Laura Bush EDITED

Former First Lady Laura Bush gave delegates a unique insight into life as a President’s wife on day two of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention in San Diego yesterday (June 6 local time).

An expert world traveller, Bush, who visited all 50 states and nearly 80 countries during her husband’s presidency, spoke openly about her passion for literacy and education, her time in the White House including experiences during the September 11 tragedy and life back in Texas.

Education, she said, was incredibly important and is something every young American should have access to.

“Every child in America should learn to read,” she said. “Literacy is essential to the foundation for democracy. Books have the power to not just move people, but to transform a nation.”

Prior to Bush’s keynote, delegates heard from several leading CEOs on the ‘Luminaries of Travel’ panel, moderated by Philip Wolf, founder and retired chairman for PhoCusWright.

The leaders – including Michael Batt, Founder and Chairman of Travel Leaders Group David Kong, President and CEO of Best Western and Steve Singh, CEO and Chairman of the board of directors for Concur – spoke about the power of technology to challenge traditional business travel approaches, the role of the sharing economy in business travel and open bookings.

“Business travel is no different from any other business when it comes to the need to understand technology,” Kong said. “Technology is changing the world and you need to embrace technology as a change agent to be successful.”

When the executives were asked about how they looked at the future, Singh said: “Companies must incorporate change into their business plans. They must plan for it, in order to be successful”.

For just the sixth time in the Association’s history, GBTA gave out an industry Icon Award honoring Ed Gilligan, President of the American Express Company.

Gilligan has dedicated more than three decades to American Express where he has run just about every important business at the firm domestically and internationally, and he is widely credited with leading American Express into the digital age.

Today (Wednesday local time) is the final day of the GBTA Convention 2013 and will feature former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


HM flew to San Diego with Qantas. The airline flies daily to Los Angeles from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney operating Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-400 aircraft, connecting to American Airlines flights to San Diego. On Qantas, expect top seats, entertainment, food, wine and service across every cabin. For bookings, visit