World Travel Market (WTM): The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
This guide to WTM London is authored by PTBA Member Kerwin McKenzie.
I’d never heard of WTM before first attending in 2012. I had heard about it from another blogger; Gary Arndt I believe, whom I’d met at a travel conference. My eagerness to learn and meet new people drew me there.
I coupled the trip with a visit to my friends in London. As this conference is large, it was a bit daunting. There were a bunch of rules and the last thing you want to do is break them and become “that guy.” There was not a Guide I could find on how to behave, so I just played it safe and treated it just like how I traveled, which is just to take a peek around every corner and ask questions.
Three years on, I’m headed there again for more networking, learning and partying. If this is your first time here’s the Ultimate Guide to help you have a fantastic and productive World Travel Market.
Leave your home/hotel early so you start your day ontime at the Convention Center. The DLR (the train to get you there) will be packed. They have extra trains setup for the convention, but there are tons of people attending, so be prepared and give yourself extra time. Give yourself a goal to meet at least one new person on your commute each way each day. Let me know how that goes by leaving a comment below.
At the event itself, the rooms will fill up very quickly if the subject or the speakers are popular. Social media sessions are usually very packed. One year I had to camp out just to ensure that I get a place in the sessions.
It’s WTM, so you have to dress appropriately. It’s a business event, so dress to conduct business. If you do not dress for business, you will stand out and they do reserve the right to refuse you admittance. Oh, do wear very comfortable shoes as you will need them. There’s a lot of walking involved. The code of conduct is at http://www.wtmlondon.com/Content/Admission-Policy.
Use the Press Centre
As soon as I arrive I head to the Press Center; just follow the signs; you should too. You have to go here the first day anyway to pick up your Press packet. You can have a quick, usually complimentary breakfast, while heading to the Press Room that has all the Press releases as well as additional information that the vendors have made available. Say casual hellos as you browse. Soon you’ll recognize someone you met before, from online or make new friends.
Make no mistakes, you are there to network and networking you must do. I’ve found it effective to walk the floor between the sessions (more on sessions later) of which I have no interest or already know what they are talking about. Here you meet the Marketing and PR folks. If they are not around, ask when they will be and offer to come back. Usually, the gatekeepers will suggest a time for you to return. Honor that commitment, if not then say so right away. Tip: If the company is making a press announcement, then that’s one of the perfect times to meet them. They will be open to your questions of interest.
Attend The Press Day/Receptions
This is your day, so ensure that you are in attendance. Sadly, most bloggers do not attend the Press Conferences. The PR folks are in charge of these events, so its good to say hello, meet the decision makers and ensure that you make a good impression for contact later. Don’t be a hanger on, recognize that others are trying to get information for their stories and also doing the same thing you are. If they invite you to come back to the booth and chat, take them up on that. Also, if they have launch parties, they may mention it at the Press Conference or when you come back to the booth. It’s at these secondary events, that you really bond with the people you meet and see if there is a fit between you and the brand.
At the Press Receptions, they sometimes have photo opportunities. So you can get a chance to do a photo with a celebrity or a brand Ambassador. These can come in handy when writing a post later.
In addition to that, WTM has a special page dedicated to Photo Opportunities; just pick the event/person/food you’d like to meet – http://www.wtmlondon.com/page.cfm/Action=Seminar/libID=2/listID=46/t=m.
Study this page and attend the events that interest you – http://www.wtmlondon.com/Content/WTM-Media-Diary-of-Events-2014.
There is a list of all the Press Receptions at http://www.wtmlondon.com/page.cfm/Action=Seminar/libID=2/listID=48/t=m. It will be updated constantly so always check back.
It’s a great place to ask poignant questions, but don’t try to embarrass your hosts. You’ll be remembered, but for the wrong reason. If you have an issue with the brand, take it up with them later in private. They’ll appreciate it more.
You can also arrange interviews with the PR person if that is your angle.
Try The Exhibitors’ Cuisine
Speaking of cuisine. Don’t buy food at WTM. Just walk the floor and sample the international cuisine. Be genuine. Take photos with the folks in the booths, with the performers, of the food, the booth itself, etc. You never know when you need some images for a future blog post. The food aspect is a gem for any foodie blogger. Plus there’s also drinks usually in the evenings just before close of day.
Plans will change and you will have to adapt and go from one part of London to the next to make an appearance. This can be tiresome at times and sometimes costly (get a TravelCard or an Oyster card for the Tube). Just roll with the punches.
Check Out The Speed Dating Event
They do have speed dating, but I’m not a fan of this type of event. I can’t really connect with someone in such a short timeframe. Everyone is different though, so give it a try to see if it’s your cup of tea. Besides, it’s a good way to at least meet a brand in person. Go here – http://wtm.eventadv.com/blogspeednetworking-login.aspx for details and to sign up. You will need your Badge Number that was emailed to you when you first signed up. Plus there is a 48 GBP credit card hold to ensure that you show up for your appointments. If you no show then your card is charged. Your card is not charged initially.
Ensure that you check out this page if you’ve not already done so –http://www.wtmlondon.com/Content/WTM-for-Bloggers for all the blogger-related items.
Attend the Sessions
This is where it gets tough. Do I attend the sessions or do I visit the vendor booths? It’s a bit of both. Attend the sessions that surround social media topics and/or the sessions that talk about trends in travel. Or whatever interests you and your blogging niche. Here you’ll learn something new and meet the influencers in the travel industry.
Some sessions are really way out there, but the people you meet when you attend them are quite interesting.
There are a ton of different sessions, so find the ones that suits you the best. I love Travel Technology, so I try to lean to those. There are usually a number of Blogging sessions, find those and try to attend a few so you can meet other bloggers.
It is at some of these sessions where you will find out where the parties are.
This page is your personal friend – http://www.wtmlondon.com/Content/WTM-2014-Events-Programme.
Attend The Parties
Yes, it’s a travel conference, so there will be parties. These are held all over the city and also at the Convention Center. Some are by invitation only while others are announced on social media channels only. And some you only hear about when you attend a Press Conference or just happen to be walking by a vendor’s booth.
These are the ones I know of and can talk about at the moment :-).
- Caribbean Street Party – Wednesday 5 November 2014. Details at http://www.wtmlondon.com/Content/Caribbean-Street-Party-at-WTM.
- Professional Travel Bloggers Association – Tuesday 4 November, 2014 – Location: TBD
- Travel Massive – http://www.meetup.com/TravelMassive/. Not sure when is the WTM Party, but keep your ears peeled.
- Traverse – Friday 31 October, 2014 – Location: TBD Follow the #traversemingle hashtag. Watch this link for forthcoming details – http://on.fb.me/1vb1YyS.
- WTM Blogging Crew Facebook Group will have some details you can use. Join and check it out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1388995484676308/.
There is a ton more so keep your ears peeled during the conference and be flexible. Just ask any of the bloggers, “Is there a party tonight?”
Follow Brands on Social Media
Scout out your partners and ensure you follow them on their social media platforms. This way you can communicate with them as you visit the booths and also see what they are talking about as well.
So there you have it. Have a great time at WTM and please say hello if you see me walking the floors. It will be great to say hello.
Kerwin McKenzie helps travel bloggers to improve their online presence at www.travelblogger101.com. He is an ex-airline employee who provides travel solutions for travelers, primarily airline staff.