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RETROSPECTIVE


A DISGRUNTLED BUYER COMPLAINED THAT E-TICKETS ARE A RETROGRADE STEP FOR THE BUSINESS TRAVELLER


SENSATIONAL PRIZES!


Issue 1 promised readers the best letter published in subsequent issues would receive this “deluxe 6-in-1 travel game compendium”, comprising chess, backgam- mon, cribbage, dominoes, drafts and playing cards. No wonder BBT received hardly any letters


be the year of consortium buying” – a concept still to gain significant traction. Elsewhere, a disgruntled buyer complained in issue 15 that “e-tickets are a retrograde step for the business traveller”, yet notably the sky did not fall in once we shed paper. Another buyer, in issue 10, asserted somewhat unconventionally that “I believe GDSs will have to become non-profit organisations, paid for by a taxation system/transaction fee.” For many years it was airlines instead which proved not-for-profit or- ganisations, one reason they resent money-spinning GDSs even to this day. Some people tipped the future correctly, there- fore, while others got it wrong, but perhaps what strikes home most robustly as one’s head re-emerges from deep inside the BBT annals is a strong sense of plus ça change... In those early issues you will find articles about direct selling, rogue buying and travellers who think they are expert travel managers themselves – all familiar themes today. Something else that hasn’t changed is the na- tional sport of berating British Airways for its many perceived shortcomings. In issue 14 a buyer from Woolworths wrote to BBT outraged that BA had won Best Long-haul Airline at the publication’s Diamond Awards (now the Business Travel Awards). The cor- respondent slated BA for “increasingly deteriorating food quality and choice – nearly every flight I have with it is late.” As we now all know, Woolworths went from strength to strength after that letter, while BA never recovered.


SERVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE One of the funniest stories in the early editions came in a Q&A in issue 15 with Joanna Altria, then UK travel manager for ABN AMRO Investment Bank and now global travel manager for Fujitsu. Asked if she had any light-hearted anecdotes, Altria replied: “A traveller once asked if I could ensure the red wine on his flight home was served at room temperature. I received a letter of thanks on his return, although I didn’t do anything to get the wine served as he wanted!”


72 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 for the next few months. By issue 10


the compendium had, very sensibly, been replaced by a bottle of champagne. And what do star letter writers earn today? Our warm congratulations and the satisfac- tion of a job well done.


INDUSTRY AMNESIA One slightly scary con- sequence of trawling the BBT archives is realising how many stories this correspondent had clean forgotten. Anyone else recall the merger proposed between the Institute of Travel Man- agement and Associa- tion of Corporate Travel Executives in February 2005? ACTE president Greeley Koch claimed: “Combining these two organisations would represent a quantum leap for the business travel management profession.” In the end, there wasn’t even a gentle totter forward. The merger, which was expected to see the ITM name disappear, was called off five months later, the official reason being “operational difficulties”.


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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