World Travel Market – Making the all important first Impression, or not!

Two months ago I had’nt even heard of the World Travel Market, finger on the travel pulse; not!

A hatful of nudges from friends and a few tentative enquiries from exhibitors and just over two weeks ago the decision to attend was finally made.

World Travel Market in London, at the Excel Centre near Canary Wharf on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

London from Canary Wharf

This required registering for a press pass before booking accommodation and a return rail trip. It was already too late to register for any of the events so all that remained was waiting for the big day to arrive.

“Minimal research it was then”

Actually not really accurate, the next logical step would have been to download a floor plan, and research the programme. This would have provided valuable background information on the event and enabled me to organise myself more efficiently. It did not sound much like fun however, and in keeping with my usual laid back style of travel decided to go with just exploring the event like a new destination.

World Travel Market in London, at the Excel Centre on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Its quite a rush at WTM

Minimal research it was then, merely how to get there, opening times and general layout, another adventure to be had.

However even the poorest plans of mice and men can get waylaid. In my case it was a stomach bug that provided a little additional challenge and meant not being able to travel as planned. Over a day was missed and it is only possible to guess how many networking opportunities too.

Eventually travelling down Wednesday afternoon which only meant just over a day to make the big impression on the World Travel Market, is this the benefit of thorough planning?

I caught the Thames Clipper river taxis to Canary Wharf, it required an extra change to the ExCel but was well worth it especially on a sunny autumnal day in London. So the extensive research into transport had at least paid off.

World Travel Market in London, at the Excel Centre near Canary Wharf on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Showing off German style

To be honest my main aim for WTM was to network as this is all that I was really aware of. After grabbing a coffee a wander through the exhibitors in the European and African display areas was first on the agenda. I headed immediately to the Greek stand wishing to say hello after my recent visit, but my contact was not there and it already felt as if the whole thing was beginning to wind down.

However the size of the event was immediately apparent, it seemed as if every individual country and tourism board on the Planet had a presence. Some stands were literally huge, Greece, Spain and Portugal in particular had large displays split smaller exhibits on regions.

“Is just blogging about travel enough?”

These are of course European Union countries with huge economic concerns and tourism is likely to play an even larger part in their economies and recovery in the future. This might explain the importance they were obviously placing on this event.

Going with the flow my well laid plans were quickly changed when I was persuaded to attend a Social Travel Market seminar “Is just blogging about travel enough?” Chaired by Andy Jarosz and with a star-studded panel it was well being flexible. It was an interesting debate, maybe not any earth shattering revelations but still hearing the views of others is always useful.

I met a few friends from previous press trips and conferences so another good reason to break the routine. There was little opportunity to chat however as they were already rushing off to a swanky boat party to which poor Cinders did not have an invite. Even so it was nice meeting up even for just a little while.

Dancers from Rwanda at the World Travel Market in London, at the Excel Centre on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_056666

Live dancing in ‘Rwanda’

Skipping the treasure trail around London, as I had not registered for this either, so a quick trip on the Jubilee line and it was just a short walk to my hostel. At least the transport part of my planning and preparation was working well.

“hyperactive Duracell bunny on speed”

I was kind of intrigued by the ‘speed networking’ tables that were in the media area. They were already empty and I have not tried speed dating either but it did sound like fun, a mental note for next year’s event.

The next day saw me practicing a little speed networking of my own around the various exhibitors for an hour or so, dropping business cards like they were confetti at the various stands. Not sure the impression of a hyperactive Duracell bunny on speed with a camera and cards was the one I was hoping to leave.

The seminars of STM sounded tempting again however, so the intensive networking schedule was curtailed for awhile. Sitting through some more of these debates, which provided intelligent, thought provoking and above all useful advice. Tips on supercharging your blog and whether press trips are effective were just a couple of the treats on offer.

/the Korean stand at the World Travel Market in London, at the Excel Centre on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Korea was a little more reserved

In between I managed another quick sprint around a few more stands this time in the Middle and Far East, it already felt like a round the World trip in just over a day. Trying to condense four days event into little more than one can be exhausting.

“my presence was hardly noticed”

All too soon it was over and there was just enough time to go for a drink and something to eat with some old friends and meet a few new ones. It was not really networking as by this stage I just wanted to be enjoy some great company and good food.

So did I make a big or even good impression at my first World Travel Market? No, of course not, my presence was hardly noticed. Did it live up to my expectations? No, because I did not know what to expect. Did I learn anything from my experience? Yes, it appears to be a worthwhile event to attend and next year booking will be made much earlier, registrations will be made for some events and meetings with exhibitors interested in collaborating will be arranged prior to the event.

Sometimes past experiences can actually get in the way. In this case my aversion to planning and preparation; something which the military particularly excel in clouded my judgement when considering this event. Choosing to take a minimal approach to preparing for it almost certainly meant my time was often wasted.

It was not a total loss however, I did manage to drop by quite a few stands and have since followed up the initial contact with an email, some of which have already replied.

A few useful lessons have been taken on board and that is the most important factor, if mistakes are learned it cannot be a failure.

It was also great meeting people that I have only spoken to online or on the telephone and ultimately that means the whole event a success for me.

World Travel Market in London, United Kingdom on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Helicopters buzzing over London


Comments 5

  1. Kerwin

    Thanks for your review Iain. It was so big, we were perhaps in the same room at the same time and never knew it :-).

    I went to WTM, not knowing anyone, but knew Gary Arndt (who I met in LA the week prior) and Matt Kepnes (whom I’d not met as yet) whould be there. I came away with a wealth of knowledge and many new friendships in the travel blogging sphere. The parties were fun, the STM sessions rocked and I learned a lot more about London, my most visited city. Now I have to do some implementation.

    My favorite part of the floor was the tech section. I enjoyed geeking out with some of the exhibitors.

    It was like visiting the world, but all in one room…

    1. Post

      Welcome Kerwin I am glad you enjoyed it. The great thing about the travel writing community is that is is very friendly and approachable therefore not actually knowing abybody is not a handicap people are happy to chat, socialise and even pass on advice. The world in one room that is pretty cool don’t you think?

  2. Katy

    I’m sorry I missed you at WTM, but this post rang true for me 🙂 I liked the fact that it felt like a whiz around the world, and I also dropped business cards wherever I went. I felt like a rabbit caught in headlights for approximately the first two days, after which time, heading to the Excel centre began to feel like a daily commute! I didn’t even think about taking the Thames Clipper, that must have been more fun than the DLR 😉

    1. Post

      Hey Katy yes a real shame did not get to see you and hear all about your recent trip. I guess WTM could be a bit daunting and intimidating as it was absolutely huge. I hope we both get some success from our card dropping 🙂 My expereince of travelling to and from it was pretty painless as explained it is the one thing I researched quite well. The Clipper was a great idea think somebody might have actually suggested that to me though so cannot take too much credit, glad I did though.

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