From 7 - 9 November 2016, more than 50,000 travel industry professionals will descend upon ExCeL London for World Travel Market – the leading global event in the travel industry. Many of those who attend are from the tour and activity sector, so if you’re looking to grow and develop your business it’s an event you should consider attending.
For those of you who are going, since we’ve attended this event numerous times, we’ve got lots of tips to share (ten in fact!)
1. Make sure you’re aware of changes to WTM 2016
For years World Travel Market has been a four-day event, beginning on the first Monday in November and ending four days later on Thursday evening. Things are changing in 2016 though – this year's WTM is a three-day event and will end on Wednesday evening.
While this means a shorter show, on the flip side each day has been extended. In years gone by the last date for a meeting was 5pm, but this year you can schedule meetings in until 7pm.
2. Let people know you’re attending
While there’s a conference throughout the event, the main reason tour and activity operators attend World Travel Market is for business meetings. If nobody knows you’re attending though, it’s very difficult to set those meetings.
To ensure your calendar is filled to the brim with meetings at WTM, let people know you’ll be there by announcing it on social media, sending out an email to your contacts, adding it to your email signature, telling them on phone conversations and more.
3. Bring lots of business cards
Even though we live in a world where almost everything is done online (networking included), WTM is all about face-to-face interaction. This will be with people you already have an existing relationship with, but also those you don’t. For those first-time meetings, you’ll need business cards. Make sure you’re stocked up on them before you go.
4. Plan your meetings in advance…
Since you’re going to have a lot of business meetings, you’re going to need to structure your days well. To do this you’ll need a pretty tight calendar. Begin planning your meetings now and get your half-hour/one-hour slots filled up.
5. …but also leave time for adhoc meetings
Even though WTM is huge, it’s substantially smaller than some of the world’s other travel shows like ITB Berlin. This makes wandering through the different sections (Europe, Global Village, Middle East etc) much more manageable. As a result, calling up to a stand to speak to somebody you think there could be opportunities with is something that you could find yourself doing.
Just make sure to leave those one-hour windows each day in the hope of speaking to whomever you are looking to speak to.
6. Use ‘MyEvent’ and the WTM app
WTM has two online offerings which are extremely useful over the event’s three days. The first is MyEvent, the place to begin connecting and engaging with people in the industry before the event. Here you can reach and source potential business partners. Search and engage with visitors and exhibitors, plan and schedule your meetings and, select your favourite seminars and conferences before arriving at WTM London.
The latter is WTM’s official app. At time of writing it was unavailable in my iTunes Store (Ireland), but once it’s available closer to the event you’ll be able to do all the above on your smartphone.
7. Plan your route to ExCeL London
ExCeL London is in East London, in a part of the city that isn’t served by the Tube or train. Instead you need to take the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) service to get there. If you want to travel there direct on the DLR, you need to board a train bound for Beckton from Tower Hill station. If you board a DLR at another station you’ll need to change at some station prior to the ExCeL.
8. Check the schedule to block out times to attend talks
Take a look at WTM’s events programme and you’ll see there are talks covering everything from aviation to women in travel. Take a look at the calendar of events to see if there are any talks in particular you’d like to attend. If there are some you don’t want to miss, block out those times for meetings so you don’t double book.
9. Buy your lunch early!
Every day between 12.30pm and 1.30pm every food vendor along the main concourse has one thing in common – an extremely long queue. To avoid spending a lot of time in these queues, buy your lunch early.
10. Leave time for the informal networking also!
As with every trade show, a lot of business is done over a cold drink in a far more informal setting. To ensure you’ve got the opportunity to be involved in those situations, make sure you leave your calendar open for any drinks receptions that might be taking place.
Do you have any other tips for preparing for WTM this year?
We're going to be there too! Meet us at our stand or set up a meeting with us.
Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.