As 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of Business Travel Show (BTS), this year’s event looks set to be bigger and better than ever. David Chapple, event director for Business Travel Show, shares his thoughts on how leaving time to network at a show is crucial and why Brexit will be a big talking point this year.
The Business Travel Show is returning once again – what makes this year stand out from the previous ones?
It’s our 25th anniversary this year, so we will be celebrating!
New content at the Business Travel Show in 2019 includes WonderLAB, an interactive tech showcase where travel managers can get hands on with the innovations that will impact travelling and travel management in the future – driverless cars, drones, robots and mixed reality experiences.
The Future Forum is also a new launch – a new multipurpose theatre and communal space on the show floor where travel managers can take part in a series of brand-new educational and networking Huddles, as well as watch the fourth annual Disrupt Awards final at 1pm on Wednesday, February 20, with voting led by head judge and travel tech expert Nick Easen.
The five Disrupt finalists are exhibitors from the show’s Disrupt Launchpad (part of the WonderLAB), which is supporting 12 start-ups with a free stand, expert advice, marketing support and crucial exposure.
How many guests are expected to attend?
We’re expecting over 9,000 business travel professionals through the doors. They come from all over Europe and are a mix of travel bookers, arrangers, buyers and managers. For some visitors, it’s their full-time job. For others, like PAs and EAs, it’s just one part of a much bigger role. More and more suppliers are now introducing products and solutions specifically for bookers like these – people who look after travel but have a relatively small budget – so the show is a great place to source these partners, as well as get your head round what’s new in our Fundamentals Conference.
“It’s impossible to say what impact Brexit will have on the travel industry when we still don’t even know what Brexit means for the UK, or even if it is going to happen.”
Are there any new exhibitors to the show floor?
We have over 160 exhibitors on the floor – 17 of those are new, including Eurostar, Premier Suites, ACE Travel Management, mytaxi and Leonardo Hotels.
What news trends can we expect to crop up in the business travel arena this year?
There are over 60 thought-provoking sessions covering the biggest issues of the year, including cost cutting, data, distribution, personalisation, traveller risk, technology and, of course, Brexit. Speakers include buyers from the likes of Rovio Entertainment, Inntel, Capgemini, nPower, Centrica and EY.
What are your thoughts on Brexit – how will this effect business travel in 2019?
It’s hard to answer this question when the Brexit process remains in such a state of flux. Parliament has rejected the Prime Minister’s updated Brexit plan, though Government has survived a vote of no confidence ruling out a General Election and a second referendum is still questionable. So, it’s impossible to say what impact Brexit will have on the travel industry when we still don’t even know what Brexit means for the UK, or even if it is going to happen.
If it does, then it will likely affect where and how airlines operate, it could increase travel costs thanks to currency fluctuations and the performance of sterling, and it will certainly impact how travellers move between countries, as well as change the process for visa and passport applications as well as other travel documentation.
Can you tell me a bit about the Fundamentals Conference Programme – why should PAs attend?
The Fundamentals Conference programme is designed specifically for travel bookers – so people who are responsible for booking travel within their organisation but for whom it’s not their full-time job. We understand that business travel can be overly complex and these sessions are a bit like a starter pack to help visitors get their heads round the basics – the ‘fundamental’ elements they need to know to book travel more painlessly.
What should guests look out for during the show next month?
My advice for any visitors to the show is plan. Know exactly why you want to attend – what do you want to get out of your one day? Check out the conference programme and block time out to make sure you can attend the sessions that will really help you. Check our exhibitor list – you can filter this, too, to find who’s right for you – and make appointments with as many suppliers as possible through the online diary. And then leave an hour for networking and to give you the chance to discover things by chance. Top of my list, though, would be the Disrupt Launchpad & Awards, WonderLAB and Fundamentals Sessions.
Business Travel Show takes place from February 20 to 21 at Olympia, London.
PA Life will also have a key presence at the Business Travel Show next month. If you’re attending make sure you stop by and visit the team on stand B700.