This year WTM went virtual, here’s what we learnt from our most popular sessions

This year WTM went virtual, here’s what we learnt from our most popular sessions

Ideas Arrive Here

It’s fair to say that at the beginning of 2020, we could not have foreseen WTM going fully virtual for the first time in our history. While tuning in from our home offices or living spaces was a huge contrast to the bustling atmosphere of the ExCel on show days, we were pleased to see the same enthusiasm for WTM shared across social media as everyone took part in panels and meetings.

Close to 20,000 meetings took place during WTM Virtual, and our sessions were viewed by 10,000 people across the three days. Some of our most popular sessions created a buzz across social media, so here’s the key lessons we learnt about the future of travel from our top five sessions:

Your 2021 Vision

Marcus Murphy, CEO of The Five Percent, hosted this session and the speakers gave attendees an insight into their marketing plans for 2021, and their advice for standing out of the crowd once travel restrictions ease once again. The session was viewed by more than 700 people during the event, and some of the key quotes from the session include:

“2020 will be behind us soon and now is the time to plan. Vision is all about planning – so take a second and consider whether you’re building something that will lead to your vision.” – Marcus Murphy, CEO of The Five Percent

“If you’re talking about a strategy going into the next year, we need to accept that this is the new normal, and what are we going to do about it? …We need to step back and ensure that your foundation is strong and be sensitive to what people are looking for… we need to ensure that the message is right.” – Lavinia Dsouza, Business Consultant at Continent Hop

“The silver lining from where we’ve been is that the consumer we get back is a much more educated and empathetic customer” – Ant Stone, Director of Marketing at G Adventures

“The world is seeing what life is like without travel. That is a great thing, it gives us chance to reset and work out what’s important” – Josh Collins, Head of Community at Entrada Insights

Accelerating Travel Innovation After Coronavirus

We always enjoy hearing Euromonitor’s insights during WTM London. Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International, shared some interesting data on people’s willingness to travel during their session at WTM Virtual. Nearly 800 people tuned into their session, and some of the key takeaways were:

  • 76% of consumers are expected to be more concerned with sustainability post-coronavirus
  • 54% of global consumers are interested in adventure travel in 2020 – a 3% increase on 2019
  • Domestic tourism can be the buffer for countries while we experience this drop in international travel

Caroline concluded by saying: “We’ve been unchained from the past. We have this amazing chance to reset – particularly with over-tourism”

One to one interview with Ryanair Group CEO, Michael O’Leary

Michael O’Leary doesn’t hold back when it comes to opinions on the aviation industry, and his interview with John Strickland on day 2 of WTM Virtual was definitely one of our most lively sessions! 500 people tuned in to hear him speak, and he provided some great thoughts on how the industry needs to adapt to survive the impacts of COVID-19:

“None of us have any experience working through a global pandemic. We were grounded for 4 days after 9/11 and got back in the air pretty quickly, nothing prepared us for this” – Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair

“It will take a long time for pricing to recover, but travel volume will come back quickly” – Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair

“I believe there are multiple vaccines in final testing, so there will be a wave of them coming to us and available to high risk groups in Q1. That provides some optimism for summer 2021” – Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair

“In this industry, pricing wins” – Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair

Content Creators Summit

We hosted our first Content Creators Summit at London Travel Week in partnership with the BCMA and Traverse. During the event we announced the winners of the Pitch Influence 2020 competition and had two incredible panels about how to connect with travel brands for partnerships in 2021 and how to define your niche. Some of the key quotes from the sessions were:

“Post-COVID we’re going to see an educated consumer base that wants to know how influencers make their money” – Erick Prince, Content Creator at Minority Nomad

“For me, it’s about riding trend waves. Keep your ear to what’s going viral and see how you can relate to those trends” – Kelsey Heinrichs, Content Creator at Kelsey in London

If you’re wondering what to do in 2021, look at the destinations you’ve already been to and get in touch” – Amy Skelding, Senior Partner at Brighter Group

“Pandemic or no pandemic, the future is still great storytelling. Be nice, be kind and listen. We need to listen more than ever before” – Kash Bhattacharya, Content Creator at The Budget Traveller

Racism in Tourism

When it comes to tourism, it’s important that diversity and inclusion are a prominent part of the conversation. How do local communities benefit from tourism to their areas? Are black travellers included in marketing materials? What can be done to make plus-size people more comfortable on flights? These important topics, and more were discussed in our Racism in Tourism session, as part of the Responsible Tourism programme. Here’s some of the most impactful quotes:

“The Muslim market is complex. It’s about educating the stakeholders at large brands to cater to all communities” – Fazal Bahardeen, CEO at CrescentRating

“Plus sized people should have representation across more brands, on social media & websites. Transparency is important now more than ever” – JacqueRae Hill, Flight Attendant at Southwest Airlines

“Unconscious bias in our industry is so critical. When are leaders in board meetings going to realise they’re bias?” – Keith Henry, President and CEO at Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

“Diversity & Inclusion has to be part of your everyday. Today’s traveller is woke” – Uwern Jong, Experientalist in Chief at Out There Magazine

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