This week saw one of the largest travel events held in the ExCel London – World Travel Market. Yours truly went along to travel the world, attend seminars and catch up with old friends.
Normally when I attend WTM I’m there as travel trade, however this year was different as this year – I was a travel blogger. World Travel Market recognised the growth in Social Media, which featured heavily in the seminar programme, and the importance of bloggers, as this year we were allowed to register as press.
So with my entrance badge in hand I made my way across London to the ExCel exhibition complex. After a wake me up coffee I made my way to the first event on my list the IFITT Conference – Technology and Social Media Enabled Real-Time Service Management in Hospitality and Tourism. Chaired by Professor D Buhalis, from Bournmouth University, the speakers were a mix of academics and industry. The speakers discussed the development of Social Media, how it can be used to provide real time monitoring for the tourism organisations and give the examples of KLM Surprise and Gatwick Airport as organisations who are actively listening to their consumers on social media platforms.
After the conference I made my way to the exhibition floor, which was like unwrapping a never ending present on Christmas morning, around each corner was a new surprise waiting for you. The halls were divided into regions with plenty of opportunities to take a break and have a coffee and a chat with fellow visitors and the exhibitors. As the day progressed I made my way to Asia and found that Thailand and Korea were offering massages, which after a day of carrying information packs was a welcome relief.
WORLD TRAVEL MARKET 2011, ExCeL LONDON: Ms Paula Chattaraj of Air India receives a complimentary spa massage on the Thailand stand.
Day two saw more seminars to attend, and at some point I was wishing I could be in several seminars at once. Two of the key seminars I attended were:
- Making the Most of Social Media – I thought I was being organised by getting there 15 minutes early, however I found all the seats had been taken, so it was the floor at the back of the room for me with a line of people’s behinds in my line of vision! This seminar had something for everyone, whether your organisation fully embraces SM or if you are still uncertain of the concept.
- How Working With Travel Bloggers Can Increase Sales & Brand Visibility – This time I got there 30 mins early and a queue had already formed. The speakers were a mixture of bloggers and industry. Both parties giving there thoughts views and opinions on using bloggers, with Juame Marin from Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava sharing how he invited bloggers to the region and the positive attention the event received from traditional media (you can read more here).
I learnt a lot from both seminars and after the second seminar got to socialise with fellow bloggers and share our experiences, concerns and general advise. Whilst there were so many new faces and names, however these are just a few of those who I met:
- Debbie – Until I met with her, Debbie was the voice of the first SM seminar I attended and after view the back of random people it was refreshing to put a face to the voice. Debbie founded bgb a travel PR and representative specialist organisation in 1991.
- Oliver – Founder of Travel Bloggers Unite and organiser of the second seminar I attended. Oliver has worked in the travel industry and is always willing to pass on his wisdom to others. As well as the TBU website, he has organised two very successful TBU Conferences for both bloggers and industry, there are two more planned for next year, the first in Umbria, so if you are serious about enhancing your travel blog awareness and learning from others they are a must.
- Paul – Author of My Postcard From which was launched in February 2011, Paul shared his journey so far and mentioned that he was a Finalist for Travel Blogger of the Year at the British Press Travel Awards, the winner will be announced later this month and I wish Paul the best of luck. You can follow Paul on Twitter @MyPostcardFrom
- Heather – although I didn’t actually meet Heather, her website came highly recommended to me, along with her sister site which gives guidance and advice on blogging. You can find Heather on her travel blog Heather on her travels, My Blogging Journey, which I now highly recommend, and on Twitter @Heathercrowper.
Slovenian Dragon pointing out his favourite destinations within Slovenia
The doors to the World Travel Market have now closed, however the thoughts, ideas and inspiration are now starting to flourish. I have a plethora of brochures and fact sheets to go through and will be sharing some of my finds over the next few weeks.