GBTA Chicago Chapter - December Newsletter 2020 Print

President's Report

Dear Chicago Community,

I am so happy to say this is my last newsletter for 2020!  What a year; I'm so glad to put it behind us! Nonetheless, we cannot forget what we learned in 2020. We learned we can endure; we can come together and forge through tough times. 

We started the year with a devastating fire in Australia. The World Health Organization announced Jan. 9 that a deadly coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China. In a matter of months, the virus spread across the globe and forced us to work from home and a four-letter word "Zoom" emerges. Sadly, our favorite basketball player Kobe Bryant along with his daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter crash. COVID-19 brings down the stock market as countries went in lockdown. George Floyd was killed by police officers that sparked a wave of peaceful and sometimes violent demonstrations and riots across the world demanding an end to police brutality and racial injustice. The murder hornet was spotted for the first time stateside. Mid-August we had another deadly wildfire from California to Washington state. September, we lost an unrelenting trailblazer for gender equality - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Eddie Van Halen passed away after a decade of long battle with cancer. GBTA - Chicago Chapter turned 50 and celebrated true COVID style over Zoom. Joe Biden is elected as the 46th President and his Vice President, Kamala Harris is the first Black/Asian woman to ever hold this title. And to come full circle, we conclude the year with a vaccination against COVID-19.

Yes, a lot has happened in 2020 but the most memorable is COVID-19. It changed the world, our industry and our lives.  So many have lost loved ones due to the virus and my heart and condolences are with those who lost friends and family. 

I look back on the past 9 months and I see that the virus forced us to slow down. We learned what is important. We played board games and did jigsaw puzzles and we connected more with our loved ones via Zoom and FaceTime. For some, we became teachers to our children, and for some prayed for a hybrid school teaching approach.  We learned frontline workers should be making what professional athletes make; the internet should be a basic right; the importance to talking to friends every day, and we should wash our hands, whether there’s a virus or not. 

I know 2021 will be better – it just has to. We will be in our 51st year as a travel association chapter; we opened our membership to all so that we can rebuild together and bring our travel industry back to life. Our GBTA - Chicago Chapter will offer some great meetings in 2021 that will focus on recruiting, engagement, and growth.  We look forward to seeing all of you soon!

On behalf of the Board and myself, I wish you happy holiday season, good health, and a great start to 2021.


Bonnie Brabb, President
GBTA - Chicago Chapter

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In Case You Missed It: GBTA Chicago Chapter Turned 50

Thanks for all who joined us to celebrate our 50th Anniversary - what an event and celebration it was! Special guest, Dave Hilfman, joined in and kicked off the evening with announcing the 2020 Business Travel Service Award to our very own Bonnie Brabb! The celebration continued with music by DJ Chris from SoPrime Entertainment and with cocktails in hand. Thanks to the Godfrey Hotel for showing us how to create the perfect Old Fashioned and our Chicago Chapter "Nifty Fifty" cocktail. It was so much fun spending time with our past Chapter Presidents, revealing the time capsule from the Chapter's previous 50 years, and who could forget the Decades Trivia session! Don't miss the photo gallery from the night posted here on our website. 

Thanks to everyone who purchased opportunity drawing tickets to participate in the United Airlines Drawing! The net proceeds will be donated to LYDIA Homeour 2020 chapter charity partner. Congratulations to the winners:

  • Rebecca Enk - IRI Worldwide
  • Jennifer Murphy - Omni Hotels
  • Janet Friedman - Adelman Travel
  • R.T. Small - Travelport
  • Eric Klix - Enterprise Holdings

Special thanks to United Airlines for providing the winners with two round-trip coach class tickets on United Airlines to/from US48 states, Alaska, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. A value of $1800 for each pair of tickets.

"Captain" Steve Ross, United Airlines


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Congratulations to our very own GBTA Chicago Chapter President, Bonnie Brabb on her 2020 Business Travel Service Award!

This is awarded to 17 dedicated GBTA members across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America.

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Education Spotlight

A message from your 2020 Education Committee Chairs

2020 has been a year of twists and turns for our industry and this association.  In the 2nd quarter we began holding monthly meetings in an effort to keep our members up to date with the latest in travel trends, the pandemic, and the city of Chicago. During our May Zoom Series meeting, “Travel Awakens from Covid-19”, our members started to see the changing face of travel suppliers.  Subsequent meetings displayed for our members the changes in RFP, Travel security and finished by displaying truths and myths about the pandemic.  We hope you found value in each of these meetings.  Remember that this is your association and the Education Committee gets ideas directly from members and surveys.  If you know of a pressing topic you’re interested in learning more about, please write to us at [email protected].

The 2021 Zoom Series will kick off with a progressive meeting topic that includes the most important elements of making your next career move.  This will be a multi meeting approach over the course of 2 months to help members better understand how to build resumes, handle a virtual interview, tips for updating your social media presence, and much more!  We encourage you to register for these educational meetings by visiting

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Chicago Networking Sessions

In 2020 we also started our monthly networking sessions with the Happy Hours (hosted by the Allied Council) and Coffee Breaks (hosted by the Executive Board).


It has been so important to maintain our virtual relationships this year, so in addition to our educational meetings we wanted to provide opportunities for our members to simply connect with each other. We covered a variety of personal and business related topics, had breakout rooms, and a ton of fun!

We plan to continue our networking sessions in 2021 to help our members maintain their relationships and foster new ones. Check out these photos from our July and October Happy Hours. We look forward to seeing you on our next Zoom Happy Hour or Coffee Break.

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Membership Corner

Chicago Chapter – Offering Complimentary Membership through 2021

GBTA – Chicago Chapter is very lucky in that our membership cares about our organization to the extent that even those not working want to give back.  Because of this dedication, we succeed – together! 

During these tough times GBTA – Chicago Chapter would like you to know that we think of our members as an extended family – we must look out for each other. When thinking of this, your GBTA - Chicago Chapter Board of Directors made the decision to give back during the industry’s time of need.  We want to give back to you as you have given to us in the past.

As you know, because of the exceptional fiscal responsibility shown by our past Presidents and Board members, we are able to extend an open invitation to all members of the travel community a one-time complimentary membership through December 31, 2021. This includes expired memberships! If you've already joined for 2021 (welcome!), you might also consider any friends or colleagues who weren't members in the past and might be interested in checking out our Chapter.

To secure your complimentary membership all you need to do is sign up here. The full discount will be applied at checkout. Please note that this membership will be valid from the day you sign up until December 31, 2021. We are excited to have you join us for 2021!

With this offer we will need more volunteers to support our committee functions. We hope you would consider helping with the following committees: Education, Marketing/Communications, and Membership. These three committees will be very busy supporting the membership volume. Please email us at [email protected] to volunteer and please mark your application with the committee you prefer.

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Charity Update

When we selected LYDIA Home as our charity partner for 2020 and 2021, we were all very excited about the volunteer opportunities we would have interacting with the foster children. Then of course Coronavirus squashed all our plans. Our fantastic Volunteer Committee brainstormed ideas of how we could interact with the children virtually and the Birthday Campaign was born. Our members started sending cards in June and in the last 6 months we sent 147 cards to 24 children. On average, each foster child received 6 cards from Chicago Chapter GBTA members! A huge THANK YOU to all who have participated in the LYDIA Home Birthday Card Campaign! 

For those who were able to join our 50th Anniversary party, you know it was a blast! The first 100 people that signed up received a swag bag which included a holiday card for every child at LYDIA Home which we asked you to sign and mail. Each child received 2 holiday cards to brighten their season. The best news, thanks to our generous members, is that we raised $2,500 to donate to LYDIA Home! This would not have been possible without our members and our partners at United who generously donated 10 (5 sets) roundtrip airline tickets. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your donations especially during these difficult times.

Looking ahead to 2021, we are continuing the birthday campaign and hope we can volunteer in person at the foster home later in the year when it is safe for everyone. In the meantime, please help us with our birthday campaign to help brighten a troubled child’s day. If you would like to mail a birthday card(s), please send an email to Angela Sciortino ([email protected]) for the children’s names celebrating January birthdays:

If you wish to learn more about becoming involved with the Community Volunteer Committee please reach out to Angela Sciortino at [email protected]

Thank you again for all that you do and give.

Happy holidays!  Wishing you a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!

Sam and Angela

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GBTA Updates & Announcements

Dave Hilfman's Monday Memo to GBTA Members this week has done a great job summarizing some of the things to look forward to in 2021 with the association. Highlights are included below; for the full article, click here.

Results from GBTA’s Latest COVID-19 Member Poll

Results from our latest poll, fielded December 7-13, indicate a large majority of respondents expect to be ready to attend an in-person meeting or event with attendees outside their company (89%) and inside their company (87%) by the second half of 2021. This is just one of the many key pieces of data uncovered by this poll. Click here to view additional insights and data.

It has been rewarding to see the evolution of this polling series, as it has been so well-regarded among media outlets, industry leaders, policymakers, government agencies and our members. As we move into 2021, and the state of the pandemic changes, GBTA will continue running this informative survey of our industry.

GBTA Convention 2021: Registration Now Open

As the travel industry outlook for 2021 continues to look promising, your GBTA staff is hard at work preparing for the annual GBTA Convention, July 17-21, 2021, in Orlando, Florida. Register for this flagship event here.

The convention theme will be a continuation of our enterprising Ready. Safe. Travel. campaign. We’re planning a robust agenda, with both in-person and virtual offerings, allowing for even more members to participate. You can be assured that as we plan for this important event, the health and safety of all attendees will be our top priority.

A Call for Volunteers: ACTE Integration

With the recent acquisition of the key assets of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), GBTA has the unique opportunity to unite the best of two premier organizations in the business travel industry.

We need your help. We’re looking for volunteers from across the business travel world (Buyer, Supplier, Media, Member, Non-Member) who have expertise in the following areas to serve on the integration committee:

  • Blended research and education
  • Advocacy
  • Networking
  • Membership
  • Branding

A successful integration, with input from members across the Association, will ensure we get the most out of GBTA’s investment in ACTE’s brand and robust intellectual assets. To volunteer for this important effort, email your name, email address and a brief description of your area of interest and expertise to [email protected] by January 4, 2021. Potential volunteers will be contacted to discuss the project and its timeline and to answer any questions you may have.

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Career Opportunities

Is Your Company Hiring?

Use the Chicago Chapter Career Center to post your business travel job openings and access hundreds of qualified industry professionals looking to make their next career move.

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Follow the Conversation


Did you know? Our monthly newsletter is featured on our website after each publication - feel free to share with friends and prospective members.

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A Heartfelt Thank You


Happy Holidays Chicago! Wishing you all success in 2021

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