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TRAVEL MANAGEMENT


WORDS BOB PAPWORTH


Having written for BBT since the first issue, it’s fascinating to compare the travel management landscape of 16 years ago with how it looks now


TIME TRAVELLING I


T’S APRIL 2003. Arsenal and Southampton are limbering up for next month’s FA Cup Final, some bloke


called 50 Cent has knocked Avril Lavigne off the number one spot with a single called In Da Club, and – most importantly – the Papworth offspring have been packed off to primary school, leaving their father free to sift through the day’s post. There, amid the final demands and junk mail, is a shiny new magazine called Buying Business Travel. Anxious to see my words in print, I scour the pages. Frankly, it’s disappointing. My pristine prose has been butchered. Some snippets, however, have survived. There at the foot of page six, for example, is the news that an Australian outfit called Flight Centre has snapped up Britannic Travel for £45.3 million. That should give managing director Alan Spence enough to buy another bit of a racehorse, but whatever will fellow director Debbie Carling do? P&O Travel has launched a new airfare search system, and Philip Carlisle, chief executive of the Guild of Business Travel Agents, is bemoaning the fact that the government is planning to increase


60 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019


air passenger duty. They’ll never get that through Parliament… Back to the future, as it were, and the Guild of Business Travel Agents, which later became the GTMC, is now going strong as the Business Travel Association.


PROVING THEIR WORTH Debbie Carling is now chief executive of CTM Europe, the UK’s fifth largest TMC with UK sales in excess of £600 million. How


travel management,” he says, “not only for providing visibility over a company’s spend but for the traveller experience, too.” Richard Boardman, managing director at Reed & Mackay, takes a slightly different tack. “The basis of the challenges that existed in 2003 haven’t altered dramatically but have evolved and become far more complex. When something goes wrong, it’s still a person on the phone that people are looking for.”


THE PROLIFERATION OF DATA HAS HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON TRAVEL MANAGEMENT


does she view the changes and developments of the past 16 years? “With the launch of OTAs, the internet made booking travel easy and accessible to all, and that’s been partly responsible for the evolution of TMCs, which have had to prove their worth by adding value beyond bookings and cost- savings alone,” she says. Another travel veteran who featured in issue 1 is Mervyn Williamson, managing director of what is now Travel and Transport Statesman. “The proliferation of data has had a profound effect on


The aforementioned trio are not, of course, the only survivors – when people move into the travel management village, they rarely escape. Mike Walley and Michele Lawley are still going strong at BCD Travel, while Julie Oliver has continued as managing director at Business Travel Direct (which, incidentally, Reed & Mackay has just snapped up). Meanwhile, James and Karen Beagrie are still at the helm at Meon Valley Travel. Look at the “average length of service/industry experience” column in BBT’s 50 Leading TMCs


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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