The world at your doorstep

With more than 50,000 senior travel executives from 178 countries and 8,500 buyers in attendance alongside 5,000 exhibitors, World Travel Market 2014 expects to do business upwards of $4 billion on its 35th birthday
Guests attending the 2013 Ministerial Dinner at the Cutty Sark, Greenwich, and Press (below)

WORLD Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the travel industry, is celebrating its 35th event this year from November 3 to 6 at ExCeL – London. Last year, WTM recorded it highest-ever participant level with more than 50,000 senior travel industry executives in attendance.

World Travel Market 2014 will facilitate more than £2.5 billion ($4 billion) in industry deals, with more than 8,500 buyers from the WTM Buyers Club attending. More than 50,000 of the global travel and tourism industry most senior executives from 178 countries will be in attendance, alongside 5,000 exhibitors – including a host of new exhibitors.

There are new exhibitors taking part in WTM this year including Ajman in United Arab Emirates, Maltese accommodation agency Busyrooms, Saudi Arabia, G2 Travel and the development agency for the Turkish regions of Butsa, Eskise and Bilecik.

TTN spoke to World Travel Market senior director Simon Press for more details.

WTM 2013 saw more than £2.2 billion worth of industry transactions. What are your expectations and predictions for this year?

A poll of almost 1,300 WTM exhibitors and buyers shows that more than one in two expect to conclude business deals of a greater value than they did at WTM. With this in mind, we expect WTM 2014 to facilitate around £2.5 billion in industry deals.

What new attractions would be on offer at WTM this year?

WTM 2014 has a number of new initiatives, particularly on the final day of the event (Thursday 6 November). Speed Networking between bloggers and exhibitors is the highlight of the new initiatives, alongside new programmes for Adventure and Youth Tourism. The final day of WTM also hosts a new digital hotel marketing conference and industry charity The Family Holiday Association’s annual conference. 

How many new exhibitors have signed on?

We have more than 215 new exhibitors taking part in WTM this year. These new exhibitors are across all regions. Bosnia and Herzegovina are exhibiting for the first time at WTM, as are tour operator Expeditions Myanmar. Visit Denmark is returning to WTM and Flynas is also new to WTM this year.

What kind of footfall are you expecting this year? WTM 2013 saw more than 8,500 WTM Buyers’ Club members attend the event, what’s the expected number this year?

WTM 2014 will see more than 50,000 participants attend WTM with a similar number to buyers to WTM 2013.

What are the highlights from the Middle East this year?

There are a number of highlights for the Middle East at WTM this year. Saudi Arabia is exhibiting for the first time, as is the Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD) – which means there are six of the seven emirates exhibiting at WTM 2014.

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

WTM runs the largest Speed Networking programme in the world for buyers. There will be more than 800 exhibitors taking part in the Monday session with 210 buyers. The Thursday sessions will see 100 buyers and 400 exhibitors. These sessions are the catalysts for the business deals that are signed at WTM.

The Travel Tech Show at WTM 2014 will be 20 per cent bigger than last year’s inaugural event. What’s fuelling this growth?

The growth is being fuelled by the ever-increasing importance of technology to the travel industry. Technological innovations are increasing so far and the industry is continuing to be at the forefront of this change, offering its customers the latest way to improving the booking and holidaying experience.

What shall we expect from the second edition of ‘A Taste of ILTM’ this year?

The A Taste of ILTM Lounge has been moved to a new location (in the north hall by the east entrance) to allow the event to expand. There are a number of returning and new exhibitors which will see this event even more successful than last year’s debut event. The event is vital in agreeing luxury deal for those UK buyers that are not attending WTM sister event ILTM in Cannes later in November.

The industry has evolved and changed almost beyond recognition over the past three and half decades, you rightly expressed in a recent interview. In your experience, what are the most important changes?

The internet has been the catalysts for so many of the changes over the past 35 years, being it the emergence of the no-frills airlines, suppliers being able to sell more product direct to the consumer , dynamic packaging and self-packaging. And most recently the emergence of peer-to-peer travel, which I have senior industry executives describe as the second internet revolution.

How important are travel agents and tour operators in today’s travel and tourism scenario?

Both travel agents and tour operators are vital in today travel industry. Just like they have done so over the past 35 years, they will have to adapt and evolve their business models to continue to prosper. Independent advice is still vital to holidaymakers when they are booking trips to destinations they are unfamiliar with. While tour operators play a vital role in bringing such new products in to the marketplace.