Pop quiz: What do Gen. David Petraeus, Barry Diller, Michael Phelps and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) staff members have in common? Here’s a hint: They all will be in Boston in July for one of the world’s biggest business travel industry events of the year. Yes, you guessed it! Each will be speaking at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) 2017 Convention taking place July 15 to 19 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC).
And while we may be just a tad biased, there are three not-to-be-missed education sessions at the convention — one on meetings management, another on how business travel impacts the U.S. economy and the last on how the shifts in hotel market affect meetings — that will be moderated by American Express GBT’s own Meg Murphy, Rodolfo Elizondo and Milton Rivera.
If you’re heading to Beantown for GBTA’s convention, here are some travel tips for navigating Boston.
Where to lay your head at night
GBTA has put together a list of more than two dozen hotels where it has blocked rooms for convention attendees, and we have no doubt they are all great picks. After all, if you can’t trust one of the most reputable nonprofit business travel organizations to select the best places in town to stay, who can you rely on?
For a roll-right-out-of-bed kind of experience, check yourself into The Westin Boston Waterfront, which is directly connected to the BCEC and is officially the convention headquarters (or “HQ” as GBTA calls it).
For a total splurge-worthy stay, check out the Boston Harbor Hotel, a Forbes five-star property located on the historic Rowes Wharf. Sure, it’s the most expensive hotel on GBTA’s list, but the killer panoramic cityscape and waterfront views from its luxurious rooms are priceless.
Also on GBTA’s super-duper list of hotels? The ones offering shuttle service to the convention center — well, actually to HQ. All of the hotels, besides the ones within walking distance, have complimentary shuttle service, so there’s no need to rent a car. Schedules will be posted at each hotel, and the shuttle route also will be provided in the GBTA Convention mobile app.
If your hotel is near or on the waterfront — as many of GBTA’s selections are — get your first glimpse of the city from the sea by taking a water taxi from Logan Airport.
Those planning to hail a ride from a taxi driver or “transportation network company” (TNC) — aka Uber™ or Lyft™ — from Logan should pick up their ride from the lower level of “Arrivals” in the area marked with “App Ride/TNC” signage. You can expect to pay between $25 and $35 to get to your hotel.
Once in the heart of what is known as “America’s Walking City,” consider two-legging it around town — or borrowing wheels from Hubway™, Boston’s bike-sharing system — to soak up the historic vibe of this metropolis born before the Revolutionary War.
Eat where the locals do
Of course, it’s not a trip to Boston without consuming some fresh fruits of the sea. Just a 10-minute walk from BCEC is Row 34™, where you can enjoy freshly caught seafood. Try its seared blue fish or roasted monkfish, both excellent options.
For just-plucked-from-the-sea Wiannos, Pemaquids, and Cotuits, check out Neptune Oyster™, a high-end oyster bar that lives up to the hype and is in the same vicinity. If oysters aren’t your thing, try the buttered lobster roll, which, some say, is the best in Boston. If the line there is too long, a good Plan B is Mare Oyster Bar™, which is right around the block.
For classic New England fare, including clam chowder and Boston baked beans (from which the moniker “Beantown” arose), take a cab ride to Durgin-Park™ or the famous Cheers™ bar, where everyone knows your name.
And if you want to impress your new BFFs from the conference with an elegant pick, take the seven-minute stroll from BCEC to Menton™ for perfectly prepared and presented French-Italian cuisine. For an Italian pasta feast that will satiate both your taste buds and stomach, try its sister restaurant, Sportello™, across the street.
If you have a few hours to kill…
Second pop quiz: What do you get when all-star musicians from Santana, Journey, Steppenwolf, Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd come together and perform as the band World Classic Rockers? One of the greatest rock parties of all time — and all GBTA attendees are invited to come join the fun! American Express GBT invites you to come listen to these talented stars for what promises to be the most rockin’ time of the convention on July 17 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the Royale nightclub. Be sure to RSVP today!
For some fresh air after being cooped up in the convention center, head to the Lawn on D, a block away. Bring some of your colleagues along to enjoy some complimentary lawn games, including bocce, lawn chess, checkers and Connect Four™, as well as food and adult beverages.
And if you’re a first-time visitor and spending an extra day or two in town, hit up the usual tourist stomping grounds, such as Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Freedom Trail, Boston Common and the Public Garden.
Of course, you can’t go home without taking one of the famous Boston Duck Tours™, where passengers can explore the city by land and sea on a World War II-style amphibious landing vehicle.
First, the bad news: In May, Logan Airport completely shut down one of its main runways for construction, causing flight delays as long as three hours. The good news is, that main runway will be reopened partially by the time of the GBTA conference and, fingers crossed, you should not have a problem arriving.
However, during the month of July, the runway will be closed for departing flights from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. Translation: If your departing flight is scheduled to leave before 2 p.m. or after 10 p.m., you have two options: 1. See if you can pull some of the strings you have in the travel industry to get your flight rescheduled without a penalty charge. Or 2. Pay for a daily pass at one of Logan’s airport lounges, if you already are not a member. After all the hustle and bustle of the convention, you’ll want a place to relax where you aren’t elbow-to-elbow with the person in the next seat.