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Connect First

Connect First at Convention 2024 – Made Possible by Hyatt

Are you a first-time attendee, have you recently transitioned into the business travel sector, or are you a returning professional?  We invite you to Connect First with your fellow attendees, seasoned leaders, and GBTA community.

We want you to make the most of your Convention experience. It’s important to GBTA that you have the tools and knowledge to begin a strong relationship with the business travel community and make your Convention a success.

We encourage anyone to use these resources and connection opportunities to ensure that your Convention experience will be a successful and memorable one. This is an inclusive, non-restrictive, no-sign-up type of program. Feel free to email us at conventionhelp@gbta.org with any questions you may have.

Tips and Tricks

Convince Your Boss Template

  • Get your investment to The Business Travel Event of the Year® approved.
  • Download GBTA's Suggested Template.

Before Convention

  • Book your hotel as soon as possible – conference hotels fill fast!
  • Packing- attire, comfortable shoes, water bottles, tote bags, notetaking items. Appropriate clothing: some attendees dress casually in jeans, others are in suits. The best recommendation is to dress according to your conference goals. If you plan business meetings, you'll need business attire. We know that Atlanta in July is going to be hot, but the Convention Center will be air-conditioned. It's a good idea to bring a sweater or something similar you can throw on when you get cold.
  • Create an agenda of sessions you want to attend via the attendee hub and the mobile app. Be sure to download the app before arriving. Adding a session to your agenda does not guarantee a seat in the room.
  • Try not to be overwhelmed by the number of programs and activities. You can’t do it all or even close to it. Plan ahead to optimize your time. Sessions fill up and you may get closed out of the room for fire code capacity. Pick a Plan B for each time slot.
  • Make time for down time – conferences can be overwhelming there is so much to do, so many people to meet. Don’t wear yourself out early, it won’t matter how much you see if you are too worn out to remember it or how many people you meet if you are too burnt out to make a good impression.
  • Engage with other attendees via the app. Check out the attendee list to see who you may be interested in meeting with.
  • Review what meals are included in your registration and in the program. Check out the Dietary Considerations section on the Accessibility and Inclusivity page for more information.
  • If you’ve never been to the exhibit hall, plan to set aside time to cover it adequately. That time does not need to be in one chunk. Plot out where vendors are located so you don’t waste time backtracking later.
  • Become a GBTA Member if you haven’t already! GBTA Membership is a great way to get involved and make connections that last a lifetime.

During Convention

  • Attend the Main Stage Opening General Session and Welcome Reception on Monday, July 22 to make connections from the start.
  • Attend the Connect First Open House, more info below.
  • Visit the Connect First Lounge, more info below.
  • The convention center is very large and walking between sessions and events could take 5-10 minutes. Make sure you review the maps or ask someone for help if you get lost.
  • When you get a business card, make a note on the back of how you met the person or what you discussed in case you want to follow up with that individual later.
  • Take your badge off when you are walking around the city. It will mark you as a tourist instantly and could make you a target for pickpockets. Also try not to walk alone at night.
  • If you ever need anything at all, ask! Our friendly GBTA Staff, Convention Ambassadors, Banquet Staff, and Convention Center Staff are all here to help you make the most of your experience. No question is a dumb question.

After Convention

  • Become a GBTA Member if you haven’t already! Continue to foster the relationships you made at Convention by becoming a member, and even connecting with your local Chapter.
  • Follow up with people you met at the conference. Even if you don't have a specific need in mind, it’s good to further develop relationships started at the conference.
  • View the attendee list in the app to collect contact information for any contacts you developed that you would like to continue after Convention has ended.
  • Follow GBTA on socials to stay connected with your colleagues and GBTA after the Convention.
  • Complete the survey and tell us what you liked and how we can improve!

Connect First Events & Resources

As a first time attendee or someone who is looking to learn more about Convention, you are invited to attend the Connect First Orientation and Networking Session on Monday, July 22 from 1:45 PM – 2:45 PM.

Here you will have the chance to-

  • Get to know GBTA and the Convention
  • Learn tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the Convention
  • Network with other new attendees, make a new connection right from the start of Convention
  • Connect with seasoned GBTA attendees and leadership

Do you plan to attend this event? Please let us know in the Convention registration form. (Please respond accurately so we can ensure counts for refreshments)

The Connect First Lounge in the GBTA Zone in the Expo hall is a dedicated space for you to network, take a break, and meet new people. You can meet with representatives from the GBTA staff, Advisory Boards, WINiT, Ladders, and other volunteer leaders.

The lounge will be open during expo hours and is located in the back left of the Expo hall.

We know that walking into a huge general session room can be intimidating, so we have reserved some tables near the front just for you! We’ve also asked a few Convention veterans to sit at these tables so you can grow your network. Just look for the Connect First table sign or ask any of our helpful GBTA Staff or Convention Ambassadors before you walk into Main Stage.

Have you ever had downtime at a conference where you would just love to grab a coffee with someone in between sessions? Don’t worry, we make those opportunities happen in the app. Check out the Connections center and engage in the discussion boards.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! We want to make sure you are feeling confident throughout your Convention experience. Keep an eye out for GBTA Staff and Convention Ambassadors onsite.

Email conventionhelp@gbta.org to ask any questions before, during, or after Convention.

While we put a lot of work into these initiatives, we still need your help as an GBTA Convention veteran! The best way for you to help is simply to connect. 

If you see a first time attendee, say hello, introduce them to some of your contacts, sit by them in a session, or simply stop by the Connect First Orientation and Networking Session or Lounge. Not only will you help the first timers, but you’ll grow your own network and likely make a great new friend! 

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