“The growth of the business travel market is worth around $1.4 trillion globally”
Interview with David Chapple, Portfolio Director, Business Travel Show 2018.
What news should we expect for 2018 edition?
We are 24 years old this year, which is pretty good going for a trade show. 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 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 buyers to visit and find products and services that will revolutionise how they buy and manage travel. We’re also expecting over 7,500 attendees, which means plenty of networking, whether you’re looking to further your skills, knowledge, contacts or career.
We have lots of new exhibitors including Iberia and British Airways exhibiting with OneWorld, conference content that’s designed for every level of travel manager and a whole roster of shiny new start-ups in our Launchpad showcasing the most amazingly innovative products.
On our last interview you said that personalisation, duty of care and mobile will remain high on the agenda and that Brexit will still be relevant. Is that going to be featured on next show?
All three are still very relevant topics. Personalisation – or travellecentricity – is even more in the spotlight than 12 months ago, with many organisations focusing away from what’s good for them and instead considering what the traveller wants. Duty of Care couldn’t more important than ever, following last year’s terror attacks in Barcelona, Paris and London. And mobile is being more and more ubiquitous. Most travellers have/use mobiles and most TMCs have now launched or are about to launch mobile apps to make it easier for travellers to manage their itinerary while on the road. Other big topics this year include GDPR, which comes into effect 25 May 2018. The hotel rate non-availability crisis is another key topic that will feature on the programme.
Duty of Care couldn’t more important than ever, following last year’s terror attacks in Barcelona, Paris and London
Since the Brexit issue sprouted up, how will travel programmes respond to the climate of uncertainty and fear?
This time last year, geopolitical events such as Brexit and the imminent inauguration of President Trump left many travel managers concerned for the economy and the widespread feeling of uncertainty about what the future holds undoubtedly leaked in to the corporate travel market.
However, our buyer survey this year shows that budgets are healthy and 40 per cent of buyers will actually have more money to spend in 2018, which indicates that the period of caution we witnessed in business travel was short-lived. In fact, some commentators have even suggested corporate travel may do better than other industries, as companies invest more in travel to explore alternative trade avenues outside of Europe following the Brexit vote.”
Technology is an always coming out subject, how will this one be represented at this Show’s edition?
Technology has been the main driver behind the travel market for over 20 years and will play a key role at the show, from the conference content – which features sessions on NDC and the sharing economy, smart technology and mobile, dynamic pricing and AI – to the Launchpad, where you’ll find the newest, most disruptive players in the business travel market, to the Business Travel Technology Zone and, of course, Travel Technology Europe upstairs, which all visitors have free access to.
Our buyer survey this year shows that budgets are healthy and 40 per cent of buyers will actually have more money to spend in 2018
Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Windu, Homeaway, Oasis, SpotaHome, EatWith o Mealshare, among others, are already on the Business Traveller journey; how do you think the eruption of these new players will affect travel programmes?
No one likes change, right? And the introduction of the sharing economy to business travel has been a huge change. Compared to hotel use, for example, the take up is still small, but it is certainly growing. In our recent poll of travel managers, 58 per cent said they agreed that alternative accommodation and transport providers such as Airbnb and Uber are a good thing. This compares to 37 per cent 12 months ago. So attitudes are changing. Travel managers are finding these providers less threatening. And travellers enjoy the flexibility and convenience they provide. Some travel managers are still concerned about potential duty of care issues, and it’s sensible of them to put travellers first. In a few years’ time, I’m sure we won’t even be having this conversation and Airbnb will be considered just another accommodation option, much like serviced apartments are today.
Technology has been the main driver behind the travel market for over 20 years and will play a key role at the show