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9 MARCH 2020
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Such is the size and complexity of the Business Travel Show, it really was impossible to produce more than a fleeting report last week on what was a most successful 48hr at Olympia London. The event also included, on the balcony, Travel Technology Europe.
Put the dates 24-25 February 2021 firmly in your diary. There is plenty of hotel accommodation nearby, you can take the Emirates Air Bridge to North Greenwich, and the DLR runs into the City. Crossrail/Elizabeth Line are for the future.
John Burke and Malcolm Ginsberg have selected just a few of the 392 exhibitors whose contribution we thought was of further interest.
See also last week’s report.
THE 2020 BUSINESS TRAVEL INNOVATION FACEOFF
It was a close-run thing, but events platform Bizly took the judges’ choice for top honours at the inaugural Business Travel Innovation Faceoff during BTS, while Tripbam was named people’s choice.
Eight competitors gave 7min pitches for their product or service in front of a panel of expert judges including Microsoft travel technology manager Steve Clagg, FairFly co-founder and CTO Ami Goldenberg, Capgemini global category manager travel and meetings Katharina Navarro and American Express Digital Labs VP of strategy and innovation Johnny Thorsen..
The judges then cross-examined, evaluated and critiqued the presentations and the participants’ answers to questions from the audience to determine the winner.
The judges commented: “Bizly’s impactful presentation clearly demonstrated a strong user-centric and collaborative design for improving the meeting planner experience and streamline the venue-sourcing process, empowering companies to do more themselves.”
Bizly CEO Ron Shah said: “It’s an honour to be recognised by such a great community and we particularly appreciate the support as we prepare to launch in Europe later this year.”
Meanwhile, the audience voted for Tripbam as the separate People’s Choice award winner, with CEO Steve Reynolds commenting: “This award is a game-changer and validated us in the marketplace as we enable companies to get a deal anywhere in the world.”
Louis Magliaro from show owner Northstar Group, said: “We would like to add our congratulations to the winners and our thanks to all of the suppliers who competed in the 2020 Business Travel Innovation Faceoff. We look forward to expanding this programme so our corporate travel buyer attendees can be introduced to new leading innovation and unique solutions in 2021.”
Other participants in this year’s event included Freelane, HRS Invisible Pay, Mint House, Rydoo, Sixt and Viselio.
Part of a group headed by Expedia and including hotels.com, Trivago, Orbitz and Travelcity.com, Egencia dominated the Olympia landscape with a huge banner across the easterly skylight of the Grand Hall and a massive central stand. Over from the Seattle headquarters was president Rob Greyber chief operations officer Mark Hollyhead, a Brit long established in Washington State.
The message was very clear from the US company. Expedia was working to create reliable sustainability criteria to help understand the choices in the market. It emphasised that to get this right, it will take an industry-wide effort to standardise understanding of fuel efficiencies, renewable energy sources and other factors that can carry trade-offs for a given trip.
Greyber said: “A new decade has begun, and some key trends are emerging that will shape business travel in the years ahead. There will be ups and downs, but this isn’t the first time a bit of economic uncertainty has hit the headlines. The long-term trend for business travel continues to be growth.
A company statement added: “Every day, travel managers seek our advice on how to build a more sustainable travel programme. With Egencia, they get expert advice from deep industry specialists.” No business cards at Olympia, a small but dramatic way of making the point. The statement continued: “We’re working to support customers’ sustainability objectives across multiple areas of business travel, today with real-time carbon emission data reports and consulting, and tomorrow with tools and insights to make more sustainable travel choices.”
Mark Hollyhead, a regular at the show, chaired a session of heavyweight travel chiefs. Melissa Willcock is group travel director at Informa. Her task is to inform and advise constituent and diverse companies within the group, operating more than 500 trade shows and 10,000 conferences annually. To put in perspective, its online publishing portal Informaworld provided subscribers with more than half a million journal articles and 13,000 e-books from all its imprints. “It is not an easy task” she said.
At the other end of the spectrum, James Lloyd is the procurement director at CBRE Group Inc, an American commercial real estate services and investment operation, the largest commercial real estate services company in the world, whose London portfolio will be familiar to many.
It covers Copthorne Tara Hotel (Kensington) , Leonardo Royal Hotel (Holborn), M by Montcalm (St Paul’s), London Tech City (Shoreditch), Park Plaza (Waterloo), The Strand Palace Hotel, The Tower Hotel, The Wesley (Euston), Thistle Barbican, and the Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton Hotel (Euston). Lloyd noted: “Managing travel in one sense is a thankless task, but in another can give great satisfaction. The problem is everyone pulls in different directions.”
At the other end of the scale, the Israeli-founded business travel management platform Arbitrip, chose the show to demonstrate its new product that uses AI and machine learning technologies to monitor customer behaviours and recommends relevant hotels for their business trips. Using a combination of objective analysis, data analysis and personalisation technologies, Arbitrip provides a bespoke service for their users and ensures that they book the right hotel claiming reducing costs by more than 23%.
It has just opened a London office and as part of the official launch in the UK, Arbitrip has secured a strategic partnership with rising shared office space provider LABS. The agreement will offer members of LABS access to deeply discounted hotel deals with up to 60 suppliers. This partnership will allow small and medium-sized companies housed in the coworking spaces to book accommodation with rates that were previously accessible only to large enterprises and travel agencies.
The platform’s algorithm consistently monitors a user’s engagement with their platform, evaluating previous search terms, filter preferences and bookings that were made or cancelled. Once the data has been analysed, the platform searches for patterns in users’ behaviours and creates specific recommendations based on these habits.
Founded in 2015 by Benny Yonovich (CEO) and Orel Jossef (CTO), both graduates of the Israeli army’s technological unit in the Intelligence Corps, Arbitrip’s unique technologies guarantee travellers will get the best experience whilst helping travel managers keep tabs on their travel activity.
Mr Yonovich said: “Arbitrip’s growth over the last year has been exceptional as we have grown our reach outside of Israel and begun to penetrate various European markets. We now have a great opportunity to strengthen our business in partnership with LABS, which has a phenomenal presence in the UK. The opening of our UK office is just the beginning of our strategic plan for further global expansion in 2020.”
Tom Mancherov, VP business development for LABS, shares Yonovich’s enthusiasm for the partnership, saying: “Creating an elevated experience for our members is at the forefront of all business decisions and growth plans for LABS. Our community is comprised of business of all sizes, from the individual entrepreneur to global enterprises. The ability to provide all our members access to exclusive services and preferential rates, usually only available to big corporate partners, is exactly the sort of service we are proud to be in a position to offer.”
Arbitrip already hosts an impressive range of clients, including HP, Gett, E&Y, BDO, Fiverr, Freeformers, Holovis, AppsFlyer, IronSource and Kape.
SABRE MADE A BIG SPLASH AT THE SHOW
Sabre, which launched in 1960, revolutionized the travel market with the industry’s first semi-automated flight reservation system. Since then, Sabre has evolved into a broad technology platform that manages more than $260bn worth of global travel spend annually, supporting a wide range of travel providers, including airlines, hoteliers, agencies and travel aggregators. A 10-year strategic partnership between Google and Sabre will enable the travel provider to improve operational agility while developing new services and creating a new marketplace for its airline, hospitality and travel agency customers.
"This is a really exciting time for Sabre, our customers, employees and other key stakeholders. For decades, Sabre has made travel easier for people on the go and within the industries that serve them," said Sabre president and CEO, Sean Menke. "Today, we embark on a new transformational journey with Google. As our preferred cloud provider and broader strategic partner, Google Cloud will help to accelerate our digital transformation and ability to create a new marketplace and critical products and systems focused on our customer needs for decades to come.”
As part of the agreement, engineers and business leaders at both companies will work side-by-side on three main initiatives:
Improving Sabre’s technology capability: Sabre will begin the process of migrating its IT infrastructure to Google Cloud’s highly available and secure services. The partnership provides Sabre advanced support and greater flexibility to meet its technology objectives.
Using Google Cloud tools to enhance and optimise travel: Google Cloud’s data analytics tools will enable Sabre to boost the capabilities of current and future products. They will provide Sabre with insights to help them improve operational efficiency and create and customise travel options, improving both loyalty and revenues for its customers.
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