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Travel Tuesday: World Travel Market 2016, by Graham McKenzie

TravelMole’s very own Graham McKenzie tells us his experience of WTM this year…


Well, the World Travel Market is over for another year. The global jamboree that takes place at ExCeL was, for the most part, very normal with thousands and thousands of travel professionals crowding into the east end of London with their best business cards printed by Metal Kards Business Cards to exchange them and hopefully signatures on contracts. It’s difficult to imagine the enormity of the industry but WTM does give one at least a hint. I think I have networked with a lot of people but my numbers are pathetic when you see the multitudes entering into conversations about dealings of which I have not a clue.

It was for many, business as usual and many things remain untouched. Firstly the somewhat bizarre sight of destinations trying to recreate a bit of their homeland on enormous stands as if that might persuade people to come and visit them. I would like to know what percentage of the annual marketing budget goes into building a huge eagle or a cricket pavilion. The opportunity cost must be huge.

Transport remains a challenge as each morning thousands try to get on the Docklands Light railway when it has been designed to handle only hundreds. Queuing for food and drink is a constant irritation as are the people who wander aimlessly between stands seemingly looking for inspiration rather than having set appointments. Stamina is still high on the list of requirements to make the most of the event as the days stretch into long evenings and early mornings.

So what made the difference in 2016? Well this year, the days were reduced from three to four and quite frankly it was a lot better. The reduction in time I think focused people’s minds on arranging meetings and actually turning up. Traffic definitely reduced on the last afternoon as usual but the three day show made for a more structured, efficient and, in the end, productive show. Nobody missed Thursday at WTM.

The other major, almost cataclysmic, event was the USA Presidential election result. I have been at the show after major disasters, terrorism atrocities and financial meltdowns but I have never seen such a reaction to a global event as we did on the morning of Wednesday WTM 2016. For the first two hours the majority of the USA exhibition stands were empty, nobody wanted to be quoted on the subject and some were almost in tears about the result. Travel is, as we know a very robust industry and after a while the reality had set in, chins were up and a relative sense of normality had returned.

Time will tell as to the positive or otherwise effect of a Trump presidency on the travel industry but one thing I think is for sure is that this time next year the travel industry from around the world will again gather in London to discuss, debate, negotiate and hopefully conduct business as usual.

World Travel Market, by Philippa Barker


The World Travel Market is the go-to B2B travel event of the year, for all companies, be it large or small. Held at London Excel from the 7th – 9th November, the event sees thousands flock to the extensive exhibition venue to explore all there is to know on the travel industry, from giant palm trees to pop-up Costa Rican jungles to henna tattoos, this years extravaganza certainly didn’t disappoint.WTM 7

With close to 5,000 exhibitors at this years show, standard was high when it came to an out-of-the bag stand, with attendees offering their careful critique – New York ‘apparently lacking creativity for the design capital of the world.’ Denmark hired the help of Troll dolls to publicise their offering, hooking onto the recent Dreamworks creation, whilst car hire company, Sixt, installed a bright orange spinning globe to catch attention.


Smells of exotic food filled the expansive space and people in native costumer roamed the stalls and for a small minute my imagination whisked me away to the seas of Kerala.