Travel industry leaders unanimously predict a strong year for business travel in the wake of this year’s annual Business Travel Expo Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.
ÊAsia’s premier platform for the corporate travel industry attracted over 1,000 corporate travel buyers and planners from across the region.
Speaking at the opening press conference for the successful two-day “one stop shop” for business travel March 22-23, Brett Butcher Senior VP Sales and Marketing for Langham Hotels International, also noted a strong recovery in business travel to Hong Kong.
“The recovery in Hong Kong hotel occupancy is down to a strong increase in international business travel, rather than an influx of visitors from mainland China,” he said.
Mr Butcher also observed that the trend for business travel in the future is an “increasing blurring of distinction” between business and leisure travel.
“Business travellers are to some extent also on leisure, and leisure travellers also need some time to attend to business,” he said. “Hotels that recognise this and plan for it—especially in terms of making technology facilitate this process—will be the winners in the future,” he said.
A strong seminar programme by a panel of leading experts from the travel industry in Asia-Pacific saw many sessions totally sold out, indicating growing demand from travel industry buyers and managers for the most up-to-date information and trends.
“As business travel picks up globally and especially in the region, companies have more reason than ever to make sure they are getting the best out of their business travel spend,” said Paul Robin, Business Travel Expo Group Events Director.
“It is a key time for business travel to this region, particularly as a result of China’s WTO membership. It is more important than ever for corporate business travel planners to familiarise themselves with the best available deals and most up-to-date travel products.”
Among key issues for travel buyers and arrangers addressed at the seminars were internet booking services, credit card solutions to optimise travel costs, innovative technology in managing travel expenses and ‘low-cost airlines’ as a new option for corporate travel. With neighbouring Macau amid a “casino boom”, leading brand Shun Tak Hospitality also explained what is new in the former Portuguese enclave. Among airlines promoting new flights were Virgin, with a newly-introduced Hong Kong-Sydney schedule and Finnair, with the quickest links between Helsinki and Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Private executive charter flights within the mainland were also promoted by Hong Kong Aviation Services.