BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
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With a new name and several new features, the Business Travel and Meetings Show next year celebrates its 16th anniversary as Europe's largest show dedicated to the business travel and meetings industry. ABTN, the event's media partner, talks to event director David Chapple.
The Business Travel Show was well established and well known, so why change the name after all these years?
We changed the name of the show because we felt it was important to reflect the changing responsibility of our visitors. Travel managers are increasingly managing meeting spend and bookers are booking both business trips and meeting venues. The show's content has reflected this change for a number of years and we felt it was time the name did too.
But the name change is just one element of the show's evolution this year. The business travel market moves quickly, raising new issues, conversations and points of emphasis annually and it's essential that we move with it and reflect those changes and our exhibitors' and visitors' needs.
And why the move from three to two days?
The move to two days was in direct response to feedback we received from the industry and, as an exhibition organiser, it's critical that we deliver the show that our exhibitors and visitors want.
Centaur Exhibitions, the show owners, has moved a number of shows from three to two days and the good news is that, while it makes it an even more viable marketing option for our exhibitors, there has been little or no impact on visitor numbers. A two day show is more focused, more productive for visitors and exhibitors and it allows them to make better use of their time.
The last 12 months have been difficult for the business travel market as a whole. How is BTMS shaping up?
The show is a good barometer for the state of the industry. When times are tough then suppliers look long and hard as to where they can cut marketing budgets and where to place expenditure. Despite this, the show has seen an upturn in the number of bookings, not only from smaller exhibitors but also larger brands that are returning to the show.
Major airlines, hotel groups and TMCs will be present. To date, the likes of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Accor Hotels, Carlson Wagonlit, IHG and The Wyndham Hotel Group have confirmed their support for the show.
Why should companies exhibit when their marketing budgets are so tight?
Corporates are still evaluating and looking for better value for money for their budget. They visit the show looking for suppliers who can provide that. There is no better opportunity than BTMS 2010 to get in front of those buyers.
When travel managers attend BTMS 2010 they have invested time to meet suppliers, find new brands and strike deals - they are in active buying mode and our exhibitors are in the perfect place to take advantage of this.
In economic times like these companies cannot afford to disappear from the business landscape. Companies that are more proactive come out of the recession stronger. It is a competitive industry and the more visible you are, the more likely you are to pick up business. BTMS 2010 is the perfect environment to put your team in front of current customers as well as hundreds of new contacts.
And why visit?
As I said earlier, corporates are still evaluating and looking for better value for money for their budget. With more than 200 leading business travel and meetings suppliers under one roof, there really is no better opportunity to achieve cost cuttings, make budgets work harder, find new suppliers and test existing ones, and discover new products than at BTMS.
In addition to meeting suppliers, BTMS offers buyers a fantastic educational programme and networking opportunities. We are also introducing a range of brand new features and services to the show for 2010, such as BTMS Connect, the Executive Buyer Programme, Innovation Arena, Advice Clinic and Masterclasses. And that's on top of the European Travel Buyer Awards, Innovation Awards, Cellars in the Sky Awards; Centre Stage keynotes and seminar programme; Business Travel Club and onsite lounges.
And with more than 6,000 travel professionals at the show, it's a great opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues and stay up-to-date.
Tell us more about these new features
BTMS Connect, the new online appointment and social networking system, helps you find people, start discussions, make plans and appointments, set up a tailored itinerary and, all in all, have a much more productive event. It is a hybrid of Facebook, LinkedIn, Match.com and Twitter - it's all the good things about each of these sites rolled into one but designed to be used in a tailored exhibition environment.
Visitor feedback showed that 70% of visitors want to make appointments with exhibitors but they also want help and a more structured approach to enable them to do this. BTMS Connect also sends out regular reminders to users highlighting new seminars, exhibitors as well as updates that have been posted online to keep them involved. And when they log in, they will be automatically matched by their interest to exhibitors, the conference programme and other attendees. The service will go live to visitors in December.
The Executive Buyer Programme aims to bring the most important corporate buyers and travel professionals in the UK and across Europe to BTMS 2010. They will be offered free education, free networking, a free invitation to the ETBAs, which will take place at the Wyndham Grand Hotel at Chelsea Harbour, appointment-making through BTMS Connect, an exclusive concierge and transfers to and from the show. We have a database of over 2,500 contacts who will be contacted with this opportunity.
The Innovation Awards Arena will consist of 14 stands where individual finalists will demonstrate their innovative products and services. Visitors can go to the arena to experience them and to vote for them. The seven Innovation Award winners will be announced at 1pm on February 10.
The Advice Clinicwill be home to a panel of 30 independent, experienced representatives and travel managers who can answers questions about areas such as travel management, green issues, technology, compliance, duty of care and how to save time and money.
Experts will be on hand throughout the show - and in advance through BTMS Connect - to give complimentary advice to visitors on anything to do with business travel and meetings.
The Masterclass 2010 sessions are exclusively for experienced buyers. They are high end round table sessions allowing small groups of buyers to discuss specific topics or industry issues, such as video conferencing, travel departments, end to end solutions, meeting technology, CSR and data.
No more than 20 people will be in each session: people from similar backgrounds who can discuss issues that are relevant to them, share best practice and experiences and take away practical tips and ideas that will influence future travel policies.
There really is a lot going on then?
Yes, there is. BTMS 2010 will be a more engaging, interactive and focused event. Our aim this year is to help buyers identify exactly whom they should meet, what products they should see and which education and networking opportunities they need to attend before they get onsite, so that when they get to the show they will have a productive, successful and rewarding time with us. And we want to provide the ultimate networking environment for our exhibitors to do business in by introducing them to a high volume of top class buyers from all over the UK and Europe.
The Business Travel & Meetings Show takes place 9-10 February 2010 at Earls Court 2 in London. Registration is now open - please visit www.businesstravelshow.co.uk.