If you’ve not heard of World Travel Market or WTM as a travel blogger then where have you been?
I’d discovered the show a few years ago as it’s the largest event at ExCeL London and a chance to discover new destinations worldwide. The Emirates Air Line cable car handily gets you to the show (weather permitting) as well as the DLR and from December 2018 the Elizabeth line too.
The WTM London show is a three-day event that runs from Monday to Wednesday – although I wasn’t exclusive enough to get invited on Monday this year and only wanted to take one day off from work to see what all the fuss was about.
They also run a World Travel Market in Africa and Latin America and an Arabian Travel Market too and an additional show for the LGBTQ+ community has also been announced for next year in London.
Other bloggers gave me some good tips for WTM like not being intimidated by the size of it all, not picking up too many freebies which may weigh you down and wearing comfortable shoes. I’d also previously read this handy post on Anastazja’s Adventures from WTM London in 2016 which was one of the first times I’d heard about World Travel Market.
Here are some of my top tips from my first time at the London show in 2017:
Do go to the evening networking events
I went along to the Traverse Mingle on the Friday before the show and the Travel Massive London drinks on the Monday night. Both of these events were before I’d actually gone to WTM so were good to get a feel for which other bloggers go along and also make me a bit less anxious about the networking side of things.
Traverse Mingle was held at WeWork Waterhouse Square near Chancery Lane and had a pre-mixed gin and tonic tank where you could make your own G&T cocktails (some suggested ones named after travel bloggers) as well as some games to help break the ice and get chatting. All profits from the night also went to the Hackney Pirates charity.
Travel Massive’s WTM London opening event was in a bar in Covent Garden (quite dark so I took no photos) but as well as the free food and drink this one had a number of travel startups pitching their products, apps and websites in “Startup Alley”. It was sponsored by both Hotels Combined and IQ Planner.
I heard from Pete Silvester the founder of WindowSeater, an app to discover what you can see out the window of your train on a journey and Santiago Navarro from hotel switching website Nightly.travel. I didn’t even know hotel switching was a thing before going along but now I know it’s a way of saving money and also seeing different areas of a city on the same trip if you don’t mind changing hotels with your luggage. You can also use it as a way to stay in 5* luxury hotels for that little bit less!
I won’t list all the great new bloggers I met as there were way too many, but I will be sure to shout out a few of you on my social media!
Bring some business cards
It’s worth investing in some of these. Although mine were rushed together a week before so aren’t the best, I will get a better design for my next batch. Moo.com were amazing and I was able to grab them from the Liverpool Street Doddle store just before the events and going to WTM.
People will want to know the best way to get in touch with you and it’s a lot easier than writing down your email lots of times and also looks more professional.
Have a plan of action
The place is HUGE. I’ve been to ExCeL London loads of times for various events and even invigilating exams but I’ve never felt quite so much like a small fish in a big pond as I did at WTM. There are thousands of people there both working and milling about.
The WTM Press Area is a good place to start off the day with a free cloakroom, free wi-fi and hot drinks. I had previously looked at which talks I liked the sound of as well as jotting out which destinations or countries I particularly wanted more info on. This allowed me to find them easily and group my targets by area.
There was one thing I hadn’t done though…
Book some meetings
Each country, city or organisation had a stand, often with seating – the larger countries and continents actually had sofas and lounges and people were booked in to have meetings.
I was able to speak to lots of representatives, but, as I hadn’t booked any meetings I had to either jot down my details or leave my business card to get in touch with PR people with no guarantees it would make it to the right person. I did say getting cards made was useful didn’t I though?
If anyone actually knows the best way to book meetings before WTM, please do get in touch as I was a bit unprepared and clueless.
Each stand did have a load of freebies including stationery, authentic regional food, drinks, sweets, ice-cream and even alcohol. There were also cool interactive experiences like photo booths, virtual reality simulators, live music and the chance to try out first-class airline seats. Just a few are pictured below.
Go to some talks or seminars
I spent a bit of time at the WTM Responsible Tourism Stage over the course of the day as well as at the WTM Global Stage.
I heard about Slum Tourism including information from Unseen Tours and Underground Camden Tours, both based in London.
I also went to a great Traverse talk about Diversification – Diversify or Die with Barry Johnston from gosh PR and Macca from An Adventurous World who raised the point about having many strings to your bow in case Twitter/ Instagram or your other main platform went bust or all your content disappeared overnight. Vine was one such example where people may have thought they could make a living for a while on the platform before it eventually closed down.
My final talk of the day was discussing whether or not animal interactions can ever be responsible?
Desk studies analysing many of the key types of animal encounters and experiences showed that on the whole, they aren’t responsible and if you are riding, cuddling or touching animals, you are likely to be having a negative impact on their welfare.
The swimming with Dolphins we did in Hawaii was considered responsible as we kept a distance and even had to use reef-safe suncream, with a lot of conservation work done with the dolphins and other sealife.
There are also talks on other elements of travel and tourism including on food tourism, creative tourism, adventure travel and youth travel.
Try and get onto the WTM Bloggers Speed Networking session
Bloggers can apply for Speed Networking but I wasn’t successful this year so can’t say how good it is. The premise is like speed dating but with brands and travel agencies coming to speak to you while you promote yourself or your online platforms – a great way to make new contacts.
Eat breakfast before arriving
I was starving by lunchtime and the queues were pretty ridiculous at each food place. I managed to find a place that had a short queue but I ended up paying £7.00 for a meatball bap and another £2.00 on a drink.
On top of that, there were no spaces left to sit and eat and I ended up eating my food outside the ExCeL by the docks before it started to rain a little. (Typical British weather if you’re coming from further afield).
Stay until after 5 p.m. if you can
WTM becomes a real party towards the end of the day. I struggled to hear the end of my talk on animal interactions because of the African drums being played behind us but it was all good as I still managed to grab some of the flowing alcohol that every stand seemed to have on my way out!
Hopefully those tips are useful for anyone thinking of going along to World Travel Market (WTM) and perhaps I’ll see some more of you next year!
You can attend for free as Press or a Blogger for World Travel Market London in November 2018 when registration opens next year.
~ J ~