WORLD TRAVEL MARKET FOR BLOGGERS
The ultimate guide to making the most out of the event (Last Updated September 2018)
This year I attended the World Travel Market in London for the first time: a 4-day tour de force walking up and down the Excel Exhibition Center, where the world of tourism reunites every year to forge business partnerships, to learn and to gain insight into the industry’s latest trends.
WHY THIS ARTICLE?
As soon as I got my Press Pass, I started an online research and I noticed that the articles on this topic, especially for “beginners”, were quite limited.
The big question I kept asking myself was: ”Will it really be worth it, even for a fairly new blog like mine”? After attending the event, the answer was clear: ABSOLUTELY YES.
Even if you are just starting your blogging career and your numbers are not spectacular (yet!), the event is a must for everyone who is taking the travel blogger profession very seriously. For this reason, I put together a complete guide with:
- Top 5 reasons why a travel blogger should attend the WTM
- 15 useful tips on how to make the most of it
- Links to external resources on the topic.
All you need to know, condensed into one article! But first things first:
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE WORLD TRAVEL MARKET EXHIBITION?
Connecting people around the Globe has never been easier! The World Travel Market is the only place where you feel like you’re on a very special RTW trip: You can jump from Thailand to Colombia, with a quick stop in Kenya, in less than 10 minutes!
And this is exactly what you should aim for. The key word here is: EASY CONNECTIONS.
The world travel market is the top event of the year in the travel Industry, where:
- Tourism boards
- Travel agents
- PR companies
- Tour operators
- Hotels and Airlines
- Press members
- Bloggers and Bloggers Associations
reunite at the Excel Exhibition center in London, to connect and to start new business partnerships. The whole world is there, in a parade of colorful stands, each representing a different country.
WTM official Statistics from the past few years show that more than 90% of the companies/Individuals attending the World Travel market were able to create partnerships and deals, achieving £1,859m in new business.
These numbers are impressive and give you a clear idea of the huge potential and impact of the event for the travel Industry.
WHY SHOULD TRAVEL BLOGGERS ATTEND THE WTM?
1 | LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:
The World Travel Market event is packed with seminars, with a special program tailored exclusively for travel bloggers.
This year the event hosted 6 seminars, organized by the TBU, which were focused on how travel bloggers can profitably impact the travel industry, creating compelling content and using the right tools to deliver what the travel industry is searching for. In a word: ROI (Return On Investment)
The panel included some of the most influential authorities in the field: Ross Borden from Matador Network, Traveldude‘s Melvin Broecher, Keith Jenkins from “Velvet Escape” and Debbie Hindle from Four Bgb, just to name a few.
A fantastic opportunity to gain insight from great leaders, who have been in the industry for years and who have a deep understanding of the dynamics underlying this challenging profession.
The sessions are highly interactive and you will have the opportunity to ask specific questions and tips about blogging. In a nutshell, you’ll learn how to leverage your blog and how to take it to the next level. Highly recommended!
2 | CONNECTING:
One of the most important reasons why every travel blogger should attend the WTM is the opportunity to connect with other bloggers, to share experiences and to create strong bonds with like-minded people.
Organizations such as PTBA, and sponsors like Hostelworld.com organized some fantastic social events for bloggers, which encouraged people to meet and socialize in a relaxed environment, to share ideas and experiences and to have fun together.
Not only will you make new connections, but you might also start interesting collaborations by participating in informal “brainstorming sessions” in front of a good glass of wine!
If it’s your first time attending and you’re a little nervous, I can reassure you. I was in the same situation, and I can guarantee that these events are a really great way to start socializing – and if you see someone else who is sitting quietly in a corner, go there and start a conversation. You’ll find out that there are more newbies than you thought!
3 | CREATING AWARENESS AMONG THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY:
If there is something that I learned more than anything else at WTM, it’s that companies are still not fully aware of the impact that bloggers have on the travel Industry.
Talking to tourism boards and tour operators, especially the ones representing small countries, I found myself having to explain several times that a “blog” isn’t exactly a personal travel diary.
It is crucial for the travel Industry to understand how their customers rely on bloggers’ experiences and recommendations even more than on traditional travel guides because we tell a story with an angle. We have a point of view.
During the TBU sessions, one of the first questions to the audience was ” how many companies/tour operators/PR agencies are present at the session”? the results were not very encouraging. The numbers, compared to the travel bloggers attending were very tiny.
What can we do about it?
- Explain and be Clear: After realizing this trend, I decided to make more of an effort when approaching the exhibitors, by explaining to them in detail what the travel blogger job is all about. By using this approach, I had some very positive feedback: meaning possible partnerships, that wouldn’t have been possible without this introduction.
- Attend the event and be professional: We also shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we have on the exhibitors by simply attending the WTM: It shows that we are professional and that we are seriously committed to our job. Which is also an advantage when sending the “follow up” emails after the event.
4 | CREATING BUSINESS:
I strongly believe that even newbies, if well prepared, can get some business out of the event:
- Invitations to tailored (individual) press trips.
- Freelance writing contracts for travel publications.
- Reviews or sponsored posts/videos for specific countries.
You blog still has a small audience? Don’t lose hope: if you target the right countries and you point out the benefits that working with your blog would bring, you can be successful.
Do you want to know how to monetize your blog?
Read this article about my experience for some useful tips.
With more than 7000 travel industry representatives, it is relatively easy to find someone interested in your brand, because of the unique angle and selling proposition that you can offer.
Find your strength and sell it to the right people/organizations. It takes patience, the right mindset and some good planning before the event.
5 | GETTING YOUR NAME OUT THERE:
This is especially true for new bloggers, or for those who haven’t been able to attend other important bloggers events, such as the TBEX.
If your name is just a name on the blogosphere, it is difficult to make the right connections. By interacting with people and by handing out your business card and media kit, you are creating and/or reinforcing your brand awareness.
After attending the WTM, I can already see a difference in terms of “post-event” interactions: I’m receiving targeted emails with business proposals that are far more detailed, tailored and specific than the ones I used to receive before attending the event.
Brand Awareness is crucial if you really want to get to the next level. You may feel insecure because when you are a “small fish” in the pond, you need to go out there and spread the voice. But that’s how it all starts, in every industry.
Associating a face with a specific brand is one of the most productive ways to get the business you want.
15 USEFUL TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE EVENT:
So now you know why you should attend the event. How should you prepare for it? Below is a list of actions/things to do to get the most out of the WTM Exhibition:
1 | Business cards
Make sure that it looks professional and that it includes all the relevant details and contacts. For first-timers, I’d say you won’t need more than 100 business cards. Remember to have them with you all the time, not only when attending the exhibition, but also when going to social events.
2 | Media Kit
If you don’t have your laptop with you (or the stand’s representative can’t access it with theirs) It is crucial that you have some printed copies of your media kit with you at all times. I was surprised as not many bloggers had their media kit ready to hand out to PR representatives and exhibitors. Having your media kit with you will make you stand out from the crowd.
Make sure it’s updated with the latest statistics and numbers. Accuracy is also important, check for spelling mistakes and errors (That was one of my worst mistakes as, being Italian, I realized there were a couple of mistakes I could have easily avoided).
3 | Introduce yourself to the panel at the end of the sessions
Don’t run away as soon as the conference is over! If you have questions or just want to hand out your business card, don’t be shy – introduce yourself, have a quick chat and ask for more information.
4 | Be interactive
No, your questions are NOT stupid. Many people don’t dare to raise their hands to ask questions during the interactive sessions just because they are afraid that their question is not relevant. If you don’t feel confident, write down your question, and go for it.
I tried once and the outcome was surprising: 5 companies approached me afterward with business proposals. I didn’t think about this “side effect” when asking my question, and it was definitely a pleasant surprise.
5 | Create a schedule for the event
Make appointments beforehand. Many exhibitors are very busy and it may be difficult for them to find a spot for you. You can contact them by browsing the countries you want to visit on the official website and by filling in a dedicated ‘appointment request’ form.
6 | Set your goals
Are you attending to learn, to gather information on certain countries, or to try to get sponsored trips or contracts? It is really important that you have clear goals so that you can organize your schedule based on them. Avoid wasting your time and strolling around the stands without a plan.
7 | Ask to talk to the right person at the stand
If you have business in mind when approaching the stand, immediately ask for the PR/marketing representative. If they are not available, ask for their business card and try to set an appointment for later.
Also make sure to approach the tourism boards first, as they are the main contact for all the other smaller companies within one country. If you’re not able to talk to them, you can move on by approaching the single tour operators, hotels etc.
8 | Increase your activity on social networks before the event
If you are just starting out, your numbers may not be spectacular, so try to improve your reader’s engagement, fan numbers on Facebook/Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn at least one month before the event.
Connect with the WTM official pages on social media and interact as much as you can. I found LinkedIn a very powerful resource for this purpose. I asked a few questions before the event, which resulted in several invitation emails from different exhibitors and bloggers.
9 | Define your strengths as a brand
Make sure you know exactly what you can offer, what’s your USP (Unique selling proposition) and how the exhibitor can benefit from a partnership with you. This must be very clear and should be highlighted on your media kit.
10 | Read the official website
Browsing the WTM official website can be overwhelming, as much as setting foot into the Excel Exhibition center for the first time. Take a few days to become familiar with the many sections on the site and to take notes of the seminars, exhibitors and PR agencies/members of the press who will attend the WTM.
11 | Ask for a Press pass
Getting a Press Pass is easy and allows you to gain admission to the event more quickly. You will have access to the press area, the Computer room and the lounge area – this way, you can catch up with work or simply connect with members of the press and bloggers.
12 | Register in advance to attend the social events
Some of the social events are by invitation only, so make sure you register in advance. Do a little research on the official websites hosting the events as in many cases there is a list of the attendees. This way you can also spot top bloggers or personalities you might want to connect with.
The events for bloggers are usually not shown on the official WTM website, so you need to search on Facebook groups, or rely on the LinkedIn/Twitter network to get all the information you need.
13 | Always follow up with emails after the event
When you establish a connection, always follow-up with an email to thank them for their time and renew your interest in a possible partnership or to put down the details of a co-operation that has already been agreed.
This step is really important to reinforce the connection. Even if you are not getting any business at the moment, the follow-up email is a powerful tool to make you stand out and to make sure people consider you for future projects (always include a copy of your media kit in the email).
14 | Have a top list of countries you want to visit
If you aim for everything, you’ll probably end up empty-handed.
The WTM is huge and it can be overwhelming. By having a list of top countries you want to focus on, you will avoid getting lost around stands that may be very interesting, but that has nothing to offer in terms of business opportunities.
I’m not saying you should avoid the countries you are not interested in visiting right now, I’m just saying that you should prioritize your top countries stands. Of course, if you still have time, you can always explore any other country’s stand that catches your eye!
15 | Read as many articles as you can on the topic
If you are new to the event, read every article you can find that has been written by bloggers who have attended the event. You will have differents point of views (from the beginner’s to the seasoned blogger’s perspective) and you will be psychologically ready and know what to expect.
To close this guide with the aim of giving you as much information as possible, I have included below a list of useful links to external resources, from blog entries to the official websites for some of the event organizations and sponsors.
- WTM official: Youtube Video- TBU seminar: “Is It possible to effectively measure Travel Blogger ROI?” for all the WTM videos you can click directly HERE.
- PTBA official: World Travel Market Advice for Bloggers By Laurel Robbins
- A detailed post on the TBU sessions at WTM 2013 by “The travel Tester” website by Nienke Krook
- A beginner impression on WTM2011 by “Reclaiming my future” website by Tony
Did you attend the WTM? What are your thoughts on the event? Do you think it is worth attending it?
If you have any impressions or thoughts/links to add, feel free to leave a comment with your point of view on the experience, and If you wrote a blog entry on the subject, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!
Thanks to: Giulia Cesano for Editing.
I learned a lot about the WTM in this article. Fascinating tips to help start a travel blog. I really liked this post, thank you for all the interesting information!
Thank you so much for this! I am going to the WTMLDN 2016 and I was getting really nervous. There aren’t many resources online on how to make the most of it. Now, I will make a plan and go from there.
Thanks Esra, don’t be nervous! This event is awesome and I’m sure that you will make the most out of it of you have the right mindset and go there prepared!
This is such an informative post, thank you for posting. Even though it’s a few years old, I’m sure there are tips in herre that are still useful today.
I do have a question though, since your post is addressing new Bloggers and the reason they should attend WTM…how do you suggest showing valid “proof” that you are a Blogger?
I’m a fairly new Blogger and do not have a media kit yet but my site is up and running.
Any tips on how to validate your Blogger existence for WTM?
Thanks for your comment, glad the article was somehow useful for you! As per your question.. when I first applied for a press pass at the WTM, I simply went to their website to register as a blogger and they asked me a picture of my business card (which you can produce at a very limited cost). Other than that, the procedure was quite easy. They don’t request much to give you a press pass. As long as you have a legit blog and a business card you should be good to go!
Awesome blog! This is one of a kind event that will let bloggers enhance their connections and build new partnerships towards more progress and development.
I totally agree, I found the event very helpful as I was just starting out my professional career as a travel blogger. Even for new bloggers, this is an event that I highly recommend!
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This is such a great event. This is a great opportunity to connect with other people in the industry and build partnerships.
I have attended both the 2013 and 2014 editions of the World Travel Market and I have found the event to be very useful and enjoyable. I am know longer living in the U.K. now (I was a postgraduate in Leeds when I attended the WTM) but I can make it for a third time, I know how to get the most out of the event.
Rashaad, this is indeed a must for everyone working in the travel industry, I might meet you there next year!
Awesome article! I didn’t even know that things like this or TBEX even existed… Now, I’m excited about the possibility of attending both. I am VERY new to all of this. I haven’t started my blog yet. I’ve been concentrating on building my Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. My plans are to start my extended world travels in mid February… which gives me time to attend these conferences and to build my blog. Will you be at either of the 2014 conferences? I’d love to connect with you!!! If you are attending, do you know what your accommodations are going to be? I’ve been following you on FB for awhile and just made it over to your blog. You have great information. Thank you for all your help and I love your recent article about monetising blogs… that will be very helpful.
I’m glad you found the article useful! When I was new at blogging I didn’t know a thing. So I know where you come from. And reading other blogs is very helpful. I was reading an average of 30 blogs every day before my departure (and soon after I launched my blog), I learned so much from their experiences and this is why I’m trying to do the same now. This year unfortunately I can’t attend the WTM or TBEX as I’m working on a project in Italy at the moment, but maybe we will meet on the road one day who knows!
Thanks for your support and your kind words, comments like yours always make my day as I know you meant it 🙂
And good luck with your blog, if you need any help just shoot me an email!
This is great, thank you so much for sharing – definitely hoping to make it in 2014 🙂
Glad you found it useful Globalmuse, I still think it’s so worth it!
These are some great tips, Clelia! We’ve signed for the TBEx in Athens, not yet for London and reading about your experience just gives me an idea and support me to go ahead and overcome the fear of being a newbie! Thanks for this 🙂
Hey Ivana, Thanks! I think you should also sign for the WTM, since you are in Europe and going to the TBEx, you could reinforce your brand identity even more.
I know of a few bloggers who attended both last year and they found it less overwhelming than me, as they already knew some other blogger.
Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes with the TBEx and (if you decide to go) with the WTM too!
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I was thinking about going to WTM this year as it’s the only conference I am going to be able to make it to, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth it for me, since I am a new blogger. Reading this, I think I will definitely go.
Thanks for taking the time to put together such a helpful post!
Thanks Cyra, glad that my post could help you in deciding to go. It’s a sure bet for serious travel bloggers. Good luck!
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Thanks for this post. Very informative. I’m a new blogger – just a few weeks old – and one day I would like to go to a travel market or bloggers conference but I think I’m too fresh and would have little to offer.
I live in Berlin and Berlin has one of the biggest platforms (IITB) but it’s a pretty daunting place. I hope by March I’ll be ready!
Victoria, I so wanted to attend the ITB in Berlin last year! I heard that it’s a huge event, filled with business opportunities. Planning to pay a visit next year! I hope you made it to this year’s event!
I was there too! That event was a blast.
Glad you enjoyed the experience Andy. I think WTM is totally worth it!
Wow sweetie, great guide. I’ve never heard of this Travel Market before. I never participated in such an event, but after reading it I’m so into it! It’s great to learn new things and find out something more about travel industry.
Agness, when you are in Europe you absolutely need to participate!(that or the ITB in Berlin… it’s totally worth it! plus we could finally meet in person :)xx
Great comprehensive guide on WTM and very useful for bloggers. WTM is a great event for learning and networking and we will definitely be back next year! Here is the link to our WTM article that you asked for on our Linkedin profile: http://www.check-in-london.com/articles/events/world-travel-market-2013.aspx
Thanks Colette! I added your article to the useful links as i think it’s very important to have the point of view from “the other side of the fence”! Very informative
Hi! Love the article! It was my first time at WTM as well this year and had a great time with lots of great new contacts. Your guide is great and will definitely send people with questions here! In my blog, I’ve written about some of the TBU talks, maybe you’ll find them useful too. Link below!
Hey Nienke, your article is super informative and covers in depth the “learning opportunities” point on my guide.
I already added it on the list as it provide great added value to the guide! Thanks for pointing it out and for you great job!
Congratulations on an excellent and most comprehensive post. This was my first time at WTM too, and I was encouraged to attend by others I met at TBEX a month earlier. I’m glad to have heeded their advice, WTM can offer something to all bloggers regardless of experience.
I’d like to add two additional pieces of advice. Firstly – focus. You cannot see it all, so focus on the geographic region that suits you and work that area extensively. For example, in my four days there, three-quarters of my time was spent in the Africa and Middle East sections, whereas I only briefly walked through the Europe and UK area just to see the types of exhibits.
Secondly, I would encourage bloggers to attend sessions other than those run by TBU. It is difficult to oneself away from these excellent blogger sessions, but you meet a lot of industry representatives. I believe this explains why the blogger sessions didn’t have many industry people because they were attending other sessions of more interest to them being held at the same time. For example, I attended a session on Responsible Tourism and was approached by many industry people afterwards as I may have been the only blogger in the room (I asked a question of the panel and announced I was a blogger).
Sorry that we missed each other at WTM, hope to meet you at a future event somewhere in the world one day!
Thanks for your contribution and additional advice. I totally agree on both of your points.
The first one on the “focus” is actually very similar to one of my tips on choosing your top 5/10 list of countries. As you rightly said, it is very important to concentrate the efforts on a specific area.
Regarding your second point on attending the other sessions other than TBU, i also completely agree and i actually scheduled to be there for 2 of them, but unfortunately i couldn’t make it.
Thanks for reminding me of that. I think this is another excellent way to meet people who are interested in working with us and have an insight on what the Industry is focusing on at the moment.
That said, as i always say, we need to be interactive/proactive to make the connection happen (as you did by asking the question to the panel).
Very good observation, thank you!
I hope our paths will cross one day,I am interested on the ITB event and I might be there. If you also are planning to attend let me know as it would be great to meet you!
Hi Clelia, Great comprehensive guide you put together, thank you so much! I did visit the WTM as a first timer as well this year and experienced in person how overwhelming it can be. Although every single item of your list is definitely relevant, I feel that ‘having a goal’ is the most important, as you’ll simply get lost when you’re not having any. It’s so big! I think many of these can be applied to other travel markets as well. Will keep it in mind for ITB in any case!
Hey Lydian, you made a very good point. These tips can be applied to other similar events.After reading some other comments in here I also want to attend to the ITB. They say it’s definitely worth it!
Hi Clelia, thanks for this very useful guide.
As a translator/editor/copywriter, my segment of the travel world has some similarities to yours. I did many of the things you mentioned, but some of your points will stand me in good stead for next year, when I’ll take a more structured approach with more rigorous planning.
Maybe I’ll see you there again in 2014 :). All the best.
Hi Oliver, was a pleasure to meet you at WTM this year.
I’m glad you found this guide useful, and i have to refine some of the tips in here for next year’s event. As you said, rigorous planning is a must to get the best out of the experience. Best of luck to you too, and see you again in London in 2014!
See you then at WTM2014 indeed :).
Do you go to BIT in Milan, by the way? If so, have you found it useful?
Your tactic of sitting in the front row and always asking a question in front of the whole audience is very much the way to go, as everyone can see immediately that there’s someone in the room with your skills.
My approach, as a translator, was to go around looking at the Italian organisations’ brochures in English and see which could be improved. Of course, nearly all of them could, but the trick then is being able to sell the value of your service.
Do you have any actual stats saying how much bottom-line gains you can offer travel brands by exposure on your blog? Do you work with clients to monitor that sort of data? That’s something that the translation industry seems to be a bit behind on.
All the best
No i didn’t go to the BIT Milan, i had a look at their website and it doesn’t seem to be very welcoming for travel bloggers.That’s the first impression i had, but i could be wrong.
Actually sitting in the front row wasn’t really a tactic (or at least not a planned one) my intent was to be able to take pictures and videos for this article. In the end i got much more than that, so i would recommend it if someone wants some additional exposure.
Obviously is not strictly necessary to be in the front rows,as long as people are willing to talk to the panel and the audience.
I think, as a translator, you need to approach Italian companies in a very specific way, as i have to admit that we can be quite resentful when it comes to our English skills:)
I’m very open to advice and improvement, but some companies can be very sensitive to critiques, so the right approach is very important here.
Regarding your last question, that’s a really good one, as there was a very interesting seminar about this (one of the links at the bottom of my article “Is it possible to effectively measure Travel bloggers ROI”).
If you think about it, online magazines and bloggers can “prove” the value of their exposure much better than the printed publications. We have stats on clicks, we have emails and comments on display from satisfied/inspired/convinced readers, and the company can easily track back where the booking or the selling is coming from.
Of course i can show all this to the potential advertisers, and let’s not forget that the content stays online virtually forever.
If the advertiser is smart enough to see the potential of a relatively new blog, this can lead to very good deals in terms of long term investments.
I don’t know the translation industry very well, but it would be definitely useful if you could give the potential client a concrete proof of the benefits on using your services.
At the end of the day, that’s what the business wants: improve and get more profit.
Best of luck to you too!
Thank you for this post! I’ve heard a lot of people talking about WTM, but I couldn’t really figure out who it was aimed at or the benefits of attending.
i was in your same situation a couple of months before the event! This is why i decided to go: I wanted to see by myself, learn and write a comprehensive guide for bloggers who are still not sure whether the event is worth attending or not!
I tend to be very much “on the fence,” when it comes to big meetings like these, where effective use of time and money are concerned. You’ve put some interesting and persuasive arguments for WTM. Thank you for writing and sharing your insights from WTM2013!
Glad that you found this guide useful, of course this is my personal opinion but i strongly recommend to give the WTM a try next year. I will be definitely going back and i will try to implement all the suggestions and tips highlighted in this article. There is always a margin of improvement.
I didn’t go because I had gone to ITB in Berlin the same year. I might go to London next year. Actually, I don’t really know if the events in Berlin and London are so different after all. What do you say?
Hey Ele, i never attended the ITB… i’m very curious to know your impression on the event. Were many travel bloggers attending it? any similarity with what i’ve described in my guide? (in terms of learning sessions for bloggers, evening events etc)?
Thanks for putting this together. I am sorry I missed you at WTM. I plan on writing something about WTM and ITB Asia soon, and will send the link your way.
Hi Amber, we missed each other a couple of times at WTM, i was there at the last session when you asked to talk at the end, and i wanted to go there and say hi, but i had to run and lost sight of you! pity, maybe next time..
Let me know when you write the article so i can add your link to my list, also i’m very interested in reading your impressions on the ITB Asia!
Thanks for taking the time and doing the work to pull it together – it’s really useful. We didn’t go to the WTM but now I fully intend to do so in the future. Hope you get some great trips out of it!
Kay, you nailed it: it took me 3 days to collect and put together my notes, links and information to write this guide! I wanted it to be complete of all the info a blogger will need to have for next year.
Regarding the trips, I’ve got some very interesting offers yes, not only trips but also other paid free-lance assignments so i cant really complain 🙂