I had the fortune to join around 1000 delegates at the GBTA Europe conference in Frankfurt from 9-11 November. The topical theme #SharingEurope and the range of high profile speakers certainly drew in the crowds, with this being the highest attendance figures to date.
The interesting thing about the conference was the sheer number of parallels with the South African GBTA conference that I had MC’d just a few weeks earlier and one really senses the power of being plugged into a global body.
One could not have choreographed a more seamless transition between the excellent talk (The Business of Disruption) by Dion Chang that concluded the GBTA SA conference and the incredible opening one (Riding the Wave of Change) by Dietmar Dahmen.
It felt like Dion was running the 3rd leg of a relay started by Mike Stopforth and Joachim Everstin at GBTA SA and then passing the baton onto Dietmar at GBTA Europe.
Key themes that emerged over and over were the power of personalization and the need to be fully customer centric, changes in the distribution landscape, mobility and wearables as well as holistic expense management. The CEO of Lufthansa also gave an incredible talk and TED style interview. It was so good that I have written a separate article on it.
Our journey home took us past Paris, where we stayed on Thursday 12 Nov, in order to fly out at 11pm on Friday 13 November.
Paris was particularly special on the night of Friday 13th. The sky had the strangest deep blue color to as dusk fell on the city.
It all felt so close. We had just passed by the Stade de France an hour earlier and had wanted to take a short-cut off the highway as the highway was so congested. But the taxi driver warned us it wasn’t safe as youths often smashed windows.
As we arrived in South Africa to hear the full extent of the attacks it dawned on me that “Sharing Europe” would be more topical than ever in the years ahead.
A sad twist to an incredible 10 days.