Education Summit



GBTA - North Central Chapter 2018 Education Summit

Thursday, May 17, 2018
7:30am – 3:00pm

The Marquette Hotel in their Windows on Minnesota Meeting Space
 Minneapolis, MN

Register Now!!


Keynote Presentation:  Wild at Work:  A Dog Musher’s Perspective on Travel Management
Chris Heeter, Leadership Speaker, Wilderness Guide, Poet

Education Summit Agenda 

7:00a – 8:00a - Registration & Networking Breakfast

8:00a – 8:15a - Opening Remarks -Sarah Hill, President, GBTA-NCC

8:15a – 9:15a - Wild at Work: A Dog Musher’s Perspective on Travel Management - Keynote: Chris Heeter, Leadership Speaker, Wilderness Guide, Poet
Combining business expertise with hilarious stories from her sled dog team, Chris will use sled dog analogies to explore travel management issues including managing change, handling details, and dealing with a wide variety of personalities.

9:15a – 9:45a -  Flash Focus – Managing Travel through Mergers and Acquisitions  Speaker:  Tom Akin, Travel Consultant
Almost every company goes through a merger or acquisition at some point.  As Travel Manager you want to be pro-active.  What should you prepare for and how can you make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your travelers?

9:45a – 10:00a - Break

10:00a – 11:00a - How to Manage the Unmanageable - Small Meetings & Group
Moderator: Gail Piehl, ECG/Corporate Hospitality- Business Development Manager, Travelport
Panelists: Melissa Leppin, Chief Sales Officer, Lexyl Travel Technologies, LLC dba HotelPlanner
Maggie McCarthy-Groupize
Julieanne Peloquin-Travel One
Small meetings & group travel is often unmanaged and not part of a Travel Manager’s responsibilities. Technology leaders will discuss why Travel Managers should take note of what is happening in this area and what technology is available to support them. 

11:00a – 11:30aFlash Focus – WINiT: Women in Travel - Speaker:  Julie Polinsky, CCTE, GLP, Manager, Procurement – Travel-USA, RBC Wealth Management
Julie will introduce WINiT:  tell us how it started, what the organization’s goals are, who are members and share her personal WINiT experience with us.

11:30a – 12:30p -  Lunch, Networking & Final Voting 

12:30p – 1:30p - New Distribution Capability Panel
Moderator:  Jason Kramer, Managing Consultant, Advito
Panelists:  Jared Cox, Sr. Manager International Distribution Strategy, American Airlines
David Pitts, Director of Strategy, CarlsonWagonlit Travel
Martha Telander, Director Corporate Sales, Travelport
These travel industry experts will explain what NDC is, how it will impact their travel channels and corporate travel buyers. 

1:30p – 2:00p - President Awards, Scholarships and Election Results - Sarah Hill, President, GBTA-NCC

2:00p – 2:30p - Flash Focus – Hotel Security - Speaker:  Frank Tozzi, Regional Security Mana
ger, InternationalSOS
What hotel security Travel Managers should look for and what Hoteliers should provide. 

2:30p – 3:00p - Closing Remarks - Sarah Hill, President, GBTA-NCC

GBTA is offering 4 GTP Credits for Continuing Education/Recertification 

 Pricing: Early bird registration through 4/29: Members - $110**; Non-members $135** Registration from 4/30 through 5/14: Members – $135**; Non-members $160** Day of event registration: Member/Non-member$160**

**Consider an upgraded seat!
  With a $25 donation to GBTA’s PAC, you can experience upgraded service at the Education Summit—including premium seating, special amenities during the day, and a swag bag!  Seating is limited.  To make your donation to PAC, select Education Summit Seat Upgrade at the time of registration.

Accommodations: $159 Courtesy Room Block Rate Available Until May 1, 2018 call 612-333-4545, option 1, code: GBT518

Attire: Business Casual


2018 GBTA-NCC Education Summit Speaker Bios


Chris Heeter, Leadership Speaker, Wilderness Guide, Poet





Chris Heeter was selected as a Top Ten Speaker of 2014 by MeetingsNet, and was the highest rated speaker of Meeting Professional International's 2014 World Education Congress. She is out to create a Wild revolution in the workplace. A wilderness guide since 1984 and professional speaker since 2001, Chris has led and worked with a diverse array of teams, both canine and human!

Featured on The Discovery Channel's “National Geographic Today,” she brings decades of leadership experience indoors, to conferences and offices, working with teams and leaders, helping us recognize that leadership and teamwork doesn't have to be so complicated.

Combining business expertise with hilarious stories from her sled dog team and from guiding whitewater trips, Chris challenges and inspires organizations and individuals toward Wild leadership, compassionate presence, and daring authenticity.


Tom Akin, Travel Management Consultant

Tom Akin has 17 years of experience working in the corporate travel industry.  Most recently, Tom was Global Travel Manager at Digital River in Minnetonka where he designed and implemented a global travel program, selected and implemented a global travel agency partner, rolled out a corporate travel card program and took a lead role implementing an expense management system. 

Previously Tom held positions as Global Travel Manager at both UnitedHealth Group and Lawson Software.

Tom has served in various positions on the Board of Directors for GBTA-North Central Chapter from 2010 – 2017.

Gail Piehl, Hospitality Manager, Travelport

Gail Piehl is from Minneapolis, MN and is a graduate of Winona State University/University of Minnesota where she received a BA in Business and a minor in Marketing. Gail started her travel career working for Northwest Airlines and has held various travel industry related positions in sales, account development, API consultant, and most recently a Business Development Manager with Travelport. She has been married for 18 years and has a son and daughter age 14 (twins). Her hobbies include aquaponics, boating, and being a hockey mom. Gail is focused on hospitality growth and increasing efficiencies for Travelport’s top global and corporate customers.


Melissa Le’ppin, Chief Sales Officer, Lexyl Travel Technologies, LLC dba HotelPlanner

HotelPlanner &, was thrilled to announce the promotion of Melissa Le’ppin as Chief Sales Officer (CSO) in 2017.  Since 2010, Melissa’s strong dedication and leadership qualities have made her a critical force in the company’s growth. Prior to this promotion, Melissa served as Vice President Sales and Executive Vice President Business Development. Melissa has extensive sales experience in hospitality sales and management. She has been responsible for the strategic direction, planning, and business development. Melissa leads the sales team in identifying, negotiating, and closing key transactions for all business segments.


Maggie McCarthy, Director of Product Management, Groupize

Maggie McCarthy is currently Director of Product Management for Groupize recently changing roles from Director of Customer Success which she held since beginning with Groupize in September 2016. Maggie has been a part of the travel and hospitality industry since graduating from Providence College. Prior to Groupize Maggie's experience includes sales roles for Boxever, Sonesta Hotels, and Marriott International. Maggie has been an active member of her local GBTA Chapter of New England since 2011 and served on the board from 2012 - 2015. She resides in Boston, Massachusetts.


Julieann Peloquin, Manager Groups & Meetings, Travel One

Julieann Peloquin joined the Travel One team in January of 2012.  She began her career in the travel industry in 1977, planning vacation travel before migrating to working exclusively with corporate travel customers in 1984.  She has worked as both a domestic and international travel consultant for several years before moving into various management, customer service and account management roles over the past 20 years.  Julieann earned her Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) certification in 1987.  Currently Julieann is responsible for the day to day operations of Travel One’s growing Groups & Meetings Department.  Outside of work, in addition to spending as much time as possible with family, Julieann enjoys fishing, camping and being outdoors, summer or winter.


Julie Polinsky, CCTE, GLP, Manager Procurement – Travel – USA, RBC Wealth Management

Julie Polinsky is the U.S. Travel Manager for RBC Wealth Management-U.S., a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Julie’s career combines twenty plus years of travel management expertise with broad business experience gained through various procurement, consulting, marketing, meeting planning, and facility management positions.

Julie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in media communications and minor in business administration from St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI, and is a proud graduate of the Certified Corporate Travel Executive (CCTE) program at the University of Houston. She received the Global Business Travel Association Foundation’s Global Leadership Professional Certificate at the University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School in 2011 and completed the Global Leadership Professional Designation (GLP) in 2012.

Julie is a member of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). She participated as an active member of the ACTE Twin Cities Committee from 2006 through 2010, serving as co-chair in 2007 and 2008.

Julie is a passionate volunteer with The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and The Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota (AFAA). She enjoys running in charity races, practicing yoga and baking decadent desserts. Julie resides in Plymouth, MN with her husband and son.


Jason Kramer, Managing Consultant, Advito

As managing consultant at leading travel industry consultancy Advito, Jason provides clients a deep understanding of corporate travel and industry complexities. He brings forward thinking and innovative methods to program development and program mapping to measurably improve travel programs. In addition to his consulting responsibilities, Jason serves as Director of Business Development. With over 20 years of experience across airline, hotel and marketing, he applies his strong foundation in customer experience, vendor relationships and strategic planning to ensure client success.


Jared Cox, Sr. Manager International Distribution Strategy, American Airlines

First manager of American Airlines’ international distribution strategy, Jared joined American in 2009 and has held Finance and Commercial positions that range from financial planning and capital analysis to distribution channels within domestic, international and joint business perspectives.  His team is currently responsible for building American’s international distribution strategy to help create a world-class customer experience through innovative distribution partnerships, technology and third party online environments outside of the United States.”


Martha Telander, Director Corporate Sales, Travelport

Martha is a part of Travelport’s global corporate direct team who is responsibility is direct engagement and Business Development with Corporations globally.   In addition, Martha is responsible for managing and growing Travelport’s portfolio of CTD (Corporate Travel Department) customers.    In Martha’s role she engages with corporate customers and prospects with a consultative approach to ensure Travelport’s portfolio of products are positioned at the forefront when making decisions around their global travel programs.  Martha has 25 years of GDS experience working for both Worldspan and Galileo, and now Travelport -  with a focus on Corporate Managed Travel.  Prior to that Martha worked for Northwest Airlines in sales as an Automation Coordinator. She is an active member of ACTE as well as GBTA nationally. In additional she is also active with her local BTA chapter and has held various chapter board positions.  Martha also serves on the Supplier Advisory Council for the CTDA (Corporate Travel Department Association). Martha resides with her family in Minneapolis, MN.


David Pitts, Director of Strategy, CarlsonWagonlit Travel

Dave Pitts currently serves as Director of Strategy for Carlson-Wagonlit Travel. In his current role, Mr. Pitts advises all functional areas of the business on growth and operational improvement initiatives, with a special focus on the evolving nature of airline and other travel content distribution dynamics.  Prior to CWT, Mr. Pitts was a strategy, operations, and human capital consultant for almost 20 years, primarily focused on the financial services industry.


Frank Tozzi, Regional Security Manager West Region, InternationalSOS

Frank Tozzi is International SOS’s & Control Risks’ Regional Security Manager for the West region of the Americas. In this role, Frank is primarily responsible for assisting clients in developing comprehensive travel risk management programs that increase operational resiliency.

Frank brings 13 years of security and risk management experience from both the private and government sectors. Prior to joining International SOS and Control Risks, Frank was on the client side, serving as the Global Protective Services program manager at Veritas Technologies, where he provided travel security and critical incident management support to over 7,000 employees. Frank is also a former U.S. Army captain with a combined seven years of military and contracting experience. Following active duty service, and two deployments to Iraq, Frank worked for Triple Canopy protecting U.S. diplomats assigned to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and later, PAE Group, training and equipping various African armies for deployments to: Somalia, Mali, and the Central African Republic.

Frank also holds a master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.