GBTA Convention in San Diego

The world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organization is hosting its 50th anniversary convention in the San Diego Convention Center from August 11th to 15th. This mega-convention will showcase 400+ exhibiting companies, featuring 100+ education and professional development sessions and boasts 7,000+ attendees representing over 50 countries. The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) 9,000+ members (who manage $345 billion of global business travel expenditures annually) is about to descend upon San Diego. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your time at the 2018 GBTA Convention.

Plan Your Agenda

Meet up with us! Stop by our booth #2625, the Travel Leaders Business Lounge at W24, make an appointment to talk with one of us, or drop in at our Client Appreciation Party on Sunday, August 12th from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Volcano Rabbit for some of the best tacos in town. We’re hosting clients and prospects for an evening of friendly networking with fellow travel professionals.

You’ll find us in the Center Stage audience on Monday, August 13, at 12:00 noon when Gabe Rizzi, President of Travel Leaders Corporate, will introduce the discussion about “The Challenges of Security in Today’s Volatile World.”

Right after that session, we’re heading to the Convention Arena Luncheon in Hall B1 for Ms. Billie Jean King’s keynote speech at 1:00 p.m. We recommend watching “Battle of the Sexes,” before you come to San Diego. The 2017 biopic details Ms. King’s revolutionary stand for equal pay in women’s tennis. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for her pioneering work in gender equality and LBQT rights.

You’ll have another chance to connect with some Travel Leaders Corporate staff if you sit in on presentations by Anthony Paola, CMP on Meeting Planning on Sunday, August 12, at 3:30 p.m. in Meeting Room 11A – upper level. His next presentation is on Monday, August 13, at 8:45 a.m. in Meeting Room 6E – upper level.


Hopefully, you’ve already booked your accommodations because rooms will be in demand that weekend. But there may be some last-minute cancellations that could help you snag your favorite spot. For a centrally-located hotel with a resort feel, check out the Hilton on Mission Bay.

Right across from the Convention Center is the Hard Rock Hotel which has a cool memorabilia collection and a rooftop bar with an amazing view. Most of the attendees from Travel Leaders Corporate are at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, which is adjacent to Seaport Village.

Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, the Kimpton Solimar hosts a free wine and beer reception daily. And if your spouse is traveling with you, consider the Hyatt Regency Manchester which has spacious suites with great views, and guests can also make s’mores around the pool at night.

Getting Around

Getting to the convention area from the airport is a quick 10-minute drive – taxi, Uber or Lyft are your best options. Around town, you should be able to walk to most places on your agenda. Another option is to hop into a pedicab or share a ride.

The Convention Center takes up nine city blocks, so make sure you pack good walking shoes and comfortable clothes to help make those long days a little easier. Around this time of year, the weather in San Diego is cloudy in the morning, but then it usually gets sunny with temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees. Make sure you pack a sweater or jacket because it’s cooler at night.

Good Eats

Looking for a place to eat? Buster’s Beach House is a busy, casual burger joint where you can ditch your business clothes. Roy’s Asian fusion restaurant has a great atmosphere set outdoors on the marina, with palm trees, boats and shady umbrellas. Your experience here will make you feel like you’re on vacation.

The historic Gaslamp Quarter is adjacent to the Convention Center and has something for everyone. Explore the diverse selection of indoor and outdoor venues – some that feature live entertainment, where patrons can see singers and bands perform everything from country to southern rock.

If you have a free morning and a car, you should consider a drive up to Solana Beach for one of the best breakfast burritos on earth. Pipes Café is a surfer-themed eatery that serves breakfast all day where you can rub elbows with wave riders carrying their boards (cash only). Some of the best fish tacos in southern California are on the menu at Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar, located off the 101 in Del Mar.

How to Spend Your Bleisure Time

If your significant other is traveling with you, make the most of your bleisure time and take a stroll along the city's marina to check out the view, shops and restaurants. It's the perfect spot to reconnect after a day at the convention center. Hiking in Torrey Pines is another great after-work destination.

If you’re extending your stay in San Diego for an extra day, head north along the coast to visit a beach town. Encinitas is a charming and walkable seaside village. Solana Beach is another lovely coastal town and is rarely crowded. Cardiff State Beach is home to one of the best tide pools where you can view sea life. And La Jolla is one of the spots along the coast where you can see seals and sea lions in the cove.

Baseball fans should head over to Petco Park to see the Padres in action against the Phillies and the Angels. At Miramar Naval Air Station, you can watch the fighter jets take off and land.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you should consider heading over to the iconic Hotel del Coronado for a surfing or SUP lesson. They provide all the gear and wetsuits for the chilly Pacific Ocean. You can also book a photographer to capture those Instagram-worthy moments.

If you are tacking on a long weekend to this trip, consider a visit to the world-class San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. And if you plan on extending your stay for a family vacation with your kids, there are several things to do and see for school-aged kids, including a visit to the USS Midway, Legoland, or maybe a day trip to Disneyland. 

Airport Delays?

With 300 sunny days a year, it’s unlikely you’ll have a weather delay on your way to San Diego. But getting home can sometimes be problematic. If your flight is delayed or cancelled and you booked through your travel management company (TMC), you should be able to reach out by text or a quick call to rebook your flight. And if your TMC doesn’t have a real-time solution for travel disruptions… it’s time to get in touch with us!