National Travel Forum tackles government/industry travel issues.
Educational sessions on the Federal Travel Regulation and the Joint Travel Regulation (JTR) were most popular. The JTR is a comprehensive and sometimes very complex regulation, but it is the industry "Bible," and, as such, travel managers on both sides of the partnership need to understand its provisions and apply them correctly. Recognition of its importance, said GTG officials, always makes the JTR and FTR discussions some of the most valuable of the Forum.
The increased importance of Relocation drew considerable interest. Several new comers to the industry participated and exhibited this year, and the consensus of GTF delegates was that the field will continue to grow as military and government organizations put more emphasis on consolidating functions to facilitate "one stop shopping," thus easing the burdens of transfers and relocations on employees.
The Car Rental seminar was well attended due to the recent transfer of the Federal Rental Car Program from the Strategic Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) to the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO). Nearly every member company of NDTA's Car Rental Sub-committee was represented. The DTMO advanced the idea of more widespread educational outreach to customers in the form of individual agency conferences to help military and government travelers understand their options and responsibilities. Session attendees were overwhelmingly in favor of such a program.
The current Airline industry environment was another serious topic of discussion. Facing an uncertain future, travel managers must be prepared for change. Special surcharges and fees were discussed as well as ways to minimize the impact for government travelers. Although many fees are beyond the traveler's control--airport fees and fuel surcharges, for example--travel managers must continue to educate and update their customets as often as possible.
Two exhibit periods were held during the four day event. "We had good traffic and lots of interest by delegates," said George Greiling, Senior Travel Analyst at the DTMO. Paul Somogyi, Director of Sales, Government and Affinity for the Marriott Corporation, added, "The Forum gave us a good opportunity to tell customers about Marriott's new direction and emphasis in the government market. We are more focused now on the importance of this segment," he said.
** GOVERNMENT TRAVEL FORUM
The Government Travel Forum was historically organized by the General Services Administration (GSA). At the conclusion of NTF 2006, GSA entrusted future event management to the National Business Travel Association's Government Travel Group (NBTA GTG). The GTG was created by NBTA to serve the growing needs of government travel professionals within GSA, DOD, and the states and to provide government travel managers with access to the member benefits that have long set NBTA apart as the leading association for corporate travel professionals. Curretnly the National Travel Forum is held every two years.
By Denny Edwards, NDTA