I’ve just spent the last week in London at World Travel Market, which is a global travel event held in London at the ExCel Exhibition Centre. It was my second one of these, and as usual I feel like I need to sleep for a week and not see an alcoholic beverage for the next month.
If you’re a travel blogger wanting to get your face in front of tourism boards and possibly organise a press trip or two, then World Travel Market is the place to do it.
Imagine an enormous exhibition centre laid out like a map of the world, with pretty much every country you can possibly think of all under one roof! One minute you’re eating sushi in Japan, the next minute you’re at Carnival in Brazil drinking caipirinhas.
Each country dishes out its own local liquor and delicacies- I think I ate and drank my way around the entire world in a miraculous 3 days.
WTM is so big it can be overwhelming, but with a little organisation, it can be really productive. It’s a great place to forge partnerships with travel companies and promote your blog outside the blogging community. So I’ve put together some tips that I’ve learned from WTM over the last 2 years…
Getting Your Pass
As a blogger you can obtain a free 4-day press pass for World Travel Market. The main benefit of getting a press pass is that it provides you with access to the Press Centre and enables you to visit on the Monday, which is the main press day. Of course there are other benefits- like the free tea and coffee vouchers and the dedicated cloakroom too
This year I signed up for an email alert to let me know when registration would open for WTM. Once I registered online for my press pass and my application was accepted, I was emailed a badge to print out and take to the event.
I didn’t have access to a printer prior to the event, so I just downloaded the WTM app for my iPhone and showed my e-badge at the entrance on the Monday. There are printers at the entrance and the staff will kindly print out your badge for you. Where possible though, it’s much easier if you print it out before you go.
As usual this year there was a shortage of lanyards at the entrance, so either take your own, or pick one up from the Press Centre.
In my first year at WTM I didn’t arrange any meetings and I just winged it. I still managed to chat to the PRs and tourist boards, but it was more by chance that I caught them at the right moment. I decided this year I would be a lot more pro-active and schedule some meetings.
If you would like to chat to a specific tourist board or travel company about an upcoming trip, then search the exhibitor list on the World Travel Market website or app, and send them an email in advance. If you can secure a meeting before hand this will make your day a lot easier.
ExCel is a HUGE place and meetings can often overrun, so try to schedule meetings with plenty of time in-between. You don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken!
This year TBU provided a great list of Blogger Friendly Stands at World Travel Market and I used this as a starting point to arrange meetings. I really hope they produce another one next year because it was useful to know which tourism boards were open to working with bloggers. This saved me from wasting a lot of time and energy talking to the wrong people.
It’s cold in London in November. Last year I managed with just a smart jacket and left the coat at home, but this year I took an overcoat. There is a coat check in the Press Centre, and there are also coat checks downstairs. It costs £1, and I didn’t have to wait too long in line. It’s really warm inside the building at WTM, and the London tubes are ridiculously warm, so you just need your coat for all the walking about in between!
Dress code is smart but you don’t have to be really suited and booted. I can’t speak for the males, but each day I wore a simple dress, cardigan, tights and flats. You will be standing and walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes during the day!
Since I’m short I took a hand bag big enough to fit a pair of heels for the evening events!
The ExCel London Exhibition Centre is accessible via public transport using the DLR, and the station stop is called Custom House. It’s in the East of London, but all the evening events are usually in Central London, so anywhere you stay in London will be fine as long as you’re close to a Tube stop or rail station.
Get yourself an Oyster Card before you head to the event which is a pre-paid plastic card that you can use for all your travel in London.
Planning Your Days
It’s not necessary to go to every single day at World Travel Market. Both this year and last year I attended 3 days out of the 4 since the last day is sort of the ‘student’ day.
If you really wanted to you could just squish all your meetings into 1 day, but I genuinely think it’s really fun!
As I mentioned before, Monday is the press day, and there is a press breakfast in the morning. The Marketing Directors and senior PRs are usually in attendance on the Monday/Tuesday, and perhaps even the Wednesday. On Thursday the stands are manned by junior staff so it’s more difficult to speak to the right person.
The Food and Drink
Yes there is free food and drink a-plenty at World Travel Market, but you have to go hunting for it! I received lots of Tweets from people asking where the food was.
Turner and I figured it out that if you want to get the best of the food and drink, it goes something like this:
Start your morning in Italy where there is free coffee. We all know that Italians make superb coffee! They also have red wine…yay!
Europe is where it’s at in the early morning/afternoon. Malta had cheese, olives and these little pieces of bread with a yummy tomato paste. See pictures below…
Belgium has a bar serving refreshing Belgian beers and marshmallows. I didn’t find any fries and chocolates, but they did have a platter of sausage.
Things were very sophisticated over in Hungary with sparkling wine and biscuits…
In the afternoon around 2-ish you need to skip over to Cuba, where they serve mojitos or rum and cokes.
Once party time is over in Cuba…onwards to Barbados for more rum.
Towards the end the day, Brazil goes crazy. The Brazilians know how to party, injecting you with one big dose of Carnival spirit.
Oh also Japan has a happy hour at 5pm on the Monday with free sushi and sake. I am a sushi addict, so I was actually standing around the stand waiting to pounce as soon as the staff took the cling film off the sushi platters.
The highlights of this year were the giant transformers and the Gangnam Style Robots, check out the video:
The after parties
The fun doesn’t stop once the day is done- at 6pm everyone grabs their coats and heads into the city for the fabulous after parties. This year saw a return of the TTG Tweetup and Travel Blog Camp, but there were also two newcomers with the TBU party and the Hostelbookers Awards party. There are tons of cool events for bloggers at World Travel Market, but try to sign up for them early as the guest lists usually fill up pretty quickly.
So there you have it, World Travel Market in a nutshell! See you all there next year!