World Travel Market (WTM) London is now just around the corner, with the show starting on 5 November at the ExCel centre.
For the few people that don’t know, WTM one of the largest travel industry events in the world, with over 50,000 people attending the three day exhibition.
There are thousands of brands, destinations and agencies present, from national tourism boards to small independent hotels. The show also has a fantastic seminar programme, networking events, press conferences, launches and so much more. Oh, and it’s completely free to attend too.
This year will be the fourth year Traverse have been a partner of WTM, we’ll be running a series of seminars including two on the Global Stage, the Influencer Speed Networking on Wednesday morning and of course our Traverse Mingle party on 2 November.
One thing is for sure about WTM; the first time you walk in it’s daunting. There are not many shows that compare to it in scale. Some stands are three stories, with their own conference areas, bars and even restaurants. However, as big and intimidating as WTM can be, it’s also a fantastic few days, there is a huge energy inside the exhibition, with thousands of people buzzing around, taking meetings, having coffee (and beer), catching up with old friends and generally exploring.
What I have personally learned (this will be my eight WTM London) is that you need to head into WTM prepared. Walking through an exhibition like this one without any plan feels like you’re just strolling past opportunities all day.
With this in mind, I thought it would make sense to share some points that I have learned, as well as those from some influencers and brands that have done it all before. So, in no particular order, here are XX tips for World Travel Market London.
1. Have a good breakfast
Yes, I realise that a lot of these are based around food, but these are all important tips. Make sure to get a good meal in you before you hit the ExCel floor. Not only will it set you up for the day, but you’ll keep your energy levels high and not become hangry when you’re stuck behind people walking at snail’s pace when you need to fly across the exhibition. I personally like to get to The ExCel an hour or so early and grab a nice sandwich from The Fox (the pub next to the centre).
2. Make sure you have business cards
This may sound obvious, but too often at WTM have people mentioned about how they have run out of, or forgotten, business cards. Make sure to get them printed well in advance and take a good amount on each day. You’ll kick yourself if you end up needing one and not having it.
3.Prepare a simple media kit
Have a one page in colour media kit that you can give at meetings along with your business card – canva have done good templates – it may take you a while to follow up after the event so it gives the people you meet some useful info about you in the meantime so they can remember who you are.
Heather Cowper, https://www.heatheronhertravels.com
4. Don’t expect to have too many walk-up meetings
This may sound negative, but many people on stands don’t have time to see influencers (or anyone really) who just walks up. But that is not to say approaching stands cold is a bad idea at all. My advice is to ask for the card of the relevant person (stands usually have a front desk where cards are kept) and then email them after, a few weeks after ideally. Of course, sometimes the right person is right there and does have time to chat, which is great.
5. Wear comfortable shoes
This tip was sent in by so many people and is probably the first thing I advise people. At WTM you cover some serious distance, I was doing 25,000+ steps a day last year and my colleague tracked 15km of walking on the Monday. Wear shoes you’re comfortable with, don’t worry too much what they look like, nobody will judge you!
6. Book meetings in advance
You don’t need to have lots of meetings booked, but when there are people you’re really interested in meeting then it makes sense to try and contact them well in advance and set a proper time. You can do this through email (if you know people already) or over the WTM website, has features on it to contact people and a calendar to plan your event. Which leads us on to…
7. Try to book your meetings by geographical order
The halls and stands at WTM are set up by geographical region (aside from some tech brands) so it makes sense to try and plan meetings with those stands close to each other. For example, meet African countries and companies back to back. Then the same with South American countries. That way you don’t have to run from one hall to another.
Paul Faruggia, http://globalhelpswap.com
8. Really think about who you want to work with and why
At first, it’s just great getting a meeting and you’re like “yes, I’m speaking to Tahiti about travelling there.” Then you realise after about 5 minutes in to the meeting that you don’t actually want to travel there and that the meeting is a waste of everyone’s time. Also, come up with a plan of *how* you can work together – don’t just say “so I’m thinking of travelling to X and we should work together”, so how and why, prove your worth.
Macca Sherifi, http://anadventurousworld.com
9. Pace yourself
WTM is exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s a great opportunity to network and do business. Try not to overdo it during the day or evening at the beginning of the week and you’ll have energy to get through it all.
Julie Falconer, https://www.aladyinlondon.com
10. Plan your lunch break
This one I seem to remember, then forget every single year. WTM can be non stop, but you’ll need time to get some food. Luckily there are no shortage of places to eat at the ExCel or even in places near by (The Fox, for example). You just need to remember to plan 30-45 minutes into your day to get some much needed food.
11. Be prepared for confusing meetings
Don’t be surprised if someone invites you to a meeting and then has no idea why. Always do your research in advance and don’t expect the meeting to have a defined purpose – be prepared to bring the purpose yourself.
Laurence Norah, http://findingtheuniverse.com
12. Don’t be afraid to wrap up a meeting early
Don’t scared tie up a meeting quickly when you know a partnership isn’t going to work. All too often we feel we have to sit through long meetings (which can end up being rehearsed sales pitches and not because they want to specifically work with your brand in particular) when we know our time is better spent. Being honest and upfront professionally can save a lot of time and avoid ‘empty’ follow-ups.
Becki Enright, http://boardersofadventure.com
13. Fill in your profile on the WTM website before you start booking meetings
This way the brands you are setting appointments with will know that you are a travel blogger and not a buyer, and you have more chances to meet with the right person from their marketing department.
Joanna Davis, http://theworldinmypocket.co.uk
14. Read up on the seminar schedule before booking meetings
There are many seminars and talks that run alongside the WTM exhibition, so make sure to read up on this schedule and allocate any time that you may want to attend some of the sessions. As mentioned before, Traverse are running five seminars this year and there are many others that will be useful to brands and influencers alike.
15. Sign up for as many influencer events as you can
If you are a (new) blogger, look out for notifications and invites for events both on the stands and during the evening. You’ll meet PRs/DMOs and other bloggers in an informal setting and simply connect as people (without just trying to sell yourself), chances are you will make much better connections and those makes it easier to follow up/pitch and get invites/work in general.
Nienke Krook, http://www.thetraveltester.com
16. Leave some free time
While it’s great to have some meetings booked in, I would would advise to make sure you keep some time spare when there are no meetings booked. At WTM you always want to be able to wander around a bit, maybe attend a drink you didn’t know about (see the next tip!) or just walk up to a few stands. I like to have an hour or two per day when i can do this, usually in the morning then towards the end of the day as well, although no time is bad at WTM.
17. Keep your ear to the ground for on-stand events
Ok, so this may be *slightly* more social than business related, but nobody said WTM shouldn’t be fun. Many of the stands at WTM have small events to show off their destination or brand. Keep an eye out for these, they are usually good fun and you can make some great contacts while you’re there.
18. If you’re an influencer, join the WTM Influencer Group on Facebook
This group was started several years back now by Paul Faruggia (who left a tip above) and it’s a great resource for influencers who are attending the exhibition. Make sure to send a request to join in advance of the event, there will be posts about on-stand drinks, breakfast meetings, general coffee catch ups and loads more.
19. Make use of the Media Centre
It’s a place to sit down, have meetings, and socialise, and it has a cloakroom, a cafe and a stash of press releases and info for you to pick up if you want to. And yes you’re allowed in there as an influencer.
Gretta Schifano, https://mumsdotravel.com
20. Snacks and water are your friends
Ok, so I mentioned about making time to break for lunch, but equally important is making sure you have snacks and water on you. Walking all day and being on your feet means you’ll be hungry and thirsty. You’ll definitely be thankful for that Mars Bar at 1130 as you stroll between meetings. Don’t worry if you forget to bring these though, you can buy what you need at The ExCel.
21. Layers, and prepare for the evening
Wear layers. Some halls are freezing while you’ll get warm running from one appointment to the other. Bring deodorant and possibly some makeup to go straight from WTM to an after-event.
Sophie Couwenbergh, WonderfulWanderings.com
22. Know your own limitations
If you aren’t the outgoing extrovert and don’t like talking to people, then WTM will zap you harder than say someone who’s naturally a chatterbox people person. Find a coping mechanism that works for you, like staggering your meetings to allow you to catch your breath and find your zen. It’s ok if you need to hide for 20 mins to gather yourself before going back out for more. It’s incredibly taxing on some people.
Roma Small, http://roamingrequired.com
23. The Cable Car
Use the Emirates Cable car to get there, it’s quick, free with your WTM ticket and the views are great.
Catherine Boardman, https://culturalwednesday.co.uk
24. Take photos of business cards
Although you may collect and not lose any cards, it’s never a bad idea to snap a quick photo when you get a new card. This way you have a backup that won’t go anywhere if you lose the hard copy.
25. Portable chargers for the win
Whether you use a phone or tablet, you’ll be on it for much of the day. Bring a fully juiced up charger with you if. If you don’t have one already, make sure you hit up Amazon (other retailers are available) before November.
There are so many more bits of advice that would be great for WTM, and I’ll try and do a follow up to this post a week or so before the exhibition begins with some last minute advice and some tips for those that are not as prepared as they wanted to be.
Bonus WTM Material
We spoke to World Travel Market’s Paul Nelson last year to get the low down on how to be prepared for WTM from a influencer and blogger point of view.
There is no doubt that WTM week is a tough one, days are long, you get both physically and mentally exhausted and you grow very tired of running the same two minute drill to summarise what you do.
But ask any influencer out there and they’ll tell you the same thing, WTM is a fun week, and not one to miss.
See you in London.
Michael is a co-funder and director Traverse and has involved in marketing and events for the past nine years. Outside of Traverse he runs a football team, travels often and spends too much time with his dog.