Monday, 29 November 2010

Don't assume you can only afford cattle class

Like everything in this world, business travel is a tale of two halves. On one side of the story is the business traveller. And on the other, the business travel buyer. Both are driven by very different needs. Can there ever be a happy ending?

Despite being more conscious than ever of his own travel costs following two years struggling through a recession, the business traveller still wants a little luxury. The business travel buyer on the other hand is driven by cost and thinks he can’t afford to buy luxury. His budgets were battered during the recession and are showing only faint signs of a stronger pulse as we enter 2011.

So how do buyers keep standards up and travellers happy when there is so much pressure to make budgets stretch further? How do they buy luxury at affordable prices?

Interestingly, the answer to maximising your budget doesn’t always lie in getting the cheapest price. In fact, there isn’t just one answer at all, which is why I’d like to suggest four.

Number one – always ask for more. Never assume you can only have what you can afford and never underestimate how far travel suppliers are prepared to bend to win business.

If you think you can only afford the 3* option, push for a 4* solution for the same price. If you have a 4* budget, then negotiate for free add-ons. For example, when booking accommodation, ask for room upgrades from standard to executive, complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi connections, access to business lounge services and spa treatments. 

And when buying flights, instead of fighting aimlessly for seat discounts, why not try negotiating for a free upgrade? You can always stretch your pounds further by pushing for complimentary lounge access, kerbside check-in, chauffeur pick up, extra baggage allowance or travel insurance.

And don’t limit your negotiating skills to just flights and accommodation, either, many of these tricks can also be applied when booking ground transportation or conference and meeting facilities.

Number two – consider different purchasing options. To get the best price and the best deal, you may want to consider purchasing alternatives such as reverse auctions (perfect for hotel deals), consortia buying (the best option for car rental), spot buying and hedging (both better suited to airline bookings).

Number three – ask the experts. During a recession, the knee-jerk reaction from business can often be to consolidate suppliers or keep things in-house to keep costs to a minimum. But when it comes to buying travel and meetings, this can lead to a false economy. Expert suppliers, such as travel management companies, hotel booking agents and event management companies, can - through a combination of their expertise and buying power – cut your costs, get you a better deal and save you time and effort.

Number four – visit BTMS. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? But it’s true. At BTMS, buyers can meet the biggest gathering of world leading travel brands in Europe, access a first-class free-to-attend educational programme and connect with more than 5,200 of Europe’s most powerful travel and meetings professionals to kick-start new relationships from right across the UK and Europe – all under one roof.

Posted by David Chapple, event director, Business Travel & Meetings Show

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The time is ripe for traditional travel buyers to learn from the meetings pros

The meetings market is not known as the final frontier in the travel industry for nothing and I’ve long held the belief that the time is ripe for travel and procurement buyers who now look after meetings to step up their game. 

Despite being viewed as the rebellious teenager for many years, meetings management is becoming more mainstream and a survey recently carried out by the show has confirmed that traditional travel and procurement buyers are beginning to understand the benefits of introducing meetings policy, strategy, evaluation and technology into their everyday processes.

The survey of 204 procurement, meetings and business travel managers revealed:
·         69% of meetings budgets have either remained static or declined in the last year
·         23% have increased, and only slightly
·         38% of companies are still without a meetings policy
·         80% of companies do not use technology to manage their meeting spend
·         65% are not involved in measuring meetings ROI
·         42% are using more travel alternatives, such as video conferencing, than they did a year ago
·         25% are managing more UK and short haul destination meetings
·         71% of those organising pre-meeting events, such as golf and spa days, are arranging fewer of them

On the flip side, this is also a great opportunity for suppliers who also need to step up the plate and realise there’s a whole new audience they should be doing business with.

Posted by David Chapple, event director, Business Travel & Meetings Show 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Business travel is not just the bastion of the procurement department; personnel and HR also need to take note as frequent travel is a little known and under-investigated stress trigger.

Of course any HR manager worth his/her salt, will be only too aware that stress – and distress – among employees causes impaired economic performance. Across the EU, nearly 25 per cent of workers are affected and stress is responsible for 50-60 per cent of all lost days. It’s also rated the second most common work-related health problem and estimated to cost the EU €20 billion annually. It’s also on the increase.

More progressive HR departments and procurement professionals involved in travel understand this and no longer base buying decisions solely on price. They create policies that suit the traveller and not just their budget. They are mindful of their corporate social responsibility and duty of care towards employees. They may miss out on short term savings, but they will also avoid making much bigger long-term financial losses.

It’s time that a more responsible and strategic view of the issues involved in business travel was taken by all, and all HR departments appreciated and understood their CSR and duty of care obligations.

If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, you can visit to read the entire feature.

Posted by David Chapple, event director, Business Travel & Meetings SHow

Sources: ‘The Institute of Travel and Meetings, ICARUS report’, Frequent Traveller Wellbeing; Inicio 2010. For more information,