Posted July 23, 2013

GBTA Proposed Changes Require Participation, Dialogue ... Even Compromise

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) members this year face some game-changing decisions that could fundamentally change the make-up and structure of the association. It is up to each member to not be apathetic. Instead, read and understand precisely what is on the table for the proposed options for changes to the bylaw change.

I was privileged to serve as GBTA president during the tumultuous period post-9/11. Those were really rough years as our industry, especially the airline sector, was financially impacted, as companies and travelers stopped all travel and meetings.

Luckily, we all persevered. The board of directors at GBTA at that time (Carol Devine, Cynthia Perper, Robert Dirks, Thomas Milano, Richard Earl, Betty Sweetman, Nancy Bennett, Don Draves, Kathleen Kaden, Mary Savoie-Stephens, Calvin Smoot and William Amaral) and I aligned around several critical strategies that, thankfully worked to reposition the association for future success. Did we agree on everything? Truthfully, no, but we were able to have civil and respectful discussions throughout the process. We managed to align around some difficult change management decisions. We focused on prioritizing decisions that was right for the membership and the industry. We called out the self-serving motives and personal agendas.

This is why it saddens me to see the public fighting and volley of toxic statements being played out in the media, instead of open and civil dialog between all parties. Where is the professionalism and respect for divergent opinions?

We are privileged to live in a democracy where all citizens have the right to express their opinions and engage in open debate over issues and changes, whether we agree with them or not. All GBTA members, whether Direct or Allied, should be empowered to have an opinion—that's a fundamental right of membership.

It saddens me to see the current standoff between all parties because in the long run, everyone loses. The only way for change to happen is to discuss things in a respectful and professional manner, resulting in a mutually acceptable resolution that almost always requires compromise from all parties. Leave the name calling and threats to the Republicans and Democrats in Washington. If anything, the gridlock between the two political parties proves that public bickering, name-calling and bullying tactics don't achieve anything. They create no momentum forward or backward—just gridlock.

No matter the outcome of the proposed bylaw change options, I challenge all sides to work together toward the common good, and for the benefit of the membership, at large. Do what is right. Prioritize what is most beneficial for the members. Remember, in a true democracy, you still have an additional recourse if you don't agree with the final decision of the majority—you can vote with your pocketbook or discontinue your membership.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at Active Network. This post is republished from the Active Network | StarCite Strategic Meetings Management blog with permission.

Posted by: Kevin Iwamoto | More by Kevin Iwamoto

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