12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
With the implementation of Open Skies and the somewhat laboured opening of Heathrow”s Terminal 5, ongoing security concerns and a continuing spotlight on climate change, Mike Platt, Group Industry Affairs Director of international corporate services company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), comments on some of the industry's key developments in 2008.
With some 40 years experience in the travel industry many of which were with international airlines, Mike Platt, joined in 1989 and held several senior roles including Managing Director of HRG UK before being appointed to his current post in 2006. He will step down from the job at the end of June.
Open Skies is good news for most airlines and business travellers. Paving the way for airline expansion on both sides of the Atlantic, it should increase travel options for corporate travel customers, and greater competition is likely to generate lower fares - particularly welcome in the current climate.
However, there are likely to be knock-on effects as some large airlines may be forced to give up their monopoly over flight slots which could restrict future growth, and in turn spur a wave of consolidation.
Open Skies is likely to lead to greater increases in passenger traffic at London Heathrow - an airport that is already overcrowded. The launch of Open Skies was well timed to coincide with the opening of Heathrow's Terminal 5 but it is vital we consider the bigger picture of air travel management.
New airport terminals will inevitably enhance the travel experience in the long-term, but as airlines continue to operate at, or near, capacity on many routes and at many airport hubs, we need to minimise disruptions for corporate travellers.
Worryingly this congestion at international airports is generating significant waste, both in terms of lost time and unnecessary CO2 emissions from planes circling as they wait for a landing slot.
With Open Skies expected to generate 26 million more airline passengers during the next five years, pressure to build an additional runway at Heathrow and other international hubs can only intensify. However, such plans must balance the impact on business and the economy with the best way to control CO2 emissions, and the concerns of local residents.
Looking to introduce smarter business travel initiatives aligned to environmental objectives can often deliver the added benefit of reducing overall costs. Mounting pressure to address corporate social responsibility (CSR) has forced environmental concerns to the top of every business leader's agenda.
Such concerns are not going to go away and the scrutiny of air travel is set to increase. It is our job to ensure we can support our clients in the best possible way to meet their own needs.
As a result of the economic slowdown, and the effect this is having on some businesses, companies are seeking a greater return on their expenditure. With business travel a barometer of the global economic climate, and corporate travel often a company's second largest controllable cost, travel budgets will be under increased scrutiny with corporate services companies playing an important role in helping organisations to manage them.
The issue of security for the corporate travel industry is here to stay. With the continued threat of terror attacks and ongoing alerts from international security services, it is fundamental that major corporations take stock of their data and reporting requirements.
In turn, security will continue to dominate the business travel agenda and the ability of corporate travel management companies to track and provide real time information on employee movements will continue to be a business necessity.