We held our first Assist Travel conference and exhibition on Friday 25th September at the Hilton Bankside and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I hope those that came along enjoyed it too. It was particularly brilliant being the first event to take place at the Hilton Bankside. The hotel itself was not open to guests and you could literally smell the fresh paint in the conference space. Many of the delegates commented on the excellent facilities and they also commented on the service provided by the Hilton staff which was impeccable.
As with all of our Assist Events we like to make sure that it is a little different and I loved our travel themed registration desk.
As you can imagine I was really excited to get the conference started. Our first session was called ‘…and then what happened?’. This was half an hour where everyone called talk about their experiences booking business travel, what goes wrong and how to fix any issues that might crop up. We used this session as a bit of a networking / ice breaker. It was a big hit and got everyone talking!
Once everyone had introduced themselves to each other we moved onto our morning sessions. Firstly we had a great presentation from Clare Murphy about travel technology and apps that can help assistants organise business trips. We also had a PA panel session. The PA panel was made up of some fantastic and incredibly knowledgable assistants who all book numerous business trips for their Executives and organisations. They gave our audience brilliant advise and many many tips including my favourite – make sure your boss has two passports so that you can use one for visa applications.
Throughout the day our delegates had meetings with our exhibitors who represented a variety of suppliers within the travel industry. All of the exhibitors were knowledgeable and happy to help the delegates with any questions they might have about their business travel requirements. We tried really hard to create an informal environment at Assist Travel so that delegates felt comfortable chatting with the exhibitors and learning about all of the new products and services they had to offer.
Following the panel sessions we had a really inspiration presentation from Amy Smith at Skyscanner. After realising that she spent nearly all of her time organising business travel for her Executive (a massive 24 days per year) Amy met with senior staff at Skyscanner to see if she could work on a project that would reduce the amount of time all assistants spent on organising trips. As she worked for Skyscanner she knew they had the internal resources to make this a reality. Amy talked through the process the team used to reduce the time from 24 days per year to 4.5 hours! A huge reduction that now allows Amy to spend her time on much more interesting projects.
Next up was lunch – my favourite part of the day. I must say the food was lovely. I particularly liked these little beauties!
During lunch we made sure that everyone had some time to network and chat. We set up a speed typing challenge on an old 1960s typewriter and some fun interactive spaces. I do have a pretty incriminating photo of my attempt at the speed typing which is behind lock and key (I was terrible!!)
Our afternoon programme included a session on travel trends with our speaker Claudia talking through the practicalities of using Airbnb and Uber in our travel plans. Next up we had a incredibly interesting presentation from Colin Pereira about the safety measure our Executives should take when they are on the road. The session was a complete eye-opener for our delegates and they all came away with really important information to take back to the office. I don’t know about everyone else who was there but I’m certainly going to do things a little different when I travel now!
Last but not least we had a look at the new and upcoming places that London has to offer inbound visitors. There are some really cool and funky new hotels, restaurants and bars that can be used to impress clients and colleagues.
Many of our delegates stayed for a few drinks and a chance to network after the conference closed. The bar at the Hilton was a fantastic spot for a cocktail or two.
I was really pleased with the day. I thought the exhibitors were interesting and really relevant for those that book a lot of business travel. The conference sessions and speakers were all informative and I think all of our delegates came away with a good number of relevant and practical tips that they can use when they organise business travel for their Executives.
We will be holding next year’s Assist Travel on the 9th September in London. I will keep you up to date on all of the developments. In the meantime we have the Assist Conference taking place on Friday 26th February, the conference programme, speakers and registration details can be found on the website.