WTM London 2015 ended on a high, with speed networking for buyers and a separate session for bloggers setting the tone for a busy final day.
Speed networking is one of WTM’s most successful innovations to date. Exhibitors and buyers from different regions used the sessions to make international connections.
Alamgir M Pathan, Director of Tours and Planning, ISCRA India Tour Operator (India), said: “Speed Networking ensures we can reach the right people. We identified the Philippines as one of our target markets and I’ve agreed two deals in that region, so I am very happy.”
Speed networking also allows niche UK-based attractions to talk to a global audience. Jane Chivers, New Business Coordinator, Spinnaker Tower (Portsmouth), said: “This is my company’s first time exhibiting at WTM and we’ve met a range of high-calibre international buyers that we would not connect with otherwise.”
The concept of speed networking was expanded last year to give bloggers and interested tourism boards and suppliers the chance to connect. Haruna Ishikawa, Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau said: “We are looking at bloggers for a 2016 promotion because we feel we need to do more exposure on the internet and we’re trying to promote our cultural side more – so this event is working very well for me.”
Florian Wude, Sixt car rental added. “We’re already working with bloggers, but only within Spain, so I’m here because I want to work with those from other countries to increase business to Spain.”
Furthermore, in a separate session, tourist boards considering using bloggers to market their destination were advised not to rush into a campaign. Former Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, who is now CEO of marketing agency Destinate, said: “It is important to have a strategy and a plan. Allocate some real money to it…understand who your audience is and then work in a very close relationship with the experts and understand what your vision is.”
During the session, blogger and iambassador Chief Operating Officer Melvin Boecher said the world’s top 50 travel bloggers now reach an audience of 10.6 million.
But Toit-Helmbold countered: “Stats are nice but engagement is key. It’s important that it results in more business – more bums on seats.”
WTM highlights niche, specialist travel sectors and the combination of responsible travel and food sourcing is gaining traction. In a session about this entitled “Can You Taste the Difference?” delegates heard how tourism and hospitality can link with producers in sustainable projects that are mutually beneficial.
For example, The Travel Foundation’s Taste of Fethiye in Turkey has helped farmers gain 50% of their local income from hotel sales and tourist excursions while Hilton has started producing menus that enable farmers to plant crops in a more sustainable way.
While working with bloggers and sustainable practice are a relatively new part of the industry, family holidays are an established part of the business. A conference arranged by Holiday Matters, an industry organisation committed to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to benefit from breaks away from home, heard that offering subsidised off-peak breaks for disadvantaged families would help the overall industry.
“What if we could give tourism businesses an extra reason for staying open beyond the summer season, what an impact that would have. Seasonality has a direct negative impact on employment, transport and infrastructure development,” said Visit Scotland’s international partnerships/ EU engagement manager Lee McRonald.
Visit Scotland is backing a pilot scheme to enable disadvantaged families to take free day trips in 2016.
About World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM London, now in its 36th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM 2014 will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
World Travel Market Events
World Travel Market is comprised of the leading leisure travel events in the world; World Travel Market London, WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo, WTM Africa in Cape Town and Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
New events for 2016 are WTM connect Asia and WTM connect China, which join WTM connect Ski and International Golf Travel Market. These unique one-to-one events are targeted at leisure and niche travel markets, allowing exhibitors to exclusively meet with elite hosted buyers.
The World Travel Market events are attended by the global travel and tourism industry’s senior executives to conduct business deals and discover the latest research, insight and opinion.
In 2014, the World Travel Market events facilitated around $7 billion in industry deals from negotiations between the more than 15,000 buyers, 9,500 exhibitors (1,500 main stand holders and 8,000 stand sharers) in attendance of its four events.
WTM is part of Reed travel Exhibitions, the leading events organizer in the travel industry, and is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions.
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with over 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together over seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.