12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Travel buyers were advised to gear up for a return to economic buoyancy over the next two years by one of the UK's leading economists.
Speaking to delegates at the inaugural NBTA Europe conference in Lisbon, Dominic Swords, a business economist and independent strategy consultant and visiting Professor at Henley Business School, said economies in both the UK and the United States should return to "2007 levels of activity" by the first quarter of 2012.
However, during his presentation - The Economics of a Rising Tide - he urged buyers and their businesses to prepare for the impact of a changing global economic landscape.
"I don't think there will be a double-dip recession and markets will become more flexible and competitive," he said.
"Buyers should be smart and aware. They know the new reality needs to make sense to all sides: the airlines and the travel management companies need to make money while giving the buyer value."
He said the recent recession was "unique" and a pivotal moment in economic history.
"It was a credit crunch as well as a massive asset price collapse. From 2002 things went crazy and stupid and the banks got too clever for themselves.
"That kind of easy money growth in the west will not come back. This will have an impact on exchange rates and it will make things across global markets more competitive.
"Usually post recession industries are in turmoil and cards are thrown up in the air. Entrepreneurs can step in with a new proposition, as there are always opportunities that come out of a recession.
"So it's good time to invest, as it's cheap because costs are so low. And it's a good time to be making speculative risks in terms of product launches."
He said markets across the globe were stabilising and there were conditions for recovery of confidence, investment and consumption. Economies in Latin America and the Far East remain the fastest growing, though Swords said the Western economies were making progress.
"Businesses need to be aware of the return to growth phase. There are significant changes taking place, and we're just at the beginning. These changes will have an impact on how your businesses grow, and what opportunities are going to come your way - what will you need to do to take advantage of that?
Swords said the pace and time of recovery were crucial to the success of companies. He said markets in industrial countries has changed forever and that the business community would have to think about different models and ways of dealing with suppliers.
Swords said the poor health of the airline sector was still down to a lack of consolidation.
"The manufacturers, aircraft leasers, airports caterers and GDSs have all consolidated over time to make money. In 2006 10 carriers dominated 43% of the total airline market. So further consolidation is inevitable."
According to Swords' travel multiplier, every 1% in growth of GDP usually equates to a 16% rise in travel in terms of passenger numbers.