World Travel Market 2016 was the first time I had ever attended this huge event in the travel world. I am actually quite a latecomer to the show considering it has been happening annually since 1980. I would have attended the World Travel Market last year, but I was too busy exploring South Africa at the time. Now that I have experienced it for myself, I have more insight into what to expect for next year! Here are some of the things you can expect while attending the World Travel Market:
Meeting some Danish trolls
As you can probably guess, you will be one of many attending WTM. Thousands of exhibitors from over 180 countries and regions go to this mammoth event. And over the course of the three days, has more than 50,000 participants. It is easy to get lost among the crowd and have no clue how to get from Africa to Asia, so it would be advisable to go in with a plan. After signing up, you will have many opportunities to see who will also be in attendance, and if possible arrange a specific time to meet them. While there are many chances available to make the connections that will help you further your blog or business. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and try to see everyone. Having a focus will help you cut through the crowds and make the most of the World Travel Market.
Me with the Minority Nomad and Philwaukee
Wherever there are large gatherings of people, there are potential opportunities to be seized! People from different sides of the travel world all under one roof makes WTM the place to be every November. You can find new companies to collaborate with, have sit down chats with influencers to really solidify relationships. Or in the case of a newbie blogger like myself, actually meet up with other bloggers that you follow online! I was able to meet Erick, the Minority Nomad who I have already featured on my blog, as well as so many others! You are able to create new relationships with companies in London. Which is very useful, as you may not always have the funds to go on lots of trips. This is great for any London based bloggers like myself, as this enables you to build a good base right here at home.
The technology used during the event will help make your life so much easier. As most of the world will be in attendance, it is easy to miss important events. There was an app available to download, that helped you organise your World Travel Market calendar. You were able to connect with different businesses, see who was around you wherever you were at ExCeL. You could get invited to different events being hosted by exhibitors, so this allows you to prioritise and arrange your schedule accordingly. Plus there was free wifi available, so you could keep on top of your social media without annihilating your data plan over 3 days and hundreds of hashtags.
Access all areas!
Being a disabled travel blogger, accessibility is always on my mind whenever I am travelling. The World Travel Market is ideally located at the ExCeL Centre, reachable from 2 different DLR stations. You can use the Custom House entrance or Prince Regent entrance depending on whether you are an exhibitor or press. Both stations are fully wheelchair accessible and have lifts available. Inside the venue itself, there are plenty of accessible bathrooms and the layout makes it easy to navigate from place to place. There are many seats available so you don’t tire yourself out getting from one section to another. The ExCeL centre was definitely well thought out with accessibility in mind.
Dressed to impress with Rexy Edventures
After you have made new contacts, or had a sit down with a company, there are plenty of chances to see them informally. Different countries host small events or competitions at their stall, where you are able to win lots of prizes. But you can also get invited to parties outside of the World Travel Market and relax. During my first time, I went to an event hosted at the NY-LON lounge at the O2 by MADE Travel for IGLTA. It was a great opportunity to catch up with people I did not have formal appointments with and just talk. It’s a great way to meet different people without going through the formality of arranging a specific time, in case you are both booked.
I won some chocolate!
Everyone loves free stuff, right? Of course you do! The best things in life are free, after all! From the competitions I had mentioned above, to branded items, there is loads on offer at the World Travel Market. Some of the bigger prizes are trips to the exhibitors destination, or pens, mugs and portable power banks. Make sure not to take too many things on offer, as you will have to carry it all with you. And there is a lot of stuff to lug around all day. There were lots of food and drinks on offer throughout the day. So be sure to hit them up as you are on your game when you are not hungry. But there are many different options for food everywhere, so you will not go without. Be warned though, the queues can be incredibly long towards lunch time, so go before or after.
I had a great experience at my first World Travel Market, and I am ready for the WTM in 2017! Regardless of your travel plans, you should definitely keep it in your calendar as a must attend event.