Increase in business class travel expected

Maltby: aiming to educate the business travel industry

The Business Travel Show Dubai taking place from October 20 to 21 at the Madinat Jumeirah aims to establish better links between buyers, managers and organisers of all aspects of business travel. Sally Maltby, event director for the show organisers Centaur Exhibitions, spoke to CHERYL MANDY


What can exhibitors and visitors expect to see at this year’s show?

The Business Travel Show will allow exhibitors to meet buyers and arrangers of business travel and meetings who have budgets to spend and wish to forge better supplier relationships, get better deals, save time when searching for business travel options, improve traveller satisfaction and get more from their travel and meetings budgets. Visitors can benefit from meeting over 50 exhibitors, attend free keynotes at the educational conference, network with the travel industry and build relationships and be entered into the free prize draw to win a pair of club world, business class tickets to London and a two night stay in London courtesy of British Airways.


What are the anticipated numbers?

Last year we had approximately 50 exhibitors and 2,064 visitors. We have more exhibitors this year and our pre-registered visitor numbers are up on last year as we have widened our marketing campaign, so we expect to see an increase here too.


Who are the major exhibitors at BTS 2008?

Our founding partners are British Airways, Dnata and Jumeriah and other major players in the market include Qatar Airways who are our gold sponsor, Alshamel who are our registration sponsor, Radius who are our VIP and business lounge sponsor, Diners Club who are our networking event sponsor as well as HRG, HRS, EMAAR, Travelport, Radius, IHG, Rotana, Kanoo, Virgin Atlantic, Accor and Hilton .


Are there any major differences between this and last year’s show?

The show is larger and our pre-registered visitors are almost double the number of this time last year so the signs are positive for a bigger and better event. We also have a number of new exhibitors from various different market sectors including Kanoo, Travelport, Accor, Rotana, HRS, PrivatAir, Chapman Freeborn and Diners Club International. We have a more interactive educational programme including a free research session with our business travel survey findings presented by YouGov and a VIP panel session with industry heavy weights discussing the latest issues in business travel.


What business do you anticipate will be generated?

Buyers and arrangers of business travel and meetings will be able to meet with a wide array of business travel suppliers in an ideal environment for doing business so we expect there will be many deals done as a result of the show. Looking back at our statistics from the 2007 post show survey, 86 per cent of respondents said they would make or consider making a purchase as a direct result of their visit and we hope this will continue at the 2008 event.


Is Dubai the Middle East’s best choice as a venue for BTS?

Dubai is still the most popular Gulf destination for doing business, so it is well placed to take advantage of impending changes in the corporate travel and travel technology sectors.


What are the specific markets that will benefit from BTS 2008?

In terms of suppliers, airlines, travel management companies hotels and hotel groups, serviced accommodation, corporate credit cards, private jet hire and technology. Visitors to the show come from various different vertical sectors including financial services, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, retail, telecoms, government, manufacturing and the service sector amongst others.


What trends do you expect to emerge in the business travel arena?

 Almost a third of those responding to our recent business travel survey said they are expecting to see more business class travel in the next 12 months. Conferences and exhibitions are the most common reasons for a business trip and these are expected to increase next year. Despite the economic downturn, 80 per cent of respondents to our survey said that they expected their company’s travel frequency to increase, with almost half expecting the increase to be substantial. Business trips to Japan, the Far East and North Africa will become increasingly popular and I believe that as cost control becomes increasingly important, we will see a rise in the use of low cost hotels and airlines in the Middle East.


What selling tips would you give to agents offering business packages to travellers?

I would say that the package would need to be the best value for travellers, saving them time in the booking process, improving traveller satisfaction and allowing bookers and arrangers to get more from their budgets and ensure that what they arrange for their business travellers is cost effective. Flexibility is also key.


How is BTS going to go about raising awareness of climate change responsibilities?

The Business Travel show has signed an agreement to offset its carbon emissions with Carbon Capital Markets (CCM) a leading carbon trader and fund manager. This is the second year that CCM has worked together to offset the show’s carbon footprint as environmental partner and visitors and exhibitors at the show can also do the same via our website


Are enviromental issues affecting business travel?

There is generally more awareness of green issues among business travellers, but there is still a need for education as our recent business travel survey revealed. Business people are not going to stop travelling as face to face meetings are still the most effective way in which to do business but there are many ways that they can reduce the impact of their business trips.


How important have business services such as jets and other projects become for business travellers?

Business jets have given business travellers greater comfort, faster services and greater flexibility. It is a shame that some of the business class only carriers such as Silverjet have not succeeded as they offered an excellent service and I believe there is still a market for such services in the future.


What has been the response to the paid for educational programme running alongside the exhibition?

We have only recently launched this year’s educational schedule on our website, but have had a very positive response to date. This years conference sessions will focus more on the practical issues surrounding business travel and management rather then the basic reasons why companies should adopt a travel policy in the first place. The aim of the programme is to educate and promote discussion within the business travel industry and also offers free keynote sessions from HRG and Jumeirah discussing the evolution of business travel and future trends in the Middle East. There is also a VIP panel session for our most senior visitors and a free session with YouGov that takes an indepth look at our business travel survey results. Sessions can be booked in advance at a reduced rate on the show website at