I wonder how many thousand words have been written about the World Travel Market? Are my thoughts about it even relevant to this blog?
Well, yes and no. Given that you probably read this blog to find about the Canary Islands or other places from one perspective or another, then perhaps no; but given that blogs are personal things, not dry or over-effusive magazine articles, then perhaps, yes.
The World Travel Market is important to travel writers, and that’s the category into which I arrogantly lump myself now, because it gives destinations the opportunity to sell themselves……though one has to sympathize with Iraq and Libya, talk about an uphill task! Equally, you have to wonder why some places bother to attend given that they are so popular anyway. I had my doubts, though, was this really the best place for someone with wanderlust and no real income?
I quite like being a fly on the wall, so it didn’t bother me that I hadn’t lined up appointments beforehand (took me all my time to arrange planes and trains!), I was just there, last minute, to get a feel and see what I might have in store for the future. If I go again it won’t be the same. As with all first experiences there was a sense of wonder and being completely overwhelmed on several levels.
First the scale of it – the last event I went to at Excel was for the London Marathon, and was, I think, less than half the size of WTM. Entering Excel, blushing proudly as I showed my press pass – though still feeling at the back of my mind that someone was going to denounce me as a fraud, and rip it from around my neck – was a cross between entering Penn Station at rush hour and Carnaval. Thanks goodness I was with my friend, Katrina, from TourAbsurd, who guided me quickly to the press area! People in fancy dress shuffled by the guys in business suits, there was that excited hum which reminded me of a race track, and even at that early hour it was clear that a cup of coffee was unlikely!
I have this crazy thing where I like to be comfortable to enjoy my food, so eating anything there was out of the question given that the tables were always full and the queues never-ending. That said, I was lucky to attend a couple of press breakfasts, one with St Kitts & Nevis and the other with Ft Myers/Sanibel which were absolutely delicious and set me up for the rest of the day……. and neither of those mentions were requested btw…….I was genuinely impressed by both……stoked my wanderlust!
Not to drone on – other impressions:
Just a Drop: The first stand as one entered occupied by this NGO started by Fiona Jeffrey who runs WTM. I hadn’t heard of them, but they do similar work to Charity Water and Water. Excellent, excellent stuff and it lifted my spirits as a first experience of an event where I was expecting lots of hard sell. I’ll be following them in future.
Utterly childish thrill to be there when Universal Studios announced their new ride, opening next summer – Transformers – wow but that brought back some cool memories from when my kids were young! How tickled would they have been back then that I could say I’d been five feet away from Optimus Prime?!
Too much paper. Couldn’t help wondering how many trees had been sacrificed to produce all those maps, booklets and pamphlets we were handed as we arrived. None seemed to be on recycled paper, and lots ended up trampled under foot or in bins.
Big differences in the way stands were presented between the old hands and the newer destinations, and the more experienced ones weren’t necessarily the better, often, presumably, not having to sell so much, preferring to chat among themselves rather than with passers-by.
Only one of the sessions stood out for me, everything else, whether it was about sustainable travel, social media or WTM itself seemed to be largely waffle, statistics or expectations, just not “real” somehow……the sustainable travel one was especially disappointing. I was expecting some ideas for solving the problems we face, not just a repetition of what those problems are. We’ve seen most of them coming for years. It isn’t news. Granted I couldn’t attend all the stuff I wanted to, some things clashed on time, but didn’t come away feeling that I’d learned very much.
The session which stood out was the “Best Practice in Travel Blogging” white paper , which was articulately and professionally presented. Blogging is a constantly-changing new way of communication, and the TBU White Paper attempts to explain to the industry what bloggers can offer, and how they might be used. I was glad I’d popped back on the last day to hear about it.
All in all, blisters (there is a dress code, so I had to wear “proper” shoes!) and an irritating cough aside, it fascinated me. I didn’t do nearly as much as I could have, or would have another time, either business-wise or socially. Social events, whilst I was thrilled to meet folk I’d only met online before, were awful noisy and what with the sore throat they became difficult. Still, veery interesting. New ideas. New ways of looking at things. Some great experiences and interactions. Next year, I suppose, if I’m there it will be because the write/travel thing has become more important to me, and the event itself won’t be worth a blog post. Bit like travel itself really, the novelty is fascinating and fun. Just wish they’d cut down on the paper.
During our week in London Katrina & I stayed in a delightful apartment in Hackney, arranged through HomeAwayUK, whom I would definitely use again without a doubt. Our stay was so much easier on account of the facilities and ease of travel this apartment supplied!