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Keeping the customer happy

Satisfying specific buyer demands is the key focus of the 2012 Business Travel Show, event director David Chapple tells Jonathan Hart

A BIG INCREASE IN exhibitors and a newly-tailored, buyer-led conference agenda are among highlights of the Business Travel Show (BTS) at Earls Court 2 from February 7 to 8. In addition, an expanded, hosted corporate-buyer programme – billed as the world’s largest – is inviting around 1,200 senior travel and procurement managers from across Europe.

“The landscape, proposition and competition is constantly changing, so BTS must always reflect what our research shows buyers really want to achieve from the show in terms of return on investment,” says event director David Chapple of Centaur Exhibitions, organiser of BTS.

 “They come to BTS for three main reasons: to meet the widest possible range of suppliers to source new products; to learn effectively in conference or conversation; and to network efficiently with their peers or suppliers.”

He says all three elements are being highlighted in 2012 alongside an investment by Centaur of more than £500,000 – double its 2011 investment – in the fully hosted buyer programme and delivering the show’s quality, buyer-oriented content.

Chapple says the growth in exhibitor numbers to some 200 incorporates big brands returning after an absence, plus a number of innovative new suppliers, including less-known airlines serving emerging economies, together racking up repeat or new-buyer interest.


Research among the buyer community has also led to the conference formatting being changed to include more intimate roundtable or ‘masterclass’ discussions, more case study examples, and fewer sessions with suppliers (who can often be tempted to advertise themselves) on the panel.

“There are still some panel sessions with suppliers but, essentially, we have created a buyer-centric programme,” says Chapple. “The number of masterclasses has been doubled; these are led exclusively by travel managers or former travel managers, and are also buyer-only sessions.”

In a similar vein, the programme includes sessions specific to meetings, although the Business Travel & Meetings Show (BTMS) title adopted during the past two years has been dropped. “This is due to our primary focus,” says Chapple. “However you want to argue it, perhaps under the new guise of strategic meetings management programmes (SMMPs), the dark arts of travel management and of planning and executing meetings, are distinctly separate disciplines that defy convergence. In practice, you can focus as a show on one or the other, but not both.

“The two touch at some levels, so while BTS has always included some meetings content, it is first and foremost a corporate travel show and our long-term strategy is to maintain its position as the leading show in the sector.”

Chapple says the blind panic in business travel during 2008-9, manifest in the marketing cutbacks of 2010, has evolved into a new “realism” of promotional spend through continuing tough economic times.

“Companies are not so worried or fearful about spend,” he says. “They know they’ve still got to be out there and are channelling their money and efforts into the areas that will give them the best return.”

technical talk

Chapple adds that the BTS focus on corporate buyer specifics has also led to the creation of a new Business Travel Tech Zone, situated between BTS and the adjacent Travel Technology Europe 2012 show – also organised by Centaur – at Earls Court on the same dates. This crossover zone between the two shows effectively distils the technological analyses and tools specific to corporate travel applications, he says.

In addition to individual company events or receptions staged in conjunction with BTS, the networking element of the show for hosted buyers – 75 per cent of whom are from the UK and 25 per cent from more than 12 European countries – includes the European Travel Buyer Awards dinner, the First Class Lounge for oneon- ones, and the Hosted Buyer Event at Altitude 360 at Millbank Tower. The keynote speaker on the opening day of BTS 2012 is CNN Business Traveller presenter Richard Quest.

BTS 2012 at a glance

The world’s largest fully hosted buyer programme Bringing together 1,200 senior travel and procurement managers.

The Business Travel Tech Zone New for 2012, the Zone is designed for business travel technology suppliers whose buyers are interested in both the Business Travel Show and Travel Technology Europe.

Education, education, education Twenty-six sessions, including an opening keynote speech from CNN Business Traveller TV-anchor Richard Quest, panel debates, case studies and masterclasses. The educational programme offers focused, practical and inspirational content, and is highly popular with corporate travel buyers.

European Travel Buyer Awards This black-tie gala evening is now in its fourth year, celebrating the achievements of Europe’s most accomplished travel buyers. More than 500 guests will gather on Monday, February 6, the night before the show.

First Class Lounge For the exclusive use of hosted and executive buyers, plus special guests of the show. It offers a respite from meetings and conference sessions, and buyers can enjoy complimentary refreshments and internet access.

Cellars in the Sky Head to the Business Traveller stand to taste award-winning wines from the world’s airlines.

HSMAI Pavilion Where Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International members can meet top business travel professionals from all across Europe.

ITM Village The Institute of Travel & Meetings is back this year with its village of supplier members. After-show party Sponsored by Buying Business Travel.


What they’re saying about the 2012 Business Travel Show

“At last year’s show, Capita Business Travel took a bigger-than-usual stand, showcasing and profiling a new brand identity and enhanced travel portal. Twelve months on and the Business Travel Show is the ideal opportunity for us to showcase our sophisticated and unique travel management service.”
Sales and marketing director, Capita Business Travel

“I’m returning for a second year as a hosted buyer and I am especially looking forward to sharing with, and learning from, other senior travel buyers who attend. I get a lot of value from the conference sessions, particularly the buyer-only masterclasses, and come away with some good ideas to improve my programme.”
Travel manager, procurement, Logica Sweden

“ is looking forward to the 2012 show with much excitement as we bring our new product for travel management companies to the market. We’re looking forward to meeting as many as possible of the attendees who have an interest in selling UK rail more efficiently.”
Market development director,

“Following the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, we are delighted to attend the 2012 show as the new United.”
UK and Ireland marketing manager, United

“Last year the Business Travel Show was a success for Hotelzon – we gained new customers and met lots of decision-makers in the industry. This year we welcome everybody interested in hotel booking systems to visit us and hear more about solutions that can help reduce travel spend by 20 per cent, plus increase control and compliancy, and get to know the latest innovations within the industry.”
Head of marketing and communications, Hotelzon

“2012 will be my second year attending the Business Travel Show and my first as a hosted buyer. The BTS diary system lets me pre-arrange meetings that exactly match my buying needs, and the networking opportunities are second to none – I can network with my peers from all over Europe, create brand new supplier contents and strengthen existing relationships.”
Procurement specialist, Nationwide Building Society

“Traveltime is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show for the first time in 2012. We feel the show is a fabulous opportunity to have direct contact with travel buyers, bookers and arrangers. We have chosen to exhibit at the Business Travel Show as it is Europe’s largest event for this sector, and we believe we can offer something different to our larger competitors. The show is the ideal platform for us to meet travel bookers/buyers in person to demonstrate this.”
Business travel manager, Traveltime

“We are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show to position ourselves as the better deal for business for the savvy business traveller. We will also be promoting the Travelodge business account card, and our corporate rate and package proposition.”
Trading director of first-time exhibitor Travelodge

“Although I work with some fantastic service providers, I also value being able to catch up with all of our suppliers face to face and keeping up to date with alternative supplier offerings. At the Business Travel Show, I can do all of that in one day, which is an incredibly efficient use of my time.”
Head of global travel, OC Oerlikon Management


Business Travel Show 2012 programme


Tuesday February 7

Forecasting forum – where is the cost of travel going in 2012?

The distribution revolution – is it good or bad news for travel buyers?

Wednesday February 8

Can your air programme survive airline consolidation?

Is travel policy dead?


Tuesday February 7

Hotels – why I use a travel management company/why I use a hotel booking agency

Tackling ground transportation

Wednesday February 8

Get more out of your hotel contracts

How I launched a strategic meetings management programme


Tuesday February 7

Going global – what works, what doesn’t?

Making the business case – driving internal buy-in to your strategic meetings programme

How to negotiate with airline alliances

I want to integrate my travel data

Hotel deals – is it time for a radical re-think?

Risk-managing your meetings programme

Is it time to let travellers do what they want?

Integrating a booking tool and expense management system

Wednesday February 8

Holding your TMC to account

Meetings technology – what works, what doesn’t

Developing world, developing costs – managing travel to/from BRIC countries

Improve your travel programme with KPIs

Meetings maturity – moving up to the next level

Sustainability – where to now?

Getting more out of your travel technology

In the eye of the storm – managing a public sector travel programme


exhibitor list

7R Openbook
Abba Hotels
Advanced Payment Solutions
Air Astana
Akkeron Hotels
Albatros Travel
Amadeus UK
American Express Global
Business Travel
The Apartment Service
Arik Air International
Ascott Hospitality
Barclaycard Commercial
Berkshire Rooms
Best Western Hotels
Bewley's and Moran Hotels
BCD Travel
Bridgestreet Accommodation
Capita Business Travel
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Chapman Freeborn
Air Charter
City Apartments
Citybase Apartments
Click Travel
Concur Technologies
The Corporate Team
Cotels Serviced Apartments
Cotswold House Hotel & Spa
Cristal Hotel
Deutsche Bahn
Dolphin House (Mantilla Ltd)
East Coast Main
Line Company
Ethiopian Airlines
ETS World
Excess Baggage
Exclusive Hotels
Executive Serviced Apartments (ESA)
First Capital Connect
First Great Western
First Scotrail
FCM Travel Solutions
Frasers Hospitality UK
Go Native
GP Solutions
Grand City Hotel
Guoman Hotels
Heathrow Express
Hong Kong Airlines
Hotel Jalta
Hotelzon UK
House of Modern Living
Japan Airlines
Jigsaw Conferences
Jurys Inn Group
KDS Travel
Kings Ferry Travel Group (Coach Hire Connections)
Lanyon Europe
Lindner Hotels
Logical Transport
Maxwell Lucas
Oakwood Worldwide
Omega World Travel
Oman Air
Open Destinations
The Oxfordshire Resort
Parker Car Service
Pestana Hotels
Premier Apartments
Premier Inn
Protea Hotels
Puppy Power Sockets
Sabre Travel Network
SACO (The Serviced Apartment Company)
Signature Cars
Sixt Rent a Car
Skyline Worldwide Apartments
South African Airways
St Ermin's Hotel
Staycity Apartments
Supranational Hotels
Sustainable Opportunity
TAM Airlines
TCG Consulting
Think Apartments
Travelex UK
Traveldoo Technologies
Travelsavers Worldwide
Independent Network
Travel Visa 24
United Airlines
Ukraine International Airlines
Vibe Software
Virgin Atlantic Airways