Interview with David Chapple, Group Event Director Travel Business Show

Business Travel Show 2019, Europe’s largest specialised exhibition and conference for buyers and managers of business travel, is about to take place. From February 20th to the 21st, Olympia will be hosting one more year this reference show of the business travel industry. Travel Manager Magazine has the opportunity to ask a few questions with David Chapple, Travel Business Show’s Group Event Director who will unveil how is it going to develop this edition.

Interview with David Chapple, Group Event Director Travel Business Show

David Chapple, Group Event Director Travel Business Show

One third of buyers will have bigger corporate travel budgets in 2019, according to the latest Business Travel Show survey. Is this good news?

When cost-cutting continues to drive so many travel programmes, it’s always good news when budgets increase. The interesting thing about this year’s results was that fewer budgets appeared to have grown compared to last year – 33 per cent versus 40 per cent. However, we have been carrying out this survey for nearly ten years and it’s important to view this in context. Last year’s 40 per cent rise was extraordinary. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the increases were between 29 and 32 per cent, so I don’t think we have too much to worry about.  

For the first time in four years, cost-cutting was knocked off the top spot of the list of forthcoming challenges to be replaced by Brexit. How is it finally going to affect the travel industry mainly in Europe? What challenges is UK going to face?

Yes. That was a huge surprise. It’s hard to answer this question when the Brexit process remains in such a state of flux. Parliament has just rejected the Prime Minister’s updated Brexit plan, though Government has survived a vote of no confidence ruling out a General Election and a second referendum is still questionable. What this means is, it’s impossible to say what impact Brexit will have on the travel industry when we still don’t even know what Brexit means for the UK or even if it is going to happen.

If it does, then it will likely affect where and how airlines operate, it could increase travel costs thanks to currency fluctuations and the performance of sterling, and it will certainly impact how travellers move between countries, as well as change the process for visa and passport applications as well as other travel documentation.  

How is the Business Travel Show going to celebrate its 25th anniversary? What news should we expect for 2019 edition?

The last 25 years have been quite a journey and we’re delighted to be celebrating our 25th anniversary. While we do want to acknowledge and celebrate the past 25 years, we also want to look ahead and that’s why this year’s show theme is Travel 2022.

Keep your eyes open for the futuristic exhibits in our brand new WonderLAB, as well as other cool innovations at the show, from the entrepreneurs determined to shake things up in this year’s Disrupt Launchpad and Awards, too, and the forward-looking, thought-provoking sessions in our conference programme.  

Which main trends of the travel industry will be featured on next show?

Our educational programme always reflects what’s happening – and what is likely to happen – in the industry that will impact travel managers’ jobs. It covers everything from traveller safety and security, to new technology, distribution, data, personalisation, forecasting and Brexit.

Technology is an always coming out subject, how will this one be represented at this show’sedition?

Technology is always at the heart of our Disrupt Launchpad exhibitor offerings, and in the Disrupt Award final, which is at 1pm on Wednesday 20thFebruary. Visitors will find lots of technology-focused conference sessions at the show – if you visit you can filter by technology to find the right sessions, whether that’s about bots, traveller profiling or virtual payments.   

Why is the Business Travel Show a good opportunity for entrepreneurs’ businesses?

Innovation is one of the main reasons buyers attend the show. Everyone wants to know what’s new and how it’s going to improve the industry, their job and the traveller experience. They will find a whole bunch of entrepreneurs with businesses under three years old in the Disrupt Launchpad. One of last year’s exhibitors and the winner of the Disrupt Award – TroopTravel – has just been voted ‘one to watch’ by the UK trade magazine Buying Business Travel.

How do networking events allow experience sharing?

Networking is just as important as meeting suppliers and attending the conference. It’s an opportunity to benchmark, share advice and experiences, to be reassured that you’re doing things right, to meet new people and potential business partners. We have lots of networking opportunities at the show, from the Hosted Buyer dinner on Tuesday evening, to the after-show party on Wednesday evening and lots of informal networking events on the show floor, too. Our advice? Talk, talk, talk. If you have a travel spend of over €1.1 million, then you should apply for hosted buyer status, which includes free travel and accommodation as well as exclusive conference content and networking opportunities. You can apply at 

If a visitor has no more than one day to visit the show, what would you recommend not to miss?

If a buyer has one day, then my advice is plan. Know exactly why you want to attend – what do you want to get out of your one day? Check out the conference programme and block time out to make sure you can attend the sessions that will really help you. Check our exhibitor list – you can filter this, too, to find who’s right for you – and make appointments with as many suppliers as possible through the online diary. And then leave an hour for networking and to give you the chance to discover things by chance. Who knows, you may find you have to come back on day two!