Have you ever considered going to The World Travel Market as a blogger? The World Travel Market Conference is primarily for the travel trade industry. It is a great resource for travel bloggers to network and develop story ideas. I attended WTM 2017 in November in London, and it’s free for media, and that includes bloggers. The World Travel Market for bloggers is a paradise of ideas and opportunities to take advantage of.
Attending the World Travel Market
WTM 2017 was a serious beehive of opportunity. More than 50,000 people crammed into the London ExCel Convention Centre this year to attend this 3-day event. There are more than 5000 exhibitors and 3000 members of the press, including journalists and bloggers.
The main thrust of the conference is for sellers, like tourism bureaus, hotels, resorts and tour operators to meet with travel buyers, such as travel agencies, to set up collaborating contracts. Clearly, the WTM seller wants the agency (buyer) to promote and sell their destinations, and the agency wants a discount to pass on to their clients. That’s how they make money.
The World Travel Market London
The World Travel Market or WTM convention centre in London is a huge complex. It’s a big rectangular box, with two sides: the North and the South. Down the middle is a long corridor with a variety of coffee shops, take-away eateries and seating areas.
The North Pavilion hosted Eastern and Western Europe, USA, Canada, Russia + travel technology exhibitors, like hotel booking engines, worldwide tour operators and other companies that work across multiple countries or continents.
The South Pavilion hosted Asia, Africa, Middle East, Central and South America. To be honest, the South Pavilion was much more colourful and lively – think traditional costumes, folk music, men and women demonstrating age-old crafts, and uniques goodies to taste. The contract between the two areas was stark. Think Brazil vs Switzerland.
While the World Travel Market for bloggers and others goes on for 3 days, you pace yourself according to your needs. You absolutely need to go on Monday. Monday at the World Travel Market Conference is the best because only buyers, sellers and media are allowed in. Tuesday’s is by far the busiest day, and every dog and their brother is at the conference – think people looking for their next vacation destination, because they can get deals as well.
Tuesday was a huge, buzzing mess, literally, of individual holiday seekers! Forget getting lunch, as each place was 20-person deep! I made a point of getting lunch in the MORNING because I knew I would waste nearly an hour to get lunch at lunch time. The crowds were frustrating.
Making appointments at the World Travel Market
I made appointments in advance with eight organisations, so not too many. I didn’t want to overload my schedule since it was my first time attending the World Travel Market. Actually, I did okay. To be honest, I made a huge mistake. When I signed up for the conference, I got access to a portal listing all the sellers. I can tick the ‘star’ next to a group I want to speak to, so there were quite a few I ‘ticked’ just to jog my memory. What I didn’t know is that this sent them a message that I wanted to meet with them, which I didn’t, necessarily. So I received a lot of, ‘We’d like to meet you,’ and I had a lot of, ‘oh, shit,’ moments. There is so much to see and do, and you can easily become overloaded with information and what the process is.
Another important point is since I focus on the Mediterranean region, I could easily pare down where to focus my efforts. I got loads of great information from the Greek, Italian, Spanish, Croatian, Maltese, and Montenegran Pavilions, and all of which I’d love to experience and support.
World Travel Market in One Day
If you plan well in advance, you can get all of your dealings done in one day. Yes, you can manage the World Travel Market in one day! As mentioned above, plan to go on Monday or the day when only buyers, sellers and media are allowed. Plot out which organisations or pavilions you want to visit. Even though I had appointment times set up, it wasn’t really necessary, unless I was strongly pitching a collaboration to them. You can just stop by, introduce yourself and they will find time to speak to you. It’s quite casual.
There were far more journalists than bloggers, which gives us an advantage. Journalists write for a publication and may or may not have a following. And, they may be there simply to promote the conference as a whole. Bloggers typically write about a specific experience and how it may interest their audience.
From the conversations I had with tour operators, they were very open to talking with bloggers who are interested in talking up their region, or product.
Given my niche location, I only had the Mediterranean to focus on, but next year, I will be much more strategic and plan out where I might be visiting in advance. For instance, say, Greece in April. With that in mind, I can tell tour operators I will be in the area, and chances of participating in a tour or staying overnight at a sponsored location are greater.
One booth I thought was great was by a blogger herself showing tour companies what types of social media coverage she could provide. Her pitch was looping on a TV and showed a variety of YouTube videos she’s done, along with simultaneous posts to her various social media channels. While her booth was tucked away in a hidden aisle, I thought it was great on her part to invest in exhibiting at one of these events. I would do the same.
Upcoming Arabian Travel Market
The World Travel Market takes place a few times every year in London, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. The upcoming Arabian Travel Market is in Dubai from April 22-25 with more than 2600 exhibitors and 28,000 attendees. I’ve kicked it around as I am interested in meeting with more Mediterranean representatives from countries on the eastern Mediterranean.
The hotels near the London venue are pricey and since I booked late I ended up at the Ibis Hotel Barking, just 15 minutes away. It’s a quiet, modern hotel on the edge of Barking. The price was right and it is a great place to network as everyone who stays there is also attending the World Travel Market.
Any rate, if you are a blogger, you should consider attending one of the World Travel Market events. It’s well worth your time.
TBEX Travel Blog Exchange Conference
For the ultimate in conferences for travel bloggers, you need to attend TBEX. I attended TBEX in Manila, Philippines in 2016 and this was by far the best conference I’ve ever attended. They have pre- and post-conference experiences you can par-take in, and it’s well worth your time. Coming in July 2018, the European conference is in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and I can’t wait to attend. This year for my pre-conference event, I’ve decided to spend the day with the Ostrava Firefighters to see how they spend their day. Hmmm. Am thinking it will be a hot… Follow my travels to see.