use and that their employees would utilize when they’re coming to do business.”

In addition to generating $30 million to $35 million in spending, the area will benefit from “all the additional new business that will be booked as a result of these top travel directors being here in Boston,” he said.

Jul 23rd, 2012 | Posted in Web Resources
No comments yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.