World Travel Market is one of the main events of the year for travel bloggers. Here are some top tips to help your visit to the show run smoothly
World Travel Market London is a massive trade show for the travel industry. 5000 exhibitors and 50,000 visitors will descend on the Excel centre in London for three days of networking, seminars and deal-making.
It’s also a great opportunity for bloggers and digital influencers to network, and make deals of their own. But if this is your first visit, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed. Here are some of my top tips for bloggers visiting World Travel Market this November.
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Planning Your Visit
Sign up for a media pass
This should be your first step because as a blogger, you can qualify for a media pass. If you don’t take advantage of this, you will be missing out, as the Monday session is only open to press and those with an invitation.
Mel from The Diary of a Jewellery Lover explains: “The media pass also gives you access to the International Media Centre. This is a lounge with a dedicated WiFi network, refreshments and a free cloakroom. They give out vouchers for free coffee and tea too, and it is a little oasis in the madness of it all.”
You’ll also get access to all of the press releases and information packs in the media centre. So it’s definitely a good idea to register for a media pass for World Travel Market.
Book your accommodation early
With an event as big as this, much of the accommodation near to the exhibition hall will be booked up quickly.
So try searching a little further away from Excel. For example, Greenwich can be a good location as the Emirates cable car runs from the O2 to near the Excel.
Sign up for Speed Networking
The application deadline for the 2017 event has already passed, but this is definitely one to bear in mind for next year.
A selected group of influencers are seated at individual tables, and exhibitors have the opportunity to go and talk to them. After 8 minutes, the influencers stay seated and the exhibitors move on to their next table. It’s fast paced, and can be a great opportunity if you get selected.
If this interests you, make sure to sign up early when the applications open next year (usually around September). But don’t worry if you don’t get in – there’s still plenty of opportunity to network at the show.
Complete your Profile on the WTM website
Sign in and update your profile on the WTM website, with your bio, links, and a brief description of what you are looking to get out of the show. Exhibitors will be able to see this information when you are setting up meeting requests.
Update your website, social media, and media kit
Make sure that all of your social media bios and profile pictures are up to date. Give your website a once over so that it looks its best, and make sure that your media kit is updated before the show. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression!
Make appointments – get to know the website
Take a good look around the WTM website and find all of the relevant features. You’ll find exhibitor details, can send messages and make meeting requests, and you’ll also find a diary of media events. Make a list of your favourite exhibitors, and send meeting requests to those you would like to speak to.
Plan your visit – but not too much
It’s a good idea to go to these kind of events with a plan in mind. Think about what your goals for next year are, and select countries and cities that you’d like to visit. But don’t make your plan too rigid, because you may find that you get invitations from exhibitors that you hadn’t expected.
There are also plenty of press conferences and seminars that you can attend, so take a look at the event schedule and add some of those to your plans.
Schedule in some free time
It can be tempting to send out meeting requests for every slot on the calendar. But remember that you will need to allow time to get from one stand to the next. World Travel Market is a big event!
Also, make sure that you have time to take breaks, get a drink, visit the loo. And you’ll also want to take time to just generally have a look around, make ad-hoc arrangements or take a break in the media centre.
What to take to World Travel Market
What to wear
Officially, the admission policy requires you to wear business attire. But if you are going as a blogger, there seems to be a little flexibility about this.
Choose business wear if that’s what you feel comfortable in, but it does seem to be acceptable to wear smart jeans. I found that the exhibition hall was really warm and ended up checking in my jacket every day.
You can use the free coat check at the press centre, but there may be a queue for this at the start and end of the day.
Make sure you wear comfortable flat shoes though, because you will be doing a LOT of walking!
What to take
Make sure you take plenty of business cards, and some printed media kits to hand out. It can also be useful to take a tablet with internet access, so that you can email over an electronic copy of your media kit. The WiFi in the show halls can be a bit hit and miss.
There are charging points available in the media centre, but demand may be high for these. It’s a good idea to take a battery pack for your phone so that you can charge on the move.
You’ll also pick up media packs, information and some freebies, so it’s a good idea to take a big bag that you can check in at the media centre. When you get some free time, you can pop back and drop things off so you don’t have to carry everything around all day.
Remember your Pass
Print your pass off in advance to save time when you get there. It’s possible to print it out at Registration, but you’ll save time if you print it off beforehand.
You’ll find your pass in your profile page on the World Travel Market website.
Other useful items
There are plenty of places to eat at Excel, but the queues can be long at the usual meal times. So it can be handy to have a couple of snacks with you that you can eat on the go. But don’t take chocolate, it will melt in the heat of the exhibition halls.
I always find that the air at these kind of events can be very drying. So it’s a good idea to take one or two small bottles of water with you, to help keep you hydrated. And I pop some paracetamol in my bag in case I get a headache.
At the Event
Prepare what you are going to say
You don’t need to remember a speech, parrot style. But think about what you are going to say to make yourself stand out.
Exhibitors are going to be very busy, so you need to get across why they should consider working with you. So try preparing a 30 second ‘elevator pitch’ so that if someone asks what you do, you have the answer ready.
Read up about the companies you are going to visit, and what their goals are for the next year. If they are promoting green tourism heavily, there’s little point going in with a pitch on luxury travel. But don’t over-prepare – be ready to listen to them on the day and adapt what you’re saying as necessary.
Take any opportunities to talk to people and get their details, you never know when they will be useful. Sometimes the most useful conversations happen in the queue for lunch or over a drink at the end of the day.
As well as talking to people face to face, don’t forget to post on social media. It’s a great way for other bloggers and exhibitors to find you, and also helps bloggers who couldn’t be there in person.
Find out the relevant hashtags and use them in your posts.
For World Travel Market London, follow @wtm_london on Twitter and use the hashtag #WTMLDN.
And on that note, make sure you have time for fun at World Travel Market. There are plenty of cocktail events, dinners, festivals and more for you to take part in. But remember that you are there as a professional…
Following up after WTM
Catch your breath
After three days of networking, meetings and entertainment, you’re likely to feel both physically and mentally tired.
So make sure to schedule a couple of quieter days after the event to let everything sink in and recuperate from all the walking.
Make sure you follow up on all of the meetings you had while you were at World Travel Market, and send over any information that you promised. If you’re really organised, you could do this on the evening of each day. But the exhibitors will be very busy as well during the show, so you’re probably OK to leave it til after the event.
And remember all those extra business cards and leaflets you picked up? Go through them and add the details to whatever kind of contact database you use. Send introductory emails to any that you would like to work with, and make a note of any you might want to follow up again.