Last week I attended World Travel Market at ExCel in London for a week of networking, seminars and social events. WTM is attended by members of the travel and tourism industry from countries all over the world, so it’s a great opportunity to pitch to tourism boards, talk to PRs and catch up with other bloggers. This year travel bloggers could sign up for a press badge, so I put in the application and snapped up the chance to go.
The sheer size of WTM was a little overwhelming at first, but after a coffee in the press centre upstairs and a scan through the route planner, I soon got into the swing of things.
The atmosphere at WTM
At World Travel Market, you will actually hear yourself saying things like:
I’m just in Kenya at the moment, but I’ll come meet you in Fiji then we can go for some sushi in Japan.
ExCel is laid out into continents, with stands for every country. It really is massive, and you’ll find yourself walking for miles and miles without realising it! The stands are manned by members of tourism boards, businesses and tour companies, so you can go up and pitch to them or simply have a chat.
It’s more than business though- Brasil had lots of dancing and entertainment, Thailand was giving free massages, Puglia put on a delicious spread of food, and Japan were handing out sushi and sake. Come 5 o’clock everyone relaxes a bit and WTM is a lot of fun. I tried Kava for the first time with @travelingeditor and @thetravelhack at the Fiji booth- I was expecting the sparkling wine, but instead I received a bowl of muddy water! It tasted gritty and left my mouth a bit numb.
There were several celebrity guest appearances at WTM, and I had the chance to see Dannii Minogue wearing some killer heels at the Etihad Airways stand.
By far the best thing about #WTM2011 was the fringe events and parties afterwards. On Monday a group of us went for sushi at The Japan Centre near Piccadilly Circus, before heading to what we thought was the correct venue for TTG’s Tweetup at the DoubleTree by Hilton. There were a lot of puzzled looks as we pushed open every door downstairs in search of the party, only to find empty rooms. As it turns out, we were at the wrong DoubleTree and had to catch taxis to the right one! The TTG Tweetup was a great chance to meet up with bloggers I already know and those who I hadn’t already met over a few glasses of vino from the open bar. It’s always great to be able to put faces to blogs and learn more about the people behind them.
Tuesday was Travel Blog Camp at Doggetts Coat and Badge pub, where we all tucked into the buffet and rested our feet after a day of trekking around the exhibition stands at ExCel (note to self: wear comfortable shoes). There were speeches, discussions and debates about travel blogging and social media, with many interesting points raised.
On Wednesday I had the most delicious chilli bowl ever at The Breakfast Club in Shoreditch with @KelleyFerro of Tripfilms, @CailinONeil, @AdventurousKate and @TravelingEditor. Then it was off to @KirstenAlana‘s for a #Club91 house party.
What did I learn from World Travel Market?
- Comfortable shoes are a must! Or at least take a change of shoes with you.
- If you have a press badge, make sure you get your free drinks voucher and trade it in for water, tea or coffee.
- Plan in advance…
- …But don’t plan too much.
- Take LOTS of business cards and remember to keep the ones you receive somewhere safe!
- Have an idea of which countries you would particularly like to talk to, but keep your mind open to talking to other countries too. Sometimes the ones you hadn’t thought about will actually be really keen to send you on that next trip!
- Carry a bag big enough to hold everything you need. You’ll probably accumulate a lot of paper too.
- In the press working area there are broadband cables so you can connect to the Internet if the Wi-Fi is slow.
- Madagascar is apparently in Asia? Or so the stand layout suggested…
- Around 5 o’clock it’s happy hour, when the stands serve lots of alcohol and food! It’s quite easy to eat for free at WTM! I definitely ate more than my allowance of sushi at the Japan stand.
- Sign up for the evening events as early as possible because they get booked out really quickly.