Last week I had the privilege of attending the World Travel Market, which is undoubtedly the biggest travel and tourism exhibition of the year, held at the Excel Exhibition Centre in London. The entire world is gathered under one roof and you can essentially ‘travel’ from country to continent in minutes. Japan to Peru to Switzerland in 15 minutes? No problem!
The World Travel Market (WTM) is a business to business (B2B) event, with thousands of industry professionals attending, including tourism destination boards, tour operators, bloggers, trade industry professionals, buyers, airlines and students. The exhibition was spread over four days, however, I only attended two of these; Wednesday and Thursday.
I was lucky enough to apply for and be granted a press badge, which not only gave me entry into the exhibition for the full, four days, but I was also able to take full advantage of the press centre. This included being offered free tea/coffee as well having access to press releases, and the WTM photo library. As a WTM ‘newbie’, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had undertaken lots of research on the WTM website prior to heading down to London but despite my research nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming scale of the event. For starters, the Excel is huge! I mean it’s served by two DLR stations (part of the tube network), not to mention how many people actually attend. Being a B2B event, industry professionals and bloggers are primarily there to carry out business meetings and network.
Although I attended mainly for an educational perspective, I was eager to speak to as many tourism boards, tour operators and bloggers as possible. As a student and a small blogger, it was easy for me to feel like a little fish in an ocean of tourism destination experts and bloggers, and ultimately feel a bit apprehensive trying to push my name out into the sea. These nervous feelings were demolished instantly, and over the two days I attended, I was able to network and socialise with so many lovely people who work in different sectors of the tourism industry.
Being at the WTM was an amazing educational experience, especially being a student. I mean, being offered the opportunity to sit down with leading professionals from a tourism board, and have them tell and show incredible things about their country is just, wonderful. Each country stand was beautifully decorated and designed, and had special treats/ cultural information unique to the specific country, such as being able to have some Henna done in India or Dubai, making a postcard in Korea, and visiting Hogwarts Platform 9 3/4 in the UK!
There was an abundance of seminars and press conferences that took place across the four days, focusing on different aspects of tourism, including social media, responsible tourism and trends in tourism. I attended two conferences but the one I was most interested in, (and which I think you will be most interested in), was the ITT Future You Conference. It’s a must for any tourism student wanting to gain advice about careers in the industry! Following on from this awesome presentation, which included speakers from different tourism organisations including Hilton Worldwide, Blue Chip Holidays and STA Travel, all those who attended the conference had the opportunity to network with these tourism organisations.
If any of you guys follow UCB’s Tourism page on Twitter or Facebook, you might have noticed UCB are hosting an ITT Future You roadshow on the 16th Feb 2016 – this is an exciting opportunity for all tourism students (write it in your diary)!! Keep an eye on UCB’s social media pages and the ITT Future You website for future updates.
The highlight for me though, was the WTM festivals! On Wednesday evening, 7 countries put on a festival of culture, fun, food and music! I just had to go and party in the Caribbean and the Philippines! It was the most fun. Everyone was dancing away in their business attire, sampling local cuisine, drinking fruit punch and loving the music. I went back to the hostel with such a buzz! I’ve included some of the highlights, in the video…
The two days I spent at the WTM were incredible, I’m so glad I wore flat shoes as heels would probably have murdered my feet, after all it’s hard to be a globetrotter in heels!
Hope you have a wonderful week.