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Business Travel Show’s David Chapple on why 2018’s event is bigger than ever

With a range of new start-ups joining this year, Business Travel Show (BTS) 2018 is an event not to be missed. David Chapple, event director for the BTS, reveals what’s in store to celebrate the expo’s 24th anniversary and why it’s a testament to the growth of the business travel market.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the show. What can guests expect this year?

I know, we’re getting pretty long in the tooth, aren’t we? It’s great though, it’s testament to the growth of the business travel market, which is worth around $1.4 trillion globally, and it highlights just how relevant the Business Travel Show continues to be to that market.

This year, we’re even bigger than ever – we’ll be in the West Hall and the Grand Hall at Olympia so visitors will really notice a difference. There’ll be more than 260 suppliers for PAs to visit and find products and services that will revolutionise how they book and manage travel. We’re also expecting over 7,500 attendees, which means plenty of networking, whether you’re looking to further you career or tap up more experienced travel bookers for tips.

What sets 2018’s event apart from previous years?

Lots of new exhibitors, conference content that’s designed with PAs in mind and a whole roster of shiny new start-ups in our launchpad with more innovation than The Gadget Show.

Why should attendees choose to visit? What will they gain from the event?

There are many PAs and EAs out there who have been handed the task of managing travel for their company, but because it’s only a tiny part of your role day to day, it can be pretty daunting to get your head round. It’s complex, fiddly, time consuming and, if you’re not doing it day in out day out, chances are you’re paying more than you need to.

By coming to the Business Travel Show, you’ll learn lots of really useful information that will help you manage travel better – whether it’s being introduced to online booking tools, learning how to look after your travellers’ safety and security, negotiate with suppliers more effectively to save money or get better deals, or even what to look for in a TMC like CTM, FCM, CWT or HRG. If your travel budget is over £75,000 then it really can make sense to work with a travel management company rather than be restricted to online travel agents or booking direct.

At the moment the business travel industry looks bespoke. You may have heard of the term travellercentric and that’s sitting at the heart of big changes.

Are there any new exhibitors joining this year?

Yes, the show always has a healthy injection of new blood each year. This year, we’re looking forward to British Airways being at the show, along with Travelodge, Loews Hotels and Roomzz on the accommodation side, and technology suppliers Mystifly and Yapta.

Will there be any unique offers available to guests?

A number of our exhibitors do normally have special offers at the show for visitors, as well as tonnes of prize draws to win weekends away and flights abroad. They’re also an incredibly hospitable bunch, so you will never be more than six feet from a free chocolate cookie or cocktail.

Are there any particular panel sessions or masterclasses attendees should look out for?

Definitely. The keynote on the second day – Steve Martin (no, not that Steve Martin) – will be fascinating. He’s an expert in the science of persuasion and will be exploring how the psychology of persuasion can influence business travellers to stay within policy, book travel in advance and travel efficiently.
In addition, don’t miss the Fundamental sessions. If you go to the conference page on our website at you can search for them. There are ten split over both days, and they are designed specifically for PAs and EAs. We know this industry can be baffling – especially with all the acronyms – and these sessions will help you navigate your way around without feeling lost or out of your depth.

Business Travel Show

According to a recent poll, the BTS found that buyers will have bigger budgets to spend on travel in 2018. Why do you think this is increasing?

There are lots of reasons. The economy is still on the up following the recession, despite the dips and periods of uncertainty caused by Brexit and Trump; there is increased globalisation, so company executives are travelling more; as the UK prepares to leave the EU, many companies are venturing further afield to find new trading territories. But you can never underestimate the importance of face to face meetings for business and that means travelling.

Are there any other trends you have noticed recently?

Technology is, and has been for many years, a huge driver for the travel industry. It has changed the way we book travel and communicate with travellers, and it has revolutionised the way travellers manage their own trips. Ten years ago there were no digital boarding cards, ride share apps, social media or inflight Wi-Fi. I can only imagine what things will look like in another ten years.

What does the future look like for the business travel industry?

At the moment, it looks bespoke. You may have heard of the term travellercentric and that’s sitting at the heart of big changes. The future of business travel will take a leaf out of the leisure travel market and trips will be tailored to each individual traveller’s requirements and preferences – everything from the time of day they travel to the firmness of their pillow, and this is a good thing. It’s not about pampering travellers. It’s about listening to them and valuing their wellbeing because happy travellers are productive employees.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that you shouldn’t forget to register and bring a colleague, too. After all, it’s free to attend and it’s more fun with someone to share the day with.