Having attended my very first WTM when I was just ten years old, I’ve got a good few decades of experience to call upon when it comes to surviving the leading global travel trade show.
Here are just a few of the travel tips that my travel expert mum instilled in me from an early age:
• DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Every year I marvel at the people who say “I’m just going to head to ExCel to see who’s there”. Given the size of the event, it’s little wonder these are the same folk who usually tell me a few days later they didn’t get much out of the show. Last year’s WTM attracted some 100,000 travel professionals, most of whom had already scheduled in meetings, agreed to attend events or planned to listen to one of the show’s many presentations. So, whilst you might bump into some familiar faces, chances are they’ll be on their way to meet someone else.
• DON’T OVER-PROMISE: The most ambitious attendees arrive with a diary crammed with back-to-back appointments that fail to take into account the fact that it can sometimes take a good 10-15 minutes to walk between them. If you can, group those meetings regionally so it’s easier to make your way around the world (so to speak).
• DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Like most exhibition halls, ExCel has an uncanny ability to have a microclimate completely at odds to the weather outside. Don’t be fooled by the frost on your way in – it’s going to be positively Caribbean indoors by the end of the day. And make sure those shoes were made for walking – each hall is 1km long, so your Fitbit will have a field day.
• DON’T OVER-INDULGE: With so many enticing invitations to on-stand gatherings and travel-related soirees, it can be all too easy to be swept up by the networking merriment. But, as an old colleague learned the hard way early on in her career, a few hours of over-excitement the night before can ruin a full day of business-critical plans.
• ENJOY IT: Travel is such a vibrant industry, full of passionate people and endless opportunities, that WTM is – for me – a wonderful reminder of the incredible potential out there. Whilst I usually end the week physically tired after an action-packed few days meeting with clients, media and industry friends, I’m always emotionally recharged and raring to put everything discussed into practice.
If you’re reading this on your way to the show perhaps we’ll see you there. Otherwise, if you don’t make it along this time, these tips will hopefully ensure you’re all set for next year.
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