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Article from BTNews 3 FEBRUARY 2020

ON THE SOAPBOX: David Chapple - The Business Travel Show

Kensington Olympia is the home for Europe’s premier business travel gathering, the Business Travel Show, on 26-27 February, once again partnered by Travel Technology Europe (TTE). Business Travel Show director David Chapple has been involved with the event for nearly 20 years and oversaw the successful integration into the Northstar Travel Group last April.

“With the lens of the world focused so intently on the issue of climate change, it would be remiss of us to ignore such a huge issue, and that is why the theme of this year’s event is conscious and ethical travel, brought to life in the brand-new Wellness Retreat, on exhibitors’ stands and across the educational programme.

We will work with travel managers to help their organisations become more socially responsible and debate the $64m question, which is ‘Can there ever really be such a thing as an ethical travel programme?’ – with a panel during our pre-show hosted buyer conference on Tuesday 25th.

Two further sessions feature on this year’s conference programme: 'Can car rental offer a green alternative to travel programmes?' (Wednesday) and 'The true win-win-win: How to save money, travellers’ health and the planet' (Thursday).


As it becomes less and less taboo to talk about our mental and physical health, the issue of corporate traveller wellness has also crept up the agenda. It’s an incredibly important topic and one that we have a responsibility to promote.

The Wellness Retreat will be a haven of serenity on the show floor where visitors can take time out and relax while getting hands-on with innovative travel wellness products and services designed to help them look after their travellers better. Exhibitors include Business Travel Wellbeing Community, Trip Unwind, Shizen Nutrition, RBR Active and Dr Lucy Rattrie. Alongside Uber and Sanctify, they will host mini-demos and sessions across the two days.


New to Business Travel Show for 2020 is the Innovation Faceoff, which kick-starts the event on both days. An exclusive audience of invited corporate travel/procurement buyers will get to hear eight presentations of cutting-edge products, technologies and services all developed to address key industry challenges.

Two winners will be selected; one by the judges and one by buyers to be announced on Thursday 27 February. Presenters are Bizly, Freelane, HRS, Mint House, Rydoo, Sixt, TRIPBAM and Viselio.

Sitting alongside the Innovation Faceoff is the Launchpad, which returns for the sixth year. Over the past five years, the Launchpad has been a powerful promotional platform, accelerating brand awareness for a wide range of start-ups among thousands of European corporate travel buyers. This year’s exhibitors include Flightbox, Rent ‘n’ Connect, Seatfrog, Table4One and Tourist Mobile.


As of last Friday, the UK is no longer part of the European Union; we have, for want of a better term, Brexited. What that will mean for business travel is still a huge unknown. Down the line, there will undoubtedly be repercussions in terms of visas, immigration, potential corporate relocations and the strength of sterling.

This will impact where and how we travel, as well as the cost of it. On the upside, there’s no longer any uncertainty about whether we will or won’t leave, and that will hopefully allow corporates to start planning, and budgeting and spending again, more confidently.

This was certainly reflected in our annual buyer survey. Brexit was voted the third biggest challenge facing buyers in 2020 and the fourth facing the industry as a whole. Last year, it topped the table for both. I predict the next 12 months will be very much focused on finding our feet. Next year, I’m sure we will have more insight and hindsight that will help us to plan.


Of course, the show is a great place to source new suppliers and negotiate with existing partners. We’ll have more than 260 exhibitors at the show this month, including Air Astana, Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, easyJet, Ethiopian, Finnair, Flybe, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Kuwait Airlines, LATAM, Lufthansa, Luxair, Malaysia Airlines, Norwegian, oneworld, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, TAP, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and Westjet."

David Chapple points out BTS is still accepting applications for the hosted buyer programme, which includes free travel and accommodation as well as exclusive conference content and networking opportunities. 

Register here for a free visitor pass to the Business Travel Show.

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