IN THE VERY SHORT TIME I’ve been writing with Buying Business Travel, we’ve seen dramatic convulsions in the Eurozone, bloody and momentous events in Libya, turbulence across the world’s markets, bitter politics almost everywhere, plus nature playing it’s destructive hand from floods in Thailand to an earthquake in Turkey.
But I’ve been writing about travel for five years now, and ’twas ever thus: a volatile combination of man-made and natural dramas – wildly fluctuating fuel prices, biting tax hikes, unsupportive government, spectacular company collapses, 24/7 media prophets of doom and gloom, political and economic upheaval, ash clouds and tsunamis. Well, you know the script.
And yet, the story from business is always somewhat different. In my first week here at BBT I was off to the GBTA convention in Denver. Here the talk was proactive, positive and determined – maximising the benefits of new technologies for enhanced data capture and analysis, traveller tracking, policy compliance, consolidating spend to negotiate better deals – all in all, running a tighter ship.
It was the same story a few weeks later in Paris at the ACTE conference: innovation, mobile technology, new products and partnerships – generally striving for clever ways to squeeze the best value out of a dollar, euro or pound in the face of adversity.
That’s not to say all these people were wearing rose-tinted Raybans – they fully recognised the challenges: trying to catch the rushing wave of social media and consumer mobile tech, how to get government onside… when the strictly non-lobbying ACTE announced it was forging a tie-up the GTMC, it expressed its hopes of benefiting from the guild’s political experience and perseverance. Business always seeks the silver lining in every cloud. Already there are predictions of a “gold rush” to Libya as new opportunities open up. Meanwhile, the Q3 figures from Guild of Travel Management Companies - now the Business Travel Association, the major UK-based association representing TMCs members show growth in all sectors.
It sounds like a cliché but from what I see and hear from travel buyers and sellers, those surviving these “challenging” conditions are emerging leaner, fitter, smarter and stronger.
What do you think? It’s your business and your magazine – I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what you want from Buying Business Travel. Watch this space, and in the meantime let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
paul revel, editor