What is new for the Business Travel Show in 2014?
The International Hotel Village is new for 2014 and we’ve targeted global and smaller hotel suppliers that have strength in a region or country.
Our surveys have always indicated that hotels are second on the list that attendees want to meet at our show after airlines, so we want to make sure we can cater for that.
We’ve managed to attract Marriott, Wyndham, LUX and Malmaison amongst those that have signed up as well as some that represent the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.
Marriott has not been at the show for around six or seven years, so this shows a real testament to what we are now about.
Hotels have traditionally been more interested in the MICE market but increasingly recognise the ability for them to meet the hosted buyers at the BTS.
How many exhibitors do you expect this year? Have you benefited from the closure of other shows?
Across the show we expect to have around 230-240 exhibitors; last year we finished with 203 so we expect significant growth.
There is a good representation across all categories and as well as the increase in hotel companies there is also growth in the corporate card sector. Companies like Barclaycard, MasterCard and Bank of America are exhibiting.
Looking back on previous shows the largest we’ve had is 215 so those who remember pre-2008 that the show was significantly larger than it would be this year.
Brands are coming back to the show but not invest in egotistical stands anymore; exhibiting at a show needs to deliver ROI and these companies coming back indicates that we can deliver that.
We see the mood of the industry and willingness to exhibit and sponsor mirrors that; companies are looking for more opportunities and what they get out of it.
We won the battle between two trade shows that focus on business travel and I think that there was only really ever one space for one business travel event in one year. So the industry is more buoyant but confidence in us is amplified in that. The business travel community does not have its own space and has different needs to leisure so putting the Business Travel Mart in a leisure event (World Travel Market) was the wrong move.
Registration is up 42% at the moment and the hosted buyers programme is running 22% up, so this is exceeding our targets. It should be a busy two days at the show.
What focuses will the conference sessions cover this year?
There is quite an emphasis on travelling responsibly this year and our programme will help buyers with managing sustainability activity, demand, management and travel including topics such as video conferencing and carbon management.
Also the notion of travel and well-being in the workplace and the work/life balance is now a larger part of the bigger organisations. This goes into travel too with areas such as security, health and the repatriation side.
We will also have the global CEOs from BCD Travel, CWT, Radius and HRG all on stage for a panel discussion so this will be a must for any agency trying to understand where the big boys are going and how they can differentiate. NDC and managing data is a dream to understanding customers more and will be talked about during the show and will be discussed in a keynote speech on day one. The other keynote will include a session with the CEO and president of Expedia into various topics from the agency side.
Networking and discovery forums are also a key part of our initiatives. These enable buyers to meet with like-minded issues and create a network.
What other areas will be covered?
The main benefit for attendees is to understand what customer issues are for TMCs or the agent and that this is a good place to learn about the latest developments.
Technology is also a focus covering both how it aids the TMC and the buyer. There are four sessions specifically created for TMCs and agencies that have a travel focus in the Business Travel Tech Theatre. These will include sessions on apps, content, the bleisure trend and tapping into pre and post-business trip opportunities, plus saving money through technology.
The show celebrates a milestone this year. What plans are in place to celebrate?
Plans for our 20th anniversary will include a celebration with the hosted buyers and exhibitors on the Tuesday night at a party at the London Transport Museum.
We expect around 500 people to come along to that and I’m sure we’ll have a cake and some entertainment too. That will be the centrepiece to the celebrations but we are continuing to work on other plans.