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The Business Travel Conference 2012 EVENT REVIEW


The Business Travel Conference is the official event of The Business Travel Magazine


THE NEW ORDER


Gillian Upton and Andy Hoskins report from The Business Travel Conference, the sixth annual hosting of this magazine’s must-attend event for the business travel and meetings industry.


This year’s conference theme was New Order – Managing Business Travel in a Changing World. A fi tting theme for the current climate, which saw experts debate with passion as they shared challenges, opportunities and best practice through fi ve conference sessions and three workshops. The pace at the Novotel London West


venue was relaxed with extra time this year for meeting with the 60-plus exhibitors and for exchanging views with peers. The Business Travel Magazine's pic 'n' mix stand was a popular as ever and our moderator, Mark Harris, did a fantastic job once again. Read on for a review of the conference.


CONFERENCE SESSION Nothing works without policy – or does it?


This controversial session looked at the impact of DIY travellers. It identifi ed how differently they book, travel, and want to be incentivised to do the right thing, and asked if this would force policy to change into loose guidelines. Michael Hill, European travel manager, global business services at The Coca-Cola Company, still believes policy works. He said, “If you look after travellers, they’ll be compliant” and this means giving


look after travellers, they'll be


“ If you compliant ”


them choice, a degree of fl exibility and value-adds such as F&B, parking and internet at preferred hotels. Hill emphasises that communication is key in whatever size company and grade of policy. “People don’t know what the right thing to do is so keep communicating the message and pick up the phone and talk to them, that’s really important and the best thing you can do.“ He also stages quarterly meetings with


bookers to keep lines of communication open. He urged all those responsible for travel to make their role as visible as possible within the organisation, and “to be adamant as the buck stops with you”. Rachel Watson, director of management consultants and outsourcing company


Opteva, admitted that companies were struggling with DIY travellers. ”Many of our corporations are just not ready for technology,” she said. “Maverick spend soars when the travel manager doesn’t keep up with technology.” She advised bringing travel and expenses together as a key way forward and said making the travel policy short and simple to follow was more appropriate for Generation Y. Diane Bouzebiba, MD UK & Ireland for Amadeus, outlined the role technology providers can play in changing traveller behaviour. She said: “Technology enables us to engage with the traveller; it allows a stringent policy or no policy at all.” But she urged a single data source across the multi-channel landscape of TMC, mobile,


THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE 15


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