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WORDS MIKE TOYNBEE


COMMENT


WITH YOU EVE RY STEP OF THE WAY


It wasn’t the most auspicious time to launch a magazine but 16 years later, Buying Business Travel continues to thrive


I


T WAS, TO MISQUOTE CHARLES DICKENS’ seminal A Tale of Two Cities, “the best of times”, but it was also the worst of times to launch a new publication.


While the concept was sound, the geopolitical situation was not. Our target market, the corporate travel community, was only just recovering from the 9/11 atrocity 18 months earlier (“traveller tracking” was at the top of everyone’s agenda) and just days before our first issue of Buying Business Travel the second Gulf war broke out. But to go back to the


beginning… BBT was the brainchild of Ian Dockreay, who I knew from his days as former general manager of marketing at Virgin Atlantic, and founder of the increasingly successful Business Travel and Travel Technology Shows. He identified the accelerating trends toward greater use of emerging technology and the increasing influence of procurement practices in the travel space, and felt there was a big gap in what was then a poorly served market. I agreed with him and the title Buying Business Travel seemed to sum up how we felt the business travel


buyingbusinesstravel.com


market was developing. Before I knew it, I had been appointed launch editor. My first task was to pull together a group of specialist editorial contributors. Fortunately, my travel journalism career meant my contacts book included the names of some of the best in the business. A few beers later – more than a few, to be honest – and I had assembled the corporate travel publishing equivalent of a SWAT team.


A CROWDED MARKET We weren’t short of competitors. Although there was only one other magazine dedicated to the corporate market, travel trade journals were devoting increasing resources to business travel. However within five years, Buying Business Travel was firmly established not just as a publication but also as a trusted mouthpiece of the corporate travel sector. On the back of that came the prestigious Business Travel Diamond Awards, subsequently merged with the annual Business Travel Awards, now about to celebrate their 25th year.


I HAD


ASSEMBLED THE


CORPORATE TRAVEL


PUBLISHING EQUIVALENT OF A SWAT TEAM


Then the financial crisis of 2008 happened. Corporate travel budgets – and suppliers’ advertising budgets – were slashed. In 2009, recognising that a “wait and see” approach was no way to react, the corporate travel community fought back, as did BBT. While the sector stressed the ever-present importance of face-to-face meetings, increased productivity and the concomitant increase in return on investment, we produced a more incisive and informative magazine and subject-specific supplements to support the “can do” renaissance.


RAISING A GLASS The title, both in print and online, continues to report on the latest developments of this huge industry, to those buying, and indeed selling, this ever growing and bewildering range of products and services. Ten years on from that annus horribilis, and with our 100th issue now safely on your desks and uploaded to the website, I’ll have to buy the team a few more congratulatory beers. They’re good, but we all


depend on you – the readers, advertisers, sponsors and supporters, for your never- failing encouragement. Unfortunately, I can’t afford that many beers, so you will just have to make do with a heartfelt “thank you”.


Mike Toynbee, founding editor of BBT, was one of the longest serving editors in travel, with a career spanning more than 50 years and editorships including Travel


Trade Gazette and Executive Travel. He was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Business Travel Journalism Awards.


2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 59


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