Three large red letters, WTM, have been etched into my November diary, almost every year since, 1996.
From my first year out of university, heading initially to Earl’s Court, and then further east to Excel, World Travel Market has been a constant and important destination.
Several intense but hugely rewarding days working with destinations, airlines, hotels and other travel organisations to showcase their brands was informative and enjoyable. Over the years I learnt how to make the most out of every opportunity an expo affords.
However, this April, the halls in which thousands ‘travelled the globe’ were dramatically transformed into the Nightingale Hospital. We knew then that 2020 would be a year like no other. We all hoped that, by November, Covid would be sufficiently under control and that a ‘location based’ WTM could happen; alas not.
So, when WTM went fully virtual, I wondered whether we would get the same level of insight and engagement. And, on first reflection, whilst it’s not the same as being there on the ground, the show has delivered digitally in a number of ways.
Over the last few days, I’ve listened to a range of conference sessions that highlighted the travel industry’s determination, resilience and its ability to evolve. Talks that covered balancing risk and restoring confidence, future proofing with smart technology and the increasing role of trust. I was particularly struck by the desire to succeed in the post pandemic travel landscape.
The virtual approach yielded a huge depth and breadth of speakers from across the industry, providing powerful insights. As I listened, I was reminded why the travel industry is so dynamic, and great to work with – even in these challenging times.
I’ve also been able to browse through a wide directory of exhibitors, many providing easily downloadable material. OK, so it’s not like walking up to a stand and engaging verbally and visually as one would normally do, but it’s useful repository of information. The knowledge I gained will provide a platform from which to build greater engagement in the future.
So, whilst I’m not currently heading out of the doors of ExCel and having a couple of beers in the Fox with a travel editor, I’m not ending WTM week bereft of insights either. In fact, I have started up a couple of conversations that might lead to new opportunities. Thank you, WTM.
Written By: Charlie Hampton