Making the most of World Travel Market
By Helen Ochyra
Do the very letters W, T and M have you burying your head in your laptop? Do you always feel like you haven’t really achieved anything, despite wearing out your soul and your soles pounding the floors of the Excel centre? Or perhaps you’ve never quite worked up the energy to get there at all, assuring yourself that you aren’t really missing anything?
Yes, WTM can be exhausting. It can suck up the whole first week of November and spit you out with nothing but a bagful of pointless press packs to show for the ride.
But it can also be lucrative. It can bring you new work, help you in setting up trips and give you ideas and inspiration for the future. It covers some 186 countries and attracts 5,000 exhibitors and generates £2.2billion in industry deals. We as journalists are just a small part of that. But we are an integral one, and if you attack the event in the right way, you will find it useful. Promise!
Here are my top tips for getting the best out of it:
Register in advance
You can do this online here and print your entry badge out before you get there. Then just pick up a lanyard and sale through the Prince Regent entrance without queueing.
It can take a while to get to the Excel centre during the show so don’t plan any appointments too early in the day. The show opens each day at 10am but I’d recommend scheduling your appointments from 11am onwards to allow time to get there – and get coffee – first.
Avoid the cloakroom queue (at both ends of the day) by not bringing any extra bags with you and wearing a light jacket that you can carry around with you. Bring a small bottle of water but don’t bother with food, there’s plenty of that available on the stands.
For press, Monday is best. The show is quieter because it is invitation only, making the floor clearer and easier to negotiate. In my experience too, the most high profile people attend early in the week and don’t bother returning later. Tuesday is workable but forget Wednesday and Thursday.
Even if you live in London, getting a hotel is a good idea. Stay as close as possible to save on travel time and plan for some late nights too as there are numerous evening events throughout WTM. You won’t see anyone not in the industry for a couple of days – treat it like a press trip.
Plan plan plan
The stands are spread over an area the size of more than nine football pitches but mercifully they are arranged by geographical area. So plan to visit all European destinations or all your Asian contacts one immediately after the other. Once you have your appointments confirmed print off a schedule including all stand numbers and contact phone numbers – you’re bound to be running later at least once.
Plenty of destinations host sit-down lunches on-site and these are worth their weight in canapés. A proper meal and the chance to sit down? Trust me, there’s nothing more luxurious once it hits 1pm on the Monday. Ask PRs if they have any lunches planned as you set up your appointments and choose the most useful so you can pick up worthwhile info while you eat.
Put it down
That glossy press pack? Don’t even think about it. You don’t want to carry any extra weight on the long slog up and down the floor or out to your evening events, so ask for a USB drive or for information to be emailed.
Don’t hit the bottle
The free drinks flow at WTM, but don’t peak too soon. We’ve all been there, dragging ourselves onto the DLR with a hangover, but few of us would seek to repeat the experience. It’s not worth it for that extra glass of champagne – just don’t remind me of that at the Savoy on the Sunday!