The industry’s future at the mercy of voters

Delegates at the ITM Conference were told that two forthcoming votes could have a profound effect on the business travel industry, but that “predicting the future is a mug’s game”

Citing the case of inaccurate opinion polls around the UK’s general election last year, Paul Tilstone, Managing Partner of Festive Road, said “it’s getting increasingly difficult to accurately forward forecast” ahead of the EU referendum in June and US presidential elections in November.

If the UK exited the EU the “influence on business travel is widespread”, said Tilstone, naming open skies deals, flight compensation, roaming charges and work permits as just a few examples of agreements that would come under threat.

Meanwhile, a win for Republican candidate Donald Trump in the US election “would expedite the shift of economic power from West to East”.

Among other ‘ones to watch’ in the year ahead are Brazil’s struggling economy, the rise of Iran as a business destination, the potential increase in oil prices and safety and security in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks.

“The world is moving faster and faster and it is essential to remain agile and prepare for anything in terms of traveller security issues,” concluded Tilstone.

The ITM Conference 2016 took place at Celtic Manor in Wales, where new branding for the organisation was unveiled along with decision to drop the word ‘meetings’ from its name and revert to the Institute of Travel Management.