2019 GovTravels Provides Value for Both Government and Industry
By Sharon Lo, Managing Editor, DTJ & NDTAGram
Photos by Cherie Cullen
The fourth annual GovTravels Symposium, co-sponsored by NDTA and the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO), was held February 25-27, 2019 at the Hilton Mark Center Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference theme—Empower. Engage. Innovate.—emphasized the complexities of the government traveler as teaming to study the similarities and innovate the solutions to improve the experience.
The Symposium brought together more than 600 individuals and 70 organizations, making it the largest GovTravels event to date. Participants included attendees from passenger travel and related services from federal and state governments, and the private sector. As the only event where decision makers from these particular groups come together to meet, learn and collaborate on common travel issues, GovTravels offers a unique opportunity for the travel community.
NDTA President and CEO, Admiral William A. Brown, USN (Ret.), served as the master of ceremonies. During introductory remarks, he set the tone for the event saying, “our goal over the next two days of GovTravels is to promote communication among all the stakeholders—government and in the private sector—whose job it is to support the safe and efficient travel of our government travelers.”
Mr. William R. Mansell, Jr., Director of DTMO, took the stage and explained the importance of the Symposium to his organization, “The Defense Travel Management Office serves as the single focal point for commercial travel within the Department of Defense. We establish strategic direction, we establish policy, and centrally manage commercial travel programs. At $9 billion of spend annually we are responsible for about 60 percent of the federal government’s travel spend. With an enterprise that large it is easy to appreciate the value in a forum where government and the travel industry are actively engaged and able to exchange ideas, and explore new technology solutions, learn about the latest trends and study best practices.”
The conference schedule consisted of classes, keynote speeches, roundtable discussions, and breakout sessions that explored topics such as regulations, technology, shared challenges and possible solutions. The professional program was a collaborative effort, created with input from a variety of stakeholders including DTMO, the General Services Administration (GSA), NDTA, its industry members and, in particular, members from its Government Passenger Travel Advisory Council (GPTAC).
In conjunction with the Symposium, NDTA also hosted a full-scale exposition, where organizations highlighted their travel solutions and offerings. In addition, the exhibit hall allowed attendees a space to share information with one another and grow their professional networks. With 19 sponsors and 50 exhibitors, the exhibition—like the Symposium—had record high participation.
By all accounts the fourth annual GovTravels Symposium accomplished its goal to promote communication among its stakeholders. It also succeeded in being an important opportunity for attendees to work together and expand their professional knowledge. As this event continues to grow and evolve, GovTravels has firmly cemented its position as a “can’t miss” event within the travel community.