Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Is Big Data the Way to Ensure Compliance?

Big data – according to Wikipedia – is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools. Yawning yet? The truth is big data is exciting. And the excitement lies in the additional information that can be pulled from these data sets and what you do with them.


In the past it’s been prohibitively expensive thanks to the cost of servers needed to store and drill down the data to make it useful. But as technology gets cheaper, the opportunities available from big data are becoming more accessible to everyone.  And when it comes to buying business travel, big data holds a lot of potential for corporates.

Big data allows travel managers to understand the traveller better, track him or her and push information out to him. It’s this last element that is particularly useful for travel managers because it allows them to push information to travellers that enables and encourage them to stick to policy and budget while away from the office.  

For example, managers can use big data to tell junior staff, who may well feel apprehensive about taking public transport abroad, not to get a cab when they arrive at the airport, but to go to bus transfer stop A or train station B. They can give them directions, explain where to go to buy a ticket, ask them to use the NFC company credit card, pick up the ticket, get on the train at time x to destination y, remind him when to get off, that he can walk to the hotel in five minutes rather than take an overpriced unnecessary cab, where to go for dinner that’s close to the hotel, within policy and within budget… the possibilities are pretty endless.  

And, as we know in this day and age of the rogue, anything that helps travel managers to know more about their travellers and use that information in a way that increases compliance has got to be a good thing.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show. Talk to him about Big Data on Twitter @btshowlondon or directly at david@businesstravelshow.com.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

GUEST BLOG: Who are your business travel villains?

Without a doubt our award for Business Travel Villain goes to roaming charges! No one likes them and yet we all get them when travelling abroad and there is very little we can do about it – or is there? Here at RoamingExpert.com we have put together a guide with some handy hints and tips on how to banish that villain or at least reduce its impact on your budget.

Look at where you roam to
Where is it that you travel to mainly? Is it outside of Europe, within Europe or all a combination of both? Each network has slightly different rates depending on where you go.

Do you use voice, data or both?
What is your main concern when roaming? is it your voice calls, data usage or both? Again, different networks have different charges for voice and data and some are more competitive than others so it is important to know how you need to use your mobile when you are roaming.

What handset do you use?
We would always recommend using a Blackberry as they compress data more efficiently than other handsets and so data charges will always be less.

What are your roaming rates like?
Are your current roaming rates competitive? Or are they actually over inflated? What are you being charged to visit the countries you do? Roaming rates from provider to provider vary greatly some are vastly overinflated.

Do you know how your network bills?
The networks bill completely differently, some calls may be included in inclusive minutes and some may not.  Also some networks charge per minute and some per second, this can make a big difference to your final bill.

Renewing your mobile contract may not be the top of your list of priorities but if you want to avoid a major travel villain in today’s new, global and technologically focused world it could well pay to re assess your contract. Finding out a little more about it and taking some top tips on how to best deal with the situation could well pay off and we are here to help too of course!  

This blog was written by Kate Staley, marketing manager with  Roaming Expert. You can contact her at kate.staley@roamingexpert.com and find out more about the company at www.roamingexpert.com 

Friday, 16 November 2012

GUEST BLOG: SMM: So much talk, so little action

Everywhere we look someone is discussing meetings: meetings management, strategic meetings management, small meetings management – but this is not a new subject.  ‘SMM’ has been the ‘next big thing’ for years.  So why, after all this time, is there still so much talk and so little action?


Admittedly there are plenty of reasons offered up:

No clear internal owner to champion the initiative and drive success.  The absence of a solution that is easy to deploy, supports broad based adoption AND integrates with the rest of your hotel management strategy.  The other perennial favorite, “we don’t really have that many meetings”, is also all too often cited.

These and many other factors contribute to an ‘Ostrich Mentality’: I can’t see it, therefore it isn’t there.

But it IS there and the cost implications of ignoring this category can be huge.  Admittedly, you don’t know what you don’t know, but from our own experience the total ‘hospitality’ spend for the majority of organisations is split across 3 areas – 40% on Transient Accommodation, 40% on Meetings and 20% on ad hoc Projects.  If your focus is purely on your Transient Accommodation, you are managing less than 50% of your total hotel spend.

So – how difficult can this really be?

You need to understand what your requirement is, so start small.  Begin by identifying your target audience.  Head for the departments most likely to generate meetings bookings – sales/marketing, training, the executive floor – and ask for volunteers for a ‘super-user’ test team.

At this stage, you want to garner support and not give the impression that you are trying to take away the responsibility for these meetings.  All you want is to build the environment where everyone creates their meetings requests (RFPs) in one place.   From there you will quickly gather the data you need to put the ‘strategic’ into strategic meetings management.

Aim to start with the small frequently booked meetings. The large conferences and major company events may be the more visible piece but (a) it’s always much tougher to persuade these bookers to give up any aspect of control or management of these bookings and (b) the chances are that you spend much more on smaller meetings.  You are offering meeting planners a solution that will take the ‘grunt work’ out of the process without stripping them of ultimate control and the easiest meetings to target for this are the smaller ones – which are usually just a time consuming chore for those that have to book them.

Ask a few basic questions:
Approximately how often do you book?  What’s the average size of the group and the length of the meeting?  What are the most common features they always need (refreshments, break out rooms, AV equipment etc)?  What type of venue do they typically look for (hotels, internal meeting space, other venues)?  Where do they go to find these venues and what influences their choice?

The answers will help you build the most useful information and features into your RFP tool so that the first time a meeting planner looks for a venue for a meeting, they find what they expect to see and the basic information is pre-loaded to make it the simpler process that you promised!

So all you now need is a system that all your meeting planners can access with nothing more than a User ID and Password, without any additional implementation, and with just an hour or so training.
  
And if they like it, if the system gives them access to the properties they need, helps them create an RFP with all their requirements in 4 easy to follow steps, presents the responses in a format they can share with their colleagues, gives them full budgeting and reporting capabilities and allows them to complete the process in a fraction of the time, then you’ve got your ‘champions’ within the organisation and selling the benefits to others will be so much easier.

And finally, the single most important element to consider.  The first step on the road to success is always the hardest. As you ponder this article, think about this.  What stops you from being the internal champion that gets the ball rolling at your company?  Just because you don’t have it in your job description, does that mean you can’t own it?  At a time when companies are in a constant process of evaluating people, processes and performance, perhaps the greatest thing you can do for your company and yourself is to take that critical first step.

This blog has been written by Jean Squires, director of business development EMEA, Lanyon. To find out more about how the Lanyon Meetings RFP Tool can help please contact Jean at jean.squires@lanyon.com 

Monday, 12 November 2012

GUEST BLOG: A Vision for the Future of Business Travel

Business travel is faster and less isolating than it used to be but, until recently, no-one has been looking out for the business traveller. Now, the landscape is changing and Concur is proud to be a leader in that evolution.

Travel used to be lonely. Gradually, over the past 10 years, and rapidly in the last two, the Internet and mobile devices have changed business travel for the better.  Our smartphones now fulfil a dual role of travel buddy and personal assistant. But we still have a steep hill to climb to improve business travel even more.


The current reality:


Self-serve online travel booking enables the business traveller to book travel at a click of a button – but, because no-one is looking at the experience through the eyes of the business traveller, the whole experience is very disjointed and often frustrating.  For those that travel across Europe, there’s the added complication of different languages, currencies, procedures and cultures to overcome.


A vision for the future of business travel:

Concur has spent considerable time thinking about what would make ‘The Perfect Trip’.  Imagine a journey with no paper or queues, a journey where your smartphone knows your preferences and has pre-booked every step of the journey to seamlessly blend into the next. We have this perfect trip firmly in mind, and we’re figuring out how to make it happen


How Concur is working to improve business travel:

Making the perfect trip a reality will mean partnership and collaboration between travel suppliers across the entire eco-system for the good of the business traveller. This a huge challenge, particularly in Europe, where suppliers’ regional coverage varies so dramatically. Fortunately, the landscape is already changing and Concur is proud to be a leader in that evolution.


What happens next?

By sharing ideas on how business travel can be improved due to technological integration and the fostering of closer networks we can help shape the future of business travel together. So, whether you are travel supplier, travel app developer, card provider, in the travel business or a business traveller, we’d love to hear your ideas and opinions.


How do you think business travel could be better?

What are your favourite travel apps? What innovations would make the most impact on travel in Europe?  These are the kind of questions that will influence the development of a bigger, better travel and expenses management network across Europe. We have made a start by setting up a Facebook community for those that want to contribute or stay in touch with developments.  Join us – like us or post your recommendation in the comments below.



Written by Lisa Hutt

Lisa heads marketing for Concur Technologies in EMEA and is responsible for growth in the region through brand awareness, pipeline generation and customer success programs. Lisa is an advocate of the latest marketing innovations, global collaboration, sales alignment, lead-to-revenue and influencer marketing. Lisa’s background in marketing communications was developed with IT and online organisations such as Salesforce.com, Dell, Intel, Epson, Sybase and Monster.

Monday, 5 November 2012

GUEST BLOG: How are businesses cutting costs whilst improving productivity?

Thousands of organisations are focused on cutting costs, but how are they able to do so whilst maintaining, and even improving productivity?
Millions of us are afraid of change, which makes many of us averse to using new technology, especially in the workplace. But the proven fact is new technology in the workplace is the main contributor of cutting costs, improving productivity, and even speeding up the decision making process.

Business magnate, Richard Branson, recently quoted: “Anyone who thinks new technology isn’t going to keep changing the world has got their head in the sand.”  I know what many of you are thinking: Richard Branson is a multi-billionaire, and for him the initial cost of implementing new technology into the workplace is a mere drop in the ocean.

For business owners and budget handlers, yes new technology can be costly, and no it’s extremely unlikely you’ll generate an ROI within the first six to twelve months. But even in these tough economic times, is your business roadmap really only twelve months? If you are just ‘ticking along’ and your capital expenditure has halted, it is definitely time to get your head out of the sand. If you are not prepared to invest in new collaborative technology solutions, then you best stop aspiring to be successful. Sound harsh? It is, but it’s the truth!

So what technology are businesses using to cut costs?
One area businesses are focused on is travel expenditure. Fuel, accommodation, flights, etc. How do businesses reduce travel expenditure and remain productive? Now you’ll be forgiven for turning your head away when you read the words “Video conferencing”. Perhaps those words will remind you of a meeting many years ago when you participated in a video call which was visually and audibly poor. You left the room thinking “I hope I never have to take part in a video call ever again.” Well as some of you will have already experienced, video conferencing technology is now a must have business tool and has been deployed across thousands of organisations. Bandwidth restrictions are less challenging, and face-to-face video communication is now delivered in high definition.

Organisations are using the technology for internal and external communication. Rather than travelling five hundred miles for a meeting, of which 90% of the time spent traveling is non-productive and incurs fuel and accommodation costs, businesses are choosing to conduct meetings over video. Both time and money is saved, and it causes little disruption to an individual’s working day.

Businesses are communicating with clients, partners and suppliers over video. Many of the most successful organisations will refuse to develop partnerships unless each party has adopted the use of video collaboration technology. It’s more personal and up to 70% more productive than a telephone call, mainly a result of facial expressions and hand gestures.
Video communication is more affordable than ever with desktop and cloud based offerings, which cause little strain on IT departments as well as offer interoperability, which ensures face-to-face communication between two or more people irrespective of video device.
Cost-cutting for your business takes serious consideration, as does devising a business development plan. However failing to include collaborative technology in your development plan may as well be a plan to fail.

This guest blog has been written by Joel Noden who is marketing manager at Business Travel Show exhibitor Videonations Ltd.www.videonations.com

Friday, 19 October 2012

The hidden cost of relaxing policy and embracing rogue


Much has been written about the rise of the rogue traveller this year. The fine balancing between policy enforcement and happy and productive business travellers has been the centre of many a debate since it was first raised (to me, anyway) at the ITM Intelligence Conference back in May (you can read my blog on that here) and, most recently, at the GBTA Europe Conference in Budapest (my blog on that session is here). 


Corporate travel buyers are being warned that managing policy too closely leads to traveller friction, which in turn impacts on the wellbeing, productivity, motivation and loyalty of the traveller. Introducing flexibility, on the other hand, can lead to happier travellers; travellers less likely to ‘go rogue’.

On paper, the traveller turned self booker appears to be a no brainer, saving money for the company thanks to religiously booking within policy price parameters or even under budget because of internal incentives and reward programmes.

But it can’t be all win win for the organisation, surely? There must be some pay back? And perhaps the answer is, yes, of course there is, and that pay back lies in the time it takes for these employers to self book. And therein lies the problem: because this cost isn’t visible it can go largely ignored.

Whether the traveller turned self booker uses a self booking tool, an internally-designed travel portal (a la Google), or simply surfs their favourite leisure portals, they are wasting hours and hours of time online booking their trips; time that could be spent working; time that costs the company money. In fact, a company that has 20 senior execs each taking 20 trips a year and each taking a morning to book each trip is throwing away the equivalent of more than £51,000 worth of billable hours.

So what’s the answer? Well, frustratingly, that seems to be far from decided and still very much up for debate. The Business Travel Show will attempt to throw some light on the issue with a panel session called ‘Policy – how vogue is rogue?’ at the event next February, but I’m sure a lot more will be said about it – for or against – between now and then and I’d be interested to know what you think, so why not join the debate on Twitter @abtn_online or @btshowlondon?

David Chapple is event director for the Business Travel Show, which takes place at Earls Court on 5-6 February 2013. Registration is open at www.businesstravelshow.com.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

ROGUE IS VOGUE - TALES FROM THE GBTA EUROPE CONFERENCE 2012

I’m in Budapest for the GBTA Europe Conference and, what appears to be this year’s recurring theme in corporate travel, has reared its head once more: Rogue is Vogue.

Max Keegan, a 17 year old ‘digital native’ took to the stage this morning to share his experiences of booking travel in a bid to help buyers understand how they will need to evolve to cater for future travellers. In short, it’s all about digital, and his message to corporate travel buyers is that they need to adapt now to deal with social hungry travellers like him. 

It seems the new generation of business travellers is feeling rebellious. They don’t want to be reined in by regimented booking policies and procedures. They want the freedom to be able to book corporate travel using the types of booking tools – and with the same level of ease – they experience when booking leisure travel.  

What’s behind this urge for rebellion? Technology. Technology has enabled business travellers to pick and choose rather than be directed. It allows them to be flexible. And, according to this morning’s speakers, flexibility is one of the most important messages that buyers should take away from this conference. Closed, structured, mandated and managed policies are dinosaurs. The future is about open travel booking. 

Instead of forcing travellers to stick to very strict procedures, buyers are now being encouraged to allow travellers to book whatever, however as long as they stay within more general parameters of policy, whether that’s financially set or otherwise. By giving travellers this freedom and access to the booking experiences they are used to, it’s more likely they will stay within set parameters and everyone’s a winner.

David Chapple is in Budapest for the GBTA Europe Conference 2012 (#gbtaeurope2012). If you’re there, too, say hi. If not, say hi on Twitter – www.twitter.com/btshowlondon

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

DEAR PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN, PLEASE PUT PARTY POLITICS TO ONE SIDE FOR THE SAKE OF UK PLC

In the first cabinet reshuffle since the Coalition Government took power, anti-third runway Transport Secretary Justine Greening has been ousted and Patrick McLoughlin has taken her place. Not much is known about Mr McLoughlin transport-wise, apart from the fact he has a fear of flying and he represents the most landlocked constituency in the UK.


 
No doubt, airport expansion, and the issue of a third runway at Heathrow in particular, will be top of his agenda this morning. Speaking on behalf of the business travel industry – if I may – I urge Mr McLoughlin to use this opportunity to put party politics to one side, to not succumb to the NIMBYs (not in my backyards) who will fight against expansion at whichever airport affects them most, and to focus solely on what’s good for UK PLC.

As the Government continues to dither and decisions are delayed, cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris – all with world-class, well-connected hubs – continue to attract global corporations and the UK continues to slide down the scale as a centre of global commerce. 

Our lack of airport capacity is also preventing us from introducing new routes to the BRIC countries, which is essential to fuel economic growth long term.

In my opinion, that means putting a plan in place to create a long term transport strategy that will support the UK as a centre for business and fuel its economy over the next 20-30 years. And in the short-medium term look to airports such as Gatwick, Luton and Stansted to ease the capacity issues at Heathrow that everyone is getting so blindsided by.

As event director of the Business Travel Show, I’d like to extend an invitation to Mr McLoughlin to address the business travel industry at our event in London next February where he will meet a very eager audience keen to question him about the issues affecting our business including airport expansion, APD, green taxes, and high speed rail and franchises.

David Chapple, event director Business Travel Show, david@businesstravelshow.com


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

VIRGIN TAKES OFF AT HOME

Richard Branson and Virgin have somewhat hijacked the news over the last two weeks, haven’t they?


It started with Virgin being outbid by FirstGroup for the West Coast Mainline franchise that it has been running for the last 12 years. You can read our blog post with the details of FirstGroup’s bid here. Branson, it was reported, was livid, issuing an aggressive statement questioning the Government’s decision and FirstGroup’s competence almost immediately. This was followed by the announcement of an appeal and the launch of an online petition, which garnered 150,000 signatures. Branson even offered to run the service on a not-for-profit basis if the Government agreed to postpone the contract signing for two months.

Yesterday (28 August 2012) it was reported that Virgin had its lawyers working over the Bank Holiday weekend and is now planning a last minute legal challenge to prevent the Government from signing the contract, which is due to happen tomorrow and, which, according to the Transport Secretary Justine Keeling, is going ahead.

It’s all very gung-ho for the transport industry and I’m genuinely looking forward to the outcome. But what I find really interesting is the surprise announcement – released in the midst of this melee -that Virgin is proposing a three-times-daily airline service from London Heathrow to Manchester from next March.

When it was announced, many assumed Branson was simply throwing his toys out of the pram having lost West Coast Mainline. But I doubt this very much. I think the domestic airline has been part of the Virgin plan for some time and the timing of the announcement was merely coincidental.

The airline lost £80.2m last year. It has also lost its code share deal with BMI following BMI’s acquisition by IAG and its alignment with BA, which means it’s lost a significant chunk of its feeder routes, so something had to be done. And that something, it would seem, is the launch of a UK domestic network.

My question is: “Does this signal more of a strategic change in direction for Virgin Altantic, or will the IAG competition trustees charged with reallocating the BMI Heathrow slots see it as nothing more than smoke and mirrors to make them look like more of a credible option for those slots?”

The trustees will award these slots from summer 2013 and the decision will be made in the next couple of months, which also makes me think twice about the timing of the announcement.

Whatever the reason, though, the move by Virgin is potentially good news for the corporate travel buyer, as the likes of Virgin and BA start competing on value, service and price leading to increased frequencies and flight options, as well as better value for money.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show – you can challenge him on Twitter @btshowlondon or at david@businesstravelshow.com  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

FARE HIKES AND FIRSTGROUP FRANCHISES - WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL?

All eyes were on the rail industry this week following two massive announcements, starting with a proposed 6.2% increase in rail fares and followed by the news that Virgin Trains has lost its West Coast main line operating contract, which it had held since 1997, after being outbid by FirstGroup. FirstGroup is the UK’s largest train operator and it is believed to have bid as much around £5.5bn for the rail franchise.
The company, under the name First West Coast Limited, will take over the franchise from 9 December and is due to operate the service until 2026. The West Coast main line is a lucrative business proposition, having experienced a surge in passenger numbers from 13m to 31m in the last 15 years.
FirstGroup says it will introduce 11 new 125mph six-car electric trains on the Birmingham-to-Glasgow route and provide more direct services between destinations. It’s also promised to add a further 40,000 seats a day on West Coast routes from 2016.
But what does all this mean for the business traveller and business travel buyer? After all, Virgin Trains has done an excellent job of attracting and retaining business travel customers during its 15-year West Coast reign.

If FirstGroup keeps its promises and really does increase direct services and capacity, then this is only good news for the business traveller reducing both journey times and disruptions. And, as FirstGroup owns a substantial chunk of the UK rail network then maybe, just maybe, there will be an opportunity for business travel buyers to negotiate volume discounts for the first time, which may well help to offset those rather steep fare increases.

Of course, it’s very early days, but let’s hope that FirstGroup bears the business traveller in mind when rolling out its franchise strategy in a few months time.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show. Commuting to central London from the Home Counties each day, he’s a bit of an expert on rail travel. Challenge him on Twitter @btshowlondon. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

TRAVEL AND MEETINGS CONVERGENCE - MYTH OR REALITY? PART 2


My colleague Katy Phelps wrote the prequel to this blog - Travel and Meetings Convergence, Myth or Reality? Part 1 – you can find it here. In her blog, she spoke about the convergence between the worlds of the corporate travel buyer and the corporate meetings buyer and how, on the whole, this crossover was a myth. And it’s true, the cross over is small, especially when it comes to trade shows, but crossover there is.

There are two areas where I believe it is most apparent. The first is at the strategic procurement level (ie where large multinational organisations are spending a lot of money and big savings are to be had). The second is the booking of spaces for regular small meetings (where only the tiniest of margins exist and minimum savings can be made).

Strategic procurement in the meetings industry – also known as strategic meetings management – is mostly the domain of large multinational organisations that have the buying power to procure meetings services in the way they procure business travel. These organisations often have procurement managers that deal with meetings and travel whereas in other, smaller companies, it’s not necessarily seen as a procurement function.    

These category specialists are responsible for agreeing the terms of contract with two or three suppliers in every category – from AV, production and creative, to venues, delegates and, of course, travel. They also look after their organisation’s large meetings. Their purpose is not to coordinate the creative elements of travel and meetings (which is best left to the event managers) but rather to consolidate the procurement of these functions and their suppliers. Do this well and considerable costs can be cut.

The other area where there is crossover between travel and meetings is in the procurement of high volumes of small meeting spaces by an organisation for, for example, sales meetings, training sessions, board meetings. In recent years, this function has increasingly become the responsibility of business travel managers who are able to draw on their experience and knowledge of consolidating large volumes of travel to transfer these procurement skills to the meetings category. Procurement managers are driving this consolidation of meetings spend because it gives them increased buying power, which leads to cost savings.

And so, in my opinion, the convergence between travel and meetings is very definitely a reality; it’s just that it’s a reality that is limited to certain job functions and it’s the business travel managers who are taking on meetings management but not vice versa. This is why at Centaur we have unique exhibitions for each industry and why, at TheMeetings Show UK, you’ll find no business travel content, but at the BusinessTravel Show you will find meetings management suppliers and educations sessions dedicated to meetings management and procurement in the conference programme.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show. Contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon or on 020 7970 4072.

Monday, 30 July 2012

TRAVEL AND MEETINGS CONVERGENCE - MYTH OR REALITY – PART 1

In recent years, the convergence between meetings and travel has been somewhat of a hot topic with reports that an increasing proportion of business travel buyers are now responsible for meetings spend and vice versa. On paper, it makes perfect sense. In reality, it’s not so clean cut. This blog looks at the myth. Check back for Part 2, when my colleague David Chapple will discuss the reality.


In my role as sales director for the Business Travel Show, I’ve seen firsthand that there is some crossover between the worlds of corporate travel and corporate meetings but on the whole they are very different. In fact, if this blog were a Venn diagram, that little area in between the two circles you’d be looking at would be very little indeed.

A quick look at their job titles reveal just how different corporate meetings and travel buyers are. In the meetings world, buyers are corporate, event and association planners, and professional conference organisers and agencies. In the travel world, buyers are corporate travel managers, travel procurement and category managers, TMCs and HBAs.

They also have very different responsibilities. When corporate meetings buyers book travel, it’s incentive and group travel. Their focus is often on planning amazing trips to amazing places for thousands of people.  When a business travel buyer or TMC books travel, it’s still for thousands of travellers, but these are business travellers flying between major cities and often travelling alone.

And when it comes to supplier needs, the lack of crossover is apparent once more. Corporate meetings buyers want to talk to venues, cities, destinations and destination management companies. Corporate travel buyers want to speak to TMCs, airlines, hotels, ground transportation and travel technology software providers.

This divergence between buyers in the two sectors also explains why there is often very little crossover between visitors and exhibitors at exhibitions and conferences and why, knowing what we now know about the two markets, Centaur decided to launch The Meetings Show UK next July. We already run the Business Travel Show each February, which focuses predominantly – but not entirely exclusively – on corporate travel (more to come on that in David’s blog).

By organising separate shows for the two sectors our aim is to offer buyers and suppliers a more focused experience. Visiting and exhibiting at events are huge commitments in terms of time and resources and providing suppliers, knowledge streams and networking opportunities that are totally relevant means they can get more out of the shows and a much higher return on their investment

Katy Phelps is sales director of the Business Travel Show. Contact her at katy.phelps@centaur.co.uk or on +44 (0)20 7970 4075.
 

Monday, 23 July 2012

TRAVEL BUYERS HAVE TO BE TRAINED NEGOTIATORS TOO


I was at an ITM meeting last week and one of the topics that came up was air fares or, more specifically, how buyers can and need to negotiate their way around them. We discussed how, before business travel buyers even attempt to start negotiations with airlines, they have to dig deeper to find out what makes up that fare. Some airlines, for instance, include ancillary fees and fuel surcharges in the fare. Others don’t.


Travel managers have to know what the ancillary fees are (seat allocation, baggage allowance, and so on) so they can unravel the real cost of the ticket. Only then, are they in a position to start negotiating with the airlines. And negotiate they must given that, at around half of the total travel budget, air represents the largest spending category in nearly all travel programmes.

CWT – the UK’s largest travel management company – understands this and agrees. This week, the company announced its new report, Mastering the Maze: a Practical Guide to Air and Ground Savings, which takes travel managers on a tour of savings opportunities in 20 different areas, including negotiating fuel surcharges and ancillary fees. Well worth downloading.

Being transparent when it comes to real cost and added costs is a win win situation between buyers and suppliers – it encourages loyalty among buyers and, by staying loyal, buyers will be better placed to achieve a volume discount. What’s not to like?

Posted by David Chapple, event director of the Business Travel Show. You can get in touch at david@businesstravelshow.com or on Twitter @btshowlondon

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

THE APPY TRAVELLER

When it comes to travelling on business, time is money and stress equals reduced productivity, so anything that can save time and reduce stress must be a good thing, right? This is why I’ve decided to share my top ten business travel apps:
1              TripIt (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows)
A serious app for the organized traveller; TripIt keeps track of all your confirmation emails for the trip and creates an itinerary for you to follow. You can even book restaurant reservations or reserve tickets for a show through this app.


2              GateGuru (iOS, Android)Invaluable when it comes to long airport layovers, GateGuru provides maps of terminals, security line wait times and tracking for your flight.


3              Yelp (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows)
Yelp's free app searches for locations like restaurants, bars and coffee shops around you, then provides details like hours, price and user ratings to help you make the best decision on where to travel next.

4              WiFi Finder (iOS, Android)
Wi-Fi Finder is a free app that helps travellers find over 320,000 registered public Wi-Fi hotspots. What’s not to like?

5              FlightTrack (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows)
Easy to use app for info about specific flights from more than 5,000 airports and 1,400 airlines. It includes maps, flight statistics and more. Also integrates with your itineraries on TripIt.

6              Turboscan (iOS)
A free document scanner app that saves images as PDF or JPG image files, which you can then e-mail or send to a cloud storage service such as DropBox.

7              DroidScanLite (Android)
Similar to Turboscan for Android handsets.

8              Expensify (most)
Easy to use – either enter details yourself, take shots of receipts or use the app’s auto-scanning tool. Swiftly creates slick expense reports.

9              Worldcard Mobile (iOS, Windows)
Take photos of business cards as you collect them and this app translates them to digital files. Easy as that.

10           Time Master+ Billing (iOS)
This app keeps tabs on how long you spend on different projects or clients and produces detailed reports , which can  be back up on Dropbox to synchronised with other devices to create professional-looking invoices.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show – talk to him on Twitter @btshowlondon.

Friday, 29 June 2012

HOW DID WE FORGET ABOUT GATWICK?

There has been pretty much one topic on everyone’s lips in the industry this week and that is the argument for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Why? Because the UK government is due to unveil a consultation document on its new airports strategy in the next few weeks. Note: the consultation document isn’t about Heathrow and its third runway. In fact, expansion at Heathrow isn’t even included as one of the options on the table. And yet, it would appear, all roads (or should that be runways) keep leading back to Heathrow.


There’s no doubting that Heathrow is a problem that needs fixing. It’s currently operating at a perilous 99 per cent capacity. Some have suggested introducing mixed mode flying (ie using its two runways for inbound and outbound flights) to increase this capacity by 15 per cent and another 10 million passengers per year.

But, in my opinion, Heathrow is a bit of red herring in this whole debate. We need to stop talking about it and get back to the real issue: how is aviation going to grow over the next 20, 30 years and how are we going to build an infrastructure fit for purpose to continue supporting the growth of UK Plc?

In the short term, the answer is not Heathrow. Or Marsden. Or Boris Island. Let’s open our eyes and look to other airports in the South East, airports with capacity: Luton, Stansted, Gatwick.

Gatwick, for one, is currently operating at around 80 per cent capacity on its single runway. It’s projected to grow to 40 million passengers by 2020 with that one runway (it’s currently at just under 34 million). It’s connected to London for business better than any other airport, with train links to Victoria, London Bridge, City Link and Kings Cross. And it’s currently investing around £20 million per month into new passenger facilities as part of a six year £1.2 billion programme due for completion around 2014/2015. This investment and infrastructure make Gatwick a great option for business travellers.

But I’m not here to champion Gatwick over Heathrow, or Stansted over Boris Island. I’m here to champion common sense and to say let’s park Heathrow for now and start thinking long term for the good of this industry. 

Posted by David Chapple - talk to him on Twitter @btshowlondon or david@businesstravelshow.com 


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

LONDON'S CALLING

As the Olympics heaves into sight we’re beginning to see how the main sponsors have chosen to connect their brand to the Olympic theme.




As a Tier-One sponsor, BA’s campaign, which landed on the 19th June, is a perfectly executed piece of work from BBH with the cheeky line of ‘Don’t Fly,’ extolling the nation to stay home and cheer on Team GB.

I’ve seen some negative comments about the advert, suggesting that it’s crazy for the airline to encourage potential customers to stay away, but surely that’s missing the point of this creative idea. Beyond the TV advert a social campaign enables viewers to enter their postcode and then see their street go past through the cabin window. It’s clever, relevant and all to the soundtrack of The Clash’s iconic track, London’s Calling, genuine feel-good advert that captures both the spirit of the Olympics and the fun of travel.

Over the next few weeks I’m sure there’s going to be plenty to tut about with regards to the Olympics, but campaigns like this remind us that this is, in part, a celebration of this great city and that despite its faults, something we should all be proud of.


David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show - he’d love to hear what you think about this topic - contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon