1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
November 2022, Virtual
Economic uncertainty has hung around the UK like a bad smell for the past 18 months.
Last week’s government spending review, which confirmed major cuts in the public sector, was either cause for optimism or yet another reason to slit your wrists, depending on one’s political standpoint.
The economy has experienced strong growth throughout 2010 – the figures prove that – but economists are warning us not to get too carried away.
In spite of all this, one of the best economic indicators in terms of the travel industry is the success, or otherwise, of the trade shows and conferences.
David Chapple, event director of the Business Travel and Meetings Show (BTMS), freely admits he endured scores of sleepless nights in the run up to February’s event at Earl’s Court in London.
Exhibitor budgets had been decimated, marketeers were making last-minute decisions and delegates often struggled to justify the entry fee to their employers. But times are changing, for the better.
“We’re tracking ahead of last year, though it’s still early days,” says Chapple. “We’re 30% ahead in terms of delegate numbers and exhibitors. There’s more confidence in the industry than there was this time last year.
“If I think back, a lot of people were not sure what kind of money they had to spend on marketing activities. Once they’d been told, there was still a two to three month period before anything could be signed off. But there’s more optimism and more money going around now.”
Chapple says Centaur – the company behind the BTMS – is continuing to invest in the executive buyer programme, which replaced the VIP programme in February.
“The VIP programme needed revamping to get rid of some of the dead wood. We revamped it into the executive buyer programme, which started well and will be even better this time round.”
Chapple says there will be more focus this year on increasing the number of buyers from the small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, in response to supplier demand.
“Suppliers consider them to be companies with a travel spend of £3 million upwards. We are continuing to focus our resources in terms of growing that database and audience."
The European Travel Buyer awards, held in conjunction with the show at the Wyndham Grand hotel at Chelsea harbour, looks likely to double in size, according to Chapple. He says the number of entries has increased by 50%, of which nearly 40% has come from overseas, up 20% on last year.
The conference programme and panel session topics have yet to be announced, but Chapple says there will be more emphasis on buyer-lead discussion groups, in addition to traditional keynote speeches and open sessions.
“Our research found that the buyer master class group were very popular. There will be more of them as people seemed more comfortable debating in smaller roundtable groups.”