Guest post by Alison Bailey
The first thing to note, is that the World Travel Market is big, actually its huge? I’m used to exhibitions, but these were scientific exhibitions, where I was usually on the other side of the stand. So this was my adventure with my first visit to WTM. It was an incredibly interesting experience, and it is fabulous to become immersed in the world of the traveller, and the travel industry albeit for a short time. The two halls, North, and South are logically divided into Europe, and the rest of the world, Each hall is then subdivided into various regions, there is a plan, which is logical, and once understood the layout is simple to navigate around.
Visiting all four days, it made sense to spend two days exploring each hall, subdividing each of them further, in half. This ensured there was enough time to visit all the stands I needed to, and provide opportunities to attend several seminars along the way. I found that this strategy (my hit list) of sticking to quarters, paid dividends in terms of time covering stands, and the distances. (My sore feet after 2 days made the distances abundantly clear!)
Of course Paddington Bear, took sometime off his busy film career to appear on the Peruvian stand. I hope he packed his sandwiches, although there is a great range of food available at Excel, including on most of the destination stands.
All the stands were very welcoming, even after 4 days and the occasional snack or glass of something nice was usually on offer. Italy, however seems to have an unfair advantage possessing the ultimate in portable food, pizza!
Many of the stands were very impressive, and a great deal of time, and creativity has obviously gone into building them. The exhibitors were keen to provide a flavour of their destination, colourful dancers, melodious singers and musicians, evocative, and inspiring videos, beautiful photography, and some especially inventive initiatives draw visitors to their stands. (think pizza!)
The upstairs press centre is a great resource for media, providing a place to meet, the benefit of computers, printers, and copiers, enabling much-needed administration, such as composing, and printing media sheets.
After a long day networking, it was a pleasant diversion in the evenings being invited to events hosted by several of the main exhibitors. On Monday evening we had an art exhibition hosted in Shoreditch by the Canary Islands; 7 islands, 7 artists, each produced several art pieces that expressed their experience, and perception of the islands.
Tuesday evening saw us swing by Andalusia courtesy of a “flight” from Mayfair which transported us to a virtual Andalusia, complete with an amazing cabin crew. Fidel Castro’s twin brother stamped our ‘passports’, we enjoyed local wines, finger food, and enjoyed some flamenco dancers.
Then on the Wednesday night we headed to the National History Museum for a reception courtesy of Mexico. This was the best party in town that night; lively, with plenty of tasty food, margaritas, and Mexican beer, hosted among the skeletons of some of the largest animals to walk the earth. The party in Jurassic Park, London.
All too soon it was over. Many new friends, and contacts were made, many new things learned, not only about destinations but about how the travel industry works. It was also enlightening to discover the role the professional blogger plays in the mechanism of a well organised social media campaign.
Huge thanks to Iain for taking me along and a big thank you to Villas.com for helping secure accommodation near Greenwich. This made travelling to the Excel a dream, as public transport was smooth, and efficient from there. A good nights sleep was very welcome after those busy days exploring WTM.
About Alison Bailey
I started as a photographer at the tender age of three when my Dad gave me my first camera, a Kodak Brownie. I crawled around ‘taking pictures’ of everything, even though there wasn’t any film, and I’ve been taking pictures ever since.
I’ve worked as a Lab Technician specialising in Pathology to the promised land of Olympus cameras, and even a spell in law enforcement. I’ve returned to my first love now however, specialising in wedding photography. I predominantly use digital today, but the traditionalist in me still loves film, and the skills required to develop it.