Thursday, 18 December 2014


The sharing economy is one of the hottest business debates of the year and companies like Airbnb have attracted massive publicity following their success in the leisure market. Airbnb is at the forefront of the sharing economy, which is defined as the peer-to-peer service industry, and began actively chasing the business travel market earlier this year. Now they are going after business travellers, it’s critical that buyers and managers stand up and take note. 

The Business Travel Show has responded by including a panel session on the sharing economy at the Business Travel Show for the very first time. The session, which takes place at 10:00 on Thursday 26 February, will debate, for example, whether corporate travel buyers should allow companies like Airbnb into their travel programme, whether they are going to end up costing more or less than conventional travel suppliers and whether there are risks which could compromise duty of care. It’s an absolute must-attend session, especially as Airbnb’s Marc McCabe will be taking part alongside Ajay Thakkar from NH Hotels, Isabel Montesdeoca of Concur Technologies and BCD Travel’s Claudia Unger

Airbnb is also exhibiting at the Business Travel Show for the first time, which really shows how important the business travel market is to them and, in turn, how important they may well be to the market. So don't miss out, make sure you register for your free visitor pass ASAP at The show is Europe’s leading dedicated exhibition and conference for travel managers and buyers, taking place 25-26 February 2015 at Olympia Grand, London. 

This blog post was written by the Business Travel Show event director David Chapple. You can chat with him on Twitter @david_chapple. You can also follow us on Twitter @BTShowLondon and join the conversation with our hashtag #BTShow. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

GUEST BLOG: How to integrate an SMMP smoothly.

Figures from a number of sources in recent years – including the annual Business Travel Show buyer survey – reveal that more and more travel buyers and managers are taking on the additional responsibility for meetings management. This transition, however, is not without its challenges and, personally, I have been faced with two such challenges:

  • Developing the meetings and events process in a way that reduces risk and saves the company a lot of money, but without planners losing ownership
  • Selling the concept of SMMP technology to the rest of the company

Within the international organisation that I work for, the problems include/d:

  • Diverse and unidentified meetings and events spend within the organisation (a complex international “non-mandatory” environment)
  • Many different localised practices – planners, suppliers, process/methodology 

There was very little visibility of the tens of millions of dollars spend in the past, and certainly no centralised visibility whereby procurement could analyse data in an effort to drive efficiencies through leverage, and to better support duty of care.

Originally, each country, business unit, department and even planner had the ability to source, plan and manage any sort of meeting in any way they saw fit. Of course, there were many very professional results but also some with less polished outcomes! Importantly, there were no centralised resources, identified preferred suppliers, methodology, links to travel and the duty of care that it provides or standardised contract content.

These were the objectives I identified associated with moving to a category-management based approach: 

  • Centralise meeting requests and sourcing
  • Increase visibility of standardised terms and preferred suppliers/agencies
  • Leverage spend for increased savings
  • Reduce corporate risk – contractual, financial, duty of care
  • Implement policy or best practice booklet

The move to a category-management based approach provided a named procurement contact responsible for identifying stakeholders and bringing together as much detail as was available – this is ongoing and additional data is uncovered frequently. This gives planners the opportunity to engage with a specific procurement category manager, which, in turn, allows for category knowledge to be gradually increased.

From a practical perspective, the incentive for planners to engage was offering to take responsibility for reviewing, negotiating contract terms (and costs if required) and arranging sign off of contracts. In addition, this approach also brings procurement into direct contact with many of the agencies, which in turn, potentially provides introductions to other planners and events. A lot of work but a great way of getting to know your stakeholders!

Although ongoing, a knowledge database can be built, filling in some of the previously hidden data. This allows an initial strategy to be identified, as a basis for discussion and further joint development with key stakeholders. This leads on to a more collaborative approach, and greater support at senior and functional levels, with procurement leading the effort to identify the most suitable solution, building a business case for senior stakeholder support, tendering the chosen service in conjunction with the stakeholder group and defining implementation.

One of the main challenges is overcoming the resistance of planners often not wishing to work with procurement. There are a number of reasons for this, which can include the belief that it would make the planning and contracting process more complex – this is untrue as procurement can take a lot of the pain points away. Planners may think that procurement would reduce the decision-making ability. Again, this is not true, as procurement doesn’t want to manage meetings but make the decision-making process easier and reduce risks along the way.

Decisions concerning venue sourcing, menu selection and the quality of meeting space, for example, would always remain with planners. Helping them to achieve this in the most cost effective way is part of the goal of course. Convincing planners of this and selling the benefits of working with procurement/the category manager are best done over time whilst building relationships and adding value.

This blog post was written by Jef Robinson, global category manager (meetings and travel), Citrix Systems. Jef is an advisory board member of the Business Travel Show, which takes place on 25-26 February, 2015, at Olympia Grand in London.

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of business travel buyers will have given travellers the freedom to book travel independently during 2014. This is according to our - The Business Travel Show's - annual buyer survey. It's an interesting statistic on its own. But when you compare it to figures from 2013 and 2012, it's instantly clear just what a massive shift in attitude and policy this is. 

This move towards more traveller freedom and taking a step back from mandatory compliance is in line with an overarching industry shift towards traveller rather than travel management - dubbed as Travel Management 2.0 - and an increasing focus on traveller wellbeing and responsible travel management

In 2013, just 36 per cent of travel buyers allowed independent travel bookings. In 2012, this figure was nine per cent. Of the 62 per cent of buyers mentioned above, 51 per cent insist travellers book within policy guidelines. More eyebrow-raisingly, 11 per cent do not. Despite this, the number of travellers who never book outside policy increased from 12 per cent to 14 per cent this year and 44 per cent of buyers found it no more difficult to drive compliance in the last 12 months (42 per cent in 2013, 40 per cent in 2012).

Buyers are obviously still keen to drive compliance. Policies allow for leverage, whether's that's better costs or better deals, and the top three methods used by buyers to drive compliance are:

1.     The adoption of preferred suppliers - 71 per cent
2.     Educational awareness among travellers - 53 per cent
3.     The use of online tools - 57 per cent

It's not all carrot, though, as it would seem some organisations are also happy to use the metaphorical stick in the pursuit of perfect policy adoption as nine per cent of buyers issue penalties to travellers who do not comply (funnily enough, nine per cent of travellers regularly go rogue) and 26 per cent incentivise travellers to book cheaper travel solutions with the budgets they are given.   

Still, three quarters of buyers claim travellers book outside of policy on occasion, which matched last year’s 75 per cent, and the main drivers behind this activity were ‘personal preference’ (31 per cent) followed by price (21 per cent) and the desire to go direct (14 per cent).

If you want to find out more about Travel Management 2.0 and whether it's time your organisation loosened its policy and allowed travellers greater freedom, the Business Travel Show is running a hosted buyer session on Tuesday 24 February called Travel Management 2.0 in Action. It's not to be missed. 

This post was written by Natalie Whittaker of the Business Travel Show. You can contact her on Twitter @Natalie_BTS. Registration is now open for the Business Travel Show here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

GUEST BLOG: Electronic Visas – India Goes Online

As of Thursday 27 November, the Indian Government announced is it issuing electronic tourist visas to foreign nationals entering the country. Whilst this new ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) offers a visa on arrival facility for passport holders of 43 countries including Australia, USA, New Zealand, Russia and Germany the list does not include citizens of the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Spain and other neighbouring territories.

This move to an online visa provision follows other countries that offer visas online; such as the recent implementation of the Turkish e-Visa, and the now well established, Sri Lankan ETA, Australian ETA and American ESTA.
It is not clear yet whether the new Indian ETA will expand to allow applicants from other countries, but for now the application system for UK citizens remains unchanged. The traveller must still obtain their full visa directly from the Indian Embassy in Birmingham or London. Please note that when applying for your Indian visa you will need:
  • Indian Embassy Visa fee: £92.20
  • Passport with 2 blank pages and at least 6 months validity
  • Recent 5 x 5cm visa photos (x2)
  • Completed application form(s)

If you are a registered social worker, public sector worker, government official or military personnel – a letter from your employer stating the purpose of your trip and expected return to work date.
Please note that this information is for British Passport holders; those with different countries of citizenship may be different. The Indian Embassy reserves the right to ask for additional documentation, as required.
This post was written by Billy Knapper, marketing executive at The Travel Visa Company.
Follow The Travel Visa Company on Twitter - @thetravelvisa. You can also visit them at the Business Travel Show on 25-26 February 2015. Register now for a free pass at 

Friday, 5 December 2014

GUEST BLOG: Who should manage business travel?

The best way to answer this question is to ask yourself: “Do you regard business-related travel as a cost or profit centre?”

Most corporates see travel as a cost that they’d like to reduce or avoid altogether. This is where procurement comes to the fore, leveraging existing and future spend to create preferred suppliers offering lower rates and other benefits. But travel is not like other commodities. The price doesn’t always come down as demand increases.

Rather than a cost, some visionary CEOs see travel and meetings expenditure as a source of profit; the means to facilitate business. Even in the digital era, face-to-face contact is essential to do business. Alternatives such as Skype and video conferencing can replace some meetings, but rarely can a sale be initiated without pressing the flesh.

Global travel is increasing, both for business and leisure. The global talent pool is getting smaller so the global workforce is having to be more mobile. The number of companies sending employees on international assignment is growing year-on-year; another example of travel facilitating mobility and an illustration of why HR is also a major stakeholder in corporate travel management.

Managed vs un-managed

Most business travel is managed; in other words, travel is strictly controlled with processes in place to cover trip and expense authorisation, use of preferred suppliers and post-trip evaluation protocols to ensure that the overall cost of the trip is minimised. The traveller has relatively little choice over where he or she stays, and the rate paid is pre-determined by the terms already negotiated via procurement.

However up to 30 per cent of business travel in the UK is unmanaged, with no restrictions placed on purchases in terms of seniority, entitlement or spend limit. The problem with unmanaged travel is that the associated spend is not leveraged. The time spent trawling the internet for the day’s hot deal represents lost productivity elsewhere, as well as offering a false economy.

Other organisations believe their employees want to be good corporate citizens and therefore empower them to make travel choices. This approach has been dubbed Travel 2.0, but like the more traditional approach, this also relies on systems and booking channels to be in place to leverage best value from the company’s travel budget.

Outsourcing works

Effective travel management calls upon many different corporate disciplines, not all of which may have the resource or bandwidth to be part of a robust travel programme. That’s where TMCs come in.

Chambers and other TMCs help larger organisations to shape travel policies that maximise compliance and leverage maximum savings using the aggregated buying power of our respective clients to secure the lowest possible hotel rates, air and rail fares.

For smaller companies, we help to save money and time by giving them the means to book travel through a single point rather than losing productivity whilst individual employees waste time making their own arrangements.

And by establishing trip approval and cost control protocols within travel policies we work with our clients to change buying behaviour, eliminate unnecessary travel and streamline expense processes.

We also provide the technology that captures every booking and enables travellers’ whereabouts to be tracked whilst away on business – especially important when disaster strikes and you need to meet your Duty of Care obligations.

The future of travel management

Twenty five years ago, you’d find an in-house travel manager in most large organisations. The emergence of the TMC changed that. And over the next 25 years the shape of travel management at corporate level will continue to change. Mobile apps and social networking are already changing the way travel is booked and consumed. And a new generation of traveller – Generation Y – has an affinity with Skype and Facetime instead of hopping on a plane.

As travel programmes mature, travel products become more dynamic and booking channels more diverse, the scope for finding incremental savings will diminish, and along with it will be the role of procurement. Corporate communications teams will assume responsibility for putting people together using the most appropriate medium to achieve the required results. Advances in technology and Gen Y’s expectation for booking travel on the move will also make the IT department a key player in travel management

But despite these inevitable changes, one thing looks unlikely to alter: the diversity of corporate cultures. This means that there can never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Here lies the future value of the TMC. As specialists in business travel, we will have the expertise, systems and content to meet these changing needs.

This blogpost was written by Daniel Von Weihe, executive vice president business development, Chambers Travel Group Chambers Travel Group is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show, which takes place 25-26 February 2015 at Olympia Grand in London. Register for free now at