Travel Times Newsletter

Travel Times 2017 - Issue #4 (September/October) Print

President's Report

President's Message
Written by Bernie Fautch

Welcome back, hopefully everyone had a very enjoyable summer!  I know I did!

We have had our first membership meeting and it was a great one.  We met at the beautiful Hewing Hotel and their staff was fantastic!  On top of that, Paul Hager filled us in on the IT industry.  The Equifax situation was a recent reminder as to how we are at the mercy of influences outside our control.  He helped us understand how to best protect ourselves, allowing that there are no guarantees, no matter how much time, energy and money you spend trying to button up your personal financial information.  He then went on to explain the Internet of things, Artificial Intelligence, and much more.  As I told the audience at the end of his presentation, it made me dizzy.

We also had our Scholarship Fundraising Event at Shindig.  This was a new endeavor, replacing our former Holiday Gala.  We sent out a survey asking what people preferred, and a majority wanted something removed from the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season.  Those who missed this first time event missed a good one.  The venue was ideal!  The staff was responsive and the food was excellent.  I believe we did well with our fundraising goal that supports our scholarship program.  Because it happened just last night, the numbers are not tabulated.

We have more meetings before the end of the year. Our October program is on Government Affairs and is being held at the Millennium Hotel Minneapolis. Invitations have been sent out to Senators Franken and Klobuchar. Senator Franken has already sent his regrets, but we have our fingers crossed that Amy Klobuchar will be able to join us. I am truly excited that we will be having our November meeting at the new Landing Hotel in Wayzata!  It’s always nice to see new properties.  

I hope to see many of you at our upcoming events. 

Bernie Fautch, President

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Meeting Recap

GBTA North Central – September Meeting Recap  
Written by Hazel Vokral  

Paul Hager, CEO at ITP – Information Technology Professionals, a Wisconsin-based IT company, presented his insight and knowledge on technology today and into the future.  He also provided some insight on the recent Speaker Paul HagerEquifax hack and how to protect your credit rating.  Equifax is one of four credit bureaus.  This was not the first breach in their security though by far the largest, and everyone should consider themselves compromised.  What most consumers purchase e.g. LifeLock is really credit monitoring which merely provides one with a notification that your credit has been compromised and an attorney is provided to you.  The only solution is a credit freeze which you would have to do with all four credit bureaus at a cost of $15 each.  This freezes your credit file, and to unfreeze it you will have to pay a fee to each bureau or start processing a lot of credit transactions.
The world has gone through three industrial revolutions.  The first was Steam; the second was Electric; the third was Electronics and the next one is occurring now, which is Digital, Fusion Technologies e.g. AI.
Artificial Intelligence already impacts much of the technology we use every day, yet we are so rarely aware of these subtle AI interactions happening all the time, whether it’s choosing a TV show or selecting a new pillow. From Siri to Amazon and every Netflix series suggestion, AI and machine learning systems are quietly soaking in information about us every single day. We are on the brink of a revolution, one that will touch every industry and technological development.
Paul shared how computers are impacting minimum wage jobs today.  The fast food industry is in a constant battle to keep costs down and pressure for fair wages creates financial pressure for all.
The world of computers replacing individuals is happening today in the medical field.  At Boston Medical, they are using computers to read and scan body images for illness which is then sent to the doctors.
Microsoft has invested $20M creating an AI called ZO whom you can speak to in a chat box on Facebook. We interact everyday with AI though we may not know it.  68% of people use some form of AI chat box powered response today.
Paul shared some just-released and future AIs which will make Echo and others obsolete.  Just out is JIBO and soon to come is Aevena Aire.  These robots are interactive and will make our lives simpler and easier.
Paul spoke about “The Internet of Things” which is the process of which we connect to the web or other network in all industries.  IoT is being used today e.g. baggage tracking, GPS, wearables, smartphones, and the Amazon dash button.  IoT can save lives through cardiac monitors and inhalers with apps.
Augmented Reality superimposes a computer-generated image on a real image.  AR is used today in business e.g. GPS maps, professional sports practice, blueprint structure, and it is going to come to travel.
Finally, Paul gave his insight on “State of Security”.  He said we are losing the battle since there are over one million viruses written a day.  Advances of AI make the battle of security worse if a computer can bluff at a poker game or if it can bluff at where it’s attacking.  He suggested caution as to what apps you download and to balance convenience versus privacy.  Paul recommends downloading a virus protection on your cell phone as these are not immune to being hacked.

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GBTA Conference Recap

GBTA National Conference Boston

After successfully completing our Chapter Challenge, members who gave the highest PAC donations had the honor of obtaining a photo with keynote speaker and Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Phelps.

Pictured:  Heidi Wrede (Carlson Wagonlit Travel), Nanci Figueroa (Hyatt Regency Bloomington), Gina Zappa (Direct Travel), Michael Phelps, Bonnie Christensen (Donaldson Company), and Lori Reid (Direct Travel). 


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Member Profile - Allied

Submitted by Wanda Baumgartner

Name: Sally AbleitnerSally Ableitner
Title: Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing
Company: Graves Hospitality

Travel Industry / GBTA North Central Chapter Specific:
What made you decide to work in travel? 
I was sitting in a class in college and overheard a classmate talk about the travel and tourism classes she was taking and it sounded so interesting I had to look into the program that I eventually graduated from. 
Why did you join the GBTA North Central Chapter?
When I began working in hotels, I sat in an office next to the properties Business Travel Sales Manager.  She often spoke about the meeting content and wonderful professionals she was networking with, monthly.  She took me as her guest and was able to experience first-hand, how important membership would be to my personal development.
Are you currently on a committee/board within our chapter? No

How long have you been a member of our organization? 
A member and supporter of GBTA for 13 years.

What are the biggest changes you’ve experienced in regard to working with travel?
Definitely, 9/11 changed the way we did business and how we worked together with our clients.  As a sales professional, we had to learn how to change and adapt quickly to the new normal.  I think it made me a better sales person and eventually a leader.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with travel?
Networking and the opportunity to make connections on a daily basis with hotel guests and clients.

Just for fun:
What is currently occupying your personal life?.
Trying to decide where to go on my next vacation

If you had to live somewhere other than Minnesota, where would you move to?  
Along the California coast.

Most memorable experience in your life:
While working at Carlson Marketing Group, I planned and traveled on an incentive program aboard a clipper ship out of St. Maarten.  That was the first time I had ever seen the Caribbean Ocean and sailed on a boat.

Favorite trip you’ve taken: 
I traveled through Italy with a complete stranger.  We only knew each other through a mutual friend in the industry. While I was there, I was asked to be guest at an authentic Italian wedding the ceremony and the food was amazing!   
Favorite pastime hobby or leisure activity:
Exploring new cities or areas while riding a bike.

Favorite food:
Since I cannot commit to just one item, I would say the entire Chinese cuisine.

Where do you live / marital status:
Minnehaha neighborhood of Minneapolis, Single

Favorite sport:
Vikings Football

Favorite color:

Favorite drink:
Vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives

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Committee Updates

Chapter Development – Membership
Written By Ryan Comstock

When renewing your membership either directly with our chapter or with the greater GBTA, please remember to purchase the meeting package. As a reminder the All Access Membership with GBTA does not include the cost to attend a meeting. Below is a list of our membership options that can be found on our website at

Community Direct Membership, $175, this membership requires a $75 fee to attend any meeting.

Community Allied Membership, $175, this membership requires a $75 fee to attend any meeting.

Direct All Inclusive Membership, $395, this membership includes regularly scheduled monthly meetings including the Scholarship Fundraising Event, but excludes Education Summit.

Allied All Inclusive Membership, $395, this membership includes regularly scheduled monthly meetings including the Scholarship Fundraising Event, but excludes Education Summit.

GTBA All Access Membership, $495 Direct and $545 Allied, the All Access membership does not include the meeting package. If you would like to prepay for your meetings you also need to purchase the meeting package for an additional $220.

Purchasing the pre-paid meeting package can save your company up to $415 if you plan on attending every meeting.

Please continue to refer Direct Members to our organization for a chance to win a $50 gift card. The next drawing will be held at our November meeting. If you have any questions about membership types or pricing, please don’t hesitate to contact Ryan Comstock @


Marketing & Communications (PR, Social Media & Newsletter) Committee
Written By Valerie Barnes/Emily Jost

GBTA North Central Chapter has started a LinkedIn Company page!  We are no longer posting on our LinkedIn Group, so if you’re not yet following our Company page, you’re missing great information!  Click here to visit and follow our Company page now, or find it by typing “GBTA North Central” in the LinkedIn search bar and clicking on “GBTA | North Central Chapter Company”. 

Written By Heidi Wrede

The Hospitality Committee is working on confirming venues for the 2018 monthly meetings. GBTA North Central Chapter meetings are an excellent opportunity to showcase your hotel and/or event space to key contacts in the travel industry! Please reach out to Heidi Wrede by Oct 20th if you are interested in hosting a monthly meeting in 2018. Contact Heidi at or 753-205-9242.

Written By Leslie Ingiald

Please start considering and budgeting for 2018 Annual Sponsorship. More information to come out in November.


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Dates to Remember

Dates to Remember

The GBTA North Central Chapter typically meets on the second Thursday of every month.  Here is the upcoming schedule of events:

11:00 am to 1:30 pm

Event   Date Time Location

Monthly Meeting

Keynote: Andrew Meehan, Vice President of Government Relations, Senator Amy Klobuchar has also been invited.

A Travel Talk Roundtable: What's Going on in DC?

Thursday, October 12 11:00 am to 1:30 pm Millennium Hotel Minneapolis

Monthly Meeting

Keynote - Brent Foerster, Meet Minneapolis
The Twin Cites As The Next Generation of Meeting, Convention, Events and Tourism Destination

Thursday, November 9 11:00 am to 1:30 pm The Landing Hotel

 Monthly Meeting

Thursday,   January 11 11:00 am to 1:30 pm TBD

 Monthly Meeting

Thursday, February 8 11:00 am to 1:30 pm  TBD


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Advertise with GBTA - North Central Chapter

Please consider advertising with GBTA North Central Chapter...
Written by Leslie Ingiald

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.

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 Leslie Ingiald.

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