1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
The start of a new decade also brings the start of a new, unique resource for the European business travel community, says Paul Tilstone.
NBTA Europe is a network established through true partnership between NBTA in the USA, ITM in the UK & Ireland and a number of regional business travel associations throughout Europe covering Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, the UK and Ireland initially. For the first time this network will represent the interests of pan-European buyers in the world's second biggest business travel market, estimated at nearly 30% of global spend according to research by NBTA and IHS Global Insight during 2009.
This is no small announcement. All the parties concerned have spent a significant amount of time, energy and money in creating this entity.
But what does it hope to achieve?
The network has a number of objectives, just like each of the buyer-led organisations it represents. In an increasingly global world it will first and foremost bring European content to buyers in each of their countries locally so that they don't have to go to Sweden for example just to understand that market. It will undertake research, reports and provide benchmarking tools to those with European remits and use the expertise of local market knowledge to provide guidance to its members to maximize the efficiency of their European travel and meetings programmes.
The key to understanding what makes NBTA Europe unique is this term "buyer-led". It quite simply means that an association's board is in the majority buyers and the leadership roles (Chairman etc) can only be held by buyers. And what a difference that makes! In 2009, the Institute of Travel & Meetings (ITM), which has been appointed by NBTA to run the European network, produced the first in a series of reports on transparency in remuneration. Part one focused on the financial relationship between the TMC and the buyer entity. This was well received by buyers, who were given fresh insight into the financial workings of the industry, although some suppliers were not so impressed. At ITM we believe that being transparent is the key to the future success of this industry but that it may cause a little short-term pain for long-term gain. NBTA Europe operates on the same principle, but if it was led by suppliers do you really think they would endorse the exposure of elements in the industry which could be harmful to their commercial interests?
The launch of NBTA Europe is major news for the business travel and meetings industry. I'm not just saying that because I'm part of the organisation and I don't expect anyone to take our word for it. Its success will be determined by its actions, by the benefits European travel professionals derive from being a part of it. But successful it will be, because the people behind it are passionate about the industry and because Europe has been crying out for it.
This is just the start...
Paul Tilstone is chief executive of ITM and managing director of NBTA Europe