Travel Times Newsletter

Travel Times 2021 -Jan/Feb Print

President's Report

Written by Jan Shoemaker
Sarah Hill - Delta KLM Air France Alitalia

Welcome to 2021!  I am thankful to have 2020 behind us all.  This is a challenging time for all of us, both professionally and personally, as we work through this ongoing pandemic.  Change is happening in real-time, but the one thing that remains constant is GBTA North Central’s commitment to serve our members now and in the future.  The health and safety of our members and guests is our top priority. 

I am Jan Shoemaker your chapter President along with 11 dedicated Board Members.  Let me introduce your 2021 Board of Directors: Kari Bigot, President-Elect; Kathi Hedstrom, Secretary; Heather Marigold, Treasurer; Valerie Barnes, Direct Vice President; and Bonnie Parlin, Direct Representative.  New board members are: Cathy Taylor-Sharp and Rex Heineman, Direct Representatives; Toni Denardo, Allied Vice President; Greg Bashaw, Megan Boosalis, and Andrew Maki, Allied Representatives.  Here is the link to your 2021 Board of Directors structure and responsibilities.  I would also like to recognize the board members whose terms have ended: Audrey Burchett, Robb Collodora, and Sarah Hill.                                                           

Our annual Education Summit in December was highly successful.  These topics were relevant to the travel industry:  Travel and Security, Diversity, and Travel Manager COVID-19 Challenges.  Closing our event was Kat Perkins with her Fearless presentation.  I would like to commend the Education Summit Team for successfully planning and executing the Education Summit, surpassing expectations.  The Education Summit Committee includes Board Liaison Audrey Burchett, Committee Chair Toni Denardo, and Committee Members Patti Anderson, Miranda Behrends, Kari Bigot, Andy Chaussee, and Andrew Maki. 

During the Summit, Chairman Sarah Hill awarded the 2020 Presidents Awards to Greg Bashaw, Audrey Burchett and Toni Denardo.  Congratulations to each of them and thank you for their continued commitment and contributions to our chapter.

The Board has made the decision, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to extend complimentary monthly virtual meetings through May 2021.  We will launch our fall meetings in September with an in-person Education Summit.  Information to come with all program registration details. 

Our next virtual monthly meeting will be on February 11, 2021, with Keynote Speaker Nick Careen, SVP IATA. His topic will be “So you’re ready to travel? Learn about IATA’s new Travel Pass initiative - a digital platform that will inform travelers what tests/vaccines are needed, where/when to get tested/vaccinated, and share your results only with those who need to know!”  Watch your email for registration details.

Let us band together and support one another. We appreciate your understanding, trust, and patience.  If I can be of help in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Take care of yourself and those around you.

Jan Shoemaker
GBTA North Central Chapter President

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Meeting Recap

November Meeting Recap
Written by Valerie Barnes
Speaker Tyler Enslin
Tyler Enslin with Enslin International presented on Remaining Positive in Times of Crisis, which he wrote in response to the pandemic.  He started with just because our travel and events industries have been crushed by the pandemic, we don’t have to be crushed by it.

He shared a few simple principles to navigate this difficult time to stay positive and hopefully grow.

The first principle is keys to managing mindset or perspective.  The second is four habits we can engage in daily to stay positive and productive, and the third is self-reflection strategies to continue to grow.

Tyler explained that the power of perspective is incredibly impactful, it impacts our mindset, how we feel, and our actions.  Each person’s perspective of the same event can be completely different and thus create a different outcome.  Some get stressed, some get energized, some get overwhelmed, while others feel challenged or motivated.

We have full control over our perspective, not the situation.  Tyler went on to share the keys to manage our perspective to stay positive and focused.

  • Manage our input sources. The idea or principle behind this is the input affects our output, how we feel, what we do, what we achieve.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Don’t just be aware of our input sources but manage them.  Most of the news out there is negative, so we need to actively manage our input.
    • What are the main input sources? Family, friends and colleagues, social media, internet, media, our own perceptions and values, etc.
    • Ask ourselves what negative input sources we have, and can we eliminate or limit them?
    • What positive input sources do we have, and can we increase our exposure to them?
  • Focus on what we can control. When we focus too much on what we cannot control we lose power over what we can control.  We can only focus on one thing at a time.  When focused on what’s in our control it becomes clearer and we feel less stressed about what we cannot control. 
    • What’s in our control – our actions and reactions to how we respond, what we get out of the situation. When we focus more of our attention on what we can control, not only does it help manage stress, but we get a different result.
    • Where is the majority of our focus? Can we re-center our focus?
  • Look for opportunities. Whenever we face challenges, we struggle but we also see opportunity.  If we’re focused on the problems, we’ll find an abundance of them.  If we’re looking for opportunities, we’ll find them but only if we look for them. 
    • Think of one opportunity or one positive thing out of this pandemic. More time with family, less busy schedule, etc.
    • Negative events shape us, this time period will shape how we run our lives, our businesses 5-10 years down the road.
    • Are we focused on opportunities? Businesses that survive are flexible, creative, open-minded to deal with the challenges.
    • Are we focused on challenges/negatives? If yes, we might not get the most out of these challenging times.
  • Four habits that make a big impact to keep us productive and grow.
    • Practiced gratitude. It is defined as deliberate acts or the practice to focus on what we’re grateful for.  Simple, daily habits don’t take much time but are impactful.  They help us feel more productive and sets us in the right frame of mind.  Those who document their goals are healthier and less stressful.
    • Create meaningful goals. When we face crisis, sometimes goals go out the window or we need to adjust them. When we work toward meaningful goals, we have a greater sense of purpose, we’re more positive and less stressed. 
      • What meaningful goals are we currently working toward?
    • Practice mindfulness. What is mindfulness?  A conscious awareness of the present without excessive judgement.  Our brains and bodies benefit from a break of worrying about the past and future.  Be in the moment without judgement.  Go outside and be present.  It centers us and is linked to health and mental benefits.
    • Engage in learning and growth. The idea is if we can use extra time to engage in learning and growth, it helps elevate our mindset and we come out of this difficult time stronger. 

In conclusion, Tyler asked what do these companies have in common?

IBM, Hewlett Packard, FedEx, Trader Joes, Microsoft, General Motors, and Hyatt Hotels?  Each one started during a major economic recession or depression.  They came out stronger on the other side.

What do these companies have in common?

Circuit City, Washington Mutual, Tower Records, Blockbuster, Radio Shack, Lehman Brothers?  They all went out of business during or as a direct result of a major economic recession.  They could not adapt or make changes so did not survive.

Tyler explained there are those that will grow and come out stronger on the other side, if we make a few small adjustments that not only help us survive but grow.

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GBTA North Central - Education Summit

Travel Security with John Rose
Written by Patti Anderson
Speaker John Rose
Companies need to mitigate risks, so organizations can improve travel.  During this time, we have a heightened awareness of everything we do. 

How to mitigate risks:

  • Automation – International travel should open first.  People will have to travel internationally to close a sales call.  Too much is in face-to-face meetings and cannot be duplicated via Zoom.
  • TMCs are looking at complex itineraries to help travelers with restrictions.
  • Will travelers need COVID-19 testing and proof to travel?
  • What about medical insurance? Will travelers need to provide medical insurance due to COVID-19?  Many foreign hospitals will require upfront cash before admitting a patient.
  • You can’t do this stuff via a website – you need a TMC expert.
  • Storms and national disasters are a risk too.
  • You need to look at travelers and the risk of their travel.
  • Do your employees want to travel?  Eighty percent of female travelers change their plans due to safety concerns.  
  • Is Airbnb better, so travelers aren’t around more people and don’t have to go out to restaurants?


  • Business Travel Accident (BTA) Policy and Foreign Accident & Sickness coverage will cover business travelers while on the road internationally for Covid-19 and related support.
  • Who is tracking your travelers at your company? Who is answering this 24/7 where you might have coverage gaps?
  • Companies need to know where their travelers are. You need something in place on what to do when an emergency occurs while on the road. Who is monitoring this for your company?
  • If you pay for them to travel, you are responsible.  Even if they book outside of your TMC or travel policy.
  • Can companies mandate employees to get a vaccine?

The role of travel manager is going to increase in 2021:

  • Pull in others – Security, HR, Finance, Legal, Risk, Insurance
  • You need to look at the risk of travel.
  • Who are the stakeholders of your travel insurance?

Duty of Care also means Duty to Inform!

Driving the Diversity Agenda with Carolyn Pearson & Michael BeckerSpeaker Carlyn Person
Written by Miranda Behrends

Carolyn Pearson, Founder and CEO of Maiden Voyage.  Originally created as a networking source for women travelers, it transformed into a source of inspiration and education for all travelers. It also includes business to business education and training on traveler safety with a focus on ensuring that as an industry we can meet the needs of our diverse group of travelers.

Michael Becker, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoSure.  Speaker Michael BeckerMichael developed a scoring system from multiple different data points. The system allows travelers and businesses to make informed decisions regarding safety and security of locations in a personalized manner.

The discussion opened on the topic of DEI (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion) and what it means to be cognizant of this.

Michael shared ways to better respond to specific demographics. To be welcoming to all and safe for all. Technology is evolving to allow specific services and ensure those with higher risks have access to information on those services and experiences for every trip. Information can be very powerful. Companies can benefit by using these improvements to be innovative and understanding of everyone.

Carolyn emphasized that it is important to remember that everyone can become a minority. One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of managers who are well informed on the nuances of all situations. To have those conversations and open their eyes on how to be aware and compassionate to the specific and unique needs of each individual traveler. Equal isn’t always equal.

Next, they discussed how to bridge the gaps that so many travelers face.

Michael referenced how technology can help to solve the subtle nuances. All safety issues can be applicable. Personalize a trip to best fit the unique individual needs of each traveler. The responsibility of a company to provide tools and information that build trust with the traveler can fall into the ever-evolving Duty of Care aspect.

Carolyn shared how to have conversations regarding the different aspects of how changes are occurring for each demographic. The information is unique for managers, travelers and the industry. How do you remain sensitive to the individual needs regarding each trip? Have open conversations. It is trending now but will only continue to grow in importance. It’s clear that these topics will eventually fall under the Duty of Care umbrella. How should managers ask their suppliers how they are participating in DEI. It is important to inform travelers what locations and suppliers are providing that meet these needs. Include in RFPs how these aspects are considered and how they are delivered.  Travel managers can take this data to everyone and provide specialized messages and tools that allow for an inclusive demographic. Travel managers and employers should strive to create an environment that fosters trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Michael followed up with how employers and travel managers should take this opportunity to modify the dialog to improve the travel experience.

Carolyn agreed.  Don’t make assumptions. Make the information available in a way that it can be consumed anonymously. Make the data capable of being individualized without forcing the traveler to reveal private information. Stakeholders want to know that you are here to improve their experience through the booking process, during their trip, and throughout the program as a whole. Use that experience to brand yourself as a travel manager.  Corporations should also use it for onboarding.  Develop your program as a sales point for hiring. New employees want to know how an employer is going to care for them and what support systems will be available, especially while they are traveling.

Final thoughts: Michael highlighted to build DEI into your messaging. Update it frequently to respond to world trends. Understand the obligations of the employers to be aware of these changes. Use technology and find the best tools to fit the needs of all your travelers. Carolyn finished up with the message to “Make the best use of time to research and engage with your network. Find the opportunities to improve and find ways to have those conversations to close those gaps.”

Travel Manager Challenges & Changes post COVID-19 with David Grace, Rex Heineman and Valerie Barnes
Written by Andrew Maki 
Speaker David Grace

  • David Grace’s Background
    • National / Enterprise
    • Involved in the acquisition of Deem
    • Promoted to Deem President November 2020
  • Introductions of Panelists
    • Valerie Barnes – U.S. Bank
    • Rex Heineman – General Mills
  • First question - What is your biggest challenge? How are you addressing it?  Who is helping you address it?
    • Rex – new to GM, getting to know the company; the biggest challenge is the unknown of when travel will return, how to prepare for when travelers return – vaccines, the 2021 budget
    • Valerie – company has not had communications of when travel will return, travel was halted in March, working internally with security and risk dept.  Planning and hotel RFPs, internal communication plans when travel returns. Extending airline and car agreements.  Looking at rate shopping tools through TMCs.
  • The question of “when” is in two parts.  When is travel allowed? What defines when travel is necessary?
    • Valerie – the role of pre-trip approvals
    • Rex – combination of looking at vaccine availability, comfortability.
  • Policy of: If a traveler goes on a trip, what are the rules around going into office?  Example of EHI/Deem policy to quarantine for certain amount of time.
    • Valerie – no communication yet.  Very few in-office employees today.
    • Rex – few employees in office; varying factors – children, type and place of travel.  In most cases employees aren’t returning to an office after travel but are given guidelines from security that very depending on where they have been.
  • “How” can be defined on multiple levels: How will they travel? How will they stay informed?  How will you want travelers to book?  Education then book?
    • Valerie – before the pandemic we had duty of care connected with TMC; security and crisis management pushed hard to book through TMC and pandemic made it even more important to book through preferred channel.  Company will probably have more teeth to book through TMC/program.  SharePoint site that will have policies, guidelines, safety info.
    • Rex – looking at a travel strategy that is very traveler focused, how to make travel easier for employees. Surveys - “what could GM have done to make you more comfortable”, “what can we do better?”.  Implementing technology that is very traveler centric.
  • What is changing? Do you think level of mandating policy will increase, decrease, or stay the same?
    • Rex – policy has historically been very light, guidelines but not strict.  Will likely see uptick in policy around safety and knowing where traveler is, but not so much around cost containment and fare class, etc.
    • Valerie – don’t have policy right now, more guidelines.  If we get more help from Corporate Security, it could have more teeth.
  • How will traveler behavior change?
    • Rex - Seeing more ground travel from certain segments.  Think there will be higher focus on safety and duty of care. Will continue to find importance in being face-to-face.
    • Valerie – uptick in ground.  Certain employees that may not feel comfortable traveling.  Loyalty will become more important (Delta blocking middle seat)
  • Where do you see travel in 5 years?  David comment – speeding up innovation
    • Rex – agrees, spurred innovation and speeds up mobile capabilities.  “Travelers will be using cell phone for everything”.
    • Valerie – 2-3 years for rebound to happen; finding success in being remote and working virtually.

Fearless with Kat Perkins
Written by Patti Anderson
Speaker Kat Perkins
Kat Perkins – 4th Place Winner on Season 6 of The Voice

From North Dakota but has lived in Minneapolis since 1999.
Kat sang two songs: ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and ‘Fearless’.

Kat gave a little history of her life.  She started singing at age five.  She was in her family band at age 15.  She moved to Minneapolis when she was 18 and formed a band.  Due to a cyst on her vocal cord, she lost her band and became a Nanny for five kids.  She was noticed by ‘The Voice’ and decided to become fearless. Her motto is ‘go big or go home’.  Kat opened for Bon Jovi when he played in Minneapolis in 2005!

Three Things to be Fearless:

  • Courage – be brave
  • Conquer – if you can dream it, you can do it
  • Commend – let yourself be proud

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Dates to Remember

The GBTA North Central Chapter typically meets on the second Thursday of every month. 

Here is the upcoming schedule of events:


Monthly Meeting

Keynote: Nick Careen, SVP IATA
Topic: So you're ready to travel? Learn about IATA's new Travel Pass initiative - a digital platform that will inform travelers what tests/vaccines are needed, where/when to get tested/vaccinated, and share your results only with those who need to know!

Thursday, February 11th


Virtual Zoom  Meeting


Monthly Meeting

Joint Meeting with Wisconsin BTA Chapter 

Keynote: TBD
Topic: Industry Hot Topics

Thursday, March 11th

TIME CHANGE 1:00pm-2:30pm

Virtual Zoom Meeting


Monthly Meeting

Keynote: TBD
Topic: TBD

Thursday, April  8th


Virtual Zoom Meeting


Monthly Meeting

Keynote: TBD
Topic: Strategies for your 2022 Hotel Program

Thursday, May 13

11:00am-12:00pm Virtual Zoom Meeting


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Committee Updates

Marketing & Communications (PR, Social Media & Newsletter) 
Written By Valerie Barnes

We have lost a few committee members last year and are a team of two volunteers.  If you have any interest in joining our committee to either advance your marketing and communication skills, or build new ones, please consider us.  We handle the chapter’s Press Releases, Social Media posts, Travel Times newsletter and photography for chapter events – once we’re back in person. 

As always, please stay connected with the Chapter's activities via our social media platforms. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @gbtancc, and join us on our LinkedIn, company page and Instagram.


Written By Megan Boosalis


We welcome volunteers who would like to join the membership committee! We are always looking for members to become more involved in the chapter as we look for ways to add value to your membership. If you have ideas on how we can expand our membership or would like to become more involved, please reach out to [email protected] for more information!

We would like to welcome our newest member, Sue Skowon with United Airlines!

We are always looking to increase our direct member presence in our monthly meetings! If you are interested in attending a meeting or have someone you would like to refer, please reach out to Megan Boosalis for more information @ [email protected]

GBTA Advocacy Efforts 
Written by, Kari Bigot

Join us as we lead the efforts for a safe return to business travel through advocacy, education, and awareness!  With that in mind, GBTA has announced READY. SAFE. TRAVEL. With a principal goal to grow public awareness around the economic necessity of a thriving business travel industry which creates millions of jobs worldwide and represents more than $1.45 trillion in economic activity every year!  As the largest association representing business travel, GBTA wants to serve as the unifying source for all the many “save the industry” efforts happening right now.  READY. SAFE. TRAVEL.  laser-focuses all of these efforts under one campaign heading.

The READY. SAFE. TRAVEL. campaign will engage the members to tell the story of the value of business travel to the world economy. 

Ready:  Pushing government leaders to put in place necessary safety measures and the resources to save jobs and get back on the road to travel.

Safe:  Providing member education and training to ensure a safe return to travel.

Travel:  Telling the story of the value of business travel to the world economy and building traveler confidence.

READY. SAFE. TRAVEL.  Send an email to Congress via GBTA link:  Restoring Travel - Congressional Call to Action (

Advocating for unity and a safe and responsible restart of business travel. Congratulations to the Winners of the Ready. Safe. Travel. Contest announced last month:

Kari Bigot, Altour  Play Video -

Darren L'Appanna  Play Video -

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Member Profile - Direct

Rex Heineman, General Mills
Written by Wanda Baumgartner
Rex Heineman
: 30+ years in the travel industry.  Started at Eastern Airlines and then a student tour organization, both in Boston. The majority of my career has been in business travel focusing on operations, client management, and managing travel programs for corporations.

Work history:

  • Eastern Airlines
  • ACIS – Student Tour Organization
  • American Express GBT – client management, operations, consulting services
  • Corporate Travel Management roles – Johnson Controls, Ecolab, CWT, and General Mills

Travel Industry / GBTA North Central Chapter Specific:

What made you decide to work in travel?  I’ve always wanted to travel in my life and after college, the opportunity to work in travel presented itself which seemed like a perfect opportunity. 
Why did you join the GBTA North Central Chapter?  To continue to learn about the travel industry and broaden my network.                                            A
re you currently on a committee/board within our chapter? Board Member and Board Liaison for the Meetings & Events Committee.
How long have you been a member of our organization?  Joined in June 2020

What are the biggest changes you’ve experienced in regard to working with travelFirst, it was the commission reduction/elimination, technology - transition to electronic everything, airline mergers/bankruptcies and now surviving the pandemic.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with travel? The relationships I’ve built over the years as well as the opportunities for global travel.

Just for fun:
What is currently occupying your personal life?.   Staying at home..…trying to remain healthy during the pandemic.  I’ve recently finished Netflix.  😊 Just kidding…
If you had to live somewhere other than Minnesota, where would you move to?  West Coast of Michigan
Most memorable experience in your life: The different opportunities I’ve had to live abroad.   Germany and China.
Favorite trip you’ve taken:  Hong Kong and Singapore
Favorite pastime hobby or leisure activity: Bicycling, Live Theater
Favorite food:   Mexican
Where do you live / marital status:  I live in downtown Minneapolis with my husband of 24 years.

Favorite sport: College Football
Favorite color:   Purple
Favorite drink:  Margarita

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Advertise with GBTA - North Central Chapter


Advertise with Us   
Written by Bonnie Parlin

Please consider advertising with GBTA North Central Chapter...

GBTA North Central Chapter is among the top business travel associations in the United States and is a chapter of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). GBTA - North Central Chapter members represent corporations that influence in excess of $200 million dollars in annual travel spend (except in pre-Covid-19).

GBTA North Central Chapter's newsletter, The Travel Times, is published five times per year with distribution to over 200 of the most important contacts in the business travel industry. GBTA North Central Chapter provides the opportunity to reach these influential travel professionals by marketing your products and services through advertising in The Travel Times.

Purchase your advertising online (click here) --- once confirmed, be sure to e-mail your ad and/or logo to Bonnie Parlin.


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