On the right track to IBTM World Barcelona

Train to IBTM World

Taking the train to IBTM World to discover a more sustainable way to travel and discover the benefits of slow travel

Industry events are a great way to catch up with colleagues, make new connections and of course discover the latest trends and new venue openings. So, it was a given that I wanted to attend IBTM World in Barcelona this year. What was less clear was how I would get there.

Travel is a huge part of the meetings and events industry but also one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions so I wanted to see if I could find a more sustainable way to go from London to Barcelona. Would taking the train to IBTM World be a viable alternative to flying? I joined representatives from Eurostar, London Convention Bureau (part of London & Partners) and Mike Fletcher from IBTM Show Daily team to find out.

We started our journey over a leisurely brunch overlooking Regent’s Canal at Rotunda, in Kings Place. Since opening, Kings Place have established themselves as an environmentally focussed space for conferences and events so it fitted well with the values of our trip and, even better, it’s just a stone’s throw from St Pancras, making it the perfect relaxing place to meet before strolling across the road to board the Eurostar to Paris.

With a person’s carbon footprint from one flight measuring the same as 14 Eurostar journey’s, train is the obvious green choice between the UK and mainland Europe and with Eurostar’s recent merger with Thayls, booking onward journeys is getting a whole heap easier.

The journey time to Paris is two hours and 15 minutes so we could have carried on to Barcelona but instead we embraced the ‘slow’ nature of our journey and spent the evening in Paris.

Located literally overlooking the Gare du Nord station, 25hours Hotel was the obvious choice; we stepped off the train, wheeled our luggage across the road and checked-in. Quirky touches, including across the meeting rooms, make this hotel stand out, as the designers have incorporated the area’s multicultural history and inhabitants into the hotel décor. Top tip: ask for a room with a balcony at the front; they come with views of Sacré Coeur and in the morning, you can step outside to enjoy the sights and sounds of Paris as it wakes up.

After a continental breakfast we were ready for the next leg of our journey and a short electric car ride to Gare de Lyon. The beautiful station facade and famous clock tower that dates back to 1900, conjuring up the romance of travel as you look up at the departure board featuring the French Alps, Switzerland, Italy & Barcelona.

We rocked up with 20 minutes spare before our train left; compare that to the time spent hanging around at an airport going through long check-in queues plus luggage & security checks. With no time to hang around we made our way through the automated ticket barrier to board our double-decker TGV which took us through France to Barcelona in just over six hours.

When anticipating this trip, I couldn’t quite imagine what six hours on a train would feel like. Surely I’d struggle to fill the time? The reality was quite the opposite. The seating is spacious and comfortable; no seat belts, dreaded middle seat or cramped leg room here. Some of us got our laptops out (each table has charging plugs and the wi-fi, though sometimes patchy, meant we were always contactable so you don’t lose a day’s work) and, knowing we had a busy few days ahead, we also relaxed over games, chat and two of our group even bought their crochet hooks. And, naming no names, there might have been the odd 40-winks too.

It’s been a full-on year for those of us working in meetings and events so the chance to kick-back and take in views of the French Alps, Mediterranean coastline, Vineyards, the Pyrenees and even Flaming birds on the lakes was very welcome.

We arrived in time for dinner in Barcelona, with our good friends Trees For Travel who are helping measure the carbon footfall of our journey, rested and ready to go for three days at IBTM World where the team joined the London Convention Bureau stand to showcase London as the ideal city to host sustainable business events.

The journey allowed us to experience a taste of what Eurostar can offer MICE planners and their delegates, giving us the confidence to recommend this mode of transport as a realistic option.

If you’re looking to take a group of travellers to any of Eurostar’s popular destinations, they also offer unique experiences for those who book exclusive coaches; the ‘inside track on rugby’ is sure to be a winner next year with France hosting the Rugby World Cup. But for me it’s the ability to offer event planners the chance to put sustainability at the core of their event that’s converted me to the joys of slow travel and we look forward to offering it as a viable option to our clients.

For more information on Eurostar MICE travel, visit:

Travel Info

London to Paris: The greenest route is Eurostar with a journey time of 2hours 15 minutes. Book early (3 to 6 months) for the best prices.

Paris to Barcelona:  Arrive Gare du Nord and change for the fast train at Gare de Lyon, which can take about half an hour on the Paris RER line. Or you could get an early Eurostar connection and have lunch at the beautiful Train Bleu Restaurant in Gare de Lyon before boarding a TGV high speed train to ‘Barcelona Sants’ station.

Journey Time: London to Barcelona approximately 10hours 10 minutes. Paris to Barcelona approximately 6hours 19 minutes.

Carbon Emissions:  Emission data is difficult to measure as it varies based on factors including types of vehicles used, energy carries and energy sources but EcoPassenger estimates the carbon emissions for this journey would be 7kg (flight would be 180kg).


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