Arizona BTA
The Arizona BTA strives each year to give back to the community through philanthropic endeavors, with an annual golf outing as its primary fundraiser. AZBTA partners with a local charity selected by its members, and works to raise funds for their mission and success. In light of the economic downturn for many companies, we were determined to hold this event and make it a successful fundraiser to benefit our charity and the scholarships we promote to our members.
This year we held our golf tournament on April 15 at the Arizona Grand Resort, in Phoenix. Even with lower-than-expected turnout for the golf tournament (43 attended, including 23 non-members), we were determined to have our event and we did make a profit. Our dinner and awards ceremony following the golf tournament included an auction of donated items, and makeovers donated by The Red Door Spa at The Wigwam Resort, and Rolf’s Spa at the Gainey Ranch Hyatt. The makeovers are scheduled to be broadcast on a local television station to further promote AZBTA’s selected charity, V.O.I.C.E., a nonprofit organization that works to help individuals get off government assistance and back into a productive, self-directed life.
The director of philanthropy in charge of the golf tournament and auction was Tim McAlphin, director of travel industry sales, Arizona Grand Resort. His team of volunteers included Jeff Moennich, Doubletree Guest Suites; Jean Comstock, AmSafe Aviation; Mandy McKaskle, Tempe Mission Palms Hotel; Tina McHale, Supershuttle/Execucar; Melinda Hausner and Colleen Guhin of American Express; and Louise Kendall of ADTRAV Travel Management.
ROI: Total revenue raised was $5,285. After expenses, there was $1,800 for V.O.I.C.E. plus the publicity it gained from the television coverage. And $1,065 went for educational scholarships for AZBTA members. The event also provided networking opportunities with other travel industry professionals and exposure of our organization to potential new members.

Association News

Bay Area BTA
Bay Area BTA held its 2008 annual gala on November 18 at the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. The purpose of this event is to raise money for our chapter programs, as well as our designated charity, the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center (BAWCC) of San Francisco. They have been BABTA’s designated charity for the past few years.
The gala is a formal, optional black tie event, which always attracts the largest attendance of the year. We had 193 registered members and guests for the event, which included a formal reception, dinner, silent and live auctions with donated travel industry prizes and other items donated by members of BABTA.
The planning process started months in advance and details were being coordinated until the final moments before the doors opened for the event. We donated craft supplies to the BAWCC and the children decorated beautiful star cutouts which adorned all of the tables in the ballroom. These stars represented the many children and families that benefit from the services of BAWCC, bringing a personal touch from the BAWCC to the attendees of the GALA. The sales and catering staff at the Palace presented an amazing event space, wonderful reception and dinner. The director and a board member from the BAWCC were present, as well as a mother and two of her children that have benefited from their services. One of the children, who became an award-winning figure skater, told attendees about the success BAWCC brought to him and his family.
It was an emotional and inspiring moment for everyone.
This event was a great success, due to the generosity of members and guests, the hard work of Mark Ziegler, our 2008 chapter president, and the many committee members who spent many hours to plan and support it.
ROI: Despite the challenging economic year, we were still able to raise $9,000 for our charity — just under our earnings from much more vibrant economic years.
Chicago BTA
The Chicago BTA’s fourth quarter chapter meeting on December 3 kicked off with our usual business meeting, that day featuring guest speaker and author Anna Post, who delighted us with stories and details on proper business courtesies. She expanded on “Blackberry and cell phone” etiquette, especially in business meetings! It was refreshing to know that others have come to the realization that consideration of others is just as important today as it ever has been.
We concluded our meeting portion with our annual holiday gathering and silent auction, as well as a toy drive. This year, we partnered with the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation. We created such a buzz that Connie Payton herself visited our event to thank us for our partnership. What a fun time, and what a success!
ROI: This meeting was considered a success in two ways. First, it was noted that even as the bidders hovered over their favorite coveted items, they were very polite to each other! The financial results were outstanding, especially at a time when the financial picture was quite depressing. We collected $9,020 as well as hundreds of toys and gift cards for the underprivileged children of Illinois.

Dallas Fort Worth BTA
On May 12, DFW BTA hosted its 10th Annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine. It is the world’s first and so far its only NFL-themed golf club: 159 acres of magnificent woodlands, natural waterways and wildlife habitats.
The day started very early with a golf clinic offered by the Club — the first time a clinic was included on a DFW BTA tournament day.
Lunch and a silent auction followed the four-person shamble in the afternoon. The 100+ golfers enjoyed the experience and the course exceeded their expectations. One attendee noted “the venue this year was much nicer than the previous year’s and Cowboys Golf Club was just about perfect.” Another attendee commented “What a beautiful course!”
 “We wanted tournament attendees to have more networking opportunities this year. Because of the economy and our ever-changing industry, it is important to make the most of your day away from the office and Cowboys was the perfect place. It’s one of the best tournament venues in the DFW area and we look forward to next year when we return to Cowboys for more fun and education, and to raise funds for good causes,” says Karen Wilson-Torres with Gaylord Hotels, DFW BTA’s vice president and one of the tournament coordinators.
Jonathan’s Place, one of DFW BTA’s chosen beneficiaries from the event, is the only licensed emergency shelter in the area that serves children under the age of 10. They take care of children’s basic needs including food, clothing, and educational materials, plus medical, dental and psychological treatment. The other charity, Lifewalk, is the vehicle used to raise money for AIDSArms which provides medical care, school supplies and a Thanksgiving dinner for needy families in the community — approximately 3,200 people in all. More than 15 percent of them are children.
ROI: Proceeds from the silent auction were divided with $10,000 donated to Jonathan’s Place; $2,000 to Lifewalk, and the remainder went to the DFW BTA Scholarship Fund.

Florida BTA
It was ‘all hands on deck’ as the South Florida Chapter of FBTA held its first Annual Casino Night on April 24 at the Sheraton Suites in Plantation, FL.
This first-time event was the brainstorm of our president-elect, Miriam Abujasen, and her dedicated committee. Together they coordinated an evening of fun, a venue conducive to social networking, and a golden opportunity to raise money. The evening was a fun-filled event, complete with food, drink, music and fabulous giveaways every hour. In addition, there were amazing prizes for the winners of each game! The Texas Hold’em, which had its own special buy-in, had the royal “Grand Prize” of roundtrip tickets for two on Continental to Spain and a weekend at the Me by Sol Melia in Barcelona!
ROI: More than $4,000 was raised. In addition, Dave Holmes raised funds for PAC. Members and guests proclaimed the evening a terrific success and they have already set a larger goal for next year.

Mid-South Area BTA
The Mid-South Area BTA (MSABTA) held its third annual golf scramble on May 7 at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Memphis. This year MSABTA members decided to execute a silent auction in conjunction with the annual golf scramble. Rebecca Anderson coordinated the golf event and Tracy Uphold coordinated the silent auction. Anderson is director of sales for Comfort Inn Downtown Memphis and Uphold is the regional director of sales for Wright Investment Properties.
The silent auction was originally held to bring more non-golfers out to the event. But then we found it could be a success on its own merit.
Next year more activities are planned to encourage non-golfers to come out, have dinner and network. The big ticket items were trips donated by Delta, Continental and Southwest airlines. The auction also included a Charleston, SC getaway package which included admission to featured attractions and area tours. Those items were valued at $1,000 each.
ROI: The combined scramble/auction netted more than $4,800 which will benefit the MSABTA scholarship fund for members.

New Jersey BTA
NJBTA held its annual fundraiser on November 13 to benefit the New Jersey Food Bank and Kids’ Closet. As in previous years, the association collected an assortment of children’s winter coats and also made a donation to the charity in lieu of speakers’ gifts. From their general fund of money collected over the past year from dues, they donated $700 to match donations made by the members. Lisa Adams of Chubb Insurance coordinated the event.
ROI: As Thanksgiving and Christmas were soon approaching, the needs of others were observed and felt more acutely. When members and guests responded to this awareness, they postponed shopping for their own families and friends until they purchased coats for children who would otherwise have gone without. You can count the number of coats given; but not the smiles and warmth they brought to children.

Ohio Valley BTA
Our fund raisers this year have been a unique endeavor put together by OVBTA vice president and meeting planner Debbie Tewanger, Belterra Resort Casino & Spa. Tewanger has been able to coordinate ALL of our meetings as full sponsorships allowing for over $20,000 in funds raised for our organization.
ROI: It’s a “breathe easy” year in a rough economy. It allowed us to send three full scholarships of $2,000 each, to the NBTA convention!

North Carolina BTA
Our annual gala with silent and live auctions was held on November 14 at the Winston Salem Marriott hotel. One of our big draws for the evening was Brian Freeman, a radio WSJS personality from Winston Salem. Donations for the silent auction ranged from sports paraphernalia to airline tickets, hotel stays and a Wii. Live auction items were airport parking passes, restaurant gift cards (including one for Ruth’s Chris Steak House) and a coffee basket from S&D Coffee.
Volunteers planned the event, assisted the auctioneer, organized and assisted with the silent auction tables and check out. They were Marcia Sheets, Marriott Winston Salem; Peggy Muneell, Embassy Suites Winston Salem; Wendy Palmer, Carlson Wagonlit; Cheryl Young, Carolinas Medical Center; Pam Boies, Duke Energy; Marianne Wertz, FreemanWhite; Al Reider, Dollar Thrifty; and Eddie Albertson, TMP Travel.
ROI: We raised more than $12,000 for our NCBTA scholarship fund, and gave $5,000 to North Carolina’s Northwest Second Harvest Food Bank. This was a very successful event with more than 70 people in attendance.

Oregon BTA
OBTA held its 12th successful annual benefit auction and dinner on October 3 at the Abernethy Center in Oregon City. The auction was widely advertised by mailings and press releases. A committee made up of Erin Schleichert, Andy Palacios, Jessica Rioux, Flodine Lee and Erin Haag shared praise for a successful evening with the 17 volunteers helping at the auction.
Those attending the auction enjoyed an evening with good wine, great food and a lot of fun. It started with a silent auction, then moved on to an amazing dinner, concluding with a live auction. The auction check-out and distribution of items went very smoothly and quickly. “The OBTA board of directors was very pleased with the outcome of the auction,” reports Palacios. “Without the assistance and generosity of our members and the community, we would not have the operating budget to bring quality educational programs to our members and donate funds to a local charity that does amazing things for children.”
The event met our goals of underwriting OBTA’s annual budget, helping our community by giving to a worthwhile charity and by increasing OBTA’s exposure to the community. In addition, we were able to donate almost $6,000 to our charity partner Oregon Scottish Rite Clinics, a local non-profit organization, which helps young children with language disabilities communicate through an intensive, one-on-one speech/language program.
ROI: OBTA’s total net profit was $14,531.27, only down by 4 percent from the previous year even though our number of attendees was down by 28 percent. We did this by cutting our expenses by almost 50 percent and by procuring sponsors. More than 75 percent of our attendees purchased items from the silent and live auction. Funds were raised through tickets for dinner, purchases, sponsorships, silent and live auctions.

Philadelphia BTA    
Each year, PBTA hosts a holiday event as a fundraiser for our primary charity, City of Hope. Now considered to be the crown jewel of the calendar year, this past December’s holiday reception and charity auction (our fourth) was no exception. The Marriott Courtyard Downtown in Center City Philadelphia showcased The Caribbean and Mexico with the theme “A Holiday in Paradise.” Caribbean cuisine and music added to the magic of the evening.
Most of the 100 attendees gathered around the silent auction tables where a wide range of items were offered. Bidders were hovering and watching to see who was outbidding them for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, limousine vouchers, restaurant certificates, theater tickets and spa treatments.
After the silent auction, Harry Giordino, senior director of development for City of Hope’s National Medical Centers, northeast region, took the stage and the live auction got into full swing. This was for the bigger items: a two-night stay in Aruba with RT tickets on Continental and free parking at the airport; a three-night stay at the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort with RT tickets on American Airlines; and a three-night stay at the Frenchman’s Reef in St. Thomas with RT tickets on Continental. The grand prize was a five-night stay for two at The St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, round-trip tickets on American, US Limo roundtrip transfers, courtesy of Flyte Tyme Limosine and $500 cash.
Dawn Friedman of Marriott Hotels and Nancy King of Aramark volunteered many hours to guarantee a successful event. City of Hope, PBTA’s selected charity, is an independent biomedical research treatment and education institution that is a leader in the fight to conquer cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Along with the director Harry Giordino, key personnel were present and expressed their appreciation to everyone for their support.
ROI: While enjoying a good time and fantastic dinner, PBTA members, their families and guests raised $10,000 for “City of Hope” and the chapter scholarship fund. Of that, $6,200 went to City of Hope.

Puget Sound BTA
The annual gala and fundraiser held by PSBTA on September 27 turned out to be a party for Puget Sound, and was bigger and better than ever. Attendance was increased by more than 40 percent over previous years with nearly 250 attending.
We opted to abandon the more traditional plated dinner for “international” food stations — each sponsored by an airline, TMC, technology provider, DMC or meeting management company. We procured over $20,000 in sponsorships and acquired a significant amount of donations from vendors and our members, including several sets of airlines tickets, luxury hotel stays, artwork, an African safari, and unique gifts including a wheelbarrow filled with gardening supplies (in keeping with our green theme).
The logo of each of the nine sponsors was projected on the wall. Additionally, each was called to the stage and presented with carved rocks that stated their company’s commitment to a clean Puget Sound.
The event was held at the trendy W Seattle Hotel. In keeping with our “Green Theme,” the venue was decorated with wheat grass and green fluorescent umbrellas that hung from the ceiling. Our charity partner, People for Puget Sound, took an active role in our event, assisting with volunteers and providing a member of their board to educate our attendees on their worthy cause.
Attendees were given latitude in their attire, and encouraged to wear “Pacific Northwest Festive Attire.”
ROI: Even though the event was held on the same day that a major Seattle bank failed, PSBTA raised nearly $50,000. We were able to present our charity partner a check for $12,000.

Rocky Mountain BTA
On August 5, RMBTA enjoyed their 12th annual golf tournament and auction. The tournament opened with putting contests at 11 am and finished with an auction. Proceeds from this very special night were shared with Families First of Colorado and the RMBTA Education Fund.
Families First, a leading force in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, provides education and support services that help before serious problems arise and before parents resort to violence. Its motto is “When Parents Find Help, Children Find Hope.”
The Education Fund provides scholarships to local members for all NBTA education programs, NBTA annual conference registration, and monthly meeting registration.
Silent auction items included airline tickets, hotel stays, dinners, services, lessons and theme baskets of goodies. (Themes included spa, dogs, cats, cookies, romantic evening, sports, Christmas, slumber party, chocolate and wine.)
It took hours of planning and work to execute this event. Committee chair was Deborah Mounier, philanthropy; with committee members DJ Greenagel, past president; Pam McTeer, president; Susan Osthoff, Sally Wearing, co-philanthropy; Jan Lykins, Doug Polsdorfer, Barb Morgan, Jori Sjostrand, awards; and George Delaune, treasurer.
ROI: The total intake at the end of the day was $31,339, with $12,536 going to Families First and $18,803 to the RMBTA Education Fund. The $31,339 was an increase of 16 percent over 2007.

Silicon Valley BTA
The 14th annual SVBTA Golf Classic was held on September 15 at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, CA. This event attracted 200 members and guests from the Northern California area. Many companies develop golf foursomes for internal and external networking; others use the event to bond with their clients. Non-golfers use the opportunity to network after the tournament during the awards dinner and silent auction.
Earlier in the day, golfers showed off their skills in the chipping and putting contests. Once the 144 golfers teed off, they were greeted by sponsors at each tee box with collateral, food, games and prizes. There was a contest for these sponsors as well — judged on creativity, originality and best theme — and offering a 60-day complimentary ad spot on the SVBTA web site home page. Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants won by designing a chipping contest on an upright board. Golfers were challenged to chip a golf ball into one of the regulation-size golf holes located beside a depiction of a Larkspur property. Each successful golfer received a gas card. The Larkspur team worked all day, challenging golfers to participate.
Honorable mention was given to Rosewood’s CordeValle for their colorful, crazy golf pants team. CordeValle also brought their head golf professional to its tee box to give a demonstration and golf tips. Mineta San Jose International Airport was cited for its “Tails, You Win!” theme including their airport outfits and gear; and Crowne Plaza & Hilton Hotels San Jose for its circus theme.
Following the tournament, bids were made on 49 silent auction items, including business class tickets with hotel and car; spa treatments; wine country trips and golf outings, to generate funds for the chapter. The grand raffle and door prizes included a Philips 42” 1080i Full LCD HDTV; two coach tickets to Hong Kong donated by Cathay Pacific Airways, and a hotel stay donated by Langham.
Co-directors of the 14th Annual SVBTA Golf Classic were Tricia Kennedy, sales manager of American Airlines, San Jose, and Stephanie Valdez, consultant. With their team of 15, they worked magic!
ROI: The goals of this event were to generate as much money for the chapter as possible and have fun doing it! The 144 golfers and total of 200 attending the awards banquet brought in $51,128, to support the annual activities of the association. This includes educational programs, professional development, and networking opportunities.

St. Louis BTA
Fundraising in a tough economy can be challenging but the STLBTA golf committee used creativity to get golfers on the course and bidders to the tables. When registrations were slow coming in due to the stock market drop, the committee became more creative and diligent about promoting it, showing benefits for everyone. It worked because they worked! Follow-up notes and conference calls kept ideas flowing and tasks on track. The community and other BTAs were solicited for donations and sponsorships.
There were amazing items to bid on, including vacation packages which included RT airfare to Paris and beyond; two RT tickets to Latin America, Europe or Asia; a luxury stay and spa package from a five star hotel. Eight RT domestic air tickets were combined with hotel, car rental and parking to complete packages; destinations included San Francisco and Minneapolis. The silent auction table displayed hotel stays, gift baskets, sports memorabilia, autographed photos of local and national celebrities and even an autographed guitar.
The day began ominously as thunderstorms passed through the St. Louis area, but dissipated in time for the 1 pm tee time. Volunteers arrived at 10 am for check-in, Mulligan and Power Ball sales — which generated revenue and fun. The beverage carts at each hole brought in more funds and joie de vivre.
It was challenging this year to get a sufficient amount of golfers, and the golf committee members sent communication blasts to BTA members, encouraging them to invite family, friends and co-workers to participate in golf, dinner or both. We also encouraged proxy bidding for those unable to attend. A reception with hors d’oeuvres welcomed non-golfers.
Auctioneer Christina Wilde, vice president of marketing for The Switch, was witty and well-paced as she kept the bidding moving at a lively pace, yet she gave people enough time to consider raising their bid. Volunteers cleared the payment line quickly at the close of auction allowing guests to start for home in a timely manner.
Tips from the committee:
1. Package items even if they will eventually be broken up by the winning bidder, for more excitement to bidders.
2. Hole sponsorships, Mulligans and Power Ball bring in additional money.
3. Donations from local merchants are key in cutting costs.
4. Have members post flyers at their office, plus tell friends and family about the event.
5. Have a variety of items in the silent auction to appeal to non-travelers.
6. Have the auctioneer move at a lively pace but allow time for that last bid.
7. Volunteers keep people moving in the right direction when finalizing bids and check out.
ROI: The 14th annual St. Louis BTA Golf Outing and Charity Auction was a rousing success, raising $13,000 for St. Louis BTA and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Tampa Bay BTA
The Tampa Bay BTA celebrated its 12th annual fundraising event, “An Evening for the Arts, a Chance for Children,” at the Hilton Carillon Park Hotel on September 9. The evening was filled with anticipation of raffle items followed by a number of silent auction prizes, trips and services. The Shaney Magee Band provided the perfect atmosphere for networking, greeting new and long-time friends, and creating the excitement of the finale, the live auction.
Our charities were well represented; Betsy Pierson of Creative Clay and Earl Silas of the RICH House were both on hand to meet our members and take their turn at the bidding sheets. Creative Clay donated two pieces of art that were included in the live auction.
Creative Clay Inc. is a non-profit corporation that currently serves more than 65 adults with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities and is launching a summer program for children and teens with disabilities.
The RICH House of Tampa’s primary focus has been the children, providing education, conflict resolution and socialization skills, and building self-esteem. Over time, RICH House has truly become part of the heartbeat for families; as needs grow and become identified, it is the first place where they seek assistance.
ROI: This same event last year yielded only $1,500 total, of which $500 was given to the chosen charity. This year the chapter raised more than $7,000 and $3,000 was given to the two charities.

Texas BTA
Catherine Gassman, executive director of the Westside Homeless Partnership (WHP), is still in a state of surprise and gratitude after receiving a check from the TBTA for $25,000 — proceeds from the organization’s annual golf tournament and silent auction held October 17 at Tour 18 Golf Course in Houston.
Despite challenges — Hurricane Ike forced a shift from the original tournament date of September 26 to October 17 — golf committee members maintained their focus. “The TBTA members once again proved our dedication in supporting our community. Faced with the challenges of the after-math of Hurricane Ike, when we were needed to support our own companies’ relief efforts and our travel customers, TBTA members knew the need to support homeless families in our community was greater now than it ever was,” says Kendra Gleason, Marathon Oil Corporation. She served as golf tournament co-chair along with Ed Orkand, sales director for The Parking Spot.
“We were all proud to see how our sponsors and participants were able to make this a record-breaking event for TBTA and support the largest tournament donation on record to our charity,” Orkand adds.
The ballroom of the Renaissance Houston Hotel Greenway Plaza was filled with 145 travel professionals during the November 12 meeting, when TBTA president Christle Johnson, National Car Rental, presented the check to representatives of WHP.
ROI: While having a good time and enjoying the fellowship of members and guests, TBTA raised a record $33,000, surpassing its prior records for golf tournaments and silent auctions. TBTA donated $25,000 to West Houston Homeless Partnership. Besides the donation to WHP, the chapter’s continuing education scholarships for members will benefit from tournament proceeds.


Dallas/Fort Worth BTA
In August 2008, Dallas/Fort Worth BTA organized members, friends, family and coworkers to greet troops at DFW Airport for its “support the community” program. Every day, 150 to 250 troops pass through DFW, either leaving or arriving home after serving their country.
The Hyatt Regency, DFW Airport, hosted lunch for DFWBTA, then shuttled them to the airport’s USO office. The group formed two lines for the troops to pass through on their way to security from the ticket counter. There was applause, hand-shaking and hugs for the brave soldiers, amid smiles and many tears of pride. DFWBTA displayed a huge banner signed by hundreds of chapter members expressing their support.
Also present were veterans proudly displaying the names of the wars in which they had served on their caps. It was very heart-warming to see interaction between the young and the seasoned veterans. The veterans related only too well to the thoughts and emotions of those departing. Among participants’ comments: “An amazing experience! You could see the uncertainty while they waited for their papers, until they saw us; then smiles erupted — many didn’t have family there, and we filled in.” ... “This was one of the most memorable days of my life.” ...”To see the faces of the 100-plus men and women walking through our line was indescribable. The sober looks of these young people made me stop and think; they are fighting for me and my family. I will pray for them often and never forget this experience.”
DFWBTA members and friends met again in June to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our “Welcome Home a Hero” program, in which approximately 10,000 volunteers have greeted more than 300,000 returning soldiers. The welcoming group smiled, held signs and waved American flags; many shed tears. And everyone felt privileged to personally thank these courageous and honorable men and women. “I had a lump in my throat the entire time,” commented Lisa Nelson of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
ROI: You can’t put a price on respect, honor or thoughtfulness but the above quotes describe rewards for the time and effort invested in supporting our troops. Each volunteer learned first-hand what it feels like to make a difference — just by showing someone you care. Programs like this contributed to DFW BTA gaining 64 new members in 2008-2009; many eager to get involved in projects supporting the troops, sending care packages, and adopting a troop over there.

Ohio Valley BTA
How far will you drive or fly to attend a value-driven meeting that guarantees important, up-to-date information? Also, where can you meet colleagues to exchange ideas and make the most beneficial contacts?
Chances are if you live in less-populated states there won’t be two or three close locations to choose from. On the contrary; you may have to travel to another state, which is a good reason for some chapters — such as Ohio Valley BTA — to hold quarterly meetings. In consideration of all its members, Ohio Valley alternates its meetings between Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. Yes, it’s a distance but the meetings are carefully planned to ensure that each attendee will learn and grow from the experience.
Members believe, if someone attends, they’ll join. It does work — they have 124 active members and have averaged 73 attendees at each of their last four quarterly meetings. Weighing that against the economics, with so many demands on each professional’s time, it is obvious OVBTA is doing something right! The programs and presenters are always of the highest caliber and maybe it isn’t part of the criteria, but they all have a great sense of humor. Pretty important these days, I’d say!
To further encourage membership and attendance this past quarter, OVBTA sponsored a membership drive offering an opportunity for each member enlisting a new member to win a $150 gift card.
As OVBTA membership chair Dan Batanian, with Enterprise Rent A Car, explained, “If you refer someone who becomes a member, you’ll be entered into the drawing for a gift card. In addition, the person you referred gets to attend the next meeting free! Each new member is worth one entry...the more you sign up, the better your chances of winning!” The response was immediate with 14 referrals and six new memberships.
ROI: Although some NBTA chapters and other long-time worthwhile organizations are losing members and attendees — many closing their doors — OVBTA is thriving. It continues to engage key presenters on hot topics, and panelists who challenge the system and each other to uncover solutions for travel-related issues. When almost half of those contacted join the organization, that says a lot.

Oregon BTA
Once each year OBTA dedicates a meeting to an inspiring speaker with a message that provides valuable information for daily living, and will have a lasting impact on our members and guests. Andy Palacios, director of education, worked many months to procure Michael Hingson. Palacios also worked hard to get sponsorships from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Alaska Airlines and The Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, WA, to underwrite Hingson’s speaker’s fee, air travel and stay. The Heathman also provided excellent service and an amazing lunch.
OBTA advertised this meeting through e-blasts and press releases.
“Teaming for Change: Michael Hingson Shares his Story” was all we expected and more. He punctuated his message with the story of how he and his guide dog, Roselle, escaped the 78th floor of World Trade Tower on September 11 by working together. Blind since birth, Hingson has a unique perspective on change and reminded all the attendees to accept what we can and cannot change and only try to change what we can. Several members said they were inspired by his message about working as a team and how all members of the team need each other to achieve their common goals.
ROI: Almost 25 percent of attendees were non-members. In the post-event survey, several attendees said Hingson was the best speaker they had heard in a long time. It is this high caliber speaker that brings members and non-members alike to monthly OBTA meetings.

Philadelphia BTA        
Everyone reading this knows somebody — probably several people — who have lost their job. Philadelphia was hit especially hard, and it showed up in PBTA when they lost approximately 20 members.
To show support of those facing “in transition” situations, Philly BTA encouraged members to invite travel professionals, employed or not, to attend their chapter meetings and social mixers. The goal was simple — social networking, which Webster’s dictionary says is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” A chapter meeting in March focused on membership renewals with a secondary goal of attracting new members with socials and monthly meetings.
ROI: As an incentive, those who renewed their memberships before April 1 received complimentary admission to a Philadelphia BTA chapter meeting in 2009. Approximately 20 renewals and five new memberships resulted from this initiative. In a city facing the 9.6 percent jobless figure by March, this organization can be proud of its success in retaining and adding members. It indicates a strong officer and member base, providing excellent programs and an open, friendly base for like-minded individuals to get together for education, support and encouragement.

Rocky Mountain BTA
When the RMBTA board held a meeting to discuss the selection of scholarship recipients, treasurer George Delaune presented his idea: encourage students involved in hospitality programs at local colleges to apply for a scholarship from RMBTA. “After all, RMBTA’s main objective is to devote the bulk of our resources to the education and professional skill development of our members and youth that are interested in the travel industry,” he argued. It made sense and the vote was unanimous to become instrumental in assisting college students to join their ranks.
The RMBTA board chose Metropolitan State College of Denver to assist in the search for the most qualified recipient. MSC has the area’s largest undergraduate program in travel, hospitality, tourism and events. Heather Daily was the first recipient of the Metropolitan State RMBTA $500 Scholarship. She accepted the award in front of 65 attendees at the May 12 dinner meeting.
ROI: During the recent economic downturn, students and young career-minded people witnessed a decline in government support of the travel industry. So when RMBTA gave a vote of confidence to students by awarding a scholarship to one of them, it increased their interest and gave them good reason to join a local chapter. The investment of RMBTA and those who applied for a scholarship, provided better returns than they expected.

San Diego BTA
Early in 2009, many direct members were letting us know their companies had cut SDBTA meeting attendance from their budgets, and they were unable to attend. And members who were searching for their next career were not able to attend as often as they would like. Several in the meetings and events business commented on customers that were cutting back on already-planned meetings, which created a domino effect within the industry.
In March, director of membership Chris Dalton suggested a different approach for their membership drive: using scholarships as a personal stimulus package. The SDBTA board agreed unanimously, and Gretchen Grossman, executive vice president with Hornblower Events, chaired the special scholarship committee.
SDBTA started having two drawings for free attendance to a regular meeting; one for Direct guests and one for Allied guests — in effect: “Have lunch on us!” This encouraged guests to return for a second meeting to learn more about the organization and network with their peers. Through this ongoing program, many newcomers and guests realized the value of connecting with other travel professionals, and they joined SDBTA. Membership has remained on target; attendance at our 2009 meetings is reaching an all time high.
ROI: We awarded five scholarships with a value of $470 each. The scholarships include a one-year SDBTA membership and free attendance at eight regular meetings. Scholarship winners have been strong supporters of SDBTA, having served on the board and committees. One of the direct members had been laid off, so this afforded her the opportunity to continue attending. Two Direct members and three Allied members received the good news during the June meeting, that they had won. But it is that meeting in March that will always be considered a success — that’s when the idea was born. The drive maintained most of the membership and raised the numbers.

Silicon Valley BTA
Under the direction of committee director Chris Billawala, SVBTA’s membership committee set a goal to add 25 new direct members in 2008. To achieve this goal, with the support of the SVBTA Board of Directors, a campaign was developed to engage current members to sign up new direct members. Monthly email blasts were sent out to the members and announcements were made at the monthly meetings to maintain a focus on their goal. They gave rewards based on the number of new recruits each member was able to provide. At the end of each quarter, prizes donated by the SVBTA allied members were awarded to the recruiters with the best results.
ROI: The chapter was able to offer a variety of awards to motivate existing members to recruit new members. The goal was set to induct 25 new direct members by the end of 2009; they have already welcomed 22.

St. Louis BTA
We know these are tough times for employees and employers. More is being asked of them, with diminished resources. Money is tight, and memberships in professional organizations are being sacrificed. Under the leadership of Cyndi Weinmann, membership chair, STLBTA is offering some incentives to grow membership. We’ve asked our current members to refer new members, and when they pay membership dues, our current member is entered into a drawing to win a $150 gift card. We are running this promotion from January through June of 2009, and will start another cycle from July through December.
STLBTA is also reaching out to those within our chapter who have lost their jobs by offering a discounted chapter meeting rate, with no membership dues required to maintain active membership. We are also encouraging current members whose company will not pay their membership to continue attending chapter meetings at a price just a bit higher than members pay, with no membership dues required.
We feel this is a great way to keep members involved without financial hardships. Our goal is to reach 110 members by the end of the year. This year, we have approximately 100 members, and last year we had just over 100.
ROI: We have maintained our membership base and are welcoming guests at all of our events. We can’t say it’s easy, as we have to be creative and use incentives to encourage newcomers to see for themselves. We’re basically saying “Try us, you’ll like us,” as in today’s business world everyone still employed is doing more with less and their time is pretty well maxed out.

Utah BTA
Last January UBTA’s executive board unanimously appointed Kathleen  Roberts, business development manager with Christopherson Travel, to serve as membership chair. Chapter membership then totaled 62. Roberts enlisted Allyson Collins, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Daniel Turner, Radisson Hotel, to join her. They compiled a list of targeted corporations, then set out to “bring them in.”
“Our plan was simple,” Roberts says. “We invited prospects on our list to a meeting, outlined the value of joining UBTA, then asked them to become members. It was the full slate of valuable educational meetings that Greg Ross, manager of client consulting services at Christopherson Travel, put together that really sold them.”
The “Delta Air Lines Update” meeting brought in two new members in May, as did the “Clear, Registered Traveler” and the “Safety and Security in an Uncertain World” at subsequent meetings. David Grossman, columnist for, was a hit at the August meeting, resulting in three more new members. Equally successful was the Strategic Meeting Management Program that followed.
At the end of summer. Roberts’ team prorated yearly fees, valid just until the end of December. This solution enticed many members to renew for all of 2009. “Kathleen accomplished something no other membership chair had,” says Debbie Welder, director of travel for CHG Healthcare and immediate past president of the chapter. “She increased our membership in the third and fourth quarters. Most prospective members wait to join until the new year, but Kathleen effectively sold UBTA’s education offerings to recruit valuable members and increase association revenue.”
ROI: Roberts and her committee, assisted by a great variety of educational meeting topics, enlisted 16 new members during the first seven months of her tenure. At the end of October 2008, UBTA had 78 active members, an increase of almost 30 percent.


Arizona BTA
“Let’s Shine in 2009” was Louise Kendall’s motto when she successfully campaigned to serve as president of AZBTA. The chapter has been using it ever since, and backing it up, including for its 2009 AZBTA Education Day.
In light of the economic situation at many companies, we were determined to hold this event regardless of the numbers, to offer members the educational content plus the chance to earn accreditation from the NBTA. We offered full- and half-day options for attendees whose companies are cutting back on expenses, or who could not leave the office for a full day. XONA Resort in Scottsdale gave a special rate to encourage attendance.
From the opening session (“State of the Industry: Partnerships are Key”) to topics including travel’s effect on the bottom line, industry trends, new technology and social media, and finally “Managing Travel During Turbulent Times,” the event delivered useful content for everyone present.
AZBTA director of programs and education in charge of the project was Dawn Biela-Kramer, director of business travel at XONA Resort in Scottsdale. Their committee included Jean Comstock of AmSafe Aviation; Joni Gilbert of the Hilton Phoenix Airport; Robin Gordon of Sky Harbor Airport Parking; Colleen Guhin and Melinda Hausner, both from American Express; Louise Kendall of ADTRAV Travel Management; Tina McHale of Supershuttle/Execucar; and Mandy McKaskle of the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.
ROI: There were 51 attendees, 15 of them non-members. Total revenue raised was $4,995. Benefit to members: increased education, an opportunity to increase job knowledge, credit for certification, networking with other travel industry professionals and exposure to potential new members.

Austin BTA
It became evident, when Advito’s Mary Ellen George gave her presentation on corporate social responsibility on January 13, that the basis of the green issue is elusive to many. More than 50 enthusiastic travel professionals listened as George introduced the NBTA CSR Toolkit, pointed out that CSR is a global issue, and emphasized that whatever is important to the clients must be a top priority for them. Applying CSR principles has a positive impact on every company’s social, environmental and economic bottom line.
When the steps for really being green were outlined, the group was excited about taking this information back to their companies and their homes. This isn’t just a work-related, big company issue — not even a community problem. It is worldwide and as with most issues, change starts with one step, and in our own back yard. A five-step action plan, applicable at all levels, was outlined: 1. Analyze; 2. Define; 3. Prioritize; 4. Set goals; and 5. Implement.
As understanding grew, many committed to “making a difference” in sustainability and accountability. Everyone in a travel-related environment must first identify the emissions that can’t be cut, then explore ways to compensate. For example, it would not be accurate or helpful to simply criticize the airlines    for their role in all of this. Instead, weigh the impact of hundreds of people being transported at one time, versus all the one-person-per-car scenarios played out every day.
Start at home; encourage your family and guests to dispose of waste in a responsible manner. Conserve water in every way possible — it is true that in the near future we could suffer from a severe water shortage, making it our costliest resource. It is time to do something — now!
ROI: From George’s presentation, attendees learned what impact each of them can make on the environment and the responsibility they have to take this to their companies, clients and homes. The buzz of conversation following a meeting is a good indicator of the success of the presentation. There was that buzz!

Central Florida BTA
“Data for Decisions” was the topic of CFBTA’s meeting on May 28. The members believed that a travel policy is the most critical element of any travel procurement program, and wanted facts to back up that belief and gain executive support, the best mechanism for influencing travelers to use preferred suppliers and controlled booking channels.
Mary Straub, North American travel manager for Siemens Travel Management Services, discussed innovative solutions that are helping her company gain acceptance of their corporate travel program through analysis and utilization of data. Her detailed presentation provided helpful information and suggestions to improve compliance and reduce travel costs.
ROI: Attendees obtained valuable information they will use when presenting data and facts to build a case for mandating, or proving the value of, policy compliance. Data can measure reductions in travel costs by tracking all expenses, noting exceptions and consequences.

Chicago BTA    
Immediately following Chicago BTA’s third-quarter meeting — held at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Oakbrook on October 1 — the Association’s Allied Council held its first ever “Allied Square Table Meeting Recap,” a take-off on our typical Direct Member Round Tables. This was big news: it was the first meeting dedicated to Allieds.
The event began with networking followed by a bountiful lunch while Scott Gillespie presented his “Selling into Procurement” workshop. With more than 60 Allied members and guests in attendance, the Square Table surpassed attendance expectations and has proven that there is interest in networking and education opportunities geared specifically to suppliers. Future Square Tables will be held following the first and third quarter chapter meetings. Allied Council members are Vivian Smith of Tower Travel Management; Max Schroeder of Trump International Hotel & Tower; Wafa Haleem of Boston Coach; and Gary Leonard of Southwest Airlines.
ROI: For this pilot program, Chicago BTA stepped out of the box to present a “square table” for the suppliers of business travel — Allieds. The results were viewed as an overwhelming success by the 60+ in attendance. Gillespie’s workshop provided interesting and useful information for an audience of professionals with similar issues to address. This one meeting opened the door to future meetings geared to the buyer’s “most important person” — the supplier.

Connecticut/Westchester BTA
“Where Are We Going? — The Future of Hospitality Business in the Midst of Economic Turmoil” was presented by Duane Vincent, vice president of STR Global, in the CWBTA March meeting. Vincent gave an excellent analysis of the state of the hospitality industry with a critical eye to what we can expect in the future.
Using more than 50 easily-understood charts and graphs, he made it easy to comprehend the connections and differences in hotel occupancy numbers from across the nation. Then Vincent brought his analysis to the local level, focusing on divergent trends between Westchester and Fairfield counties in group and transient ADR, development planned or in progress in both counties, predictions for the future trends in ADR and occupancy. A lively discussion by attendees ensued over the stresses of a slowing market and the need to develop new business to support our companies while helping our partners control expenses. (That’s putting it nicely!)
ROI: To successfully draw attendance to educational meetings, members and guests must be convinced that taking an evening away from family or other demands on their time will be worth the sacrifice. “Over 70 folks registered for the event, exemplifying the value of CWBTA to the region as a leader in travel education and advocacy,” says CWBTA President Robin Buzzeo of Taro Pharmaceuticals.

Dallas/Fort Worth BTA
Mission Possible 2009 was the theme of the eighth annual Texas Education Day, hosted by the Dallas /Fort Worth BTA. More than 210 travel professionals from the DFW, Houston and Austin BTAs, plus guests from across the nation, attended.
Friday’s all-day session was kicked off by Leadership Outfitters, who facilitated “Imagination — Looking at Conventional Processes Unconventionally.” Following that, a panel of airline executives moderated by Will Tate of Management Alternatives provided insight into “What’s Possible for 2009 and Beyond.” Panelists were Charles Sultan with American Airlines; Lufthansa’s Don Bunkenburg; Monisa Cline with Continental Airlines; and Robert Brown of Southwest Airlines. They reported that all airlines are working on technology to meet TSA’s 2010 deadline for Secure Flight passenger screening; agreed that the ATC’s 1960s technology is outdated; and encouraged attendees to join the fight to get the FAA to focus on improving this technology to lower fuel costs and improve the environment, the industry and passenger experiences.
Also, NBTA President & CEO Kevin Maguire gave an update on travel management in 2009; Kevin Coffey, president and CEO of Corporate Travel Safety, gave tips on traveler safety, security and risk management; and Garrett Boone, chairman emeritus of The Container Store, discussed excellence in customer service.
The day ended with another stimulating session from Leadership Outfitters with a “stop doing” list to supplement the “to do” list and eliminate tasks in conflict with new ideas and goals.
Event directors Phyllis Cowell, corporate travel manager with VHA Inc., and Gloria Gonzalez, travel manager for Chemical Lime Company, credited success to the support of DFW BTA’s committee leaders and volunteers.
ROI: The overwhelmingly positive survey responses and ratings received following the event validate that the mission was successful! As one attendee noted in the survey, “The whole event seemed to be extremely well planned and organized.” Others stated “The speakers were all very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise.” ... “A good mix of sessions. The event was very well organized.” ... “I attended because it was CCTE accredited; the rest exceeded my expectations.”

First Coast BTA
Recognizing the importance of getting the word out that without meetings the impact on business would be devastating, First Coast BTA President Jeannie Eisenhart, and Christopher Hill, director of PR, coordinated a walk with a mission — a very important mission!
On May 12, members and guests of FCBTA started their mission at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront in downtown Jacksonville. During lunch, guest speaker Jonathan Howe, general council for Meeting Planners International, gave a presentation titled “Surviving in Tough Economic Times.” After lunch, a group of at least 50 people walked the Riverwalk to the Jacksonville Landing, an outdoor shopping mall on the river, where they were welcomed by an electric billboard reading “Meetings Mean Business.” After the president of Visit Jacksonville spoke to the attendees and public, the group spread out to answer questions and talk about the importance of meetings. They also handed out buttons with their slogan “Meetings Mean Business,” and information relevant to everyone in one way or another. Many attendees are still wearing the large buttons passed out that day.
ROI: Our goal for this meeting was to unite with other travel-related organizations from Jacksonville and prove to the city and the nation that meetings and travel mean business. This was primarily a community awareness campaign. We organized our efforts with The Alliance of Jacksonville, local chapters of MPI, HSMAI, north Florida lodging and restaurant associations, and several others. The response from business people and pedestrians was so supportive and the feedback so positive, there wasn’t any doubt that we succeeded.

Florida BTA
When FBTA held a “Buyers Only” discussion on January 17, the guest speaker was Cindy Heston, global travel manager for Wellpoint Inc. She arrived early for a session before the general meeting for a discussion of the specific needs faced by “buyers” or travel managers. Participants also discussed the state of the travel industry and their part in it; car rental taxes; airline unbundling and the challenges of managing all the new fees. A discussion on managing hotel programs, specifically the hassle of collecting hotel folios, provided new ideas and solutions.
Gordon Cowley, vice president of direct membership, and Yolanda Cardiff, director of programs, planned the meeting. Seventeen travel managers attended, three for the first time.
ROI: Attendees gained valuable insight into how other travel managers deal with specific issues; exchanged “best practices” and learned smarter ways to do things. They also brought up several topics for discussion at other “buyers only” meetings.

Georgia BTA
Cathy Cottrell, treasurer of GBTA, narrated the following:
“GBTA celebrated its 30th anniversary in May 2009 at The W Buckhead. As I traveled about the room prior to the start of the meeting taking pictures (yes, I am the association photographer as well,) I caught bits and pieces of lighthearted conversations about family and corporate travel, and witnessed new friendships being made. I saw business cards being exchanged and heard seasoned travel industry experts share their wisdom. ...
“There was an additional buzz amid the conversations. We were celebrating our Association’s 30th Anniversary. GBTA had extended a special invitation to past presidents and we were thrilled that seven asccepted. As each past president was asked to join his or her successor at their place of honor, it was obvious why GBTA has been so successful. Past presidents, representing both direct and allied members, had each led the association with character, integrity and honor. Though each held regular jobs in the travel industry, each also volunteered time, energy and vision to lead the membership through engaging and valuable events and meetings.
“The keynote speaker was Andrew Menkes. His overview of the current and future trends in sourcing business travel services was an interactive session that engaged the entire audience; buyers as well as travel service providers.
“The event also included Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and a past mayor of Atlanta. After leaving full-time public service, he entered the tourism business in Buckhead [the city’s northern, uptown district], where for 13 years he operated a travel agency. A certified travel counselor (CTC) and former president of the Travel Industry Association of Georgia, Massell spoke on Buckhead’s influence on travel; past, present and future.
“After closing remarks, ... I proudly thought to myself that on our 30th Anniversary, we once again met our goal. Our members enjoyed a lovely venue and dinner, listened to guest speakers who offered wisdom and insight to travel industry topics, networked with colleagues and received a useful gift to commemorate the special event. It was an atmosphere of education and celebration.”
ROI: “The board and I are tasked with being good stewards of the budget, and making sure that the meetings and events we schedule provide value to our membership. Our members must take something of value to their respective workplaces and to their corporate travelers or their clients. Sometimes it is a clearer understanding of a current industry hot topic, a new contact to enhance the business, or even a lead to a new opportunity in the job market. The possibilities are endless and have been fulfilled. “

Hawaii BTA
Hawaii BTA met on May 6 to educate members and guests on TARP and its unintended consequences on business travel and Hawaii’s economy. Credit for the great turnout and success of the event belongs to the volunteers in charge: Lorena B. Horiuchi, program chair; Hollie Amano, vice president; Leslie Cho, president; Wendy Yim, treasurer; Joycelyn Acosta, secretary; Kainoa Daines, communications; Elaine Reed, hospitality; and Tammie Kotani, membership.
Tourism is Hawaii’s #1 economic engine. Leisure dominates. Locally, few are aware of the “business market” that makes up approximately 7 percent of the pie. Our conference topic was a great opportunity to educate our members on this subject and expose our legislators and business leaders to the Hawaii BTA and its members.
The joint statement signed by seven travel organizations (including NBTA) in response to TARP restrictions provided the program focus. Also providing background: a joint letter from the Governor of Hawaii, key politicians and members of the state’s visitor industry sent to President Obama asking him to oppose any measure that unfairly restricts companies’ ability to use conventions, meetings and incentive travel as a legitimate business tool; plus local newspaper reports on the damaging ramifications of large group cancellations.
On the meeting agenda: a panel discussion between Shane Downey, NBTA government relations manager; the CFO of a financial institution that received TARP funds; the vice president of meetings, conventions & incentive market from the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau; and the regional vice president for Hilton Hawaii. The panel was moderated by the field marketing director for Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii. In the audience: the tourism committee chairs and vice chairs for both the Senate and House of Representatives; the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority; the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii; officials from the department of economic development for Honolulu and Maui; plus Hawaii BTA members.
ROI: The goal for this meeting was to have a well-rounded panel, attendance from local legislators, the presence of city officials and business leaders, as well as an intense public relations campaign. HBTA educated invited guests about the Association and its connection with Washington, DC, through its affiliation with NBTA; and let them know there are professionals who manage travel for their companies, contributing to their success, and who are also involved in national issues affecting us locally. The conference received television and print coverage, in the first step of letting the local community know that Hawaii BTA is “the voice of business travel.” Members and guests commented on the overwhelming positive results of this well-attended event.

Inland Northwest BTA
When it was announced that “a first-hand account of an international hostage” was being presented February 11, we quickly sold out. That night, you could hear a pin drop as Dick Melhart told his story.
On September 12, 1986, Pan American World Airways Flight 73 touched down at Pakistan’s Karachi International Airport on a scheduled, 21-hour flight from Bombay to Frankfurt and New York. Suddenly a small van drove up to the plane, and out jumped four men dressed in the blue uniforms of local airport workers. They clambered up the boarding stairs, wildly firing automatic rifles. Once inside they shouted “Hands up! Hands up!” Eighteen hours later, the 747 jumbo jet would still stand on the tarmac; but at least 17 of its 400 passengers and crew would be dead, 125 injured.
Very early in those 18 hours, the hijackers called a passenger to the front of the plane, shot him in the head and dumped him out of the plane, threatening to kill a hostage every 10 minutes unless their demands were met. They ordered passengers to crouch in their seats with heads in hands. The day passed slowly, anxious passengers aching with fatigue.
The luckiest passengers escaped, skidding unhurt down the emergency chutes and running for several hundred yards without stopping until they reached the airport terminal. Dozens of others, suffering from shock and injury, milled around the tarmac. Some of the more seriously wounded lay on the pavement.
Exactly what happened during the last terrible moments of the ordeal is not clear, but survivors agree that the climax came after the plane’s lights and air conditioning failed, probably because the lubricating oil had run low. The terrorists, alternately harsh and conciliatory, ordered passengers to move to the center of the plane. Then with scores of people crouching in the middle of the plane, the terrorists shouted an ominous countdown — “1 ... 2 ... 3!” — and began firing machine guns from the forward part of the aircraft and exploding hand grenades at the rear. Some passengers broke open the emergency doors; others, cut off from the emergency exits, were caught in the gunfire.
Melhart had been thinking all day about how he should try to escape if the opportunity came. When it did, he climbed out onto a wing, jumped down onto the tarmac and ran.
Gerri Vance of Purcell Systems and Candice Payne, Alaska/Horizon Air, coordinated the event.
ROI: Through this dynamic presentation, attendees learned how to travel safely internationally, how not to look “too American” when abroad and how teamwork can help you escape a dangerous situation. The passengers fully expected to die but the majority survived by acting as a team and following their instincts. Money can’t buy this kind of life-saving information and “real” education.

Los Angeles BTA
LABTA’s goal for 2009 was to provide education for members and guests with networking and industry insight. This year’s LABTA Education Day, held at UCLA on March 18, met that goal, reports Jeff Sewalson of Continental Airlines. The morning sessions included Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, who provided an economic outlook for 2009. Next, Kathleen Sedlmayr, KES Consulting, moderated the airport security panel in which Andrew Goldsmith of Rapiscan Systems and Phil Williams of Virgin Atlantic Airways discussed new security technology and how the airlines are trying to ease the security crunch for travelers. Prior to the networking lunch, Andy Feld of Simple Happy LLC presented “Why This Economic Crisis is Our Most Wonderful Wake-Up Call,” offering tools for personal happiness.
A session on the technology for booking ground transportation, by RideShare’s Tim Csontos, kicked off the afternoon session. The last session of the day was a panel designed to provide members with a better perspective on travel certification. Eve White with HRG spoke about the GLP program; Belinda Borden from UCLA discussed her recent CCTE experience; and Donna Watson, director of education with NBTA, talked about all three.
“Education Day proved to be much more than I had expected and definitely worth the time away from the office,” says Pamela Witherspoon, director of travel services at Universal Music Group. “The first speaker, Dr. Thornberg, provided a great perspective on our economy as it relates to travel and what it means for us personally now and in the future. This education day is being credited towards one of my CCTE electives, but had it not, I would have still found great value for my time. The entire day was informative, and a great way to network.”
ROI: When a large BTA sets a high goal of educating its members while providing the essential elements of networking and industry insights, it can go in several directions. Seeking out and providing speakers to supply that mix is difficult — and LABTA met the challenge in spite of a downward-spiraling economy. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with attendees stating they had gained everything they expected — and more — from their investment in time.

MidSouth Area BTA
The MidSouth Area BTA’s April luncheon featured Susan Franson, general manager, and Nick Demarco, district sales manager, both with Delta Air Lines. They presented an update on the Northwest-Delta merger, including fleet and facility integration, and a financial outlook for the new Delta and the airline industry as a whole. MSABTA vice president Greg Steifer organized the program.
 “One of the items discussed was frequent flyer memberships and how the merger would affect the travelers’ accounts,” said one attendee. “One of my company’s executives had been concerned about whether he should register with DL or continue to use his NW account number on his reservations. Franson advised that using the NW frequent flyer number would be fine and that eventually when the merger is completed, the NW customers would be assigned a SkyMiles account by the carrier.”
ROI: The presentation was given as a result of popular demand, and drew more than 60 attendees because of its value for MSABTA members and guests. MEM had been a key NW Airlines hub and was now one of the DL hubs. MEM supports key corporate accounts, including FedEx, International Paper and Smith & Nephew, and several large agency accounts. Comments validated the importance of providing an update on this merger.

New Jersey BTA
The NJBTA Education Day was highlighted by record attendance at the Hilton Newark Airport on November 13 with opening remarks by Rich Thomas, vice president of Monument Policy Group. The general session was led by Andrew Menkes, CEO of Partnership Travel Consulting. Two panel discussions were incorporated into the event: “Key Changes in the Airline Industry” and “Strategic Meetings Management.” The attendees expressed their appreciation to Monisa Cline, Continental Airlines; Phil Dunphy, Pfizer; Cynthia Shumate, Estee Lauder; Brian McCabe, Worktopia; Paul Gray, StarCite; Mike Malinchok, S2K Consult and moderators Gerald Allison, BTE publisher, and Tom Barrett, director of global travel, Bristol/Myers Squibb.
A presentation on “Attitude is Everything” was delivered by Michael Pitcher, president and CEO of Lease Plan USA. The day concluded with a discussion around compliance and content optimization, led by Jim Davidson, president and CEO of Farelogix.
ROI: With more demands on everyone’s time, travel professionals only attend meetings that will provide the most value for their time. It was obvious from the turnout and audience attentiveness that the speakers and panels provided interesting and current information. Due to the tremendously positive feedback on the event, NJBTA is planning a follow-up Education Day for November 2009.

North Carolina BTA
When NCBTA held its first Education Day in many years on September 11, the members stepped up with full support. Volunteers that coordinated and implemented the programs were Al Reider with Dollar Thrifty and Wendy Palmer with CarlsonWagonlit.
Part of the appeal to the NCBTA members and attendees from other chapters was the roster of highly qualified speakers and their topics. NBTA President Kevin Maguire addressed upcoming elections and its effect on business travel; Carol Ann Salcito, president of Management Alternatives, ‘taught’ Travel Management 101; Brad Seitz of Topaz International listed “The Top 10 Travel Fallacies”; Don Swartz of Corporate Travel Buyer Resource discussed airline negotiations; and Ann Meskill of American Express presented “Creating a Travel Policy.”
From our attendee survey: “It exceeded my expectations.” ... “Very well put together and great choice of speakers” (from Matt Mayhew, Enterprise Rental Car) ... “Good mix of content, and timeliness of content” (from Kathy Gorton, Sunbelt Rentals).
ROI: Our Education Day was a very successful event that captured a high percentage of direct members. The 60 travel professionals attending found the topics and presenters very interesting and informative — well worth their invested time. We opened this event up to everyone within the travel industry in the hopes we would gain more new members, with a special emphasis on direct members. What a huge success when 27 of the guests joined, including 15 Directs!

North Central BTA
On February 12, Peter Greenberg gave a presentation on “The Transportation Emergency” to the chapter’s record number of attendees. Greenberg’s credentials include travel editor for NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC and CNBC; Emmy award-winning writer and producer; author of the bestselling book series, The Travel Detective; creator and co-executive producer of the History Channel series Secrets of the Black Box — and an average of 400,000 miles traveled each year.
Greenberg gave a business and consumer perspective on why changing our transportation system (from the FAA to the airline infrastructure, to trains, and even buses) is an absolute national imperative. “In September and October of 2009 we had a financial market meltdown, and if we lose focus on our travel and transportation systems, the economic impact will be even worse,” he warned.
Heidi Ecker, Tanya Gartner, Devie Hagen, Vickie Mullen, Jan Neuberger and Jill Oswald, were the volunteers who put this outstanding program together.
ROI: The meeting was considered a success on two levels - the 114 attendees paid $50 each to attend, for a total of $5,700 revenue. Although this meeting was rated high in raising funds, it was agreed it exceeded everyone’s expectations for educational content. On a scale with five being the highest, 93 percent of the attendees rated this speaker four plus. Among the comments following the meeting: “It is worth the investment of getting well known speakers such as Peter Greenberg.” ... “This was one of the best programs in a long time. Kudos to whoever secured this very high-level speaker.” ... “This was our best speaker all year — impressive for this organization to have a speaker of this caliber.” ... “Very good speaker — very energetic and I liked what he was talking about.” ... “Having a big name speaker was great.”

Oregon BTA
On May 14-15, Robin Roane gave accelerated training for the Corporate Travel Expert (CTE) certification. (She herself holds CTE, CCTE and CMP certification.) Roane has spent more than 20 years in the hotel industry, 18 with Marriott International before joining the NBTA staff in September 2006. During her seven-year tenure as an Allied member of NBTA, she served as president and past president of the Texas BTA and secretary/treasurer for NBTA’s Chapter Presidents Council. She has also served as director of marketing and advertising and membership director for the Houston area chapter of Meeting Professionals International.
It’s no surprise then, when Andy Palacios, director of education for Oregon BTA, reports that “In addition to our members and contacts, we also invited members of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Oregon Chapter and other regional business travel associations. The event was advertised through press releases, e-blasts, the OBTA, NBTA and other regional web sites.
“Per our event survey, attendees took the training to further their travel industry knowledge, earn professional level certification and network with travel partners. One hundred percent of the attendees believed the training would help them in their jobs,” Palacios continues.
The training was held over two days at the Crowne Plaza Portland Convention Center in Portland, OR. Attendees received face-to-face training, CTE certification testing, breakfast, breaks and lunch both days, as well as a reduced room rate if they wished to stay overnight.
ROI: The goal of OBTA’s Education Day 2009 was to bring the Fundamentals of Business Travel Management: Corporate Travel Expert (CTE) certification to the members and community. The training was successfully completed by six non-OBTA members, five Allied (travel supplier) members, and seven Direct (travel manager) members.

Philadelphia BTA    
When Philadelphia BTA (affectionately called Philly BTA) plans an event, it isn’t with one goal in mind — which is why the results are two-fold. In 2008, Philly BTA began partnering with the Philadelphia Area Meeting Planners International (PAMPI) on an annual education day for the benefit of both organizations’ members and guests. In 2009, the two-day event began with a meeting and dinner on Wednesday evening, May 20; a full day of education tracks was offered on May 21.
The emphasis was on providing a realistic outlook for today’s economic situation. The event also offered CCTE accreditation.
The attendance went up from 75 on the first day to 111 on the second day — good news travels fast. Philadelphia BTA credits the education committee for the success. Committee members were Patricia Pae, American Express; Tom Wilkinson, TRW Travel Consulting; Tom Roberts, Boscov’s Business Travel; Collette de Chaules Lee, American Express; and Lori Goldstein of the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia.
ROI: Philadelphia BTA’s goal was to provide valuable educational and networking opportunities for members and guests. Feedback and attendance records validate its success. Many attendees traveled quite a distance and represented many organizations, listing PCMA, ISES, IAAM and ASAE as their affiliations. With smaller budgets and bigger demands on time and money, competition for professionals’ attendance has increased.

Puget Sound BTA
In the past, some of our members expressed the opinion that we needed to do more than just present a check to our charity partners. In response, PSBTA organized a “River Restoration Project,” using money from our annual fundraiser to help fund the work day on the Duwamish River near Seattle on May 28.
Sixty PSBTA members and guests gathered at the Codiga Farm on the Duwamish River. We were briefed and educated by a river naturalist on the fragile eco-system and what the benefits of our work would be.
Then we broke into small teams assigned different tasks; some of us shoveled mulch, others weeded a beach, some rid the nearby woods of toxic plants. One team laid down weed-resistant paper and covered the ground with the mulch.
We broke for lunch — bento boxes, every item recyclable. We played our first outdoor bingo, learned more from the naturalists, and went back to work.
In all, we spent about five hours on the shore of the river where as a team we made a significant dent in the huge project of restoring this wetland.
ROI: Not only were we educated by the naturalist, but we all left with a sense of accomplishment. It was an excellent team-building exercise, and each of us had a lot of time to network, building relationships with each other.

Rocky Mountain BTA
The April 14 Education Day, a CCTE-certified program, was structured so travel-related people could learn from each other, meet peers and share best practices. Results were shared at an end-of-the-day session. Through the day, attendees discussed “The Affect of the Economy on Travel Policies and Budgets,” sharing their experiences with regard to meal guidelines, ancillary expenses (baggage, purchased upgrades at the airport, etc.), and demand management.
    There also was discussion on how to define and track value-added and cost savings. Daphne Bryant, the NBTA Foundation’s director, explained its Managed Travel Index(r) & Benchmarking Tool, designed to provide several important benchmarking components.
Kevin Maguire, NBTA’s president/ CEO, and manager of travel for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Texas, provided a rousing perspective about what is in store for corporate travel management in 2009.
Susan Carter, vice president of marketing for Farelogix, presented the realities and myths of content optimization and demonstrated how all players in the travel supply chain can benefit from it, and why it is much more than segment brokering. She also touched on the role that the emerging concept of content merchandizing plays in overall content optimization.
James Sisco, global travel director with Reed Elsevier, provided an industry update, focusing on what’s happening throughout the aviation industry, airlines and Next Gen. There was also discussion regarding the development of the NBTA Airline RFP.
Committee members responsible for the event include April Wheeler of Travel and Transport; Missy Fusco and Dawn Smith of Great West Life; Virgilia Goodwin of Policy Studies; Tony Jones of Enterprise Rental Car; and Cherie Hogue of UMB Bank. They were led by Lynelle Lahey of Travel and Transport, RMBTA’s director of program/education, Chris Collins of CWT, her co-chair.
ROI: More than 50 people attended this day of discussions on challenges facing Allieds and Directs alike. Among the comments confirming the day’s success: “This was my first RMBTA event as I am from Boston and flew in for the CCTE elective credit. — it was well worth the trip for me!” ... “I loved the benchmarking presentation as it was so clearly explained that I know I will introduce it to others in my company.” ... “I received tools that everyone in my office can use, which is a considerable return on my investment of time and money.”

Silicon Valley BTA
On June 11, SVBTA met at the Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos an hour early for a pre-meeting for all members with three career management experts — Merrin Donley of Donley Associates, and Rebecca Martin and Julie Youngblood of the dear jane career advisement company. They coached the 25 early birds on how to be fearless in conducting a job search, sell core competencies to a potential employer and utilize effective networking techniques.
Later, during the networking/registration period, Jannie Jonker, SVBTA’s technology guru, demonstrated the newly-launched SVBTA web site. The user-friendly, easy-to-navigate site — with rotating graphics, top and side toolbars, social networking sites and multiple events on the home page — generated positive feedback from members and guests. Jonker and his team encouraged use of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to increase professional networking opportunities and to connect SVBTA members.
The keynote speaker, Kathy Briski, a travel procurement veteran, kept the 120 attending members spellbound with her educational journey through “strategic sourcing.” The focus was on bridging the communication gap between travel and procurement and how to fit travel metrics into the strategic procurement model. “Kathy was by far the most exciting, informative and engaging speaker we have had at SVBTA in years,” said Terry Brodt, chairman of SVBTA, afterwards. “She told it like it is in the real world of travel and she provided great insights into vendor negotiations, explaining what you can get out of the process.”
“The Travel Sourcing Strategy presentation [was] very relevant to the sourcing directions corporations should choose in today’s tough economical environment,” agreed Ellina Arakelova, manager of travel operations, AlignTechnology. “Kathy Briski presented a very detailed overview of sourcing the most important parts of travel programs; such as air, hotel and ground transportation. Methodology is an essential part of developing strategies, and it was clearly presented with great statistics and information sources. Although I believe travel operations are a combination of technology, finance and procurement, effective sourcing in travel management is a huge part of success. Thank you for bringing Kathy Briski and her sourcing experience to SVBTA.”
Stephanie Valdez, SVBTA programs director and the programs committee were in charge of this project, along with support of the SVBTA board of directors.
ROI: The meeting was a huge success! The pre-meeting career management session provided relevant information and resources for the unemployed (or about-to-be-unemployed) travel industry colleagues. Travel sourcing strategy is a hot topic as companies continue to consolidate and reorganize, and travel departments transition under procurement. Due to a combination of pertinent topics, the dynamic speaker and attractive location, members, potential members and guests listened with enthusiastic interest.

Tampa Bay BTA
Have you ever wondered what happens to your bags after you turn them over at the airport? TBBTA members and guests were invited to learn about that and the continuing changes and improvements at Tampa International Airport as the airport positions itself as a gateway to the world from west and central Florida.
Paul Ridgeway, our guide into the “secret underworld” of TIA, took us into tunnels and secret doors so we could discover not only what happens to our luggage, but so we could be among the thousand eyes watching every corner of the airport. For a brief moment it was like we all were secret agents!
During the private tour of the airport’s underbelly, the group was fascinated by the screening command center, where the scanned pictures of your luggage are “broken” into sections and the agents look for suspicious items. The screeners can tell from the scanned picture on their screen if they need to open the suitcase. Take-away lesson: do not put peanut butter jars in your suitcase. Why? Because they resemble plastic explosives.
Program/location chair for the TBBTA chapter Maria Turner with IC Intracom, was credited for arranging one of the most interesting events of the year; and one that most of us can learn from.
ROI: The Tampa International Airport is a large supporter of TBBTA and routinely sponsors a luncheon update on its expansion plans and timeline. In the added “behind-the-scenes” tour, members were able to see a highly-restricted operation that is so important for our safety. Pre-registration yielded only 26 participants but before lunch was served, 33 were in attendance. The topic was the key, proven by the follow-up survey: “This was one of my favorite meetings!” ... “Our tour of the baggage processing area was excellent.” ... “This was important and insightful information about the airport and all the new projects. I didn’t have a clue about the processes, security or planning that takes place in the airport.”

Texas BTA    
Three TBTA members received their own economic stimulus on January 14 at a meeting held at the Crowne Plaza Greenpoint in Houston. There, Lynn Houston of Continental Airlines; Christle Johnson of National Car Rental/Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and Lisa Stanford of BP were recipients of the Debbie Reynolds scholarships, named for long-time TBTA member Debbie Reynolds. The scholarships will underwrite their attendance at the NBTA convention in San Diego.
“In the past, I always had the luxury of my company paying for me to attend the annual convention. If it wasn’t for the TBTA scholarship funds, I don’t think I would be able to attend the NBTA convention this year,” said Stafford.
The scholarship criteria used in the selection process was precise and detailed. Applicants must be a member in good standing as specified by the Texas BTA by-laws. Their applications were scored on completeness and content of each question asked. Applications were reviewed by the committee as a group, with each member providing input. Scores were given, tabulated and documented. “This year we received a record number of entries,” said Linda Loesch, KBR Travel Services, who served as co-chairperson of the scholarship committee along with Ellen Meyer, Marathon Oil.
ROI: The goal was clearly stated at the beginning of the year: TBTA wanted to offer scholarships to qualifying members to attend the 2009 NBTA convention. Mission accomplished.

Wisconsin BTA
“Surviving 2008: A Turbulent Time for Business Travelers” was Wisconsin BTA’s topic on September 10 when David Grossman, a reporter and featured columnist for USA Today and ABC News, was the key speaker for their first breakfast meeting held at the Hilton Downtown Milwaukee. His presentation was followed by a “best practices” panel discussion from direct members Bob Gotthart of Kohler Co.; Dean Opdahl of Metavante and John Saggio of Manpower.
Grossman offered predictions and strategies for several key travel areas including: domestic, international, the future of Milwaukee and the major airlines. “In a world of rising oil prices, a deteriorating air transport system, a growing pilot shortage, possible airline mergers, and a faltering economy, he addressed how just getting there can bring on many challenges,” reports Gotthart, who is also president of WBTA.
Volunteers in charge of the project were Gotthart; the vice president of education, Carrie Stollenwerk of Fox World Travel; and the hospitality and program chair, Robert Zimmerman of Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.
ROI: This was Wisconsin BTA’s first breakfast meeting in many years and the turnout was awesome — 67 from an entire membership of 82. Their survey results were an amazing 98 percent approval rate. They also gained three new members — proof of the pudding!


Kevin Iwamoto, vice president of enterprise strategy, StarCite: It was very tough to determine the best in each of these categories. I commend all of the chapters for doing an excellent job in all three areas of chapter development. I was also impressed by the creativity of some of the chapter meetings and more importantly the results! In a down economy, it was very impressive to see the fundraising and membership results. I feel these real stand-out chapters epitomize the true essence and spirit of what NBTA Chapters should embody to the respective communities that they represent:
    Puget Sound BTA has a longstanding reputation for always hosting very successful fundraising meetings, but its submission this year was especially impressive. Not only did the chapter manage to raise record donations in a down economy, it had a record attendance and celebrated the Pacific Northwest melting pot status by having an international theme combining that with a green theme to make it a green event. On top of that organizers took the time to have their charity partner educate their chapter members about all of the worthy causes their charity partner supports. PSBTA not only raised record funds for its scholarship programs but managed to contribute a sizeable donation to their charity partner, People for Puget Sound.  An excellent job by all chapters who submitted their stories, but in my opinion PSBTA deserves special kudos for its accomplishments.
    Hawaii BTA: I promise this choice is not because I was born and raised in Honolulu, but because HBTA’s submission of how it educated members and guests on TARP and its unintended consequences on business travel and more importantly, on Hawaii’s heavy reliance on tourism to support their economy, was textbook.
    What HBTA organized and executed is what all chapters should strive to do, make a big impact in their communities, educate members and communities about important issues impacting business travel, influence local government and drive positive changes! “Mahalo” to HBTA for a job well done!
    Dallas / Fort Worth BTA: What DFWBTA did meant so much to me and everyone else who has loved ones serving in the US military. It’s one thing to contribute money and items to soldiers overseas and financially support veterans’ organizations. It takes things to a whole new level when you get your members to roll up their sleeves to volunteer and make a difference. This NBTA chapter walks the talk, literally!
    Each volunteer learned and experienced first hand what it feels like to make a difference, just by showing someone you care. No wonder their chapter membership continues to grow year-over-year. Who wouldn’t want to be a proud member of this chapter?

Ira Kerns, managing director of GuideStar Research for MeetingMetrics: None of the examples adhere to two of the basic principles of ROI that should be present in a true “value chain of impacts.”
A.) Financial return above costs calculated as monetary value (ROI).
B.) Measurable application of skills and knowledge acquired at the meeting, shifts in attitudes or perceptions, specific behaviors, actions and impacts at or following the event.
     However, there was clearly financial value generated with respect to the charitable contributions and various non-financial values as well. So I developed a rating method based on ROI measurement principles; the ratings I gave became blends and somewhat subjective in the end.
    Evaluated from that ROI perspective, the top scores among the reports in BTE’s 2009 collection were:
 Fundraisers: Each with 70 points: Puget Sound BTA and Silicon Valley BTA. Each with 60 points: Dallas Fort Worth BTA, Oregon BTA, Philadelphia BTA, Rocky Mountain BTA and Texas BTA.
Building Membership: Top score, with 60 points: Utah BTA. Dallas/Fort Worth BTA achieved 40 points; Oregon BTA, 30 points.
Educational Meetings: The top scorers all reached 30 points: Austin BTA, Central Florida BTA, Chicago BTA, Connecticut/ Westchester BTA, MidSouth Area BTA.
Eileen Wingate, Principal, The Win Group
    Puget Sound: Attendance at the Puget Sound fundraiser was increased by 40 percent, which indicates that the pre-event work was well done and very successful. Fundraising was done in advance of the evening in the form of $20k in cash as well as donations in the form of airline tickets, luxury hotels, an African safari — who wouldn’t want to take a chance at that!
    Switching from a traditional sit-down dinner to food stations sponsored by vendor partners was a great opportunity to reduce costs and provide sponsors with more recognition while setting up additional networking as guests “shop” the stations.
    This Meeting was truly Memorable due to the pre-event work, the cost avoidance and reduction efforts, the sponsor recognition, the participation by the charity partner, the generous portion of the raised funds being donated to their charity and it was truly a party that people will talk about until next year! Based on the overall success of this event, there is no question that the attendance will increase yet again.
    Dallas/Ft.Worth BTA: “Welcome Home a Hero” — encouraging growth outside the normal ranks of travel managers and partner suppliers — is a visible outreach to the community that clearly stimulates participation in their association by demonstrating that they are a good group of individuals who think outside of the travel industry and embrace the community as a whole. If I lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I would join! Growing by 64 new members in this downturned economy is fantastic!
    Chicago BTA: While there were quite a few very exciting one time presentations or single initiatives hosted by other NBTA chapters, what set Chicago apart was their continuing education platform. “Square Table Meetings” was introduced last October allowing the Allied members to conduct semi-annual or quarterly meetings providing networking and educational opportunities focused on the needs of the non-direct members. And in Chicago’s own words, “you must educate both sides for effective business relationships.”