This week has been pretty exciting for me. For the first time I’ve visited World Travel Market, massive and one of the most important events in travel industry around the globe.
I didn’t know what to expect first. I’d been to some trade markets and exhibitions events in Bratislava but I’ve never visited an event of this scale. My primary intention was to see interesting talks and the tech show but many travel bloggers go here to network and make new business deals with tourism offices, PR reps and alike. Without any higher aims I hoped I can just get a grasp of this whole thing, see something interesting and possibly learn something new.
My first thought after getting my lanyard and a brief look around was ‘Man, this is huuuuge!’
I guess the ‘world’ in the market’s name stands there for a reason.
The whole ExCel building was split into two broad sections – South Hall covering Africa, Middle East, Americas, Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean; North Hall housing Europe, UK & Ireland. In both halls were also stages with events going on with first class industry guests like Oliver Grémillon from Airbnb, Paul Smith from Ignite, Lee McCabe from Facebook, Will Hayward from Buzzfeed and other folks from Twitter, Wearesocial, Feefo, Mindshare UK, Amazon, TripAdvisor and so on.
The whole experience can be easily overwhelming and you might find yourself running back and forth trying to chase every interesting thing going on. All of this might be a bit scary so here is a bit of advice if you’re a World Travel Market first timer like I was.
Press or Trade?
If you’re a travel blogger, there are two types of badges to choose from – either register as a regular attendee, a travel industry professional to get an ordinary ‘Trade’ badge or you can go serious and get a ‘Press’ badge. Press badge will give you many benefits that other visitors can’t enjoy, such as free cloakroom, complimentary tea and coffee, separate wifi, working area with printers, dedicated entrance or access to all days of the market (Monday is usually press only). I didn’t bother registering as press this time as I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to achieve on WTM 2014 but looking at the benefits I’ll probably will the next year 🙂
According to the WTM website, visitors are required to wear business dress. That might be a bit tricky for many of you (it was for me) who aren’t used to this kind of ‘official’ events. So, what you should wear if jeans and a T-shirt are your regular working costume and you’re really not very oriented in suits and stuff? The good thing is, I haven’t seen anyone to be banned from entry because of wearing a non-business dress. Actually, I’ve seen some visitors wearing jeans and a t-shirt or, on the other hand, an evening dress. That doesn’t mean I advise you going there as you would to a football match. Just don’t bother too much if you don’t own a business costume or suit. Dark jeans and a shirt/blouse and a jacket will do fine. Flats or nice boots (the kind you would wear to a theatre) should be okay, too.
Set your agenda
There is so much going on on WTM that you won’t have a slightest chance to catch everything you’d like. Stages are at various corners of the exhibition hall which will complicate your schedule too. Setting your agenda beforehand is highly recommended as well as memorising the map at home.. at least a little 🙂
What about networking?
This kind of a trade market is ideal for networking. If that’s what you’re after, there are various options – go on speed networking for bloggers, talk to whoever fits your intentions or watch conversations on Twitter and Instagram (particularly those under hashtags #WTM and #WTMbloggers). There is always some blogger party to join if you’re interested.
Anything else to know?
Oh, have I mentioned that if you’re pre-registered, all of this is free? So don’t think twice, grab your chance and check wtmlondon.com regularly so you can register for the next year as soon as possible!
And some Twitter love from other bloggers and visitors:
“Book a hotel using your fridge” says skyscanner 🙂 #wtm14 Put that alongside flying cars as a vision for the future !
— Alex Bainbridge (@alexbainbridge) November 6, 2014
— Madeline Belt (@MBeltPhoto) November 6, 2014
— Bruce Martin (@BruceMartin) November 6, 2014
— Shuggy (@IbShuggy) November 7, 2014
— Supranational (@supranational) November 7, 2014
Photo credits: wtmlondon.com