Travel Times Newsletter

Travel Times 2018 - Issue #3 (May/June) Print

President's Report

President's Message
Written by Sarah HillSarah Hill - Delta KLM Air France Alitalia

Greetings All!

We are coming off one of our most successful Education Summits and I couldn’t be more proud of the planning committee. GREAT JOB! Bonnie Christensen was key in this success and if you did not know she will be happily enjoying retirement which starts June 1. She will be missed on the Board and at our monthly meetings.

Our keynote speaker was Chris Heeter, who taught us to be a little more Wild in our everyday lives. In essence, don’t hold back who you genuinely are just because convention states one should behave a certain way. See the overview of her speech below as she had some really great tidbits and AHA moments for me which I will be using in our Board meetings. Look out, team!

We also awarded our scholarship winners and I would like to take this time to tell all you members there is free money out there for you to work on your career! Why aren’t you taking advantage of this??!! I was very disheartened to see only 4 people submitted applications. We should have people vying for this on a competitive platform. Enough of my scolding.

Our elections came to a close and we have a new President-Elect, Jan Shoemaker, who has been a strong board member and advocate for the Chapter. We had a special election for Treasurer as our current Nanci Figueroa accepted a Director of Sales position at the Sonoma County Hyatt. Heather Marigold won that position and will be jumping in with both feet as Nanci trains her to take over at the end of the year. Direct Vice President has Bonnie Parlin rejoining the board her willingness to do what needs to be done has been a great asset to our Chapter and I am happy to see her back! Our Direct Representatives are no strangers to the Board but they have had long hiatus’ and I am excited to see what new ideas they will bring. I am at this time waiting for a runoff of our Allied Representative positions which will hopefully be complete by the time you read this. It just couldn’t be a simple year for me, oh well that is life on the wild side!

Have a wonderful and safe summer! See you in September at our monthly meeting at the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington!

Thank you,

Sarah Hill, President

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Meeting Recap

GBTA North Central – April Meeting Recap  
Written by Kristin Deur  April Speaker Jan Spence

Jan Spence, is a Former Pro Female Football Player in a professional national women’s league. Jan told us her story about how from the young age she really wanted to play football but it was a man’s only sport when she was growing up. When she finally got her chance to try out for the first female football team in her area she was hesitant about it. Jan showed up and walked us through the tryouts and how the other attendees were treating each other. She then shared how she started to be a cheerleader for the other girls trying out and how the atmosphere changed between all of the women trying out.

Jan then walked through how we could bring cheer leadership into our work places and encourage each other. The first key to have a cheer leadership atmosphere is using what we have. She encouraged all of us to share in our groups something we are known for and to be authentic. The second key to cheer leadership that Jan shared with us was seizing the opportunities that we have that we wouldn’t have normally taken. She used the example of the Giraffe that was left behind by a little girl and that the staff didn’t just ship the giraffe back to her. No, they took the giraffe on an adventure and took pictures to show the little girl that giraffe had a fun time exploring without her. The third and final key of cheer leadership that Jan shared with us is to be a cheerleader for others. We need to also look for opportunities to encourage other people in our life.

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Chapter President's Council

Chapter President’s Council Coming to MSP!
Written by Sara Hill

May 2019 the Chapter President’s Council (CPC) 2Q meeting will be hosted by GBTA – North Central Chapter. As the Twin Cities gains more attention with hosting the Super Bowl this past January and the Final Four coming next year the Board of Directors thought it would be a great time to feature our fair cities to the CPC. The CPC Board is made up of all the US Chapter and Affiliate Presidents, Direct and Allied members, which come from all industries, agencies, hotels, and airlines.

We are looking for sponsors for this event which will be the day after Education Summit. We will need a hotel, preferably for both events and willingness to offer a favorable rate through the weekend. A dinner sponsor is also needed the night before the meeting and food throughout the day. If you are interested in being a sponsor for any of these events please reach out to our Sponsorship Committee at We will continue to update you with more details as they become available.

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Meeting Recap 2

GBTA North Central – Education Summit Session Recaps

Wild at Work: A Dog Musher's Perspective on Travel Management
Written by Laura McCrayChris Heeter

Speaker: Chris Heeter

Chris taught us how to bring all what we are to all what we do. Either racing towards the finish line dog sledding or leading your team at work, both require three essentials, which are: being wildly present, wildly original and wildly welcoming! Chris also shared the importance of taking a ‘time out’ or going ‘into our dog house’, so we can come back out more focused and with fresh ideas. Creating a culture of dog houses and do-overs can be very powerful to any organization.

Flash Focus - Managing Travel through Mergers and Acquisitions
Written by Jenna Pritchard

Speaker: Tom Akin, Travel ConsultantTom Akin

The first Flash Focus of the day at Education Summit was Managing Travel through Mergers and Acquisitions presented by Tom Akin. It is quite common for companies to go through a merger or an acquisition so the topic was to prepare Travel Managers for the inevitable changes that take place to ensure a smooth transition for travelers. Tom began his presentation with definitions of acquisitions and mergers. He prefaced the different ways to approach and react to “AcquirING” a company vs being “AcquirED.” He then went on to explain the preparedness expected of an acquired company. All agreements and contracts must be assessed and provided to the acquiring company. He mentioned the following possible program agreements: Airline, Hotel, Rental Car, Travel Agency, and Corporate Credit Card.


How to Manage the Unmanageable - Small Meetings and Group
Written by Heather Marigold

Moderator: Gail Piehl, Hospitality Manager, TravelportSmall Meeting Panel
Panelist: Maggie McCarthy, Director of Product Management, Groupize
Julieann Peloquin, Manager Groups, and Meetings, Travel One

This session focused on how to integrate small meeting and corporate travel. Technology has helped those with planning small meetings to be able to source hotels quicker and to utilize existing hotel partners. Groupize, for example, is integrated with Concur and provides an ROI for not only the travel arranger and attendees, but also the Travel Manager, the organization, and their TMC.  Benefits to implementing a combined travel and meeting policy can provide better supplier relationships. It also increases duty of care so you know where your attendees are at all times.  Using these tools can help with group shortfall as it will allow you to fill the group block with transient rooms.

Flash Focus - Hotel Security
Written by Adam Grunz

Speaker: Frank Tozzi, Regional Security Manager, InternationalSOSFrank Tozzi

Mr. Tozzi is InternationalSOS’s 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 first showed us incidents from around the world that are infamous in history. A few of them were the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, and incidents in Manila in 2017, Israel in 1946, and Mumbai in 2008. He showed us these incidents to illustrate what he and his firm try to prevent for their clients. Next Frank outlined the types of risks that his firm take into account when looking at places and hotels. They are Political Violence, Social Unrest, Terrorism, Crime, Environmental, and Intellectual Property/InfoSecurity. Frank said that hotels especially face these threats as they are soft targets, meaning that they are easier to get to than say embassies or airports. Hotels are also targeted, because certain groups want to interrupt the tourism industry to affect the economy.

Frank then had a slide that showed us that there is a 72% rise in travel to extreme destinations compared to last year. This, of course, is putting his firm in a much higher need. He also had a stat that says that only 19% of organizations have implemented safety and security checks for hotels. Something that Frank really wanted to point out was that companies need to value safety implementation expenses just as much as audiovisual expenses.

Moving on Frank told us a story where his client was based out of China and in that country, the process is much harder to let an employee go. The employer ultimately has to ask the employee for permission to be let go. Frank’s client was holding an event in the United States and had recently asked two of their employee’s permission to be let go. The two employees were not expected to make the trip to the event, but because the airline tickets were already purchased the two decided to come to America and head towards the event. This put Frank’s team in a tough spot as they waited for these two employees to arrive. In the end, nothing happened but Frank was using this example to show that knowing your companies profile can be a good way to understand where you can be vulnerable.

Next, we looked at ways companies can investigate hotels to make sure that they fit the companies security needs. He outlined four ways to profile a hotel: history of security incidents, threats endemic in the vicinity of the property, type of guests frequenting a hotel, and recently released disgruntled employees.

In the end, Frank's presentation was very educational and informative. He outlined many simple ways that a company can improve their safety protocols.

New Distribution Capability Panel
Written by Kristen Deur

Moderator: Jason Kramer, Managing Consultant, AvitoNew Distribution Channel Panel
Panelist: Jered Cox, Sr. Manager International Distribution Strategy, American Airlines
David Pitts, Director of Strategy, Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Martha Telander, Director Corporate Sales, Travelport

The New Distribution Capability Panel talked about how the new system will enable the travel industry to transform the way air products are retailed to corporations and leisure and business travelers, by addressing the industry’s current distribution limitations. We had great panelists like Jared Cox Sr., Manager of International Distribution Strategies for American Airlines. He talked about how this new system will improve the customer experience and make for a better overall travel experience. Plus, the airlines can provide more travel data with the new distribution capabilities. 

David Pitts who is the Director of Strategy for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, talked briefly on how this new distribution capability will personalize the experience for the guest, which then will create a richer relationship between the guest and the TMC. Martha Telander, Director of Corporate Sales for Travelport, talked on how the new distribution capability will provide a more open platform. This will allow suppliers to connect as they want with the GDS as well as not having any GDS surcharges.

Presidents Awards, Scholarships, and Election Results
Written by Valerie Barnes  

Sarah Hill, President of GBTA North Central Chapter announced this year’s President Award and Scholarship Recipients and Election Results for the open Board positions.

President Award Recipients:
Bonnie Parlin for her dedication and involvement with the Monthly Programs Committee, and Valerie Barnes for her social media efforts with the Marketing & Communications Committee.

Election Results:
President Elect – Jan Shoemaker
Treasurer (special election) – Heather Marigold
Direct Vice President – Bonnie Parlin
Direct Representatives (2) – Keri Furlano & Laurie Sadowski
Allied Representatives (2) – Three-way tie with Mary Cole, Kathi Hedstrom & Martha Telander

Due to the three-way tie, there will be a run-off election for the two Allied Representative positions. 

Scholarship Recipients:
Patricia Anderson

Keri Furlano
Jan Shoemaker
Julie Walker

Congratulations to all on their awards and elections to the board.

Flash Focus WINiT: Women in Travel
Written by Wanda Baumgartner

Speaker: Julie Polinsky, CTE, GLP, Manager, Procurement - Travel USA, RBC Wealth Management
Julie Polinsky
WINiT is a network for men and women serving as a catalyst to drive change, provide support and educate the public about the benefits of career development, visibility and mobility of women in the travel, meeting, event, and exhibition industries. Founded in 2014, it is a global organization with over 2,500 members. WINiT is not for or against any gender.

Connect, Educate, Advance

WINiT helps grow and advance women’s careers, and build and market personal brands. It helps companies recruit, retain and nurture the careers of women. It also fortifies and complements existing programs.

Valuable programs:
Visibility -Speaks, applauds and leads. Members have access to speaking opportunities at leading industry events. Getting more women in the pipeline for recognition, awards, and advancement.

Mobility -Career Board -WINiT delivers career development in classroom, online, university and library.

WINiT Mentor Program -fosters communication about professional/personal development, enhance skills, improve productivity and performance, promote and reinforce the corporate culture and continue to build support for career development and performance improvement among WINiT members. This is the #1 program at WINiT.

WINit Wise -Retirement planning

WINiT events -visit

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Happy Retirement

Happy Retirement
Written by Valerie Barnes

Bonnie's retirement

The board wants to wish Bonnie Christensen a very happy retirement, effective June 1. She has been an instrumental and valued board member for several years and a chapter member for longer. Her commitment and dedication to leading the Education Summit planning committee for the past few years has raised the bar high for educational content and sought-after speakers. We are going to miss her friendship, knowledge, leadership, and involvement in the chapter.

Best wishes to you, Bonnie, as you enjoy your retirement. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Fundraiser event in November.


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Committee Updates

Membership Committee
Written By Ryan Comstock

All potential Direct Members can come to a meeting as a guest for free for their first meeting. Help spread the word about our great organization and when registering the potential Direct Member be sure to let us know.

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

If you have any questions about membership types or pricing, please don’t hesitate to contact Ryan Comstock @


Government Relations Committee
Written By Gina Zappa

Sending a shout out to the GBTA North Central members who helped our Chapter meet our GBTA “Chapter Challenge” tasks for 2018!

Below is an overview of what has been accomplished:

1. Appoint a member of your Chapter Affiliate to be the Government Relations Liaison - COMPLETED
2. Invite an elected official to speak at the Chapter/Affiliate meeting or host a GBTA Government Relations meeting - COMPLETED
3. Meet the Chapter PAC Fundraising Goal (30% of the membership must contribute to raising a minimum of $1,000) - COMPLETED

The response to our fundraiser at Education Day was outstanding and in total, our Chapter raised over $1,000 in PAC funds. Way to go!

So what’s next? GBTA’s 2018 Legislative Summit will take place June 4-6 in Washington, D.C. This three-day event is orchestrated by GBTA and allows Chapter members to obtain education, network with others, and spend a day on Capitol Hill meeting with their Minnesota-based representatives to share their opinions on policies made relating to travel. This event is open to all members! For more info, click here.

Representatives GBTA North Central who will be attending GBTA’s 2018 Legislative Summit include Jan Shoemaker and Valerie Barnes. A recap of their experience on the Hill will be shared in the next newsletter.


Did you hear the news? The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently published an update on the REAL ID situation, affecting Minnesota-issued drivers licenses. According to the paper, Minnesota licenses without Real ID will remain valid for flights through 2020… click here to read the entire article.


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

I want to give a heartfelt thank you to two committee members who have recently stepped down. Thank you, Donita Matthews, for your years of stellar photographic service and to Emily Jost for your years of dedicating your social media expertise to the committee and chapter. Your service will be missed.

We have posted a Chapter Internship position on the chapter website as well as with several local colleges and universities for the Fall of 2018. If you know anyone who might be interested, please contact for more information.

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.


2018 Education Summit Committee
Written By Bonnie Christensen

We hope you enjoyed this year’s GBTA-NCC Education Summit held on May 17th at the Marquette Hotel in their Windows on Minnesota meeting space.  Session recaps are included earlier in this newsletter.  Be sure to complete the survey so we can make next year’s event even better.

I’d like to thank Jan Shoemaker and Leslie Ingiald for their help with the Ed Summit again this year.  Their expertise and dedication to the event ensures it runs smoothly every year.  I’d also like to thank Sarah Hill, the Board of Directors, and everyone who made my last Education Summit so memorable.  I hope to see you all again at the Fundraiser in November!


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Member Profile - Allied

Cathy Radmann, Manager Corporate Sales, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group

Experience: Always on the hotel sales side of the industry for 30 years.Cathy Radmann

Work historyOpened new Residence Inn by Marriott as Account Manager, moved to Sr. Account Manager, Account Manager of the Year with Marriott, then Director of Sales of 3 Marriott properties in same market with one new open of a Courtyard, (took a couple of years off to be at-home mom), jumped back in as Sales & Catering Manager for boutique hotel in downtown Milwaukee, Sales Manager for Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, and now Manager Corporate Sales Americas for Radisson Hotel Group!

Travel Industry / GBTA North Central Chapter Specific:
What made you decide to work in travel?  As many people, I fell into it!  I was a training coordinator and meeting/convention planner for a manufacturing company who had ‘these hotel sales people’ calling on me and that looked like fun!  When I needed to change jobs due to relocation, I thought I’d look into that side of the industry.  Timing was right and a new hotel was opening, looking for a sales person for pre-marketing and sales.  The rest is history… 

Why did you join the GBTA North Central Chapter?  I’ve always been very active for years in the WI Chapter and saw the great benefits of being a member.  When I took the position with Radisson Hotel Group (formerly Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) and my territory included Minnesota, I thought it was a perfect fit to find out more about the North Central Chapter, especially with our HQ being right here! 

Are you currently on a committee/board within our chapter?  No, I am not.

How long have you been a member of our organization?
 Last year was my first year.

What are the biggest changes you’ve experienced in regard to working with travel
There’s been A LOT in 30 years!  The biggest changes would have to be relating to the IT integration of the industry, everything from how reservations are made, reporting, discounting with OTAs, marketing platforms, and the virtual world as a whole.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with travel?  Not to sound too cliché, but it really is the relationships that are built over the years, with both clients and industry comrades.  The hospitality industry is just that….being hospitable and personable. 

Just for fun:
What is currently occupying your personal life?  My son!  He’s 15 ½ with his wheel-to-wheel competition racing license at age 14!  (yes, YIKES!)  He won Rookie of the Year in 2017 in the Midwest Council of Racecar Clubs and Driver of the Year 2017 in the Great Lakes Sportscar Club.  2018 is taking us to Canada where he was invited to race on a team at the NA Tire Motorsports Park, to Autobahn Country Club in Illinois, Gingerman Raceway in Michigan, Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin, Blackhawk Farms in Illinois and our home course of Road America in Wisconsin.  October he will be on a team at Road America for the Champ Car World Series, racing with a NASCAR driver!  

If you had to live somewhere other than Minnesota, where would you move to?  Well, we’re actually in Wisconsin….just north of Milwaukee.  The ‘snowbird’ idea is looking really good lately!  But our hearts will always love the Midwest, so perhaps only part of the year in a warmer climate, still undetermined.   

Most memorable experience in your life: Having our son and being an at-home mom.

Favorite trip you’ve taken:  A Mediterranean couples cruise, from Naples Italy, down to Malta, touring Malta, then up to Sicily, touring Sicily and entertained at the villa where the Godfather was filmed, then up to Civitavecchia the port closest to Rome, touring Rome and the Vatican, then over to Barcelona.

Favorite pastime hobby or leisure activity: At the racetrack in the pits with my son & husband, camping, gardening, paddle boarding/kayaking, home improvements/decorating, enjoying our little dachshund!

Favorite food: Anything that I didn’t make myself or wouldn’t make at home!

Where do you live / marital status:  Married for 34 years to my high school sweetheart and this is our 30th year of being in Cedarburg WI, a ‘Normal Rockwell’ and ‘Mayberry RFD’  tourist community! 

Favorite sport: To watch, the Packers!  To play golf.  And yes, kart and car racing.

Favorite color: Depends on time of year, but lean toward shades of green.

Favorite drink: Depends on time of year, but lean toward red wine, Tito’s, and any variety of beer.

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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:





GBTA Convention

August 12-15


San Diego

Monthly Meeting

Keynote: TBD
Topic: TBD

September 13

11:00 am to
1:30 pm

Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington
3900 American Blvd
Bloomington, MN

Monthly Meeting

Keynote: Audrey Thomas, Organized Audrey
Topic: Get the mail out of the oven: Transform your life at work and home!

October 11

11:00 am to
1:30 pm

DoubleTree by Hilton St. Paul Downtown
411Minnesota Street
St Paul, MN

Monthly Meeting

Keynote: Jack Rayneart, Meritor, Inc.
Topic: Travel Management=More Trips, Within Your Budget

November 8

11:00 am to
1:30 pm

Delta by Marriott - Ramada Plaza
1300 Industrial Blvd NE
Minneapolis/Roseville, MN


Scholarship Gala

Thursday, November 29

4:00 pm to 7:30 pm

InterContinental Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
5005 Glumack Drive - Terminal 1 of MSP
Minneapolis, MN


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