Two years ago, the Business Travel Show celebrated its 20th anniversary. As part of our anniversary celebrations we surveyed buyers on how life had changed for them – and the industry – over the previous two decades.
Unsurprisingly and almost unanimously, technology was cited as the biggest influence on the business travel industry during that period and nothing has changed since.
Think about it. 20 years ago, few people had mobile phones and fewer people still had access to the Internet. There was no such thing as broadband, WiFi or smart phones, which means there was no such thing as apps or websites or online booking. Blows your mind, really. How on earth did buyers book travel, research options, keep tabs on the location of their passengers, contact them instantly in times of emergency?
Thankfully technology has changed all that. Technology has facilitated innovation; innovation to propel the business travel industry – and the business of booking business travel – into the 21st Century and beyond. Because of technology, we have mobile booking, more efficient traveller tracking, big data and the sharing economy. Because of technology, tradition is being disrupted and we are being made to think differently. Because of technology, buyers can do their jobs smarter, more efficiently and with increasing efficiency.
Innovation is critical in any industry. Without innovation, creativity stagnates and the market halts. But innovation costs money and requires risk-taking and these barriers can prevent entrepreneurs with amazing ideas from ever entering the market.
This is why the Business Travel Show has introduced a new area for 2016: Launch Pad. Launch Pad supports start-ups by providing companies who are less than two years old to exhibit at the show at a subsided rate, giving them a valuable platform to reach 7,500 industry professionals and to network with 250 other exhibitors.
The Launch Pad will also feature the Travel Technology Disrupt Awards, which will reward the most innovative travel technology start up with expert advice and mentoring and an £8,000 stand at the 2017 show.
I have to admit it’s not all one-sided, though, Launch Pad also means we can showcase the very latest business travel innovations to our visitors and the search for the next big thing is one of the principal reasons why they attend the event year after year.
Companies interested in taking part in Launch Pad and entering the Travel Technology Disrupt Awards should contact Sam.Cande@Centaurmedia.Com.
Visitors can register for a free pass to the Business Travel Show at www.businesstravelshow.com
* David Chapple is event director for the Business Travel Show, which will be staged from 24-25 February, 2016 in London. For more information, visit www.businesstravelshow.com