Friday 29 June 2012


There has been pretty much one topic on everyone’s lips in the industry this week and that is the argument for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Why? Because the UK government is due to unveil a consultation document on its new airports strategy in the next few weeks. Note: the consultation document isn’t about Heathrow and its third runway. In fact, expansion at Heathrow isn’t even included as one of the options on the table. And yet, it would appear, all roads (or should that be runways) keep leading back to Heathrow.

There’s no doubting that Heathrow is a problem that needs fixing. It’s currently operating at a perilous 99 per cent capacity. Some have suggested introducing mixed mode flying (ie using its two runways for inbound and outbound flights) to increase this capacity by 15 per cent and another 10 million passengers per year.

But, in my opinion, Heathrow is a bit of red herring in this whole debate. We need to stop talking about it and get back to the real issue: how is aviation going to grow over the next 20, 30 years and how are we going to build an infrastructure fit for purpose to continue supporting the growth of UK Plc?

In the short term, the answer is not Heathrow. Or Marsden. Or Boris Island. Let’s open our eyes and look to other airports in the South East, airports with capacity: Luton, Stansted, Gatwick.

Gatwick, for one, is currently operating at around 80 per cent capacity on its single runway. It’s projected to grow to 40 million passengers by 2020 with that one runway (it’s currently at just under 34 million). It’s connected to London for business better than any other airport, with train links to Victoria, London Bridge, City Link and Kings Cross. And it’s currently investing around £20 million per month into new passenger facilities as part of a six year £1.2 billion programme due for completion around 2014/2015. This investment and infrastructure make Gatwick a great option for business travellers.

But I’m not here to champion Gatwick over Heathrow, or Stansted over Boris Island. I’m here to champion common sense and to say let’s park Heathrow for now and start thinking long term for the good of this industry. 

Posted by David Chapple - talk to him on Twitter @btshowlondon or 

Tuesday 26 June 2012


As the Olympics heaves into sight we’re beginning to see how the main sponsors have chosen to connect their brand to the Olympic theme.

As a Tier-One sponsor, BA’s campaign, which landed on the 19th June, is a perfectly executed piece of work from BBH with the cheeky line of ‘Don’t Fly,’ extolling the nation to stay home and cheer on Team GB.

I’ve seen some negative comments about the advert, suggesting that it’s crazy for the airline to encourage potential customers to stay away, but surely that’s missing the point of this creative idea. Beyond the TV advert a social campaign enables viewers to enter their postcode and then see their street go past through the cabin window. It’s clever, relevant and all to the soundtrack of The Clash’s iconic track, London’s Calling, genuine feel-good advert that captures both the spirit of the Olympics and the fun of travel.

Over the next few weeks I’m sure there’s going to be plenty to tut about with regards to the Olympics, but campaigns like this remind us that this is, in part, a celebration of this great city and that despite its faults, something we should all be proud of.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show - he’d love to hear what you think about this topic - contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon

Thursday 21 June 2012


I was interested in the opinions recently expressed in the June edition of C&IT in the Big Debate article: Can trade shows deliver ROI in the current climate? The majority of views, albeit for different reasons, were in favour of trade shows, but the real argument centred on the difference between shows that offer a hosted programme and those that don’t.

It’s just a simple fact that a trade show that initiates and maintains a creative and ambitious hosted programme will always deliver more ROI for both visitors and exhibitors than those that don’t. The question I’d add to the debate however is what is a genuine hosted programme?

We've learnt at the Business Travel Show that you can only really drive ROI for visitors if the hosted programme is a year round commitment with a highly focused business networking and education programme. There also needs to be meaningful ways for both groups to interact and meet over the two days of the show. Having a deeper understanding of the market helps too, BTS 2013 will be our 19th year, enabling us to quickly identify the trends and unique requirements of this complex market.

So embrace successful events, they genuinely do offer a strong return,  but in these challenging times it’s not unreasonable to look harder at the criteria that you use to determine what is and isn't a successful event.

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show - he’d love to hear what you think about this topic - contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon

Thursday 14 June 2012


I read good news yesterday. Very good news. The UK appears to be travelling its way out of the double dip recession.

I've always believed that when the going gets tough, businesses should not cut back, but continue to invest in business development to shore up their futures. And, in my opinion, there's no better way to secure new business and maintain strong relationships with existing clients than through face to face meetings. 

According to ABTN, a study carried out by GBTA predicts a 0.7% rise in business travel spending by UK-based businesses this year compared to declines within the rest of Europe. But what's really interesting is where they are travelling from and to.

Delve into the monthly BAA Traffic and Business Commentary for May and you'll see that traffic through Heathrow was down 0.6% last month, while traffic through Glasgow rose by 10%, Aberdeen 16% and Edinburgh 2.2. Why? Well the ‘from’ could very well be linked to my blog on Monday about business travellers using regional airports to connect to long haul flights at European hubs outside of the UK to avoid paying APD.

And if you look at the ‘to’, you’ll find that flights to the North Atlantic rose by 1.6% yet flights to Europe dropped 9%, which implies that we may be avoiding the Eurozone during its ongoing crisis, but we are still flying to see our friends in North America in the hope of doing business with companies and countries that we already know and feel safe with. 

David Chapple is event director of the Business Travel Show - he’d love to hear what you think about this topic - contact him on Twitter @btshowlondon   

Monday 11 June 2012


Thanks to a recent report from Sainsbury's Finance claiming that families are planning to avoid or reduce APD by taking more staycations and long-haul flights from other European countries, APD is back in the news again.

Not that it’s been out of the news much (try Google-ing it). Since it was introduced in 1994 to combat the lack of VAT on fuel, APD has been the subject of many an angry rant from leisure and business travel journalists, who fight back with renewed vigour each time an additional price hike is announced.

And who can blame them? What started out as an extra £10 per passenger per long-haul economy flight from the UK peaks at an incredible £125 come 2016. The Government defends APD tooth and nail, claiming it’s a valid eco-tax. But they would, wouldn’t they? It accounts for £2.6bn in additional revenue to the treasury.

My question is whether APD is about to back fire on the Government as savvy business travellers get wise and fly short haul out of the UK using Charles de Gaulle, Schiphol or Frankfurt as their long haul hubs. This would certainly reduce the APD coffers in the short term and damage the UK economy in the long term.

If APD really is a green tax as the Government claims, maybe they need to look at ways to incentivise airlines to be more environmentally friendly rather than penalising the passengers who – just possibly – think they’re already paying enough taxes as it is.

Posted by David Chapple - talk to him on Twitter @btshowlondon

Thursday 7 June 2012


Unbundling was a dirty word that first reared its head in the travel market a few years ago and the public’s disdain toward suppliers offering unbundled prices peaked when Ryanair suggested it was planning to ‘charge a pound to spend a penny’. It’s since become part and parcel of how we buy travel and, when the game is played well, travellers and travel managers can use unbundling to their advantage, paying for only what they need and saving money as a result. 

In the trade, unbundling is more commonly referred to as ancillary fees. And though we may be more used to their existence, controlling, navigating and tracking them can still be a mystifying experience for many travel managers. According to recent research by the GBTA just 21 percent (21%) of travel managers are tracking ancillary fees while those fees account for over eight per cent of total travel spend.

Believing that ancillary fees have a significant impact on travel budgets and policies and, with better insight into how these fees work, travel managers can make more informed choices, the GBTA has now released the ‘2012 Ancillary Fee Handbook, Who Charges What, When & Where’.

The study categorizes virtually all the ancillary fees that business travellers can incur through airline, hotel and car rental travel. It also provides a rating system that evaluates each fee on three essential characteristics:

1. How common it is for a business traveller to incur the fee?
2. How transparent it is to travellers and planners?
3. How easy it is for travel managers to track the fee once it has been incurred?

You can download it here: Travel managers across the globe can now breathe a collected sigh of relief. 

Posted by Daniela Reck -