February 2014 will be remembered by many travellers as the month when we were soaked by relentless, torrential downpours whilst attempting to get to work during the chaos of a London tube strike that almost brought the city to a complete halt. For us at Airport Lynx, however, the abiding memory of February 2014 is our visit to the Business Travel Show at London’s Earls Court.
Sponsored mainly by Amadeus, this show is the main event for business travel agencies, airlines, chauffeur operators and ground transport providers. Other sponsors and partners included Gatwick Airport, Master Card and Global Business Travel Association.
With business travel budgets rumoured to be increasing for 2014, it is no surprise that this show attracted a five percent rise in visitor numbers, despite the inclement weather and the irony of travel chaos.
Exhibitors included a range of names, big and small, including Barclaycard, Eurostar, International New York Times, Roaming Expert, Travelodge and Gatwick Airport. Indeed, all the large providers were there, eager to demonstrate their new systems and the differences that they believed gave them an edge over their competitors.
Also included in the show was a series of dedicated tech sessions:
Mobile Technology – friend or foe for your travel programme?
Rethinking data sourcing and aggregation
People versus process – what works best for travel policy compliance?
Enabling T&E nirvana with future proof technology
Technology has been hailed as the single biggest influence on business travel over the past twenty years, and it’s still going strong. Much of the technology being exhibited is as yet unheard of in the Cambridge Business travel trade. We saw many fascinating examples, including a centralised booking platform, where car companies collaborated to provide a national service, from black cabs to large coaches. Such a system would be revolutionary and it would be interesting to see where this leads as regards costs and monopolies.
Another interesting innovation on show was a GPS tracking system for when you need to find out how far away your taxi is. If you’ve ever waited impatiently for a taxi, anxious to get to your business appointment on time, you will appreciate the convenience of this.
Not all the ideas were to our liking, however, and the daftest one that sticks in our minds is the service providing American Stretch Limousines for local London transport. Unless they’re thinking along the lines of the bendy buses, I can’t really see that one working!
All in all, it was an enlightening experience and I’m pleased that Airport Lynx was able to be there. Over two days, this event manages to showcase thousands of business travel products, which aren’t only useful for business travel: many of the products and services could easily be adapted for the leisure travel industry.
Once we’d managed to get back to Cambridge without a functioning London transport system, and after we’d managed to towel ourselves off from the impromptu showers on the journey, we at Airport Lynx had a lot to discuss about the future of business travel in Cambridge. We hope to have some of the better innovations available for our customers soon, so watch this space!by