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Connect First

Connect First at Convention 2023 - Made Possible by Hyatt

Are you a first time attendee, young professional, returning professional, or just generally unsure of what to expect at Convention?

We invite you to Connect First with your fellow attendees, seasoned leaders, and GBTA community at Convention 2023 in Dallas.

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 first (or second) 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 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 specifically designed for first time attendees, young professionals, or returning professionals.

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 Dallas in August 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

  1. Own your status as a first (or second) time attendee, and use it as an opportunity to break the ice. Convention participants love to welcome new community members, and many have been in the industry, attending Convention and affiliated with GBTA for years. If you have a question, we promise that someone in the room knows the answer!
  2. Explore the show floor to meet contacts you have never met face-to-face, hear industry news or trends, experience various activations, and be open to learning about new buyers or suppliers you don’t know yet (and, let’s be honest, probably pick up some cool swag while you are at it!).
  3. Aim for meaningful conversations – quality over quantity. You won’t remember everyone you meet at Convention, but you will remember the meaningful ones, and so will they.
  4. If you are a supplier, keep customers in your booth by introducing them to your colleagues who they may not know yet.
  5. Step outside your comfort zone – sit with a friendly face who you may not know at a meal, strike up a conversation with that person you have run into at the hotel coffeeshop the last two mornings, and go to a party even if you will only know one or two people. Make the most of your time by being open to new people or experiences!
  6. Some of the most lasting relationships start in a social setting, so take a walk through the hotel public spaces before heading to your room for the night. You may just run into the person you’ve been looking to connect with all week.
  7. Make a buddy at a Connect First event who you can walk to and sit with at sessions, share a meal with, and who’s growing networks you can introduce each other to. Everything is more fun with a friend!
  8. And finally, wear comfortable shoes! The days are long, the convention center is large, and sharp sneakers with business attire are in style now. Convention is a great time to embrace the trend!


General tips:

  • Attend the Main Stage Opening General Session and Welcome Reception on Sunday, August 13 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. Education sessions will also take place in the Omni Dallas hotel, which is connected via skybridge. 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

  • Connect with your new industry friends on LinkedIn, where their network becomes your network.
  • Debrief on Convention with your boss and colleagues, share interesting insights or trends you picked up, and show the value of your attendance.
  • 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 Open House on Sunday, August 13 from 2:00 PM - 3:15 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 Expo hall is a dedicated space for you to network, take a coffee break, and meet new people. You can meet with representatives from the GBTA Advisory Boards, WINiT, Ladders, and GBTA Membership.

The lounge will be open during expo hours. Find it on the floor plan!

The Global Leaders Lounge in the Expo hall is an open space for anyone to learn more about GBTA Committees, the GBTA Board of Directors, and the GBTA Chapters.

The lounge will be open during expo hours. Find it on the floor plan!

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. More information coming soon!

Let your network know that you'll be at Convention this August with the Social Media Toolkit. Don't forget to use #GBTA2023! Get Toolkit

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 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 Open House 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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