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(EMAILWIRE.COM, May 08, 2008 ) Alexandria, Va. – Business travel managers found themselves on the "inside track" for valuable advice on how to adapt travel programs for maximum efficiency during a changing financial environment – at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives' (ACTE) Executive Forum in Calgary, Alberta on 23 April 2008. According to ACTE Canada Regional Director, Monica Hailstone, 61 participants (with 37 percent corporate buyers by company) representing a cross-section of Western Canadian-based companies, as well as some from Eastern Canada, tapped into the professional knowledge base of the speakers as well as their industry colleagues.

"The presentation-type nature of this event quickly evolved into a dialogue-rich atmosphere that ACTE educational events in Canada are famous for," said Hailstone. "Presenters were spot on in their assessments of the business travel industry, and also with recommendations on boosting productivity while adhering to a cost-containment objective."

Jiten Bhalgat, Practice Leader, Advisory Services, American Express Business Travel, in a session titled, "Charging Ahead with Change," emphasized that business travel is a purchasing anomaly, in that the average trip entails having the traveller make 70 choices. The travel program must be devised in such a way as to steer the traveller through that process, keeping the corporate travel policy in mind. This elicited the comment from Mike Lariviere of Weatherford International that travel management is "high touch and personalized."

Program compliance again surfaced as a critical aspect of cost-containment. One suggestion from Christie Hewlko, Husky Energy, to achieve greater compliance was to include personal travel in the corporate rate negotiation process, thereby insuring a higher level of traveller interest.

In the second session, "Business Travel Outlook," Christian Milau, Vice President, Corporate Finance, Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance Inc., concluded that Canada's price competitiveness is expected to decline against most competitive destinations in the first quarter of 2008 because of the strengthening Canadian dollar. The cost of travelling to Canada is expected to increase substantially year over year for most markets.

Defining trends in business, the session revealed that cost-cutting, tighter trip control, and tougher compliance standards are in the immediate future for most Canadian companies. Somewhat unexpected was discourse on a new social/business trend called "Life Story Labelling." This occurs when customers demand to know the background of a product, such as its history, green commitment, and contribution to sustainable tourism or the economy.

Travel managers who will be conducting business in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics were put on notice by David Ferguson, PKF Consulting and Jacqui Murdoch, VANOC, in a session wholly dedicated to that topic.

According to Ferguson, host cities frequently suffer from a downturn in accommodations demand in an Olympic year, while long-term, overall travel from all markets (corporate, leisure, meetings/conventions) should increase. According to Murdoch, 2010 is Canada's opportunity to showcase the entire country to billions of people around the world – not just Vancouver/Whistler.

There appears to be extraordinary interest globally in the Vancouver games. This will translate to increased security and longer travel times through the city. Travel managers are advised to consider airport properties for travellers and aircrews, and to communicate their expectations to buyers, suppliers, and travellers now.

In the final session, "Bridging the Gap Between Meetings and Business Travel," Maria da Cunha, Vice President, Operations, Canada HRG Events and Meetings Management, stressed that too often a company's meetings and events are unmanaged, unmonitored and fragmented. She noted that less than 50 percent of major organizations do not involve stringent procurement practices in the management of meetings and events while they are involved in business travel.

In da Cunha's estimation, a company will realize (conservatively) 8-12 percent savings annually by consolidating meetings under travel departments. She also recommended devising a centralized corporate meeting calendar, setting up a formal sourcing procedure for all meetings, pursuing leverage buying power, implementing a preferred supplier program, and utilizing one technology platform.

Hailstone added that, after the U.S., ACTE Canada has the largest contingent of members attending the association's Global Education Conference in Washington, D.C. this month, (18-20 May 2008).

In 2008, ACTE will host a Canada Education Conference in Toronto, 16-18 November 2008. For more information and to register for the event, please go to

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) represents the global business travel industry through its international advocacy efforts, executive level educational programs, and independent industry research. ACTE's membership consists of senior travel industry executives from 82 countries representing the €200 billion business travel industry. With the support of sponsors from every major segment of the business travel industry, ACTE develops and delivers educational programs in key business centers throughout the world. ACTE has offices in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and the United States. For more information on ACTE, please go to

# # #

For more information, contact:
Kathy Brannigan
ACTE Senior Director, Global Communications
t: 703.683.5322 x203


This press release was issued through GroupWeb EmailWire.Com. For more information on unlimited press release distribution for $499/year, go to

Kathy Brannigan
703.683.5322 x203

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