Livingstone and Paxman to address buyers
This year's Institute of Travel Management (ITM) conference, now in its 37th year, is set to be as strong as ever with more than 500 buyers and suppliers expected.
Buyers from Accenture, Intel, Barclays, Deloitte, Astra Zeneca, IBM, Ford, Rolls-Royce, Shell and Aviva are among those expected to attend the BT convention centre in Liverpool from March 25-27.
Highlights include an address by Ken Livingstone, ex-mayor of London, and main sessions hosted by Jeremy Paxman, journalist and host of BB2's University Challenge.
Mr Paxman will grill speakers such as Tom Kelly, BAA's communications director, Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, and Graeme Leach, chief economist and director of policy at the Institute of Directors.
Other highlights include ‘The Exchange', a "speed networking" session and 16 sessions in four distinct topic streams.
Streamed session speakers include Cheryl Barber of JP Morgan, Torsten Kriedt, vp of Advito, Ben Varey, EMEA travel manager for Credit Suisse and Geoff Allwright, head of operations for Airbus UK.
ITM chair Caroline Strachan said the conference's Human Factor theme will encourage delegates to "look at things a little differently and try to understand the why versus the what."
"So much of what we do is about inside the mind of the traveller, the executive, the meeting attendee, the buyer, the supplier," said Ms Strachan.
There will be a strong showing from the event's nine platinum sponsors, including Travelport, the SkyTeam alliance, Eurostar and the InterContinental Hotel Group.
Other sponsors include American Express, CWT, Grass Roots, Amadeus and Choice Hotels.
Events and sessions will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday for "First-timers" aimed at bringing new attendees up to speed.
Four finalists will attempt to impress a panel of experts with their ideas for new business travel products, at the ‘Enter the Dragons' event on Wednesday.
Finally, those attending the gala dinner on Wednesday will be treated to ‘Strictly ITM', a dance competition that pits well known ITM faces against one another, with help from professional partners.
It is understood many of the contestants have been in training for weeks.