BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
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Leading companies from all sectors of the travel industry will receive due recognition at BBT's Business Travel Diamond Awards and Christmas Ball, to be held on Thursday, December 4, at London's Hurlingham Club. Why not join us for this gala start to the party season?
The past year has been challenging for the travel industry, with rising fuel prices putting particular pressure on the airlines, and the economic slowdown forcing companies to try just that little bit harder. And try they have. As this year's BBT's Business Travel Diamond Awards and Christmas Ball will reveal, when the going gets tough the tough get going.
It's the time to forget the doom and gloom - rather to celebrate the achievements of an industry known for its resilience. It's also the ideal opportunity to entertain clients, colleagues and staff in the run-up to the Christmas season, an occasion, which, in 2007, welcomed some 500 guests to party at what proved to be the gala event of the year.
Once again, the awards ceremony and ball, held in association with global travel company RADIUS, will be staged at the exclusive Hurlingham Club in west London. The evening will begin with a champagne reception sponsored by AirPlus, the chance to network with the top names in the travel industry, to meet up with old friends, to greet rivals and make new contacts.
After which, guests will sit down to a festive dinner with the wine flowing. The awards are to be presented between the three courses, allowing sufficient time to cheer the champions - Diamond awards for the winners and Gold for the runners-up. The presentations will be enlivened by host Bob 'The Cat' Bevan and followed by the Christmas Ball, sponsored by the Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), with dancing to the music of Star, one of the most popular bands on the UK party circuit. And should you flag a little, a team of powderpuff girls will be on standby throughout the evening to freshen up make-up and give a massage.
Fancy a flutter? In addition to the light fantastic, a new feature this year is a casino, sponsored by Air Astana, the national airline of Kazakhstan. So get your gladrags and try your luck - our party is going to be a night for winners.
THE CAT WITH NINE LIVES
Bob 'The Cat' Bevan, your host for the evening, is probably the first person to have been honoured by the Queen for after-dinner speaking. But the MBE suffix to his name is just one of many accolades awarded to the broadcaster and author.
He has worked with Ken Dodd, Eric Morecambe, Michael Parkinson and Sir Tim Rice, and comedian Jim Davidson once said of him: "In showbiz, we think he's the bee's knees." Together with a successful career in journalism and public relations, Bob made his first speech at an old boys' dinner in 1967 and turned professional in 1980. Sports mad, he earned the nickname 'The Cat' for his goalkeeping agility with a number of amateur soccer teams, and has played cricket for the Lord's Taverners, his village side, and in the North Kent League.
Expect to be bowled over by one of the funniest men in the business.
Music for the Christmas Ball will again be provided by Star, led by talented vocalist/guitarist Nigel Smith. The show band, which proved a knockout last year, has appeared around the world, performing at high-profile events, entertaining royalty, and gaining an international reputation for a wide repertoire of music, including classics from the past four decades and current chart toppers.
PRESENTING THE INDUSTRY'S OSCARS
Recognised as the supreme prizes in the business travel industry, the Business Travel Diamond Awards represent the views of its premier customers - the buyers responsible for obtaining the best value and service from their suppliers.
Every sector is included in the 26 categories, from airlines, airports, hotels and booking agents, to rail and car rental operators, corporate card and technology providers, travel management companies and ancillary services such as car parking and lounge access. Nominations were first sought from a panel of experts, comprising buyers from companies and organisations of all sizes, plus a team of leading business travel journalists, under the chairmanship of Buying Business Travel's editor, Mike Toynbee.
To set the seal on the experts' views, we then add the vital opinions of those readers whose job it is to take into account the numerous factors facing the end user. Customer service, value for money, delivery, reliability and the human touch all are factors to be considered in making the most of the client's travel spend. By casting your vote today, you will be contributing to the most meaningful poll of its type, with the outright winners receiving the highly valued Diamond awards, the runners up prestigious Gold awards.
CHRISTMAS STARTS HERE
The pre-dinner Champagne reception in the convivial atmosphere of party night at the Hurlingham Club is ideal for mingling and catching up with friends and colleagues, as well as making new contacts, in the run up to the festive season.
HOSPITALITY AT HURLINGHAM
The Hurlingham Club, venue for the Business Travel Diamond Awards and Christmas Ball, is in Fulham, West London, a few miles from the centre of town. Built in 1869, its centrepiece is the splendid Georgian Clubhouse set in 42 acres of grounds, which has an international reputation for exclusive service and sports facilities for members and guests.
Our gala evening will be held in the Club's Hurlingham Suite, opened in 2004, its individual rooms leading into the spectacular all-glass Palm Court, a light and spacious area where diners and dancers can stroll and conference delegates relax.
The conference and banqueting rooms at the Club have long been popular for the varied events of companies, charities and associations and this is the fourth year our awards ceremony and ball have been staged in the Hurlingham Suite.
GOING FOR GREEN
As the travel industry faces up to the issue of carbon emissions on the global environment, the organisers of the Business Travel Diamond Awards believe it is important to reward those taking appropriate and viable measures to combat global warming. So, as in the 2008 awards, there will be two categories designed to reflect outstanding contributions in the fight to save the planet, one to a company, the other to an individual.
Last year's Outstanding Contribution to the Environment by a Company winner was Virgin, whilst Eurostar's CEO, Richard Brown, was recognised as the driving force behind its Tread Lightly initiative as the Outstanding Contribution to the Environment by an Individual winner - worthy pioneers who have thrown down the gauntlet for the 2009 contenders for the Green Diamond Awards.
While some guests will be gambolling on the dance floor at the Business Travel Diamond Awards and Christmas Ball, others will be gambling at the casino, an innovation this year that could also set pulses racing. Sponsored by Air Astana, the casino will feature roulette, blackjack, poker, craps and wheel-of-fortune tables. Given a pre-determined amount of fun and money, lucky guests on each table will be shown their winnings, with casino staff calculating the top lady and gentleman prize winners at the end of the evening.
Here are the buyers and business travel journalists who drew up the shortlist:
Winner of the 2008 Buyer of the Year award, Karen is a senior commercial specialist within NATS Supply Chain Department. She has worked in procurement for 20 years and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply.
Catherine Chetwynd A leading freelance writer on business travel and a regular contributor to Buying Business Travel, Catherine writes on a broad range of subjects including expense management systems, hotels and serviced apartments.
Colin Ellson A regular contributor to Buying Business Travel and former deputy editor of Executive Travel magazine, Colin is one of the industry's most experienced writers, and an acknowledged authority on the Middle East, Scandinavia, and eastern/central Europe.
Maria McSorley Vice president, global travel manager, BlackRock, Maria has 15 years' experience as a corporate travel manager. She is a member of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, National Business Travel Association, and Institute of Supply Management.
Bob PapworthBuying Business Travel's executive editor, Bob was named Business Travel Journalist of the Year in 2004 and has been voted the industry's top feature writer for the past two years.
Sarah Plummer As sourcing analyst, Global Procurement, Sarah is responsible for EMEA travel for Merck Sharp & Dohme. With almost 20 years' industry experience, she leads the 2009 global hotel programme and travel-sourcing activity for the region.
Chris Reynolds Chris is senior partner and co-owner of the specialist consulting firm 3Sixty. His client list includes major banking, technology, insurance, manufacturing, retail and recruitment organisations. Chris serves as board director of the Institute of Travel Management.
David Richardson A regular contributor to Buying Business Travel and a leading writer on transport, David is the author of the ITM's Industry Report on Ground Transportation, October 2008.
Mike Toynbee (Chairman) As the editor of Buying Business Travel, Mike has an unrivalled track record as business travel's longest-serving editor, with 30 years' experience, including 18 years with Executive Travel.