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The World Travel Market in London is one of the largest travel summits in the world, attended by hundreds of travel organizations, tour companies, hotels, etc. If it has to do with travel, it is likely being represented at the WTM. If you’re planning on attending the World Travel Market, you’ll need a few tips on how to tackle it.
Many travel bloggers attend in hopes of setting up partnerships and collaborations with the various companies and tourism boards. If you’re in the travel industry as a blogger or influencer, you might find it important to attend in order to stay on top of travel trends and find your own collaborations. However, do keep in mind that this event is not geared toward bloggers or toward forming business partnerships. It is more about the dissemination of information.
The World Travel Market is enormous and navigating it can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers. It’s not particularly easy or comfortable to cold approach companies, even if they are all under one roof at a massive event geared toward networking and information sharing. Once you see the trade floor, you may be stopped in your tracks. It’s enormous, and more than a little intimidating.
We’re going to show you lots of ways to tackle the WTM event in London and make the most of your time there with 20 top tips from bloggers who have attended the event.
Introduction to the World Travel Market
The World Travel Market event is designed to introduce destinations and travel trends to those in the travel industry. Tourism boards and travel companies set up enormous booths with creative concepts, activities and tons of information about their destinations. Then PR companies, travel agents, and travel bloggers wander the booths, getting to know what exciting things those destinations have to offer.
The show is broken up into regions: Asia, Europe, Americas… Once you go into a region, there are huge stands representing a particular area. For instance, within the Americas was the United States, then New York, then New York City, then New York City hotels, New York City tours, etc.
Many of the stands have one main desk with representatives sharing pamphlets and information about the destination. Behind the main desk are dozens of little cubicles or desk spaces for each of the companies in attendance for that area.
Figuring out how to approach the various representatives of a region you’re interested in is your mission.
10 Best Tips for Bloggers Attending WTM
In order to help you avoid the awkwardness and general sense of confusion we felt on the first day, I have put together a few tips to help you prepare. You’ll also find tips below from fellow bloggers who have attended the event.
1. Register for Speed Networking
Don’t miss the registration window for blogger speed networking. If you want companies to come to you instead of you having to approach them, then you must get in on this event. Only 100 bloggers are accepted. The registration window closes in September.
2. Make Appointments in Advance
Make appointments with vendors and tourism boards in advance. I hadn’t done this because I was too busy with our move to London to give it any thought. What I should have done was search the exhibitors’ list for tourism board contact emails and approached them all via email at least 2 weeks before the event. Don’t wait for the last minute to try to book appointments and don’t use the “request a meeting” button on the WTM website calendar. I requested about 30 appointments that way and received only two responses. Email or a note through LinkedIn works best.
3. Be Specific About Who You Are and What You Want
When you send the email, briefly tell the rep that you are a blogger looking to travel to that area within the next year and you would like to arrange a meeting with them to discuss possible collaboration opportunities. Make sure you include a brief summary of your stats, or attach your media kit.
4. Be Assertive
This is easier said than done. Believe me, I know that first hand. But you have to be assertive. If you are normally very shy or don’t feel that you are worthy of the appointment, you will fail. Talk yourself into being someone different for 3 days. Someone full of confidence and ready to tackle the job. Remember, they do want to work with you, so all you’re doing is hurting yourself if you’re too shy.
5. Eat Lunch Early (or late)
Lunch spots are packed from noon to 2pm. On the first day, when only press is invited, there are fewer people and you can get a seat in a restaurant before 12:30pm. On the other two days, all bets are off. The lines can get up to 30+ people by noon. Eat early or pack a lunch.
6. Know Your Target
Know which brands and locations match your target audience, and be prepared to communicate that to whomever who are pitching. Highlight how your brand and community matches their interests. For us, because we focus on food and wine, we only approached areas or boards that had food and wine activities to offer. We showed them our wine guides and quickly explained that we wanted to visit their area in order to build a wine or food guide there. We also only targeted Europe, because that’s where we knew we wanted to travel in the coming year. We didn’t bother with other areas.
7. Present Your Brand and Stats
A paper print-out press kit might be useful, but bringing it on a tablet can be even more useful. Most reps will receive a lot of cards and papers, don’t add to the madness. Connect to the wi-fi and if anyone wants to see your press kit, pull it up on a tablet or offer to email it to them.
8. Bring a Bag
Bring a sturdy bag to carry all of the press materials you will collect. Don’t worry about gathering too many, you can sort through it later at night. That being said, only grab relevant materials. Your shoulders and back will thank you.
9. Follow up!
Don’t wait months to follow up, and don’t pack away your random cards and information and then immediately forget what was talked about. At the end of each day, you should sort through your information, write notes about what was discussed and do any follow up emailing necessary. Often travel boards asked us to send them an email right away with our media kit, stats and a brief explanation of how we could work with them. We followed up within 12 hours.
10. Don’t Stress Yourself Out.
It’s okay if you only are able to get 4 cards, or if you didn’t make much progress at all. At least you went! You can go again next year and be even more prepared to tackle the job.
Insider Tips From the Pros
Since the World Travel Market is a major event taking place yearly in London, there are many bloggers who have attended more than once and have a lot of great knowledge about how to tackle the event and make it especially worthwhile to bloggers.
Here are 10 more insider tips from fellow travel bloggers who have attended WTM and learned a few key lessons along the way.
1. Focus, Focus, Focus
I say this at work all the time and this is no different. Don’t go in thinking that everyone wants to talk to you or that you have something to offer every country in the building. We are focusing on Europe right now. Mainly our adopted home of the Netherlands, but we also enjoy exploring all of this beautiful continent. Then I narrowed it down even more. I figured that I’ve flown into Iceland twice and I want to see more of it. The Nordic countries don’t get enough love, so I’ll check them out, Germany, France, Belgium, and the UK are super close, so I’ll connect with those groups, and who doesn’t love Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Croatia?
Jessica wrote The Ultimate Guide to the World Travel Market for Bloggers, which is an indispensable guide to all things WTM. Before you go, be sure to read it, too.
2. Ask for the Press Representative
Since the main goal of many of the attending destinations is to sell their country to tour operators and other buyers, be sure to ask for the person who works with the press when you approach a booth without a scheduled meeting. With this approach, you will be more likely to get to the person who is open to working with bloggers.
3. Don’t Overbook Appointments – Wander Around
Don’t feel that you have to book meetings into all of your available time. Some of my best chats with PRs and destinations have come from wandering around and seeing who is available. It’s good to allow yourself the flexibility to attend these unplanned meetings so that you’re not finding yourself traversing WTM for different meetings (it is huge so you can end up walking / almost running lots to get to meetings that have been pre-arranged). It’s much more relaxed to pick an area and just see who is around to talk to and this can have really positive results.
4. Dress Appropriately
You are representing your brand so even if you have no appointments, it’s important to look like you know what you’re doing and ready for business.
5. Don’t Go It Alone
If it is your first time, or you are a less outgoing person, try to find a blogger friend in advance who can be your WTM buddy. As I was walking around alone (my other half was working), I couldn’t help but think it would be a little less stressful and a lot more fun with someone by my side – someone to talk to when waiting to talk to a stand, someone to pose for funny photos with, someone to help navigate the madness! Plus, when you’re more relaxed, you will naturally sell yourself better when engaging.
6. Have a Game Plan
Our advice for bloggers attending WTM in London is to go with a game plan in mind. For us, we went in November 2015 with a view to meeting with as many contacts across South America and in the LGBT travel industry to help us with our big trip to the continent in 2016. There are tour companies, airlines, destinations, hotels etc from all around the world – it is huge. Going there unprepared with no specific plan in mind will be overwhelming.
You can plan for WTM in the few months and this is the main thing to focus on. You can see who’s going via your WTM online profile and pre-arrange meetings with the companies you want to collaborate with. Most importantly for bloggers is to keep an eye out on the deadlines for the Speed Networking and ensure you apply for it. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it, but it’s just another way to ensure meetings with companies who want to work with you and vice versa.
7. Do Your Homework and Be Prepared
Do your homework before WTM starts. Set up appointments with brands you want to work with, and study their website before the appointment. Be confident during the meeting, show them you know exactly why you should work together. Numbers don’t count as much as you think. When I first went two years ago, my blog had just a handful of bloggers. However, I was confident, brands understood I knew what I was talking about and believed that I was going to grow, and they were happy to work with me. Confidence and knowing everything about your potential partner are really the key factors in succeeding at WTM.
8. Research Companies in Advance
The one thing I regretted the most during my first WTM was not being prepared. So my one tip for WTM first-timers would be: do your homework. Research the companies that you’re interested in. Then send a short but sweet email to the contact person that appears on the company page. Most won’t respond but some will. Don’t just send meeting requests through the WTM platform. Don’t get discouraged, 1 response out of 10 is still pretty good! And have fun!
9. Set Achievable Goals
Set goals ahead of time and plan how you’ll reach them. Who do you want to make connections with and for what purpose? Then try to make appointments with those companies or countries and be prepared for those appointments with specific talking points or proposals or questions.
10. Prepare a Tailored Pitch
Before you’re going to the fair, note down the companies you would like to work with and check them out online. Visit the stands of these companies on day 1 of the fair and take home some marketing material, familiarizing yourself further with their products and services. In the evening, you can note down questions and prepare a tailored pitch. Then approach them via a personal talk on day 2 or 3 at the fair and convince them with a well thought-through idea of what exactly you can offer them should they decide to work with you.
As you can see, there’s a bit of preparation you need to put into attending the World Travel Market in order to get the most out of it. I’m sure these tips from bloggers who have done it before will be very useful. If you’ve been to WTM, or another travel trade show, and want to share your tips for bloggers, please leave a comment below.