Last week the boyf and I spent a crazy, manic, overwhelming and incredibly useful four day in London visiting the World Travel Market. It was quite the experience.
World Travel Market, aka WTM, is the travel industry event/exhibition which brings together companies and tourist boards from almost every country in the world. Mostly it is a place for business meetings and securing packages for travel companies. It’s also a chance for destinations to promote what they have to offer tourists. Alongside the humungous exhibition there is a full schedule of talks, panels and discussions covering the vast array of topics, news and issues within the travel industry.
In sum, it was a phenomenally rich event.
We went as Press, the great thing about being a blogger, with the objective of discovering what is out there in the travel industry as well as getting some inspiration for our future travels. We ended up learning so much more than we possible could have imagined. We met some really interesting companies and tourist offices. And we left with a mountain of business cards.
So what does the WTM look like?
Held at the London ExCel centre down at the Docklands, it’s an enormous space that took a good few minutes to walk the length of. There is a central concourse filled with fast food facilities at regular intervals. Either side of the concourse there were large entrances to the exhibition floors. The exhibition is generally set out grouping continents together. Interestingly, Europe covered the largest area.
We arrived super-early every day, by 8am, to make use of the Press Centre, get prepared for the day and start working our way around the exhibition as soon as it opened.
In between visiting stalls where we chatted to various people, we also attended a bunch of talks covering topics about, amongst other things, Responsible Tourism, Video Blogging, and Trend Reports. It was utterly fascinating. And there were some talks that particularly appealed to the academic part of me. It was rather thrilling.
I made a gazillion notes. Engaged my brain in a different way. And came to the realisation that every part of my journey over my adult life has led me to know.
I felt like I was in the right place.
The most amazing part of the week was how so many diverse cultures were hanging out under one roof. We had Taiwan, Dubai, Florida, Kenya and Iraq all under one roof. We had Serbia, Italy, Germany, Russia and Azerbaijan under one roof. As we walked through the space we were subject to images, musics, activities, languages, smells and ideas all so different from one another. We easily lost one another:
“Hey, where are you?”
“I’m between Poland and Armenia…”
WTM wasn’t without its challenges. We spent time trying to make contacts and network. Sometimes this was difficult if there was language barrier. Other times it was hard to pin down the person we arranged to see. It often felt like we were on a dizzying merry-go-round.
Added to that were the long hours. After each day there was a social event to attend, which became increasingly difficult when function on 5 hours sleep. We were tired. We were often hungry or craving caffeine. At times we were just too tired to strike up any new conversations. Talking became tiresome.
I even ended up with back ache on one day.
Oh yes, the glamour of networking and exhibitions.
Overall, we had a really fascinating week. One we are really pleased we made the time for.
Of course, the timing was cutting it a bit tight with our planned journey East next week. But hey! Life is for living, right? What’s a little stress here and there?!
Would I recommend World Travel Market? Well, if it’s relevant to what you do then yes. It’s a professional event for those in the travel industry. I went as a travel blogger and fully intend to spend even more time immersed in the travel industry, thus the need to learn and make connections. It’s not a public event as such so it’s not geared too much towards fun, cultural marketing activities, although there were plenty of opportunities.
All in all, a very interesting time was had. We might go again, if we’re in the correct country at the time.
Best bits of #WTM14
Silent Disco at the Las Vegas stand
Gatecrashing, in the nicest way possible, the Florida VIP lunchtime drinks
Dancing at the Taiwan stand
Printing postcards at Korean stand
Sampling food at the Chile stand.
Trying dried cocoa at the Costa Rica stand
Meeting new blogger friends at the Travel Massive and TBU socials.
Watching the dancing at the Cuba stand.
Marvelling at the food model of Dubai city
Watching the sunrise over London
Listening to many talks about Responsible Tourism
Bloggers Speed Networking event
The Gif booth with Lonely Planet
And the security guard lady at the Press Centre running up to us to give us a hug as we left on Thursday (yep, that’s how much time – morning to night – we spent at WTM.).