From strength to strength

With $3.7 billion in industry deals and a 4 per cent increase in attendees last year, World Travel Market London 2015 will feature more than 1.1 million meetings, some 5,100 exhibitors and a fully packed, newly launched WTM Wellness Lounge
The busy Middle East hall at World Travel Market London last year

Influential movers and shakers in the travel industry will take to the stage and debate key issues at World Travel Market (WTM) London 2015, taking place at ExCeL – London from November 2 to 5. Among them will be respected global strategic advisor Anita Mendiratta – founder and managing director at Cachet Consulting; Tran Trong Kien, chairman and general director, Thien Minh Group (Buffalo Tours); Mario Hardy, chief executive, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA); Peter Kerkar, group chief executive, Cox & Kings; and Wendy Wu, founder and chief executive, Wendy Wu Tours.

Nowhere else can one listen to so many experts and leaders in their fields, and gain vital insights as in WTM London this year.

TTN spoke to Simon Press, WTM senior exhibitions director, ahead of the event.

World Travel Market 2014 was responsible for $3.7 billion in industry deals. What are your expectations and predictions for this year’s event?

WTM London experienced a phenomenal year in 2014, with a 4 per cent increase in attendees and $3.7 billion of business generated as a result of the four-day event. This year, due to the positivity of the last, we are expecting even more business deals to take place. Along with the business generated, WTM London also expects to facilitate more than 1.1 million meetings, not including the meetings that take place during the numerous Speed Networking events.

What new attractions would be on offer at WTM this year? Tell us all about the newly launched WTM Wellness Lounge.

The new addition to the WTM London event this year is the WTM Wellness Lounge; this has been introduced following the extremely successful wellness seminar programme we ran last year and due to the rapid growth of the wellness industry generally.

The global wellness market is now valued at $3.4 trillion and is growing fast, as more people want to improve their physical and mental wellbeing during their leisure time.

As of August this year, the WTM Wellness Lounge was completely sold out, so we look forward to welcoming 25 exhibitors on the Wednesday and Thursday (November 4 to 5) of WTM.

Seeing our Wellness Lounge sell out so quickly demonstrates how the wellness industry is eager to have a high-profile platform provided by WTM London to negotiate and conclude deals.

Another new sector of the industry we are promoting this year at the event is Food in Travel, with sessions organised by the World Food Travel Association.

How many new exhibitors have signed on?

Simon Press

More than 100 new exhibitors have already signed up for this year joining the 5,000 exhibitors from across the world. The Middle East has seven, including major players such as Kuwait Airways; the tourism office of the Kingdom of Bahrain; and Dubai Parks & Resorts – which will open three theme parks and a water park in 2016, including Legoland Dubai.

What are the highlights from the Middle East this year?

We look forward to welcoming the array of new exhibitors from the Middle East and also the returning exhibitors from all sectors of the industry including accommodation providers, airlines, luxury resorts, tour operators, national and regional tourist boards and technology specialists.

Iran will have a much larger delegation at WTM this year compared to last, with six tour companies eager to do business with tour operators and travel agents from across the globe, including Iran Doostan Tour Company, Pasargad Tours, Pardisan Tour & Travel Agency, Arg-E-Jadid Travel (ATC), and Azadi Intl Tourism (AITO).

Since the international deal to lift sanctions was sealed in the summer, there have been many overseas firms looking to do business in Iran – and tourism companies are leading the way.

Abu Dhabi is at World Travel Market London 2015 to spotlight the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, which will welcome 220,000 passengers from 113 ship calls this winter and Sharjah will be promoting the new Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa.

Gloria Hotels have launched a new website, while Qatar will be promoting its online training programme Tawash during WTM London 2015.

There is so much going on in the Middle East region this year, there will certainly be a great atmosphere and plenty of business taking place.

What’s in store for exhibitors and Buyers’ Club members at The Speed Networking Programme this year?

Once again WTM will host the WTM Buyer’s Speed Networking events on the Monday and Thursday, just before the show opens on both days. The two sessions last year were attended by 303 buyers and 1,436 exhibitors and play a key role in facilitating the $3.7 billion industry deals.

I expect these sessions to keep growing. WTM Buyers’ Club members have really embraced the concept of quick initial business meetings to discover if there is an opportunity for further detailed discussions

What are the highlights from The Travel Tech Show at WTM 2015? Tell us a little about what to expect from Google and Yahoo!’s presence at
 the show.

The Travel Tech Show continues to grow with a 6 per cent increase this year compared to last year, along with more than 14 new exhibitors coming along. On top of this, we have a huge selection of Travel Tech focused seminars and conferences for delegates to attend free of charge.

Top executives from the world’s leading search engines, Google and Yahoo!, will advise delegates at World Travel Market London 2015 on how to improve their online rankings.

Anna Chomse, industry head at Google Travel and Andrew Jones, head of search account management at Yahoo! will both offer valuable knowledge to keep the industry up to date; delving into the right tactics to increase search engine optimisation.

Which issues will WTM London 2015 Responsible Tourism Programme tackle?

WTM London hosts the world’s most comprehensive, searching and thought-provoking agenda on responsible

World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD) 2015 on Wednesday November 4 will tackle the issue of climate change this year, weeks before it is discussed by the United Nations to achieve the first legally binding agreement in 20 years.

With World Travel Market taking places weeks before the conference we can help set the agenda by discussing climate change and the role the travel industry can play in addressing the issue.

Headline speaker Kevin Anderson, who is a highly respected speaker on climate change, will present to delegates a thought-provoking, controversial and potentially worrying picture of where the world is on tackling climate change.

Research from Mintel, Euromonitor International and Phocuswright will be revealed this year. Can you give us a sneak preview into the highlights of the reports and research?

The first piece of research to be unveiled is the World Travel Market Industry Report. The report polls more than 2,000 global travel industry professionals and 1,000 UK holidaymakers, and offers an insight into the conversations taking place on the WTM London exhibition floor.

We can reveal that areas covered in this year’s report will include – the overall global tourism outlook; the impact of large sporting events on host countries; what factors are influencing UK holidaymakers; and the trends around the use of technology before and during a holiday.

In the same room on Monday the WTM Global Trends Report, in association with Euromonitor International, press conference takes place, outlining a trend for every geographical region of the industry alongside one for technology and global brands. The WTM Global Trends Report is this year celebrating its 10th edition.

Why is WTM 2016 going to be a three-day event?

Next year’s leading global event for the travel industry will be revamped as a three day event, following vital exhibitor and visitor feedback in our post-show surveys.

The move in 2016 to a three-day event follows post 2014 event research, which for the first time, showed exhibitors and visitors would prefer a three-day exhibition.

WTM London 2016 will take place between Monday to Wednesday November 7 to 9, with the opening hours extended from 10am to 7pm for all three days, giving exhibitors and visitors extra time to meet, network and negotiate business deals.

The move from a four-day event to a three-ay event will allow exhibitors to fully maximise their time in London and further take advantage of the whole world being under one roof, cementing WTM London as the place to do business.