Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

World Travel Market 2011: A Smashing Success

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I have never been to any event that remotely resembled World Travel Market.

Picture this: nearly every country in the world has a stand in a conference building ten times the size of most wedding venues in London.  Some of these stands are design marvels, particularly in the Middle East section.  It takes 10 minutes to walk from one end of the building to another.  There’s great coffee in Austria and Colombia, custard tarts in Portugal, kava in Fiji, and empanadas in the Dominican Republic.

Oh, yes.  You keep running into your travel blog friends and saying things like, “I was just in South Africa and I’m on my way to Sri Lanka, but you want to meet up in Holland for a beer at 5?”

AWESOME.

For Travel Nerds

All my life, since the days of Carmen Sandiego, I’ve harbored geography trivia in the back of my mind.  I haven’t really had much of a chance to use it beyond games of Scattegories (“Somewhere hot that starts with P?  Phnom Penh!  Double score!”).

This is the first time in my life I actually got to use it.

I ended up talking to the Grenada rep about the island, and told him I wanted to visit.  He, not surprisingly, asked why.

Wrack your brain, Kate!  I told myself.  SPICES!  SMELLS!  LA LUNA RESORT!  DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM NEW YORK CITY!

I did this again when pulled into an impromptu events — a beer with the folk hero mayor of Vilnius, a dinner with Bermuda tourism, a meeting with a tour operator in India.

It felt like I was exercising a part of my brain for the first time ever.

Business Highlights

The tide is turning for bloggers.  Tourism boards and travel businesses are gradually becoming more blogger-savvy.  The thing is, it’s not everyone — for every business that is eager to work with bloggers, there are two more who have no idea why we’re at the conference in the first place.

Take Egypt, for example.  Egypt, as you may know, is facing a massive downturn in tourism right now.  There is an advertising blitz all over the London tube.  But to my shock, nobody from marketing, PR or any related department was there to talk to bloggers.  I got the general marketing email address.  That’s it.

For the price of one single ad on the tube, they could host a ton of bloggers on a five-star trip, airfare included, and get a TON of targeted coverage all over the web.  And they could do a cheaper trip with more people.  People don’t realize this, and it’s our job to tell them.

As for me, I was a machine.  I spent four straight days going from stand to stand, iPad in hand, media kit pulled up on the screen.  Having my media kit on my iPad, by the way, was the best decision I made.

Worst decision I made?  Probably pitching Oman the one day I wore a low-cut top.

And a lovely surprise: my friend Kash was invited to give a presentation on working with travel bloggers to Atout France, France’s tourism board.  Rather than be the sole presenter, he invited me, Cailin O’Neil, Kirsten Alana, Katy Stewart and Dylan Lowe to join him on a panel.  It was a fantastic experience and I am THRILLED that the various tourism boards in France, a country I love and hope to visit more, are so enthusiastic about working with travel bloggers.  Click here for the write-up and the video on Travelllll.com.

And I have confirmed what I have long thought — if you want to be a digital nomad, Southeast Asia is the place to be, but if you live and breathe for travel blogging, you move to Europe.  Now that I’m based in the UK, there are SO many opportunities open to me that weren’t ever before.  Expect a post on this later.

Fun Times

Any time that travel bloggers get together, it’s a GOOD time.  Often too good of a time.  But WTM isn’t a party conference.  The stakes are too high.  That said, we had a lot of blogger get-togethers.

It was particularly nice finally getting to meet CailinNellie Huang, Gary Arndt, Kieron Turner and Amy (oh my God, I have no idea what her last name is), and COUNTLESS other bloggers, as well as seeing many old friends.  And it was nice that there were events nearly every night for us to be our own little niche group.

The Next Steps

I spent a lot of time preparing for this conference, but the real work hasn’t yet begun — turning my new contacts into mutually beneficial business relationships.  That starts now.  And since I’m in Jordan right now with a busy schedule and iffy WiFi, the timing isn’t the greatest…but I’m not going to delay.  It’s time to follow-up and use these contacts to plan my 2012.

Should You Go?

If you’re a travel blogger, you might be wondering whether WTM is worth attending, especially if you’re new to the world of travel blogging.  Especially since it seems to be such an intimidating conference.

I won’t lie.  It’s incredibly intimidating, and you need to be outgoing in order to succeed here.  But after the first morning, you’ll hopefully find your sales voice.  If not, it’s not the worst thing in the world.  Tag along with more seasoned bloggers and see how they work.

If you’re not into cold pitching, there are plenty of less intimidating events — anything geared toward bloggers, Social Travel Market seminars, formal and informal tweet-ups, presentations by other bloggers.  You can also just wander around and satisfy the little geography geek living inside of you.

Just come next year.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Comments

39 Responses to “World Travel Market 2011: A Smashing Success”
  1. Sabina says:

    Thanks for such inspiring and supportive post.
    I am the beginner, but next year may be I’ll be ready to be a part of such an exciting event.

  2. Good for you! I noticed that there are not many travel industry/travel blogger events in Asia. We were hoping there would be a TBX or TBU conference in Asia while we were there. But you’re right, everything does seem to be in Europe. Q & I would REALLY love to go to Umbria for TBU 2012, but we’re in Thailand for Songkran during that time. *sigh*

  3. Red Hunt says:

    Nice write up Kate,
    WTM is a HUGE event for travel companies, tour operators, tourism boards…and from your post it seems equally important for the small guys too – bloggers, photographers and writers. Great to hear you made some solid contacts there…!

  4. Amanda says:

    It’s great to hear that the tide seems to be turning for bloggers — even if it is only turning slowly. Slow is better than not at all.

    If I can afford it, I’m seriously going to consider taking a week off from school next fall so I can attend WTM. Lately I’ve been considering my options for after I finish up my Master’s degree in 2013. And, to be honest, unless Tourism New Zealand approaches me with an awesome job offer, I can’t imagine doing anything other than blogging. It’s time for me to get more serious about this as a business, and if I’m going to do that, going to big industry events like WTM is going to be a must!

    • One thing to add — I feel like it was MOST helpful for Europe-based bloggers. Most of the great contacts I made were based in Europe. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who aren’t interested in the Americas — Florida was very open, and I heard Brazil was, too. Some Caribbean islands as well.

  5. Kelley says:

    I agree about Egypt and thought that was shocking! Great getting to know you Kate!

  6. vira says:

    Hi Kate,
    thanks for this inspiring post. I’m hoping there will be an event like WTM in Asia, since I’m all the way down here in Indonesia. Hey was there a stand representing Indonesia? If yes, what was it like?

  7. Kieron says:

    It was great to finally meet you too Kate! We hope to see you again soon (hopefully TBU Umbria if all goes to plan!).

    We had a similar mentality to you with Egypt and headed straight for the Japan stand, thinking it would be the perfect opportunity for us to work with a tourism board close to home. Instead we got told they only work with 50 print media a year (crazy!) but maybe check back if they give away the 10,000 flights that have been in the news. But for the most part, tourism boards were receptive to what we had to say and hopefully it can help shape some plans for next year.

    Gotta give you massive credit for the effort you put into World Travel Market. You were an absolutely machine at WTM and I know that all your hard work is gonna pay off in 2012 – definitely learned a lot just by watching how you went about it.

    Completely agree with everything written here, if you want to be serious about travel blogging then you have to be at WTM next year.

    PS. Amy’s last name is Howard. 😉

    • Thank you, Kieron, and it was so great that you and Amy were able to make WTM!

      Regarding Japan, I’m mystified but not surprised. Yet another country that could do so well with bloggers — and yet a country that is doing SOME things with bloggers, but only grand-scale things, like that couple going to every prefecture in 100 days (they have no free time whatsoever). The Japanese are not subtle, that’s for sure.

  8. Jackie D says:

    Hi Kate, this was a very inspiring post and I think this is something I might like to try next year! I’m still a newb and not the most outgoing person, so a conference like this would definitely be a challenge for me, but maybe I could at least shadow someone like you suggested. Sounds like you’re having a blast in Jordan, loving your instagram photos!

  9. Alouise says:

    I didn’t even know that WTM existed until last week, apparently I’ve been living under a cave or something. It’s great to know that more tourism boards are interested in working with bloggers, hopefully this can lead to a lot of creative collaborations.

  10. Anthony says:

    Sounds like a great event, Kate. Glad you had a good’n mate, food for thought for me to make it to the next one.

  11. Caitlin says:

    Kate, this is such a great post-super inspiring! Thank you for sharing all of your tips and experiences-I’m kind of a newbie to all of this and I find so many of your posts very helpful!! Have fun in Jordan!!!

  12. Renata says:

    Hey Kate,

    Another awesome post! I’m also new to the blogging world so reading things like this is very inspiring. Just out of curiosity, what kind of things do you have in your media pack? My blog is still in the hobby phase so I’m not planning on making my own media pack any time soon but I would be interested to know what was included for when that day does come.

    Have a great time in Jordan! Looking forward to reading all about it 🙂

    • Hi, Renata —

      At the very least, include information about your traffic, audience, and past partnerships/press trips. Also talk about your blog, the objective, and who you target. I also have a page of testimonials from readers and information on why you should work with Adventurous Kate if you’re going to work with travel bloggers — and if not, why you should.

  13. Thanks for this recap of WTM! I was bummed that I couldn’t attend but after reading your post I wouldn’t have been prepared so it is just as well. Is ITB a similar type of show?

  14. April Neylan says:

    Hi Kate! I stumbled across this blog and think it’s FABULOUS! Your articles are great.

  15. Annie says:

    It seems like you were pretty amazing at WTM. I had hardly heard of it and never considered going but after reading about your experience, it is definitely worth it, especially as I hope my blog will grow in 2012.

    Good luck with all the amazing opportunities you have coming up in 2012, you definitely deserve all that awesome work!

    I’m thinking when I know approximate dates that we are heading back to Italy I’ll be in contact with the Puglia Tourism Board because that’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit and I think it would be really good for me to do a solo trip in Italy (without the boyfriend/translator) to learn the culture and language! Thanks for the tip!

  16. Mike C says:

    Kate, matey you are once more proving you are the queen of travel blogging. A true inspiration. I kept up-to-date with all your updates during WTM. Fingers crossed I’ll see you again in Italy…

  17. monique says:

    It was great to meet you and so many other bloggers IRL. You were definitely working it! I’m sure you will see some great results from your efforts.

  18. Barbara says:

    Hi Kate,
    Next year I’ll be there.
    I did register this year, but as I was working I couldn’t really come.
    Now I’ve decided to live my dream. Let’s see where it takes me.
    Ciao from Italy,
    Barbara

    ——
    http://www.brasilnaitalia.net
    http://www.trip2italy.info

    • Hi, Barbara — just to let you know, putting two links in your comment sends it to my spam folder (and probably other people’s, too). I recommend that you remove the signature and stick to the one URL in the comment form.

      • Barbara says:

        Hello Kate,

        Thank you for your suggestion. Next time I will remove all links. 🙂

        I was in doubt how to present myself: with the blog written in English (that you all can read, but is quite new) or with the blog written in Portughese (that is much more “professional”)

        Anyway, I love blogs and it is great to meet other people with the same interest.

        A presto!

        Barbara

  19. I’m always fascinated to hear about these conferences. Prior to starting my blog in October last year, I had no idea just how big travel blogging and travel networking were. It’s always a surprise to find another conference or meet-ups.

    This one looks like it would be both overwhelming and entirely entertaining.

  20. Antoinette B. says:

    This was a very exciting post Kate! Been following your blog since I stumbled upon it a couple of months back. Reading this post specifically, I felt your energy, the raw emotions of excitement and happiness. I always felt like if the reader can feel the emotions from within the author, then the post will always be a hit =o) I’ve been blogging here and there on the side for the many travels I’ve done, but the full time career that I also enjoy takes up a bit more of my precious time. Good luck to you in 2012, you’ve got plenty of great travel opportunities ahead of yah! You are definitely an inspiration to a lot of people out there, including me.

  21. Tanja says:

    First shock: I feel Slovenia. OH MY GOD! I’m from Slovenia. Thank you for including this picture. And love the post, very interesting. Have you ever been to Slovenia? Love, Tanja.

  22. Jules says:

    Every day I’m out of college I learn more and more how important networking is. It’s intimidating to pitch yourself to a stranger. Major props!

  23. Sara Robles says:

    Thanks for the post and the nice photos!! I’m feeling very proud about my country (Rep Dom) 😀

  24. Georgia says:

    Just about to go to my first WTM! (On the PR side, so I’ll be on the other side of the stands!)

    Really excited, and pretty nervous to go. You’re not coming this year are you? It would’ve been lovely to have had a chat x

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  1. […] World Travel Market 2011 – A Smashing Success by Adventurous Kate […]

  2. […] La fiera è invece stata una rampa di lancio eccellente per quei blogger indipendenti che hanno bisogno di viaggiare per scrivere, e per questo motivo hanno bisogno di stringere relazioni con i vari tourism board che li aiutino nella pianificazione dei loro prossimi viaggi. Una guida interessante relativa a come comportarsi durante la visita ai vari stand, con consigli su come fare i pitch e come trarre il maggior beneficio possibile da una fiera sul turismo viene dal blog di Adventurous Kate […]



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