ABTA has moved from the central London location it has occupied since 1997 to a smaller office that should cost less.
So how does the new building compare with Newman Street?
Well, it is smaller and the entrance is certainly less grand. ABTA’s name is not even on, or inside, the building yet.
But access is easy – the office is a five-minute walk from London Bridge, a stone’s throw from Cannon Street station and close to Waterloo.
The approach through Borough Market is terrific, although passing through the best food market in London each day might prove a drain on the purses of ABTA staff.
The building on Park Street, two minutes from the market, is new, the lobby functional and the lifts – when I visited – still covered in hardboard.
ABTA occupies a single floor and one L-shaped, open-plan room (see our ABTA HQ photo gallery).
The ceiling is low in air-conditioned style, but the windows are floor to ceiling. Indeed, the impression is of walls of glass which fill the room with light and offer views across Southwark.
My only concern would be a strong sun could challenge the air conditioning in summer.
There is a kitchen area at one end – with a dishwasher that is clearly a hit – and a breakout area at the other, a separation that is not entirely practical but may keep down the noise.
However, with 70 people in the office noise could still be an issue. Most sit at desks in configurations of six, comprising three facing pairs. There are several meeting rooms of varying size, but no separate offices for senior staff.
Mark Tanzer sits close to his communications team at the base of the L facing the rest of the office and the tiny Federation of Tour Operators team brought in from Haywards Heath. The kitchen is in a central position close by and the finance department at the furthest point away.
The desks seem small and pretty close together. Any sacrifice the FTO and ABTA made in amalgamating last year is dwarfed now by the sight of six-foot-five FTO director-general Andy Cooper at his workstation.
The separating screens between desks also appear minimal. Everyone I spoke to professed to being unconcerned about the noise, but did so in hushed tones. My guess is the volume will rise as people adjust to the new environment.
People seem happy with the office and keen for visitors to like it, and why not? I would not balk at working there.
But 70 people in a single space is a squeeze. I would suspend judgment until the summer and head back into Borough Market.
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