Tim Procter, MD of Air Charter Travel, talks to ITCM’s Sydney PauldenThe thought of travelling to EIBTM in Barcelona for two days is somewhat daunting – unless you are to be a passenger on the EIBTM Hosted Buyers charter contracted to Air Charter Travel.
Bob Jones, a veteran of decades of event management, was happy to express views that were typical of those of the 250 or so guests on the flight.
‘This charter gets better and better, year after year’, he told me. ‘The timing is just right to maximise the two days we are away. We arrive at the start of the show on our first day and leave as the show is closing on our second day.
‘Furthermore, as all the people on the flight are seriously engaged in the MICE sector, networking starts from the moment you arrive at check-in. You can talk business, exchange ideas on the events scene with everyone around you, knowing they all have something relevant to say. By the time you arrive in Barcelona, you are already in exhibition mode.
‘Another thing is that checking in and out for the flight is that much easier as every passenger is carrying baggage for just overnight. It all moves so quickly and smoothly.
‘And what goes for us, goes for the crew, too. They know they are dealing with a flight load of passengers who are 100 per cent professional, experienced travellers. They are pleasant and serve everything so rapidly.’
When Bob said ‘everything’ he was obviously referring to the meals on board the Air Charter Travel flight. We were greeted on board the Airbus 321 with Bucks Fizz and orange juice and then served a really hot full English breakfast. Not only did we have scrambled egg, sausage, ham and yoghurt, but we also had the pleasure of using proper metal cutlery.
Air Charter Travel was celebrating its 20th anniversary of collaboration with Reed Travel Exhibitions. Managing Director of Air Charter Travel, Tim Procter, (pictured here) knows the importance of attention to detail. We were checked in at EIBTM-themed counters by Thomas Cook and once on board the Captain welcomed us to the ‘EIBTM flight’. There were EIBTM headrest covers on every seat plus a copy of the EIBTM 2012 guide. ‘It helps’, says Tim, ‘to know in advance the location of the stands you wish to visit and is a good use of time on the flight’.
Tim told me that he impresses on everyone the need to check, check and check again for every assignment. ‘If someone says “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine”, then alarm bells ring’.
A simple passenger, such as myself, might imagine that those little niceties and the convenience of the charter are the major benefits, but Tim doesn’t agree.
‘The big advantage of a charter’, he maintains, ‘is control. There are so many variables in planning a successful corporate event. So many things can go wrong, but with contingency planning, charter travel can provide solutions in order to make sure the whole event is an eventual success.
‘If the timing of an event doesn’t go to plan; if key executives are delayed, if the weather doesn’t behave – charter travel provides that flexibility that will give you the opportunity to put things right and get back on track. Knowledge of what is happening and the control of what can be done about it are the really important aspects of charters.’
Tim also went on to give examples of how control of the movement of people to and from events can be used to gain additional benefits. On one occasion groups of people being flown to an event were provided with digital questionnaires surveying what the delegates were expecting to achieve or to learn. Then, on the return journey, they were given further questionnaires to discover the extent to which expectations were realised or surpassed – or disappointed.
‘The flexibility offered by charter flights’, Tim sums up, ‘is vital to ensure that the objectives of an event are achieved. If an event is important – such as a product launch, an upmarket incentive or attendance at an exhibition – then the transport has to match. The transport is important to the success of the whole project.’