Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Ask a typical regular business traveller what he wants for 2003 and the answer is fairly predictable.
Trains that run on time, air services that are frequent and keep to schedule, and hotels that do not overbook! Add to that major improvements by way of legroom and service on expensive inter-European full service flights and you are nearly there. Londoners and visitors to the capital alike would like to see the average traffic speed substantially increased within Ken Livingstone”s congestion charges scheme. If taxis and public transport can move about quicker the Mayor”s solution will be seen to be a success. The Provinces are watching closely. London First was set up in the early '90s as a vehicle to mobilise business leaders to improve and promote the Nation”s capital. For 2003 it is calling for the Mayor to ensure that income from congestion charging is pumped back into improving London”s roads. A triumph for the scheme will see it rolled out across the land. If the massive jams continue Mr Livingstone would be best advised to stay in his Brighton home.
The business traveller wants improvements with the budget airlines in 2003. They are now establishment. On short journeys, in the main, he does not mind putting up with noisy children and lack of comfort. Buzz is leading the way by providing more for the person who wants to pay for the little luxuries. Priority check-in and fast track, executive lounge facilities and a decent choice of food when aboard. Those carriers who do not provide seat allocation come in for a lot of criticism. Calling out boarding by check-in numbers only works when the handling staff are up to the job. They don”t have the time to stop passengers trying to jump the queue. The one big wish for budget airline customers for 2003 is for the carriers to allocate the boarding by colour coded cards. This way everyone can see who is cheating and trying to get on the aircraft first. The scrums at Luton and Stansted will not disappear but will at least be reduced.
ABTN received comments from senior people in the industry on their views for the year that has just started.
Paul Kehoe, Managing Director of London Luton Airport sums it up for the industry. "For civil aviation in general in 2003 I would hope for a more general understanding that airports are simply meeting the demands that we all create by our modern way of life - and so they have to operate 365 days a year, not just for the few days that we want to use them to travel on holiday, or on business."
British Airways wish for 2003 is another runway for Heathrow. ABTN”s comment is that publication of the White Paper on airports sometime in 2003 would be progress!
Ryanair and its flamboyant boss Michael O”Leary like to grasp any opportunity to put its view across. For 2003 a particular target is Dublin Airport. "The Aer Rianta monopoly is out of control," he says. It makes a change from slagging off BA.
easyJet is now Europe”s largest budget carrier. Managing director Ray Webster is emphatic that there must be less political involvement from continental governments in supporting airlines. "2003 must be the year when governments finally retreat from partisan association with national airlines. Carriers must stand on their own two feet and either succeed or fail."
Sir Richard Branson is positive in spite of misgivings. "The year 2003 is pretty impossible to predict but so was the year 2002. We went into the year with trepidation. However it worked out well and Virgin Atlantic recovered strongly. 2003 could see another war in the Gulf which will hurt the airline business. We have made contingency plans and are prepared for that and we are looking forward optimistically."
Bob Taylor is Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands, and a former managing director of Birmingham International Airport. He is confined to a wheelchair and for many years has campaigned for the disabled. His 2003 aspiration is that the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, due to be implemented in 2004, be brought forward on a voluntary basis. "The Act becomes law next year. The airlines and airports have for many years been most forward in making life easier for the disabled. My biggest wish for 2003 is to ask people to emphasise training and re-training". Southampton Airport, one of BAA plc”s smallest operations, is showing what can be done. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in partnership with the airport organised a training day for staff. Led by a trained guide dog, employees volunteered to undertake a blindfolded walk around the passenger terminal. (Ed: As they say, it was an eye opener!)
Finally, the British Olympic Association is working diligently to win for the UK the 2012 games. The organisation is emphasising the benefits in kind the Games will bring. "This is a unique opportunity," said Sir Gulam Noon, chairman of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Hosting the games will provide real net benefits in terms of tourism and inward investment." Let”s hope the bid passes the Cabinet”s five tests, or whatever, at the end of this month, and then moves on to become one of the four venues on the short list next summer. If London can get that far the real battle will take place in May-June 2004 when the International Olympic Committee meet to select the venue for the 2012 summer games.